The Métaphysique is a whole of fourteen books written by Aristote but only joined together after its death. The Métaphysique constitutes one of the tops of the philosophy of Antiquity and had a fundamental influence on all posterior metaphysics and philosophy.
History of the corpus aristotelician
is Aristote the author of the Métaphysique ? Is it very whole of him? an assembly of different treaties? Is the plan of which we lay out the original plan of this work? These questions arose very early; before proposing an analysis of work, here some elements of history of the corpus aristotelician and text of the Metaphysical .
History of the work of Aristote in general
All the document concerning with these questions disappeared; Adraste d' Aphrodisée had thus written a Peri your taxos tov Aristotelous sungrammatov and Andronicos of Rhodos a work on Aristote and its works, works known of Aulu-Cold Plutarque and ( Nuits Attiques , XX, 5). The widest testimonys accredited the thesis of a relative lapse of memory of works or some of works of Aristote.
According to Strabon (XIII, 608):
“ With Scepsis was born Coriscus and its son Nélée; disciple of Aristote and Théophraste, Nélée inherited the library of Théophraste, of which that of Aristote formed part; because Aristote (the first, that I know, who gathered of the books, and taught with kings d' Égypte to put in order a library) had left while dying in Théosphrate its library and its school. Théophraste thus left the books to Nélée. This one having carried them in Scepsis transmitted them to its heirs, ignoramuses people, who held them locked up and piled up in disorder. When they had suddenly known which heat put the Attales which them city obeyed, to assemble books for the library of Pergame, they hid theirs under ground, in a cellar, where they were spoiled by moisture and the worms. A long time after, their descendants sold, for a high price, in Apellicon de Téos the books of Aristote and Théophraste. However, this Apellicon was more bibliophile than philosopher. Thus wanting to restore what had been corroded, it transcribed the books, by filling some the gaps awkwardly, and published them filled of faults. Thus the former peripateticians, the successors of Théophraste, not having these books, except for a small number, and still the exotériques ones for the majority, could not philosophize seriously, and had to limit themselves to amplifications on a given topic. Those which came then, when these books had appeared, did better in philosophy and the aristotelism; but they were often forced to speak by conjecture, because of the multitude of the faults. Rome added to it much: because, at once after the death of Apellicon, Sylla took its library by taking Athens, and transported it to Rome. There it passed by the hands of the grammairien Tyrannion which liked strong Aristote and which had gained the librarian; and the booksellers often made use of faulty copies which they did not collate, which still arrives the every day for the other books that one puts on sale, either in Rome, or in Alexandria. ”
According to Plutarque ( Life of Sylla ):
“ Sylla took for him the library of Apellicon de Téos, where were the majority of the books of Aristote and Théophraste still badly known of the public. It is said that when one had transported it to Rome, the grammairien Tyrannion obtained the greatest part of it; that Andronicus of Rhodos in receipt of him of the copies which it published and wrote the tables which circulate today. The former peripateticians appear to have been of the learned men and well-read men, but to have still known imperfect manner, only one small number of the books of Aristote and Théophraste because the heritage of Nélée de Scepsis with which Théophraste had left its books, had fallen between the hands from carefree people and ignoramuses. ”
This last text is recopied by Dion Cassius and in the Souda.
According to another tradition (Athenaeum, Banquet of the sophists ):
- “ Nélée inherited the books of Aristote (and of Théophraste); Ptolémée Philadelphe bought all to him and transported them with those which came from Athens and Rhodos in Alexandria. ”
Démétrios de Phalère was with the head of the library of Alexandria under the two first Ptolémée; he was the friend of Théophraste which he invites to the court. It is thus possible that this last provides to Démétrios copies works of Aristote, the more so as Philadelphe sought in priority its works. A commentator of Aristote (David, On the categories) states moreover that Ptolémée Philadelphe composed a biography of the philosopher containing a catalog of his works and it would have counted several thousands of them. This enormous number is explained by falsifications which were caused by the generosity of Ptolémée (many testimonys confirm this point: Ammonius, David, Galien, etc). It arrived thus of everywhere of the books which one claimed that they were of Aristote; the library of Alexandria counted thus forty Analytiques …
But in this case, it should be admitted that the heritage of Nélée was not a reference, since, in the contrary case, these falsifications would not have been retained. It still should be added that the disciples of Aristote wrote on the same subjects as their Master: Eudème wrote a Physique thus, and we know by a letter of Théophraste that it had the Physique of Aristote.
