Readings 2


by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


Meno. Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue is acquired by teaching or by practice; or if neither by teaching nor practice, then whether it comes to man by nature, or in what other way? 

Socrates. O Meno, there was a time when the Thessalians were famous among the other Hellenes only for their riches and their riding; but now, if I am not mistaken, they are equally famous for their wisdom, especially at Larisa, which is the native city of your friend Aristippus. And this is Gorgias' doing; for when he came there, the flower of the Aleuadae, among them your admirer Aristippus, and the other chiefs of the Thessalians, fell in love with his wisdom. And he has taught you the habit of answering questions in a grand and bold style, which becomes those who know, and is the style in which he himself answers all comers; and any Hellene who likes may ask him anything. How different is our lot! my dear Meno. Here at Athens there is a dearth of the commodity, and all wisdom seems to have emigrated from us to you. I am certain that if you were to ask any Athenian whether virtue was natural or acquired, he would laugh in your face, and say: "Stranger, you have far too good an opinion of me, if you think that I can answer your question. For I literally do not know what virtue is, and much less whether it is acquired by teaching or not." And I myself, Meno, living as I do in this region of poverty, am as poor as the rest of the world; and I confess with shame that I know literally nothing about virtue; and when I do not know the "quid" of anything how can I know the "quale"? How, if I knew nothing at all of Meno, could I tell if he was fair, or the opposite of fair; rich and noble, or the reverse of rich and noble? Do you think that I could?

Men. No, Indeed. But are you in earnest, Socrates, in saying that you do not know what virtue is? And am I to carry back this report of you to Thessaly?

Soc. Not only that, my dear boy, but you may say further that I have never known of any one else who did, in my judgment.

Men. Then you have never met Gorgias when he was at Athens? Soc. Yes, I have.

Men. And did you not think that he knew?

Soc. I have not a good memory, Meno, and therefore I cannot now tell what I thought of him at the time. And I dare say that he did know, and that you know what he said: please, therefore, to remind me of what he said; or, if you would rather, tell me your own view; for I suspect that you and he think much alike.

Men. Very true.

Soc. Then as he is not here, never mind him, and do you tell me: By the gods, Meno, be generous, and tell me what you say that virtue is; for I shall be truly delighted to find that I have been mistaken, and that you and Gorgias do really have this knowledge; although I have been just saying that I have never found anybody who had.

Men. There will be no difficulty, Socrates, in answering your question. Let us take first the virtue of a man-he should know how to administer the state, and in the administration of it to benefit his friends and harm his enemies; and he must also be careful not to suffer harm himself. A woman's virtue, if you wish to know about that, may also be easily described: her duty is to order her house, and keep what is indoors, and obey her husband. Every age, every condition of life, young or old, male or female, bond or free, has a different virtue: there are virtues numberless, and no lack of definitions of them; for virtue is relative to the actions and ages of each of us in all that we do. And the same may be said of vice, Socrates. 

Soc. How fortunate I am, Meno! When I ask you for one virtue, you present me with a swarm of them, which are in your keeping. Suppose that I carry on the figure of the swarm, and ask of you, What is the nature of the bee? and you answer that there are many kinds of bees, and I reply: But do bees differ as bees, because there are many and different kinds of them; or are they not rather to be distinguished by some other quality, as for example beauty, size, or shape? How would you answer me?

Men. I should answer that bees do not differ from one another, as bees.

Soc. And if I went on to say: That is what I desire to know, Meno; tell me what is the quality in which they do not differ, but are all alike;-would you be able to answer?

Men. I should.

Soc. And so of the virtues, however many and different they may be, they have all a common nature which makes them virtues; and on this he who would answer the question, "What is virtue?" would do well to have his eye fixed: Do you understand?

Men. I am beginning to understand; but I do not as yet take hold of the question as I could wish.

Soc. When you say, Meno, that there is one virtue of a man, another of a woman, another of a child, and so on, does this apply only to virtue, or would you say the same of health, and size, and strength? Or is the nature of health always the same, whether in man or woman?

Men. I should say that health is the same, both in man and woman. 

Soc. And is not this true of size and strength? If a woman is strong, she will be strong by reason of the same form and of the same strength subsisting in her which there is in the man. I mean to say that strength, as strength, whether of man or woman, is the same. Is there any difference?

