Metaphysics; quotations from Aristotle’s Metaphysics

Below are a series of quotations from Aristotle’s Metaphysics. I’ve given page numbers from our edition and the universal pagination below each quotation.

On a separate sheet of paper, explain each quotation. Using the terminology and language from each passage, explain the central problem the passage refers to and the argument Aristotle makes in response to the problem. This means paying close attention to specific sentences and terminology and showing: the implications of particular sentences, the meaning of the whole passage, and relating the main idea(s) of the passage to the text as a whole or the relevant overarching argument. It might be useful to find other quotations from the text to shed light on the passage in question, but it is not necessary.

These responses should restate the central problem at issue in the paragraph, and give a concise summary of the argument that is being made – the main ideas of the essential argument (why or how something is the case). They should analyze the details of the passage – the specific words and ideas – and connect the passage to the text as a whole.

They should be 1-2 paragraphs each, no fewer than four, no more than ten lines each paragraph, but most importantly, they should focus on giving an accurate and thorough treatment of the passage.

1) Cause and Account
“In each field [of knowledge and expertise], designers [with theoretical knowedge] are thought more prestigious and to have more knowledge than craftsmen [with practical knowledge] and to be wiser, in that they know the causes for what is being done. The assumption is that it is not being practical that makes them wiser but their possession of an account and their grasp of the causes.”
p. 5, 981a-b

2) Critique of Forms
“But above all one might raise the problem what the Forms of perceptibles might contribute to the eternal things or to things that come into being and are destroyed. For they are the cause neither of change nor of any modification for them.”
p. 34, 991a

3) Substance, primary and separable
“Plainly, then, each of these other items [actions, attributes] owe their being to substance, and so we may say that that which is primarily (i.e. not _is-F but just _is) is substance. In fact, a thing can be said to be primary in a variety of ways, but it is in every way that substance is primary, alike logically, epistemically and temporally. For substance, unlike any of the other predicables, is separable and it also has a primary role in definition.”
P. 168, 1028a

4) Parts and Wholes, Priority and Posteriority
“The semi-circle is defined via the circle. And, for that matter, the finger is defined via the whole animal… So anything that is a part in the material manner and to which destructive resolution as to matter takes place is posterior, but anything that is apart as of the account and of the substance as specified in the account is prior, either in all cases or in some.”
p. 203, 1035b

5) Actuality and Potentiality, Entelechy
“The fact is that a thing’s active function is its end, and its actuality is its active function hence, indeed, the vary name, actuality, has an account based on the active function, which is extended to the entelechy.”
p. 274. 1050a

6) Prime Mover
“Hence the primary circuit of the heavens, even if it exists in activation, could be in a different state from that in which it is in fact moved. But there is in fact something that moves without being itself moved, existing in activation, and this does not admit of being in any way in another state… Its existence, then, is necessary, and in that it is necessary it is good.”
p. 374, 1072b

Sample Solution

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