All in the final analysis lets to us suppose a great diffusion of works of Aristote: the academician Xénocrate and the epicurean Hermachus (author of a Pros Aristotelev ) wrote against him; the stoical borrowed to him, by criticizing it, of the elements of Logique, Morale and Physique. All the schools of Philosophy, at all the times, know Aristote. On the other hand, between the time of Eudème and Théophraste until Augustan age, we do not know any reference to the Métaphysique . But it remains that the widespread assumption of a lapse of memory of works of Aristote is extremely exaggerated.
Apellicon de Téos and Andronicos of Rhodos
Strabon and Plutarque allots to Andronicos of Rhodos certain publications of the texts of Aristote; however Cicéron, which speaks several times about this last and Apellicon, never evokes the redécouverte works of Aristote. This idea of a redécouverte is in fact extremely doubtful.
Apellicon, impassioned manuscripts autographs peripateticians, bought in Scepsis works of Aristote which it entirely transcribed. But the worms and moisture had destroyed many passages and it filled itself the gaps. Being given the extent of this work, it is probable that it had only part of the corpus. Its edition was considered to be extremely faulty by Strabon (cf text given higher):
- “ This Apellicon was more bibliophile than philosopher. Thus wanting to restore what had been corroded, it transcribed the books, by filling some the gaps awkwardly, and published them filled of faults. ”
It is thus not very probable that Apellicon worked with other manuscripts.
With regard to Andronicos of Rhodos, it does not seem to have given a true edition of Aristote; its text indeed appears to have been as faulty as that of Apellicon. According to Plutarque, it published the copies which it had acquired at Tyrranion, and it composed of the tables and the indices ( Vie of Sylla , C. XXVI). And we have the testimony of Porphyre of Tyr which states to have imitated
“ Apollodore, which divided into ten sections the comedies of Épicharme, and Andronicos the peripatetician, which classified by matter order of the books of Aristote and Théophraste, by joining together in a whole the partial treaties on the same subject. ” ( Life of Plotin , XXIV).
Andronicos drew up catalogs it works of Aristote, and he wrote a life of the philosopher, as well as Théophraste, and treated order and authenticity of their works. In his work on Aristote, one found the will of the philosopher, and the correspondence between Alexandre and Aristote. The fifth book contained a table of the writings of Aristote. It at the head placed the Logique of its catalog, logic where it placed the Catégories right before the Topiques ; it also tried to determine the composition and the internal order of each particular work. It is undoubtedly him which joins together the last three books of the Physique to the five first. It announced the existence of two texts of the Catégories , and regarded as apocryphal book the appendix of this text, as well as the Of interpretation . The judgment of Andronicos on this last work indicates that it did not have actually a sure criterion to establish the authenticity of the texts; indeed, its argument is based only on one quotation considered to be by him inaccurate of the Traité Heart .
The order of the corpus established by Andronicos is still that which is followed about until our days, but there exist differences which probably hold with a Latin division (perhaps made up between and the 6th century after J.C., of Victoranus with Boèce).
At the time modern, the questions about the corpus aristotelician started with the Renaissance with Pic of Mirandole, which questioned the authenticity of the Métaphysique ( Examinatio vanitatis doctrinae gentis , IV, 5). The discussion continued between Nizzoli and Majoraggio, but the first which joins together the texts was Patrizzi, which tried to lay down critical rules and thought that the Métaphysique was apocryphal book ( Discussiones peripateticae , 1583).
In 1717, an anonymous text ( In Aménitez of criticisms, or new Discussions and Remarks on various points of ecclesiastical antiquity and layman ; the author is in fact Liron) questioned the accounts of Plutarque and Strabon on the history of the manuscripts of Aristote.
Work continued in Germany, with Brandis, Bekker, Bonitz, and in France, with Ravaisson.