Men. I think not.

Soc. And will not virtue, as virtue, be the same, whether in a child or in a grown-up person, in a woman or in a man?

Men. I cannot help feeling, Socrates, that this case is different from the others.

Soc. But why? Were you not saying that the virtue of a man was to order a state, and the virtue of a woman was to order a house? 

Men. I did say so.

Soc. And can either house or state or anything be well ordered without temperance and without justice?

Men. Certainly not.

Soc. Then they who order a state or a house temperately or justly order them with temperance and justice?

Men. Certainly.

Soc. Then both men and women, if they are to be good men and women, must have the same virtues of temperance and justice? 

Men. True.

Soc. And can either a young man or an elder one be good, if they are intemperate and unjust?

Men. They cannot.

Soc. They must be temperate and just?

Men. Yes.

Soc. Then all men are good in the same way, and by participation in the same virtues?

Men. Such is the inference.

Soc. And they surely would not have been good in the same way, unless their virtue had been the same?

Men. They would not.

Soc. Then now that the sameness of all virtue has been proven, try and remember what you and Gorgias say that virtue is.

Men. Will you have one definition of them all?

Soc. That is what I am seeking.

Men. If you want to have one definition of them all, I know not what to say, but that virtue is the power of governing mankind. 

Soc. And does this definition of virtue include all virtue? Is virtue the same in a child and in a slave, Meno? Can the child govern his father, or the slave his master; and would he who governed be any longer a slave?

Men. I think not, Socrates.

Soc. No, indeed; there would be small reason in that. Yet once more, fair friend; according to you, virtue is "the power of governing"; but do you not add "justly and not unjustly"?

Men. Yes, Socrates; I agree there; for justice is virtue. 

Soc. Would you say "virtue," Meno, or "a virtue"?

Men. What do you mean?

Soc. I mean as I might say about anything; that a round, for example, is "a figure" and not simply "figure," and I should adopt this mode of speaking, because there are other figures.

Men. Quite right; and that is just what I am saying about virtue-that there are other virtues as well as justice.

Soc. What are they? tell me the names of them, as I would tell you the names of the other figures if you asked me.

Men. Courage and temperance and wisdom and magnanimity are virtues; and there are many others.

Soc. Yes, Meno; and again we are in the same case: in searching after one virtue we have found many, though not in the same way as before; but we have been unable to find the common virtue which runs through them all.

Men. Why, Socrates, even now I am not able to follow you in the attempt to get at one common notion of virtue as of other things. 

Soc. No wonder; but I will try to get nearer if I can, for you know that all things have a common notion. Suppose now that some one asked you the question which I asked before: Meno, he would say, what is figure? And if you answered "roundness," he would reply to you, in my way of speaking, by asking whether you would say that roundness is "figure" or "a figure"; and you would answer "a figure." 

Men. Certainly.

Soc. And for this reason-that there are other figures?

Men. Yes.

Soc. And if he proceeded to ask, What other figures are there? you would have told him.

Men. I should.

Soc. And if he similarly asked what colour is, and you answered whiteness, and the questioner rejoined, Would you say that whiteness is colour or a colour? you would reply, A colour, because there are other colours as well.

Men. I should.

Soc. And if he had said, Tell me what they are?-you would have told him of other colours which are colours just as much as whiteness.

Men. Yes.

Soc. And suppose that he were to pursue the matter in my way, he would say: Ever and anon we are landed in particulars, but this is not what I want; tell me then, since you call them by a common name, and say that they are all figures, even when opposed to one another, what is that common nature which you designate as figure-which contains straight as well as round, and is no more one than the other-that would be your mode of speaking?

Men. Yes.

Soc. And in speaking thus, you do not mean to say that the round is round any more than straight, or the straight any more straight than round?

Men. Certainly not.

Soc. You only assert that the round figure is not more a figure than the straight, or the straight than the round?

Men. Very true.

Soc. To what then do we give the name of figure? Try and answer. Suppose that when a person asked you this question either about figure or colour, you were to reply, Man, I do not understand what you want, or know what you are saying; he would look rather astonished and say: Do you not understand that I am looking for the "simile in multis"? And then he might put the question in another form: Mono, he might say, what is that "simile in multis" which you call figure, and which includes not only round and straight figures, but all? Could you not answer that question, Meno? I wish that you would try; the attempt will be good practice with a view to the answer about virtue. 

