In contrast, [T] does hold of that generic notion of possibility, of which logical, physical, and temporal possibilities are species. First of all four different notions are discussed: a b c d the positive noun dunamis a 15—32 ; the positive adjective dunaton a 32—b 15 ; the negative noun adunamia b 15—21 ; the negative adjective adunaton b 21—2.
But, since Aristotle does not have such distinct terms available, he summarizes the contrast in a different, though perfectly clear, way at b 34—5: it is the contrast between what is dunaton in accordance with a dunamis and what is dunaton not in accordance with a dunamis. On the one hand, the modality to which Aristotle refers as dunaton not in accordance with a dunamis should be taken as a standard modality.
If something is actually the case, it is obvious that it will be possible in these senses, and therefore that these give us types of standard modality. On the other hand, the modality that Aristotle characterizes as dunaton in accordance with a dunamis should be treated as a non-standard modality. There are two reasons.
Arabic and Islamic Metaphysics
Therefore these instances cannot be dunaton for the agent in accordance with a dunamis. However, if what is dunaton in accordance with a dunamis were treated as a standard modality, it is hard to see how appeal to a dunamis could be explanatory, since in that case the occurrence of the change to be explained would entail the existence of the dunamis. Since whether the modality is standard or non-standard will not be explicitly stated in the text, a decision will often be made on the grounds of charity: namely, whether a standard or non-standard reading of the modality is required in order to give a good argument or reading of the passage.
The main term to consider is a noun energeia. As with the noun dunamis, this occurs in both the nominative case energeia and the dative energeiai when it has adverbial force. However, while dunamis is a term of ordinary Greek, energeia is coined by Aristotle. Further, there is another word, entelecheia, also invented by Aristotle, whose relation to energeia is controversial.
Energeia is the earlier neologism. Aristotle coins a new term because the terms of ordinary Greek already available to him each have their own misleading and restrictive connotations. There is dispute about the etymology of energeia. All agree that it derives from some erg- root, though there is disagreement on whether the formation is from the rare active verb ergein or from the adjective energos see, for example, Blair 17— Energeia does originally cover a broad range of cases, the exercise of any of a wide range of powers or capacities.
At some point Aristotle was prompted to introduce a new notion which could not easily be expressed by the term energeia as initially coined. Stephen Menn directs attention to An. A standard example of the distinction between a power dunamis and its exercise energeia in the early Aristotle was that of possessing knowledge and using knowledge Protrepticus B78, xxviii introduction EE 2.
At An. Now it will not be easy for Aristotle to make this point using the term energeia. For energeia originally corresponded to knowledge use, while knowledge possession was a paradigm example of dunamis. What Aristotle in fact does in the de Anima discussion is use the new term entelecheia. For example, at An. It would grate with the original introduction of energeia to say that there is a sense of energeia corresponding to the possession rather than use of knowledge: and Aristotle usually avoids saying that the soul is the energeia of the body the exceptions are An.
H 3, a 35—6. Although the etymology of entelecheia is disputed, it is clear that—unlike energeia—it does not have its roots in the notion of activity erg-. Aristotle says at Met. But there is a further twist to the story. Once the term entelecheia has been introduced by Aristotle, it nevertheless comes to be displaced again by energeia. Aristotle uses entelecheia far less frequently than energeia occurrences of energeia, of entelecheia. This is not just because energeia is the earlier coinage.
Further, in four of the places where entelecheia is common, energeia xxix introduction nevertheless occurs more frequently Phys. Entelecheia preponderates only in GC 1 18 occurrences as opposed to 4 of energeia and Met. Z 10 occurrences, with energeia entirely absent. So the newer coinage never becomes dominant.
Blair 7—16 summarizes the distributions of the two terms. There is a further striking point. None of these decisions on translation answers the substantial question of why Aristotle, having coined entelecheia in order to express a notion wider than energeia, should then return in his main discussions to the earlier term energeia, and expend considerable effort in explaining why it is particularly appropriate to extend the application of energeia in this way.
Aristotle occasionally points out that a capacity xxx introduction is just one sort of origin of change. Origins of change include objects Met. All causes are origins Met. When we say that A contains an origin of change, we refer to what it is about A which explains why it is that certain changes take place in situations which involve A.
Doing and Being: An Interpretation of Aristotle's Metaphysics Theta
An origin of change need not be what triggers a change. An ability, for example, is not an occurrence which triggers anything. When we cite something about A in explaining why certain changes occurred in a situation in which A is involved, there are two cases to distinguish, depending on whether the changes which occur happen to something else or to A. In contrast I appeal to the physiology of Candy in explaining why Candy was nourished when she ate.
Matters are more complex, however. Aristotle does not say simply that a capacity is an origin of change in something else. Two types of case can be distinguished, according to how xxxi introduction those features of A are explanatory.
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In one the features of A explain changes in A in the very same way that they would also explain similar changes in things other than A. Suppose Candy heals herself Phys. Here we have an origin of changes in something considered as itself, and that origin of change is a nature. An origin of change which is a nature explains changes which take place in the item wherein the origin is located, and explains them in ways in which it could not explain similar changes in other things. But pine trees are sometimes in unfavourable conditions, for example, hemmed in by other plants or rocks.
In contrast to the unimpeded straight growth, this is non-natural. It might seem that the concepts of natural change and self-change should coincide, since it is tempting to think that, if a change in A is natural, then it originates from A, and so is something that A does to itself. But it would be better to explain natural change in a way that leaves this issue open. For example, in Phys. Further, it is unclear in precisely what sense animals move themselves, and how self-moving animals should be analysed into moving and moved aspects Phys.