History of the Metaphysical
The treaties which form the Métaphysique seem to be published the alive one of Aristote (publication of the writings acroamatic: Aulu-Cold, Nights Attics , XX, V; Plutarque, Life of Alexandre ). Nevertheless, this assumption is contradicted by Asclepios de Tralles:
- “ this work does not have the unit of the other writings of Aristote, and misses order and of sequence. It leaves something to be desired under the report/ratio of the continuity of the speech; one finds there passages borrowed from treaties on other matters; often the same thing is there repetition several times. One pleads with reason, to justify the author, that after having written this book it sent it to Eudème of Rhodos, his disciple, and that this one did not believe that it was in connection with delivering to the public, in the state where it was, a so important work; however Eudème had suddenly died, and the book suffered in several places. Those which came then, not daring to add to it of their chief, drew to fill the gaps, in other works, and connected the whole of best than they could. ”
The text was thus published only after the death of Eudème, and it is probable that this last had corrected it, perhaps with the assistance of its school-fellows (according to Alexandre d' Aphrodisie, On Metaphysics , VII). This point is a very strong argument in favor of the authenticity of the Métaphysique , and it shows moreover that this text was known disciples of Aristote. It does not appear only Nélée received the Métaphysique in the heritage of Théophraste. But we do not know which is the nature of the modifications which undergoes this work, nor at which time that took place.
As it was known as higher, we do not know a reference to the Métaphysique between the time of Théophraste and the century of Auguste; Cicéron never speaks about this work. After the time of Andronicos of Rhodos, we find some commentators: Eudorus, Evharmostus and more known, Nicolas of Damas. This last seems to have composed a Theoria tov Aristotelous meta your phusika , whose title reveals this expression which was going to become the name of the text of Aristote: Meta your phusika . One allotted this title to Andronicos of Rhodos, but one finds it in a fragment of Théophraste on philosophy first; perhaps he was thus invented by an immediate disciple of Aristote.
Lastly, Diogène Laërce does not mention the Métaphysique in its catalog.
This book starts with a description of the genesis of the human Connaissance S and also a Hiérarchie gives some. Aristote wonders which is the highest science and how one can define it.
1. Aristote considers the feelings first of all: sensation S we like the in themselves, especially the Vue, because it offers the most Connaissance S and differences to us.
By Natural, all the animals are endowed with feeling; but the feeling is not enough yet to produce a knowledge: indeed, notices Aristote, the feeling generates or not the memory. However the gifted animals of memory are most intelligent and ready to learn. But faculty to learn requires moreover the direction of hearing. To learn, it is thus necessary to feel, remember and intend; however to hear supposes the knowledge of the direction of the words; any training thus supposes a logos .
Memory is born the Expérience made up by the many memories of the same thing. Starting from a multitude of experimental concepts only one universal judgment with all the similar cases emerges: it is what constitutes the Art. Art thus supposes:
- the aptitude to admit similar cases
- the aptitude to apply to these cases a universal rule.
The genesis of art is thus: feeling > memory > experiment > universal judgment.
Experiment and art, which does carry? In the practical Life, the experiment appears higher than art, because it is knowledge of the private individual, of the individual one, whereas art knows the universal one and is unaware of the individual things. But it is with art that belong the To know and the Faculté to include/understand: the Homme S of art know it why and the Cause. Wisest are wise not by the practical skill, but by the Théorie and the knowledge of the Cause S. the sign of this knowledge, it is that it can be taught; however, the men of art can teach.
The feelings are thus the base of the knowledge of the private individual, but they are not the Science and do not teach it to us why. Art is disengaged from the common feelings, and it is after the constitution of arts relating to the needs for the life and approvals that were born the freest sciences, in particular the Mathématiques.
The result of these reflections is that the highest knowledge, the Sagesse, has as an aim the first causes and the principles of the beings; also theoretic sciences are higher than practical sciences.
2. It is now necessary to seek which is this science: of which causes and which principles philosophy is science?
To discover it, Aristote seeks initially the judgments related to the Philosophe:
- It has the totality of the To know, but in general;
- it with the Knowledge of the difficult things;
- it with knowledge and the capacity to teach the Cause S;
- its only end is the knowledge and the highest Science;
- the philosopher gives laws and orders.