Men. I would rather that you should answer, Socrates.

Soc. Shall I indulge you?

Men. By all means.

Soc. And then you will tell me about virtue?

Men. I will.

Soc. Then I must do my best, for there is a prize to be won. 

Men. Certainly.

Soc. Well, I will try and explain to you what figure is. What do you say to this answer?-Figure is the only thing which always follows colour. Will you be satisfied with it, as I am sure that I should be, if you would let me have a similar definition of virtue?

. . . .

Men. Well then, Socrates, virtue, as I take it, is when he, who desires the honourable, is able to provide it for himself; so the poet says, and I say too-

Virtue is the desire of things honourable and the power of attaining them.

Soc. And does he who desires the honourable also desire the good? 

Men. Certainly.

Soc. Then are there some who desire the evil and others who desire the good? Do not all men, my dear sir, desire good?

Men. I think not.

Soc. There are some who desire evil?

Men. Yes.

Soc. Do you mean that they think the evils which they desire, to be good; or do they know that they are evil and yet desire them? 

Men. Both, I think.

Soc. And do you really imagine, Meno, that a man knows evils to be evils and desires them notwithstanding?

Men. Certainly I do.

Soc. And desire is of possession?

Men. Yes, of possession.

Soc. And does he think that the evils will do good to him who possesses them, or does he know that they will do him harm? 

Men. There are some who think that the evils will do them good, and others who know that they will do them harm.

Soc. And, in your opinion, do those who think that they will do them good know that they are evils?

Men. Certainly not.

Soc. Is it not obvious that those who are ignorant of their nature do not desire them; but they desire what they suppose to be goods although they are really evils; and if they are mistaken and suppose the evils to be good they really desire goods?

Men. Yes, in that case.

Soc. Well, and do those who, as you say, desire evils, and think that evils are hurtful to the possessor of them, know that they will be hurt by them?

Men. They must know it.

Soc. And must they not suppose that those who are hurt are miserable in proportion to the hurt which is inflicted upon them?

Men. How can it be otherwise?

Soc. But are not the miserable ill-fated?

Men. Yes, indeed.

Soc. And does any one desire to be miserable and ill-fated? 

Men. I should say not, Socrates.

Soc. But if there is no one who desires to be miserable, there is no one, Meno, who desires evil; for what is misery but the desire and possession of evil?

Men. That appears to be the truth, Socrates, and I admit that nobody desires evil.

Soc. And yet, were you not saying just now that virtue is the desire and power of attaining good?

Men. Yes, I did say so.

Soc. But if this be affirmed, then the desire of good is common to all, and one man is no better than another in that respect? 

Men. True.

Soc. And if one man is not better than another in desiring good, he must be better in the power of attaining it?

Men. Exactly.

Soc. Then, according to your definition, virtue would appear to be the power of attaining good?

Men. I entirely approve, Socrates, of the manner in which you now view this matter.

Soc. Then let us see whether what you say is true from another point of view; for very likely you may be right:-You affirm virtue to be the power of attaining goods?

Men. Yes.

Soc. And the goods which mean are such as health and wealth and the possession of gold and silver, and having office and honour in the state-those are what you would call goods?

Men. Yes, I should include all those.

Soc. Then, according to Meno, who is the hereditary friend of the great king, virtue is the power of getting silver and gold; and would you add that they must be gained piously, justly, or do you deem this to be of no consequence? And is any mode of acquisition, even if unjust and dishonest, equally to be deemed virtue?

Men. Not virtue, Socrates, but vice.

Soc. Then justice or temperance or holiness, or some other part of virtue, as would appear, must accompany the acquisition, and without them the mere acquisition of good will not be virtue.

Men. Why, how can there be virtue without these?

Soc. And the non-acquisition of gold and silver in a dishonest manner for oneself or another, or in other words the want of them, may be equally virtue?

Men. True.

Soc. Then the acquisition of such goods is no more virtue than the non-acquisition and want of them, but whatever is accompanied by justice or honesty is virtue, and whatever is devoid of justice is vice.

Men. It cannot be otherwise, in my judgment.

Soc. And were we not saying just now that justice, temperance, and the like, were each of them a part of virtue?