A distinction between natures and capacities drawn in terms of the location of the changes they explain, and the way in which those changes are explained, is neutral on the logical structure of the changes involved. So it will often be the case, when we appeal to a feature of A to explain why B changes in a certain way in a given situation, that there are also, and nonaccidentally, changes occurring in A in that situation.
Aristotle’s Metaphysics (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Both natures and capacities exemplify the potential—actual structure which Aristotle is interested in. In each case there is, on the one hand, an instance of potential being, and, on the other, the corresponding actual changes. As Candy is resting, she is able to digest food and walk around; and as she awaits patients in her surgery, she is capable of healing them. By contrast there are the actual digesting of food, the actual moving, and the actual treatment of patients.
Natural abilities sometimes occur as examples typically perception: e. Any reference to natures in contexts concerning agents and patients would generate only unhelpful complexity for example, animals have senses as part of their nature; and the senses are in some way passive, a natural capacity to be affected by external perceptible objects An. The development and behaviour of animals provide a clear case of what is natural, and these involve both incomplete and complete changes. But in many important cases the exercise of a nature gives rise to a complete change: seeing, contemplating, and living.
It is easier for Aristotle to allow the distinction to lie in the background so long as the case of nature as an origin is not the focus of attention. The fact that potentiality is correlated with actuality is more immediately obvious in the case of capacities and changes than in the case of natures. There is not the same grammatical pressure as regards talk of natures.
I can say that horses are natural organisms, and refer to their equine nature without specifying the complete and incomplete changes which stand to that nature as the actual to the potential. The generic use of dunamis to refer to both capacities and natures is rare, although there is no other obvious term for the job. The term dunamis occurs just twice in the Met. And, if the problems are of independent philosophical appeal, they will engage those who are not already drawn to Aristotelian exegesis. Metaphysics Z and H are themselves extremely opaque books.
But, on any view, they concern the notion of substance. A comprehensive answer to that question would involve saying both which items are substances Z2, b 28—9 and what it is to be a substance Z2, b 31—2. Substances are the basic items in the world. They are basic in that they are ontologically independent: other things depend on them, while they do not depend on other things. And they are basic in that what goes on in the world is to be explained by reference to substances: substances are items which have natures Phys 2.
Z17, b 27— Substances like these have limited life spans. They come into existence, and are resilient to some changes but vulnerable to others: a dog is born, changes colour and size, but is killed by extreme changes of temperature. And the ways in which animals and plants come into existence and perish are not inexplicable mysteries, but can be explained in natural ways.
There is a problem as to how perishable things like these could possibly be substances. It is very appealing to suppose that something which comes into and goes out of existence in naturally explainable ways must have material components. The argument would be this. A substance is brought into existence because there are material precursors which can be worked on: one dog brings another dog into existence by fertilizing some matter. And material components secure the distinction between natural generation and destruction, on the one hand, and miraculous transformations and changes of place, on the other.
When my dog dies there are material remains. It has not turned into the corpse that would not be death, but an astounding transformation ; nor has it just vanished elsewhere while a corpse has appeared in front of me that would not be death but an inexplicable and discontinuous change of location. But now a problem threatens. If there are material remnants, then they survived the changes which proved fatal to the putative substance.
The temperature fell and Candy died; but the matter which is her corpse survived. In that case, however, the putative substance threatens to be just a stage in the history of those material components. Suppose the bricks persist through the explosion which destroyed the house. Then the house seems to be a stage in the history of those bricks, marked out by their gaining and losing a certain property or structure. But being a stage in the history of something else is inconsistent with being a substance. At this point there is an obvious response.
A substance must have an identity independent of its material components if it is not to be just a stage in the history of those components. The human being Candy has material components. But the identity conditions associated with the substantial kind human being are independent xxxvii introduction of those of the material components. It is one thing to persist as a human being, another to persist as a parcel of matter. Candy can survive as a human being independently of the matter which composes her: she undergoes material change, metabolizes, eats and respires.
And the matter can survive independently of Candy: the corpse is there when she is gone. That is why Candy is not just a stage in the history of her material components, while six-footCandy is just a stage in the history of Candy. The identity conditions of six-foot-Candy are not independent of the identity conditions of Candy.
If Candy ceases to exist, then six-foot-Candy ceases to exist; and, if six-foot-Candy persists, then Candy persists. So there are principled reasons to say that Candy is not just a stage in the history of her material components, while six-foot-Candy is just a stage in the history of Candy. The concern now is that the putative substance which is a complex of form and matter will lack a unitary nature. The current suggestion is that the identity conditions associated with the form have to be different from the identity conditions associated with the matter which at any particular time is characterized by that form.
And the typical ways of changing and developing which are characteristic of being-human must align with the identity conditions associated with the substantial property being-human, and likewise mutatis mutandis for the stuff which is the material components of a human being. So, if the identity conditions associated with form and matter are different, then what it is to persist and change as a human being is different from what it is to persist and change as a lump of matter.
For there appears to be no satisfactory story to tell about how their form and matter are related. On the one hand, it is dangerous to identify them too closely. On the other hand, though, they cannot be too strongly distinguished, for in that case the putative substance tends to fracture into a pair of independent items. One reaction would be to evade the problem by accepting that substances must be imperishable: either immaterial items such as Platonic Forms, numbers or sets; or indestructible material items such as atoms, basic stuffs, or elements.
