Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Metaphysics

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.)
THERE 1 is then something which is always moved with an unceasing motion: and that motion is in a circle: and this is plain not by reasoning only but in fact: so that the first heaven must be eternal. There is then something [also] which moves it. But since †a mover which is moved is an intermediate, there must be also some mover which is unmoved [by another]†, eternal, existing as substance and actuality (or energy). Now the object whether of thought or desire causes movement in this way; it causes movement without being itself moved. And the primary objects of thought and desire are the same; for while the object of appetite is the apparently good, the primary object of rational desire is the really good, and our desire is consequent on our opinion, rather than our opinion on our desire: for the first cause is the thinking. And the Reason (or intellect) is moved by the object of its thought: and in the classification of objects of thought substance (or Being) is primary, and of substance that which is absolute and in energy (or actuality)….. But moreover also the good and the absolutely desirable are in the same class; and that is best, always or proportionally, which is primary.  1
  But that the Final Cause is among things unmoved is shown by logical distinction, since it is [an object which exists] for the sake of something (which desires it): and of these [two terms] the one (the object) is unmoved, while the other (which desires it) is not. The Final Cause then causes movement as beloved, and something moved by it moves all other things.  2
  Now if something is moved it is capable of being otherwise than it is. Therefore if the first †turning of the heaven be an energy (or actuality) and is so by virtue of its being set in motion [by another agency than its own]†, it might be otherwise, in place if not in substance. But since, on the other hand, there is some mover, itself unmoved, existing in energy, this may not be otherwise in any way. For locomotion is the primary change, and of locomotion that which is circular: and this circular motion is that which this unmoved mover causes.  3
  Of necessity then it is Being, and so far as of necessity, excellently, and so a Principle (or first Cause)…… From such a first cause then are suspended the Heaven and Nature. And the occupation (or living work) of this Principle is such as is the best, during a little while indeed for us, but itself is ever in this state,—which we cannot be—since its energy is also its pleasure.—And therefore it is that our waking and sensation and thinking are pleasantest to us, while hopes and memories are pleasant indirectly thro’ these activities.—And thought, in itself, deals with the object which is best in itself, and the supreme with the supreme. Now it is itself that thought (or intellect) thinks, on account of its participation in the object of thought: for it becomes its own object in the act of apprehending and thinking its objects: so that thought (intellect) and the object of thought are one and the same thing. For that which is receptive of the object of thought and can apprehend substance, is thought (or intellect). But it is in energy by possessing its object, so that this (final energy of possession) rather than that (initial receptivity) is what thought seems to have divine: and the energy of intellectual speculation is what is pleasantest and best.  4
  If then in this good estate, as we are sometimes, God is always, it is wonderful, and if more so, then still more wonderful. But God is so, and life indeed belongs to God. For the energy of thought is life, and that is God’s energy. We say then that God is a living being, eternal, best: so that life and an age continuous and eternal belong to God, for this is God.  5
Note 1. Aristotle. Met. A. 10. This, the one original foundation of the Christian doctrine on the subject, is of extreme interest. There is no doubt about the meaning, but translation is difficult and the text is corrupt in two places: these are marked by daggers †, between which I give probably true paraphrases of what A. said or wrote. The words in italics offer the logical equivalent of a part of the argument, the detail of which is to us obscurely remote and logically negligible. I have attempted to give as readable an English version as possible. Dante, who got at Aristotle through the Latin and Thos. Aquinas, thus versifies the doctrine:
Ed io rispondo: Credo in uno Dio
Solo ed eterno, che tutto ’l ciel muove,
Non moto, con amore e con disio.
Par. xxiv. t. 44 (moto = mosso), and see Cant. xxvi. I consulted W. D. Ross’s valuable translation, Oxford, 1908, but worked on a MS. rendering by my friend Mr. Thos. Case, President of C.C.C., who has supervised my translation. [Trans. R. Bridges.] [back]

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