Men. Yes.

Soc. And so, Meno, this is the way in which you mock me. 

Men. Why do you say that, Socrates?

Soc. Why, because I asked you to deliver virtue into my hands whole and unbroken, and I gave you a pattern according to which you were to frame your answer; and you have forgotten already, and tell me that virtue is the power of attaining good justly, or with justice; and justice you acknowledge to be a part of virtue.

Men. Yes.

Soc. Then it follows from your own admissions, that virtue is doing what you do with a part of virtue; for justice and the like are said by you to be parts of virtue.

Men. What of that?

Soc. What of that! Why, did not I ask you to tell me the nature of virtue as a whole? And you are very far from telling me this; but declare every action to be virtue which is done with a part of virtue; as though you had told me and I must already know the whole of virtue, and this too when frittered away into little pieces. And, therefore, my dear I fear that I must begin again and repeat the same question: What is virtue? for otherwise, I can only say, that every action done with a part of virtue is virtue; what else is the meaning of saying that every action done with justice is virtue? Ought I not to ask the question over again; for can any one who does not know virtue know a part of virtue?

Men. No; I do not say that he can.

Soc. Do you remember how, in the example of figure, we rejected any answer given in terms which were as yet unexplained or unadmitted? 

Men. Yes, Socrates; and we were quite right in doing so. 

Soc. But then, my friend, do not suppose that we can explain to any one the nature of virtue as a whole through some unexplained portion of virtue, or anything at all in that fashion; we should only have to ask over again the old question, What is virtue? Am I not right? 

Men. I believe that you are.

Soc. Then begin again, and answer me, What, according to you and your friend Gorgias, is the definition of virtue?

Men. O Socrates, I used to be told, before I knew you, that you were always doubting yourself and making others doubt; and now you are casting your spells over me, and I am simply getting bewitched and enchanted, and am at my wits' end. And if I may venture to make a jest upon you, you seem to me both in your appearance and in your power over others to be very like the flat torpedo fish, who torpifies those who come near him and touch him, as you have now torpified me, I think. For my soul and my tongue are really torpid, and I do not know how to answer you; and though I have been delivered of an infinite variety of speeches about virtue before now, and to many persons-and very good ones they were, as I thought-at this moment I cannot even say what virtue is. And I think that. you are very wise in not voyaging and going away from home, for if you did in other places as do in Athens, you would be cast into prison as a magician. 

Soc. You are a rogue, Meno, and had all but caught me.

Men. What do you mean, Socrates?

Soc. I can tell why you made a simile about me.

Men. Why?

Soc. In order that I might make another simile about you. For I know that all pretty young gentlemen like to have pretty similes made about them-as well they may-but I shall not return the compliment. As to my being a torpedo, if the torpedo is torpid as well as the cause of torpidity in others, then indeed I am a torpedo, but not otherwise; for I perplex others, not because I am clear, but because I am utterly perplexed myself. And now I know not what virtue is, and you seem to be in the same case, although you did once perhaps know before you touched me. However, I have no objection to join with you in the enquiry.

Men. And how will you enquire, Socrates, into that which you do not know? What will you put forth as the subject of enquiry? And if you find what you want, how will you ever know that this is the thing which you did not know?

Soc. I know, Meno, what you mean; but just see what a tiresome dispute you are introducing. You argue that man cannot enquire either about that which he knows, or about that which he does not know; for if he knows, he has no need to enquire; and if not, he cannot; for he does not know the, very subject about which he is to enquire.

Men. Well, Socrates, and is not the argument sound?

Soc. I think not.

The Isogoge of Porphyry  

(Chapters One through Six)

translated by Anthony Andres

Chapter One

Since it is necessary, Chrysaoros, both for the teaching on the Aristotelian Categories and for giving definitions, to know what genus, difference, species, property, accident are; and since knowledge of these wholly useful for those [sciences] which look to division and demonstration; therefore, in this short treatise I will try to discuss a few things, as the nature of an introduction demands, which were known by the ancient philosophers.

I will abstain from hidden questions, instead throwing myself more lightly into simpler matters: I will very much avoid whether genus and species exist in the nature of things, or have only been posited as bare notions of the mind; and, if they exist in the nature of things, whether they are bodies or non-bodily; and I excuse myself from saying whether they are separated, or existing in and around sensible things, since the treatment of such questions is most hidden and needs a greater inquiry at another time. Yet I will try to show you now that the ancients, especially the Peripatetics, discussed these and our other proposed topics in a way more fitting to Logic.