The second route is likely to sound more appealing to modern ears. Aristotle tries to do this by modelling the relation between form and matter on another relation, between actuality and potentiality Met. H 3, a 30—1; H6, a 23—5 ; and then arguing that the relation between actuality and potentiality elucidates the form—matter relation in just the way we want Met. H 6, b 16—23; Phys. Concerning some there is common agreement about examples everyone recognizes animals and plants as perishable sensible substances , concerning others there is not are there unchangeable substantial Platonic Forms or not?
One main reason to take capacities and potentialities seriously is that they are explanatory. The fact that the liquid is corrosive explains why I keep it away from my walnut table. The fact that Candy is capable of healing explains why she is a good person to take on the Arctic expedition, even though she is not presently curing anyone.
Further, an important way in which capacities and potentialities explain is by connecting items which would otherwise be puzzlingly independent. Candy drank that liquid yesterday and died: why should I avoid it today? Because the fact that it actually poisoned her yesterday is evidence that it is poisonous, and the fact that it has the capacity to poison suggests that it will poison me if I drink it today.
Episodes which are otherwise independent are connected together as manifestations of a capacity which persists unexercised, and the occurrence of those episodes is thereby rendered non-coincidental. The same holds as regards potentialities more generally. The material precursors of the house explain its coming into existence, the material remnants make it clear that it was destroyed.
So one reason to take capacities and potentialities seriously is that they provide explanatory continuity between items which would otherwise be inexplicably independent. To that extent there is no reason to introduce capacities and potentialities in cases which do not involve episodic discontinuity. Reference to its heat explains the boiling, burning, and baking by connecting them together as exercises of a persisting capacity to produce a particular type of change in certain situations. In the absence of that capacity, it should be puzzling why something which boiled water on Monday should bake bread on Wednesday.
But now consider something acting in a particular way without interruption: following Aristotle, the stars moving in the heavens agreed examples will be harder to come by. Since the motion is uninterrupted, there are no discrete episodes of motion to be connected together, and so thus far there is no reason to suppose that this motion is the exercise of a capacity to move.
First, something which persists in the same fashion in one respect can exhibit variation in other respects. The star which moves without interruption is not uninterruptedly in a particular place. Quite the contrary. Possibility, in contrast, is a standard modality. And reference to possibility is not explanatory. For potentiality and actuality extend a more widely than those cases which are so called only in respect of change.
But when we have spoken about this, we shall in the distinctions about actuality clarify the others as well. We have shown elsewhere that potentiality and being potential are 5 spoken of in many ways.
Of these, those that are called potentialities homonymously should be set aside for some are so called because of some similarity, as in geometry and as we speak of what is possible and impossible because things are or are not in a certain way ; whereas with those that relate to the same type, they are all origins of some kind, and are so called in relation to one which is primary, 10 which is an origin of change in something else or in itself qua something else.
For one is the capacity to be acted on, the origin in what is itself affected of being changed and acted on by something else or by itself qua something else; another is the state of not being liable to be acted on for the worse and so as to be destroyed by something else or by itself qua something else—i. Again these capacities are so called either as solely Square brackets indicate supplements provided in translation in order to make the highly compressed Greek intelligible and which are controversial or striking.
Asterisks indicate a textual note see pp. It is plain then that there is in a way one capacity of acting and being affected for something is capable both in that it has a capacity of being acted upon and in that something else can be acted on by it , but in another way they are different. For the one is in the thing affected for it is because it has a certain origin, and because the matter also is a certain origin, that what is affected is affected, and one thing by another; for what is oily can be burnt while what yields in a certain way can be crushed, and similarly as regards other cases ; the other in contrast is in what acts, such as heat and the building craft—the one in what can heat and the other in what can build.
And incapacity and being incapable are the privation that is opposite to the capacity of this sort, so that every capacity and incapacity are for the same thing and in the same respect. Privation is spoken of in many ways; for it covers both what does not have a feature, and a feature which is natural but which something does not have, either generally or when it is natural, and either in a certain way, for example, entirely, or even in any other way.
As regards some cases which naturally have a feature, but do not have it due to force, we say these have been deprived. CHAPTER 2 b 5 Since some origins like this are present in what is soul-less, while others are in what has a soul, and are in the soul, and are in that part of the soul which is rational, it is clear that of capacities too some will be non-rational, while others will be rational. That is why all crafts and all productive sciences are capacities.
For they are origins of change in something else, or in the thing itself qua something else. As regards those capacities which are rational, the very same capacity is a capacity for opposites, but as regards the non-rational capacities a single capacity is for one thing: for example, heat only for heating, while the medical craft for both disease and health. So it is also necessary that such sciences should be of opposites, but concerning the one per se while concerning the other not per se.
Now since opposites do not occur in the same thing, and knowledge is a capacity in that it involves the possession of an account, and the soul has an origin of change, it follows that while what is wholesome produces only health, and what can heat produces only heat and what can cool produces only cold, someone who has knowledge produces both.
For the account concerns both, though not similarly, and it is in the soul which has an origin of change; so it will change them both from the same origin, having connected them to the same thing; that is why what is capable in accordance with an account produces opposites by means of what is capable without an account; for they are covered by a single origin, the account.
It is evident as well that while the bare capacity for doing something or being affected in some way follows the capacity for doing that thing well, that latter capacity does not always follow the former capacity. For it is necessary that someone who does something well also does it, but if someone is just doing something it is not necessary that he also does it well.
For example, someone who is not building is not capable of building, but someone who is building is capable when he is building; and likewise too in other cases. It is not hard to see the absurd consequences of this. For it is clear that someone will not be a builder either unless he is building for to be a builder is to be capable of building , and likewise in the case of the other crafts. It is the same too as regards inanimate things.