Thus the knowledge of all things necessarily belongs to that which has the science of the universal one. But it is extremely difficult, because this knowledge is furthest away from the directions. This knowledge can be thus characterized:
- These sciences are most exact and most specific to be taught;
- These sciences consist of knowledge for knowledge par excellence: knowledge of the principles and the Cause S which make known the other things;
- the highest science makes known for which end each thing should be made, the of each to be well.
The Philosophie must thus be the theoretic science of the first principles and the first causes, and the end is one of these causes.
Lastly, Aristote wonders from which the Philosophie comes.
He answers that it is the astonishment which pushed the first thinkers with the philosophical speculations, when they transfer their ignorance and that they wanted to escape from it. Because if one starts with the astonishment, one finishes by the rest of the knowledge. This Science is also the only one which is free, because it is with itself its own end.
But it is a difficult science: isn't philosophy more than human? The human Nature is often Esclave and the God only or mainly can be philosophical. This science is less necessary than the others, but it is the science of the gods.
3. Seek Cause among first philosophers.
We know a thing only when we think of knowing his first cause. However, the word causes has four directions (cf the 4 causes):
- the formal Substance or quiddity (its Natural, its gasoline, its form);
- the Matter or substrate (the Prone );
- the principle of the movement;
- this why, or the well (end of the movement).
For the first philosophers, there is a Nature first, one or multiple, from where the remainder is generated, but it always remains. Its elements are variable; for example, the water, from where, for Thalès de Milet, all things come, and which is thus their principle. Other principles: air, fire, etc or of the principles of infinite number which are linked and séparent.
But all that is insufficient: why that does it arrive and which is the cause? The substrate as a substrate is not the cause of its own changes: from which does the beginning come then from the movement, which is its principle? The elements are these principles of the mouvement.
But that does not generate the Nature things: from which does the order, the beautiful one come in the things? Not chance: Anaxagore affirmed that there was an Intelligence ( us in Greek) in the Nature, causes order and universal arrangement.
4. It is Hésiode which it first, so that it seems, found causes of the movement and order (Love, like Parménide). But like the evil and the ugly one carries it in the Nature, one finds the Love and Hatred at Empédocle, perhaps even the Bien and the Mal like principles. As for Leucippe and Démocrite they affirm that the differences to be it come from the configuration, the arrangement and the turning of the atoms.
5. The Pythagoricien S were devoted to mathematics. For them, the principles of mathematics were the principles of all the beings. The number is the matter and component of the modifications of the states of the beings; but the number itself makes up of contrary elements (limit, unlimited, etc): the opposites are the principles of the beings.
6. Ideas. The sensitive things are in a perpetual flow and cannot be the object of science. Plato took again the searchs for Socrate (on the universal one and the definition), but thought that there existed of realities of another kind that the sensitive beings.
8. Critical of Préplatoniciens
9. Critical of the theory of the Ideas
In this book, Aristote analyzes a series of Aporie S which takes the form of questions:
- does the study of the causes belong to only one science?
- is the science of the first principles of the substance also the science of the general principles of the demonstration?
- is there only one science for all the substances?
- are there only significant substances? is
- which the science of the essential attributes of the substances?
- the principles and are the elements the intrinsic kinds or parts?
- or kinds close to the highest individuals or?
- apart from the matter, is there something which either causes in oneself?
- are the principles limited numerically or specifically?
- are the principles of the corruptible and incorruptible beings the same ones?
- one and are the Being universal the or similar ones to individual objects?
- are they in power or act?
- are the mathematical beings substances, and are separated or immanents?
One generally divides this book into two parts.
1. Aristote thus seeks the Science which studies the Être as being and its essential attributes. Other sciences cut out a certain part to be it and study the essential Attribut of it. But what is sought, they are the principles first and the highest causes.
2. There are several meanings to be it, but compared to a single principle, with a single Nature: there is thus only one science to study the beings as beings.
For each kind, there is only one science. The being of a thing does not separate from its unit and conversely. One is not anything else apart from the Being: as much there is Espèce S of the One, as much there are species Être. The same science will thus study the identical one and the similar one, for example the species of the One and their opposites.