Chapter Two

About Genus

1. It seems that neither species nor genus are spoken of in just one way. Rather, a collection of some men, who were related to a certain man and in some way among themselves, was called a genus [race]. The genus Heraclidae was named a genus according to this meaning of the word because of the relation which a multitude has to this one man, Hercules, and to each other, since all born from his stock are in some way related. It was given this name to distinguish it from other genera.

2. Again, genus has another meaning. A principle from which one is born, either the man who begat one or the place where one was born, gives rise to a genus. Thus, we say that Orestes is from the genus of Tantalus, Hyllum from Hercules, but Pindar from the genus of Thebes, and Plato from Athens, since one’s fatherland is a certain principle from which one arises, just as a father is. This meaning of the word is very clear. For the Heraclidae are named after Hercules, and the Cecropidae are those from Cecrope and the surrounding areas. And what is first called as genus is that principle from which one comes, then later the multitude of those who have arisen from the one principle. We name the whole multitude by the genus which defines it, dividing it from others, for example, the genus of Heraclidae.

3. In another way, that under which species is placed is the genus, perhaps through the example of those things so called. Such a genus is a certain principle of these things that are under it, and it also seems to contain a whole multitude which is under it.

4. Since therefore genus is spoken of in three separate ways, the philosophers use it in the third way. They also explain it through this description, saying that the genus is what is attributed to many differing in species in answer to the question “what is it?” just as animal is. For of those things which are attributed, some are predicated of one thing only as individual, just as “Socrates,” and “this,” and “that.” Others are said of many, such as genus, species, difference, property, and accident, things said commonly and not just of one thing. Genus is something such as animal, species such as man, difference such as rational, property such as risible, accident such as white, blacking, sitting. Genus differs from those that are attributed to one only, since it is attributed to many. Genus differs from those that are attributed to many in the following ways: from species, even though species is also attributed to many, nevertheless it is not attributed to many differing in species, but only in number; for example, man, being a species, is attributed to Socrates and Plato, who do not differ from one another in species, but only in number. Animal, however, since it is a genus, is attributed to man and cow and horse, which differ from one another not only in number, but in species.

Genus differs from property because property belongs to only one species, of which it is the property, and the individuals contained under that species. For example, risible is attributed only to man and particular men. A genus, however, is attributed not just to one, but to many different species. Genus truly differs from difference and common accident in that, even though these are also attributed to many different species, they are yet not attributed in answer to the question “what is it?” For if someone asks us, “”what is that to which this is attributed?” we answer with the genus. We do not respond with a difference or an accident, since these are not attributed in answer to the question “what is it?” but rather in answer to the question “what kind of thing is it?” When someone asks “what kind of thing is man?” we answer “rational.” And when he asks: “what kind of thing is a raven?” we answer “black.” Rational is a difference, black an accident. But when we are asked what man is, we answer “animal” which is man’s genus. Genus then is distinguished from the individual by this, that the former is said of many, but the latter of merely one. It is distinguished from those which are attributed as species and property by this, that it is said of those differing in species. Finally, by this, that it is attributed in answer to the question “what is it?” it is separated from difference and common accident, which are attributed in answer “what kind of thing is it?” or “how is it affected?” for those things to which they are attributed. We have neither added nor omitted anything in the aforesaid description of the notion of genus.

Chapter Three

Of the Individual and the Species, Both Lowest and Subalternate

1. Each form is also called a species, and because of this meaning of the term it has been said, “Species is first indeed, and worthy to command.”

2. Each thing which is placed under some given genus is called a species. According to this meaning, we are accustomed to say that man is a species of animal, since animal is his genus. White also is a species of color, and triangle a species of figure.

3. Now we mention the species in explaining the genus, saying that it is attributed to many differing in species in answer to the question “what is it?” Similarly, we say that the species is placed under a given genus. We must realize that the genus is the genus of something, and the species is the species of something, and both of both. Therefore, it is necessary that use both in the definition of both.