For there will be no cold or hot or sweet or in general anything perceptible if things are not being perceived; so it will turn out that they assert the view of Protagoras. Indeed nothing will possess perception if it is not perceiving and acting. Again, if what is deprived of a capacity is impossible, it will be impossible for what is not happening to happen; but someone who says, of something that is impossible to happen, that it either is or will be, says something false for the impossible meant that , so that these views do away with change and coming to be.
For what is standing will always stand, and what is seated will always be seated; for being seated it will not get up; for it is impossible for something not capable of getting up to get up. So if these things cannot be said it is plain that capacity and actuality are different for those arguments make capacity and actuality the same, and so it is no small thing that they try to abolish , so that it can be possible to be something and yet not be that and possible not to be something and yet be that, and likewise too in the case of the other categories—it is possible for something not walking to walk, and possible for something walking not to walk.
And this is what is possible—that for which, if the actuality of which it is said to have the capacity obtains, there will be nothing impossible. I mean, for example, if it is possible for it to sit and it can sit, should sitting belong to it, there will be nothing impossible. And likewise in the case of being changed or changing or standing or making stand or being or coming to be or not being or not coming to be. I mean, for example, if someone were to assert that it is possible for the diagonal to be measured, although it will not be measured—someone who does not take into account what is impossible—because nothing prevents it being possible for something to be or come to be which neither is nor will be.
For the false and the impossible are certainly not the same; for that you are standing now is false, but not impossible. At the same time it is clear also that, if when A is the case it is necessary that B is the case, then also if A is possible it is necessary that B is possible; for if it is not necessary that it is possible, nothing prevents it not being possible. Then let A be possible. But that was impossible. Then let it be impossible. So if A were possible B will be also, if indeed they were so related that if A is the case it is necessary that B is the case.
Then if, when A and B are related in this way, it were not the case that B is possible in this way, A and B will also not be related as laid down. And if when A is possible it is necessary for B to be possible, then if A is the case it is necessary also for B to be the case. For that B is of necessity possible, if A is possible, means this, that if A ever were the case both when and as it was possible then necessarily that too is at that time and in that way.
For all these latter are productive of one thing, and those former are productive of opposites, so that they would produce opposites at the same time; but this is impossible. Then there must be something else which is decisive: I mean by this desire or choice. For whichever it desires decisively, in this way it will act when it is in the condition to be capable, and approaches the patient. And so it is necessary that everything which is capable in accordance with reason, whenever it desires that for which it has the capacity, and in the manner wherein it has the capacity, should act in this way.
That is why even if someone at the same time wished or wanted to do two things or opposites, he will not do them. For it is not in this way that he has the capacity for them, nor is it a capacity to do them at the same time, since it will do things for which it is the capacity in the way in which it is the capacity. Now actuality is the existence of the thing not in the way we call potentially; and we call potentially, for example, Hermes in the wood and the half line in the whole, because they could be separated, and also someone not contemplating we call a knower, if he is capable of contemplating; and in contrast we call other things actually.
If not, it would have had to stop sometime as in the case of making thin, but as it is this is not so, but one is living and has lived. Of these then [[it is necessary]] to call some changes, and others actualities. For all change is incomplete, thinning, learning, walking, house building; these are changes and surely incomplete.
For it is not at the same time that one is walking and has walked, nor building a house and having built a house, nor coming to be and having come to be, nor being changed and having been changed, but these are different, and so too if something is bringing about change and has brought about change. So I call such a thing an actuality, but that thing a change. For example, is earth potentially a 5 10 man? Or not, but rather when it has already become seed, and perhaps not even then?
It is, then, just as it is with health: not everything can be healed by the medical craft or by chance, but there is something which is capable of being healed, and this is potentially healthy. For nature too is in the same class as potentiality; for it is an origin of change, though not in something else but in a thing itself qua itself.
Then actuality is prior to all potentiality of this sort both in account and in substance; and in time in one way it is and in another way it is not. In time it is prior in this way; what is actual, which is the same in form, but not in number, is prior. It was said in the discussions about substance that everything which comes to be comes to be something from something and by means of something, and this is the same in form.
That is why also it seems impossible to be a builder if one has not built anything, or a harpist if one has not played the harp; for it is by playing the harp that someone learning to play the harp does learn to play the harp; and likewise too for other people. It is from this that the sophistical puzzle arises, that someone who does not have knowledge will be doing that which the knowledge is of.
For the learner does not have knowledge. But because something of what is coming to be has come to be and in general something of what is changing has changed this is clear in the discussions about change the learner too must perhaps have something of the knowledge. But at all events it is also clear from this too that actuality is prior in this way to potentiality also, namely in respect of coming to be and time.
For it is not that animals see in order that they may have sight but 10 they have sight so that they may see, and likewise too they possess the building craft in order that they may build and the contemplative ability in order that they may contemplate; but it is not that they contemplate in order that they may have the contemplative ability, except those who are practising; and they do not contemplate except in a certain way, or because they have no need to contemplate. And likewise too in the other cases, and those where the end is a change, which is why just as teachers think they have provided the end when they have shown [their pupils] active, nature also [does] likewise.
For the act of building is in what is being built and comes to be and is at the same time as the house. So it is evident that the substance and the form are actuality. But indeed actuality is prior in a more proper way too. For eternal things are prior in substance to perishable things, and nothing eternal is potentially.