There will be as many parts of the Philosophie than there are substances: thus a philosophy first, a philosophy second.
The science of the opposites is one: the multiple is opposed to the a. There will be thus also the same science for the other, the dissimilar one, the unequal one, etc, and the modes like contrariety, the otherness, etc Only one science must give the Raison these concepts.
The Dialectique is critical preparation, the Philosophie makes known positively.
3. What is it study of the Axiome S? The axioms kiss all the beings. All men being useful itself of the axioms, but in the measurement which is appropriate to them. They concern the study of knowledge Être as Being: they are the conditions of the truth of the proposals, therefore it is propaedeutics of science. The philosopher must thus also study the principles of the syllogistic reasoning .
The most unquestionable principle of all, the best known one is:
- “ It is impossible that the same attribute belongs and does not belong at the same time to the same subject and under the same report/ratio. ”
One cannot conceive it, it to think truly even if one can state it; it is a Loi of the Pensée.
This book is an analysis of about thirty concepts.
In Greek, arkhè .
- starting point of the movement of a thing;
- the best starting point for each thing;
- element first and immanent of the generation;
- the primitive cause and not immanente of the generation, the Natural starting point of the movement or the change;
- the being whose considered will ( proairesis ) drives what is driven and made change what changes;
- the starting point of the knowledge of a thing is also named the principle of this thing.
All the causes are principles. The common character of all the principles, it is to be the source from where the being, the generation or knowledge derive. Among these principles, the ones are immanents, other outsides.
The matter of a thing, the element, the thought, the choice, the substance, the final cause are principles.
In Greek, aitiov .
1. This book proceeds first of all to distinctions between different the Science S following these criteria:
the object of research are the principles and the causes of the beings, but in that beings, not like given objects.
- It is also necessary to take account of the mode to be quiddity and its definition: to distinguish what is engaged in the matter and what is independent of the sensitive matter.
Aristote distinguishes three theoretic sciences then:
The Physique is the science of a given kind: it is the science of this Substance which has in itself the principle of sound movement and of its rest. It is a theoretic science of the formal, but nonseparate substance of the Matière.
Mathematical science is also a theoretic science, which studies what motionless but is engaged in the matter.
There is finally the knowledge of a being eternal, motionless and separate; this knowledge is theoretic and former to physics and mathematics. This science par excellence must have as an aim the kind par excellence, which is divine. This science is thus the Théologie.
If there were only what is consisted the Nature, physics would be science first; but the Métaphysique studies the first species of the to be, base of all the other beings, and it is thus about a universal science. She studies the being as being, her gasoline and her attributes as being.
2. Aristote analyzes then the various directions of the to be:
- the being by accident;
- the True being like ;
- the categories;
- the being in power and the being in act.
The first direction to be it is not the subject of a Science nor of any speculation: the accident has indeed only one nominal existence, because it is close to the non-being. There is no process of generation and corruption for the beings by accident.
Among the beings, some are necessary, others are generally. What is generally neither necessary nor, it is the accident.
The accidents do not concern any Art, of any determined power, because the causes of the accident are accidental. But science has as an aim what is necessary or generally. Without that, one can neither learn how nor to teach.
1. The to be is caught in multiple direction: what is the thing, the Substance; a Predicate, etc
But the to be, with the direction first, is the what is the thing , concept which expresses the substance. The other things are beings only because they are some determinations to be it (quantity, quality, etc). There is, under each one of it, a real and given subject: substance and the individual who appears in a category, it without what the other categories do not exist. Thus, the being absolutely speaking, it is the substance.
The Substance is absolutely first, logically, in the order of the Connaissance and according to the Temps. Indeed, only the Substance exists separate; logically, in the definition of each to be is necessarily contained that of its Substance. Lastly, we believe to know a thing most perfectly when we know what it is, which is the man for example, rather than its qualities.
Also, for Aristote, the eternal object of all research, present and passed, the problem always outstanding : what the being? it returns to: what the Substance?
It is Substance indeed that the ones affirm the unit, the others plurality (limited of number or infinite). The single object of our study must be the Nature of the Être taken in this direction.
Editions of the Metaphysical
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