4. They also explain species as follows: species is that which is collected under the genus; and, that to which genus is attributed in answer to the question “what is it?” Moreover, they also say that species is that which it attributed to many things differing in number in answer to the question “what is it?” - But this is really an explanation of the lowest species which is only a species and never a genus; the other explanations also belong to those which are not the lowest species.

5. In this way what we say will be made clear. In every category certain genera are highest, certain species are lowest, and between the highest genus and lowest species are other which are called both genera and species. The highest genus is that above which there cannot be another genus. The lowest species are those below which there cannot be another species. Between the highest genus and lowest species are others which are both genera and species, as related to different things.

6. What we are saying is made manifest in one category. Substance is a genus; under it is body, and under body living body, under which is animal. Under animal is rational animal, under which is man; under man are Socrates, Plato, and other particular men. Among these, substance is the highest genus since it is only a genus, but man is the lowest species since it is only a species. Body, however, is both a species of substance and the genus of living body. Also, living body is a species of body, but the genus of animal. Again, animal is a species of living body, but the genus of rational animal, while rational animal is a species of animal, but the genus of man. Man, however, is still a species of rational animal, but it is not the genus of particular men, but is only their species. And whatever is placed before individuals and proximately attributed to them, is only a species, not a genus.

Just as substance, which is posited in the highest place, since there is no genus before it, is the highest genus; so also man who, though a species, has not other species posited after it and has nothing which enables it to be divided into species but only into individuals (for Socrates, Alcibiades, Plato, and this white thing are all called individuals), is only a species, and is the extreme species and (as we say) the lowest species. Those coming in the middle are before species, after genera.

These latter have two relations, one to what comes before, in relation to which they are called their species, the other to what comes after, in relation to which they are called their genera. The extremes of course have only one relation: for the highest genus has a relation to its inferiors, since it is the highest genus of all. But it does not have one with regard to superiors. For it is the highest and the first principle and, as we say, that above which there is no higher genus.

But also the lowest species have one relation toward what is prior, toward that of which it is a species. It does not have different relations by which it is referred to its inferiors, but it is called a species also with regard to the individuals. Indeed it is called the species of the individuals insofar as it contains them; but it is called the species of prior things because it is contained by them.

7. Therefore they define the highest genus as that which is a genus, but not a species; and again, that above which there cannot be another genus. They define the lowest species, however, thus: that which, while it is a species, is not a genus and which, while it is a species, cannot be divided into species. Again, they define it as that which is attributed to many differing in number in answer to the question “what is it?” The middles between the extremes they call subalternate species and genera, and each of them is posited to be both a genus and a species, although relating in one way to one, in another to another. For those which are before the lowest species in ascending to the highest genus are called subalternate genera and species. This is just as Agamemnon is from Atreus, who is from Pelops, who is from Tantalus, who is from Zeus.

8. In genealogies, the many are finally all referred to one beginning, for example, Zeus, but in genera and species this does not happen. For being is not the genus common to all things, neither are all things of the same kind by reason of some other supreme genus, but as Aristotle says in the Categories, there are ten first principles. For, he asks, if all things are called being, will the name have the same meaning, or not? Even if being is the common genus of all things, it will have different meanings, and so there will be ten first things, having a community in name only, but not in the definitions attributed to that name. Therefore, there are ten highest genera. Since there is some number of lowest species, they are not infinite. Yet the individuals which are after the lower species are infinite. Therefore, when we would descended from the highest genus to the lowest species, Plato commands us to stop and to descend through those which are in the middle by dividing through specific differences. The infinite, however must be left aside, since knowledge of them cannot be acquired. In descending to the lowest species therefore it is necessary to proceed by dividing a multitude, but in ascending it is necessary to collect the many into one. For species, even more than genus, has the power of collecting many into one. Against this are the singular and particular things, which divide the one into many. For many men by participation in the species are one man, but against them the particular and the singular are one, and the common is many because what is singular always has the power of dividing, while what is common has the power of collecting and uniting.