Here is the reason. Every potentiality is at the same time for the contradictory; for while what is not capable of obtaining cannot obtain in anything, everything that is capable can fail to act. So what is capable of being can both be and not be; so the same thing is capable both of being and of not being. That is why the sun and the stars and the entire heaven are always acting, and there is no fear that they may stop at some time, which those who investigate nature fear. Nor do they get tired in doing this; for the change for them does not concern a potentiality for the contradictory, as it does for perishable things, and so the continuity of the change is not laborious; for the cause of this is the substance which is matter and potentiality, not actuality.
For these too are always acting; for they have change both per se and in themselves. But the other potentialities, from what has been determined concerning them, are all for the contradictory; for what is capable of bringing about change in a certain way is capable also of not bringing about change in this way, at any rate in all the cases which are in accordance with reason; and one and the same non-rational [capacity] will be for the contradictory by being and not being present.
Therefore that actuality is prior both to potentiality and to every origin of change is evident. For in the case of those things which are said in accordance with being capable, the same thing is capable of opposites, for example, the same thing which is said to be capable of being healthy is also capable of being diseased, and at the same time.
For the same capacity is for being healthy and for being ill, and for remaining at rest and for being changed, and for building and for demolishing, and for being built and for collapsing. So being capable of opposites obtains at the same time; but the opposites obtaining at the same time is impossible, and it is impossible for the actualities to obtain at the same time for example, being healthy and being ill ; so that it is necessary for the good to be one of these two, but being capable is in the same way both or neither; so the actuality is better.
It is necessary also in the case of bad things for the end and the actuality to be worse than the potentiality; for the same thing is capable of both opposites. So it is clear that the bad is not in addition to the things; for the bad is posterior in nature to the potentiality. So neither in the things which are from the beginning nor in the eternal things is there anything either bad or defective or corrupted for corruption is also one of the bad things.
And the constructions are discovered in actuality; for they discover them by dividing. If they had been divided they would have been evident; but as it is they are in there potentially. Why is the triangle two right angles? Because the angles around one point are equal to two right angles. So if the line parallel to the side had been drawn up, it would have been clear immediately on seeing it.
Why is there universally a right angle in the semi-circle? For it is not because of our truly thinking you to be pale that you are pale, but it is rather because you are pale that we who say this speak the truth. But in connection with those which are impossible otherwise beliefs and statements do not come to be at one time true and at another time false, but the same ones are always true and false. Then in connection with the incomposites, what is it to be or not to be and what is truth and falsity?
For it is not possible to be mistaken in connection with the what-it-is, except accidentally; and similarly too in connection with the substances which are not composite, for it is not possible to be mistaken; and all these substances are actually, not potentially, for if they were potentially they would have come to be and perished, but as it is being-itself neither comes into being nor perishes, for if it did it would come into being from something. Truth is to think these; and there is no falsity, nor a is there any mistake, but [only] ignorance—not [however the sort of ignorance which is] like blindness.
For blindness is like the case in which someone does not possess the ability to think at all. It is also evident that in connection with the unchangeable things there is no mistake in respect of time, if one supposes [that there are] 5 unchangeable things. For example, if one thinks that the triangle does not change, one will not think that at one time it does have two right angles but at another it does not for in that case it would change , but [it can be that] on the one hand some [are] while on the other hand some [are] not.
For example, [someone thinks that] no even numbers are prime, or [that] some are and some are not. But in the case of a single thing one in number not even this [is possible]; for he will no longer think one is and another is not, but 10 he will speak the truth or will speak falsely [in the same way] as [in the cases in which it is] always so. To the extent that Aristotle gives a clear statement of the structure of Met.
An account of the various types of capacity is also to be found in Met. Owen, at Burnyeat 46—8 , compares Met. However, it is not accepted by all. An alternative is provided by Ross Ross distinguishes two notions: power —that is, the capacity of one part of one thing to produce a change in another part ; and potentiality—that is, a capacity in something of passing into a new state of itself Ross pp.
While the discussion of powers capacities for change in Chapters 1—5 prepares for the discussion of potentiality and potential being in Chapters 6—9, it is not itself part of that discussion. The later chapters extend the earlier discussion. They do not move to a radically separate topic. The exercise of that capacity gives rise to an actual change: an actual cutting of something by a saw. In addition, producing a change is a way of being real or being actual: a saw is actually being a saw, is most really a saw, in cutting.
Similarly, possessing the unexercised capacity to cut is also a way of being real: not of course being actual, but being potential. What possesses the unexercised capacity to cut is by that very fact an example of a potential being. Its being in potentiality is not something extra over and above its capacity to cut. It just is its capacity to cut, considered in contrast to its way of being when the capacity is exercised.
However, those metaphysical interests lead beyond the initial discussion of capacities for change. For, while producing a change is a way of being actual, it is not the only way of being actual. Yet living is as much a way of being actual as cutting those who live a human life are thereby actual humans. Applying the notion of actuality to these cases is extending it beyond the initial application to changes—nevertheless there is some way in which I am saying the same sort of thing about the cutting saw as about the living human or the erected house when I cite them all as cases of actual being.
What is more, I will get at a notion of potential being which extends beyond what possesses a capacity to produce changes by directing attention to what stands to a living human or an erected house in the way that the capacity to cut stands to the saw in action. The core of the Frede approach is that I do not introduce something new with this notion of potential being, over and above the capacities I started with.
Such things are actual by virtue of living. For example, a horse is fully actual in living the life of a fully mature specimen of its kind compare GC 1. And living, unlike house building or learning, for example, is not an incomplete change directed at an end outside itself.
H closed H6, b 16—23 , that attention to the notions of actuality and potentiality will clarify the vexed issue of the unity of items which contain both form and matter. Those remarks both support and cause problems for the Frede approach. On any account, the central theme of Met. One important reason, according to the Frede approach, to focus initially on capacities is that they provide an accessible instance of potential being. Further, the need to provide such an account determines the material which has to be covered in preceding chapters.
Finally a point of translation. What Aristotle means by homonymy is explained at Cat. A small burrowing mammal with poor vision, a blemish on the skin and a massive stone pier are all moles, but they are moles only homonymously. If one were to explain what it is for each of these to be a mole, the explanations would be different. Failure to identify, and exclude, homonyms before giving an account of a concept would mean that no organized account could be provided. Failure to recognize that certain items are moles only homonymously would spell disaster for any biological investigation into the nature of moles.
Commentators do not agree on the number of homonymous cases Aristotle has in mind. If Aristotle is identifying two homonymous cases, then the second would be that described at Met. According to Aristotle these different types of capacity are related in a determinate way. This is a common and sophisticated Aristotelian account of a way in which different cases can be covered by the same term. It allows Aristotle something more than the dichotomy between homonymy and synonymy. Animals, diet, complexion, and weather can all be healthy.
What it is for an animal and a diet to be healthy is not the same so these are not synonymous cases of health ; but nor are they merely and accidentally different so they are not homonymous either. That is, one of the cases is primary and a focus for the other secondary cases.
Hence analyses which provide such a structure of non-synonymous instances have come to be known as focal analyses due to Owen: see the seminal discussion in Owen see also Owen ch. Aristotle offers focal accounts in a number of cases. See, for example, Met. Z4, a 35—b 3, MM 2. The focal analysis is explicitly illustrated only for iii , the capacity something has to resist being changed for the worse.
However, the most interesting of the secondary cases is not iii but ii , passive capacities. And [PASS] does not mention active capacities. Cold water possesses a passive capacity to be heated. There are many things which produce no effect on the temperature of cold water—for example, rocks and wool—but that is irrelevant to the passive capacity in question. The treatment of the less important cases iv — vi will be similar. An active capacity is not a capacity to produce changes indiscriminately though.
Fire, for example, has an active capacity to burn in that it is a source of combustion in other things. Nor does it help—although it would be true—to point out that what Aristotle generally recommends in extracting conclusions from the data of received usage and the opinions of others is respect for reputable beliefs, where the beliefs which are reputable need not be the widely held beliefs of common sense, apparent to competent speakers of the language for an example of this recommendation, see EN 7.
It may well be the case, for example, that only someone philosophically adept and sensitive can extract from linguistic usage concerning being the focal structure which takes substance as the primary case Met. It is not necessary to decide precisely what that relation of dependence is. However, the suggestion from Met. If that were not the case, then Aristotle would have no hope of establishing that the two distinctions coincide. It seems obvious that a rational capacity like that can be exercised widely across the non-rational and inanimate world. Then there are sure to be non-rational animal patients who have a two-way passive capacity to be healed and harmed by the veterinarian.
I discuss [A] in this section, [B] in the next. It seems merely to point out that something can be called capable in virtue of having either an active or a passive capacity. This requires expansion. There are two types of unifying item which could be appealed to. The second type of unifying item would be something posterior to the active and passive capacity, something which is not guaranteed to obtain whenever the active and passive capacities exist.
In contrast, the second approach allows that something could have an active capacity without anything having the correlative passive capacity, for example, that craftsmen could have the capacity to build houses in the absence of any materials with the passive capacity to be built into houses—though it does require that, if the one capacity is exercised, so too is the other one. For, if active and passive capacities have to occur in correlative pairs, then there is a symmetrical dependence between them.
The view that features internal to an object are relevant to its possession of a capacity, while features external to it are not, is also in line with the examples Aristotle provides at Met. The inconsistency arises because, if active and passive capacities have to occur in correlative pairs, then there can be conditions external to the bearer of say a passive capacity which will be relevant to the continued possession of that capacity: namely, any features of agents relevant to their continued possession of the correlated active capacity.
So there are reasons not to support [A] by reference to something prior to correlative active and passive capacities. Since it is no longer the case that active and passive capacities have to occur in correlative pairs, this way of supporting [A] does not generate inconsistencies i — iii. Further, this second way of supporting [A] connects [A] in an attractive way with other Aristotelian positions. The view that correlative active and passive capacities have a common exercise is endorsed by Aristotle elsewhere see Phys.
So to the extent, for example, that this active capacity and that passive capacity have the same exercise, there is reason to treat them as one and the same capacity. The structure of his argument is fairly clear. How should talk of capacity location be understood? It might be thought to be something utterly transparent, needing no further explication.
The argument at a 22—6 suggests the following gloss on i. A passive capacity e. That is why Aristotle supports i by citing the type of features in virtue of which something has a passive capacity, and leaving us to notice that those features are features of the patient—for example, wax has the passive capacity to be burned because wax is oily, food tins have the capacity to be crushed because they yield to pressure in a certain way.
It should be noted that there is nothing here to suggest that Aristotle thinks that being oily, for example, is a material basis which is identical to the capacity to be burned, or more generally that he takes capacities to be identical to categorical bases. Further, the notion of matter—like the notion of potentiality with which it is linked—is applied widely by Aristotle, and encompasses more than the stuff of which something is made Met.
All that Aristotle requires for his purposes here is that whatever features are adverted to are indeed features of the patient. Claim ii is merely stated, though the considerations which would support it are obvious, and parallel to those which support i. For, according to the former view, it is neither the case that passive capacities depend on active since the passive capacity exists in virtue of features of the patient, and not in virtue of those features of the agent on which the active capacity depends , nor the case that active capacities depend on passive since the active capacity exists in virtue of features of the agent, and not in virtue of those features of the patient on which the passive capacity depends.
On the one hand, Aristotle wants to treat active and passive capacities similarly, arguing that active and passive capacities depend each in the same way whatever that is on agent and patient respectively: for he appeals to the same reasons for locating active capacities in agents as for locating passive capacities in patients.
On the other hand, the tendency of the focal analysis is to treat active and passive capacities differently, positing an asymmetrical dependence of passive on active capacities, corresponding to the secondary status of the former and the focal status of the latter.
It follows, then, that the problem is not to be resolved simply by arguing that a capacity could be dependent both on features of its bearer and on features of objects other than its bearer. That view may well be true. Let it be granted that there is no inconsistency in holding, for example, that grass is digestible has a passive capacity to be digested by cows both because of its cellular structure and because of the structure of the bovine digestive system in virtue of which cows have an active capacity to digest grass.
Granting that would have the plausible consequence that widespread changes either in the constitution of grass or in cows would result in grass losing its passive capacity to be digested. But that move would go no way towards resolving the present problem. For it will now seem arbitrary not to admit, for example, that cows have an active capacity to digest grass both because of the structure of the bovine digestive system and because of the cellular structure of grass. And, once that is admitted, the passive capacity of grass to be digested is no more dependent on the active capacity of cows to digest grass than vice versa.
The closing comments about privation, a 31—5, are particularly crabbed, and considerable expansion is required to produce a readable translation. The discussion in Met. But it does not expand directly on the claim that different notions of incapacity parallel different notions of capacity. The parallelism is best understood and supported with reference to the discussion of privation in Met.
So we should be able to read different types of incapacity off from the various notions of privation which Aristotle distinguishes in Met. Three claims are then established concerning the relation between these two ways of dividing up capacities: [A] If a capacity is rational then it is a two-way capacity.
Arguments for [A]—[C] are run together throughout b 7— The chapter closes with some disconnected remarks b 24—8 on the relation between the capacity for doing something well and the capacity for doing something simpliciter. These notions were distinguished in the preceding chapter a 16— The Translation of logos The Greek term logos is central to this chapter. Giving a logos of health would be specifying what health is; a logos of health would be an account of the nature of health. First, logos is used to pick out different parts of the soul: some origins of change are in that part of the soul which has logos b 1; compare EN 1.
Second, capacities are divided between those associated with logos and those which are not b 2, 5—6 , according as the capacities are in the part of the soul which has logos or not a 36—b 2. In both these contexts logos is best translated along the lines of ii as rational. In these cases I translate in line with i as account. The position in outline is as follows. One part of the soul is rational b 1 has logos. The bodies of productive expertise which are craft knowledge involve grasping an account of their subject matter b 20—1: possession of a logos in the soul.
And, since the same account applies, in different ways, to a positive and a privation b 8—9, 12—13, 20 , capacities involving a grasp of that account, and agents with those capacities, will be able to produce both positive and privation b 4—5, 10—12, 19— I comment in more detail on that outline in what follows. Its purpose is to introduce one of the two distinctions with which this chapter will be working: that between rational and non-rational capacities.
Aristotle makes four points in this passage, whose logical relation to one another calls for some comment: i Some origins of change are found in what is soul-less, others in the rational part of the soul a 36—b 1. Aristotle now points out that capacities are attributed to different types of bearer, and in virtue of different features of those bearers.
First capacities are divided according as their bearers are non-living for example, acids have the capacity to corrode metals or living a 36—7. A capacity is located in the rational soul if a bearer possesses the capacity in virtue of being alive rational. The claim that something possesses a capacity in virtue of being alive is stronger than the claim that the bearer is in fact alive, and there are capacities whose bearers are in fact alive but which are not located in the soul.
The capacity to prove geometrical theorems is in the rational part of the soul: it is possessed in virtue of being rational. The distinction Aristotle is concerned to draw is between capacities possessed by rational living things, in so far as they are rational for example, my capacity to write English , and all the others. The former class are rational capacities, the latter non-rational. Aristotle is modest in claiming iii , that crafts are capacities simpliciter.
The preceding i and ii entitle him to the stronger claim that crafts are rational capacities since they are possessed by living rational agents in so far as they are living and rational. Why does Aristotle bother to assert iii? One reason is just that crafts for example, medical skill will be his paradigm example in what follows of two-way, rational capacities.
The other, more interesting, reason concerns the argument which will follow b 15— 24 , about the way in which rational craft capacities are used to achieve their various effects. It is important for that argument that a craft capacity be located in the rational part of the soul b 20—1 , since it is that claim about location which secures the further crucial result that in so far as someone possesses a craft capacity she will have a common understanding of a positive outcome for example, health and its privation for example, disease , and can instigate opposed courses of action.
A skilled doctor can use her medical expertise both to heal and to harm—for example, by prescribing certain drugs or letting certain conditions run their course b 6—7. In contrast, a particular non-rational active capacity gives rise to only one outcome this is stated in compressed fashion at b 6—7, with an example following at b 7—8. The only effect that heat will produce on something is to make it hotter; an acid will only ever turn litmus solution red. It is best to start with the simpler case of one-way capacities. But i is unsatisfactory as it stands. A non-rational capacity often gives rise to a plurality of effects on a single occasion—indeed Aristotle elsewhere offers an extended treatment of the different ways in which things are hot, and in which they heat and cool PA 2.
In some cases the different effects to which something hot gives rise will be merely various but consistent a hot oven will not only heat the dough put into it but also cause it to change colour and increase in size. In other cases a causal chain may be initiated in which contrary effects occur successively. The sun can in a way bring about cooling, if it heats me up, my pores open, I sweat, and I cool down Aquinas, Comm.
In all these cases, however, there is some privileged or proper effect the dough, my body, the ice, and the moist clay are all heated. However, ii requires further amendment in face of a second set of more intractable problems. Greater complications attach to the translation of the "potential" terms. The verb dunasthai is "to be capable. Because this form appears almost exclusively in chapters , Makin renders other forms of this noun as "potentiality" in those chapters.
However, in chapters , he finds this term "unnecessarily opaque" and, with a few exceptions, uses "capacity" instead, along with its convenient privative form, "incapacity. He does not say whether he considered "potency" as a translation. Even greater complexity arises with dunaton. Makin translates this term with reference to a distinction between "possibility" and "capacity" that is essential to both commentary and translation cf. The distinction is drawn within the "very wide range of weak modalities"; "weak" because the fact that something can be done does not entail that it is done xxiv.
I embezzle money, so I "can" embezzle in the sense of physical possibility, but embezzling does not entail that I "can" do so ethically. Thus, [T] holds for physical possibilities, but not for 'ethical permissions' or 'epistemic licenses'. An unskilled person might build a wall that stands or perform a just deed, but this does not entail the presence of a capacity art or virtue. The modalities for which [T] holds are 'standard modalities' and include "logical, physical, and temporal possibilities" xxv. Thus, " dunaton will sometimes be translated 'capable', sometimes 'possible'.
The choice of translation at a particular place will reflect whether the modality is being treated as standard or non-standard in the passage in question" xxvi. By reference to [T], Makin is able to address in the commentary ambiguities inherent to the Greek and produce definite interpretations of many passages. In many respects, Makin ties the translation to and makes it dependent on the commentary. In fact, Makin declares Aristotle's own way of expressing this distinction in Metaphysics Delta , ch.
The deployment of Makin's strategy also raises questions. For example, at a, he translates: "Again, if what is deprived of a capacity is impossible. He defends "impossible" over "incapable" as required by his translation policy 69 , but does not explain what this phrase means. See other translations and consider the similar text at a These difficulties are noteworthy because at key points Aristotle's text and argument are interpreted by reference to [T].
Makin almost always translates clearly; the few supplements are normally, but not uniformly, marked by brackets compare a, a3, and b with ba The commentary explains some translation decisions, but not all. For example, to thermantikon a27 , is rendered with a modal verb as "what can heat," just as are most terms with that suffix, but not all see a, a6, and a8; compare b1 and at b He translates kai as "and" a even when he thinks it should be read as "namely" At b, a similar translation of kai yields "the substance and the form are actuality.
Finally, in the "Textual Notes" , Makin indicates discrepancies between Ross's text and Jaeger's text and says he has followed Ross, except in twenty-eight passages, conveniently marked by asterisks in the translation. In one unidentified departure from this practice, he adopts an emendation suggested but not used by Jaeger and not mentioned by Ross a Normally, Makin avoids technical textual criticism. In one exception, he translates the manuscript reading, but interprets it according to an alternative suggestion In a more substantive case, his provides a textually and philosophically interesting analysis of b, arguing that it should not be readily taken as decisive for the rest of Theta Each chapter of the commentary corresponds to one chapter of Theta and begins with an "overview" of the chapter's contents.
Headers on each page identify the chapter under consideration. The commentary is replete with helpful references to various parts of Aristotle's corpus, especially other books of Metaphysics most frequently Delta. Unfortunately, not all references appear in the Index Locorum.
He refers forward and backward to his own commentary, tying its parts together. He inventively discerns possible meanings and generates supporting arguments. For example, he devises a nice translation of b, preserving it from Ross's charge of being "rather pointless" Generally, he gives interesting and helpful analyses where the text itself may be vague: the specification of the content of capacities ff. Makin refers occasionally to Plato, but does not often connect Aristotle's text to ancient figures or to the tradition of Aristotelian interpretation and commentary. References to recent secondary literature are common, though he cites just twelve sources published after Makin articulates a clear structure of Theta, which reflects the interpretation of Frede xi-xviii, , and This subject determines the content and order of those chapters Chapters treat "the potentiality-actuality distinction conceived more generally" xiv.
Chapter 10 treats truth and falsity and is "tangential" xii. Chapters "extend a notion by analogy" from the exemplary case to new cases of the very same notion The transition consists in moving from one familiar relation change-capacity , not "sideways" to another relation substance-matter , but "upwards," to a higher level, to a more general schema common to several relations: actual-potential being The schema is a "common pattern" that can be "identified by drawing attention to the analogies between different cases" Differences among the cases mean there is no single actuality-potentiality relation of which to speak For example, the eternal-perishable instantiation has no teleological component and eternal actualities are not the actualization of underlying potentiality The general schema relates energeia and dunamis , which is "potentiality" here, but "capacity" at the lower level Thus, in the commentary, "capacity" and "potentiality" mark whether Makin has in mind dunamis in the use coordinated with change or dunamis in the schematic use coordinated with actuality.
In this light, the introduction seems to have understated the distinction between the two translations of dunamis. These many senses of "capacity" are ordered in a "focal analysis" around the primary type, the "active capacity"