9. Since we have already explained what genus and species are, that genus is one, and species many (since the division of a genus is always into many species), genus is always attributed to species, and every superior to its inferiors. Species, however, is not attributed, either to the proximate or superior genera, since the relation is not reciprocated. For it is necessary either to attribute equals to equals, such as whinnying to the horse, or greater to lesser, such as animal to man, but never to attribute the lesser to the greater. For you would not be able to say that animals are men, as you are to say men are animals. To whatever the species is attributed, the genus is also attributed, and the genus of that genus, all the way to the highest genus. For is we say that Socrates is a man, and man is an animal, and animal a substance, then we can also truly say that Socrates is a substance. For the superior is always attributed to the inferior, and the species to the individual. The highest genus, however, is attributed to a genus or to genera if there are many middle and subalternate genera, and to the species, and to the individual. For the highest genus is predicated of every genus and species and individual standing under it, but the genus standing right before the lowest species is predicated only of that species and its individuals. That species, however, is only predicated of the individuals, while the individual is predicated of one singular only. Socrates is the individual, and also “this white thing” and “he who approaches” and “son of Sophroniscus,” if Socrates is his only son.

10. Whatever things are like this are called individuals, since each consists of properties, the collection of which can never be found to be the same in some other thing. For the properties cannot be the same in some other particular. The properties of man in common are the same in many, but in all particular men insofar as they are men.

11. Therefore, the individual is contained by the species, the species by the genus. Furthermore, the genus is a certain whole, the individual a part, while the species is both a whole and a part. It is a part of one thing, but not the whole of the other thing, but a whole in other things, since the whole is in the parts. Therefore we have discussed the genus and species, what the highest genus and lowest species are, how genus and species are the same, that neither are individuals, and how many meanings of the terms there are.

Chapter Four

On Difference

1. Difference is spoken of commonly, properly, and most properly. One thing is said to differ from another commonly when by any diversity it stands apart in some way, either from itself or from another. For Socrates differs from Plato by some diversity, and he even differs from himself, since he once was a boy and then became a man, and since then he did something, but now keeps from doing something. It is always found in whatever diversity comes to be.

2. A thing is said to differ from another properly when it differs from another by an inseparable accident. Blue eyes, hooked noses, and scars (a scar is skin hardened from a wound) are all inseparable accidents.

3. Something is said to differ from another most properly when it stands apart by a specific difference. For example, man differs from the horse by a specific difference, that is, by the rational quality.

4. Universally therefore every difference added to something makes it various. That which is received commonly or properly makes something be diverse. That which is taken most properly makes it be another thing. And that which makes another thing is rightly called specific, while what makes it diverse is simply called a difference. For if the difference rational is added to animal, then it makes it be another thing and makes a species of animal. In contrast, the difference taken from motion makes something only diverse from the resting thing. This is because the first makes things be another thing, the second only makes things be diverse. And from those differences which make things another, divisions of genera into species are made, and also definitions are brought about, since definitions are constituted from genera and such differences. From those which make things in a way diverse, only diversities are made, and of that which is in some way affected, changes.

5. Again, let us repeat what we have said from its beginning. Some differences are separable. For example, to be moved, to rest, to be sick, to be well, and all the rest of the things of that genus are separable. However, to have a hooked nose or snub nose, having or being deprived of reason, are separable.

6. Of inseparable differences, some are attributed essentially, others accidentally. For rational, and mortal, and capable of learning inhere in man essentially. To have a hooked or snub nose, however, inheres in man accidentally, and not essentially. Therefore those which are present essentially are used in the definition and make something another thing. Those which are accidentally, however, are neither used in the definition nor make something another thing, but only make it diverse. Those which are essential do not admit of being intensified or being diminished, while those which are accidental, even when they are inseparable, admit of being intensified and being diminished. Just as the genus is not attributed more or less to that of which it is the genus, so also the differences through which the genus is divided are not attributed more or less. These are the things which complete a definition, and the essence of each thing is one and the same, and does not admit of either being intensified or being diminished. To have a hooked or snub nose, however, or to be colored in some way, are intensified and diminished.

7. Therefore we have seen three species of difference, and some are separable, others inseparable; and of the inseparables some are essential, others accidental; again, of essential differences, some are used to divide genera into species, others are made by the species divided. For example, all of the following are essential differences of animal: animate and sensitive, rational and irrational, mortal and immortal. Animate and sensitive are the differences which constitute animal, since an animal is a animate sensitive substance. Mortal and immortal, and rational and irrational are differences dividing animal, since through them we divide the genera into species. But the differences which divide genera complete and constitute species. For animal is divided by these differences, by rational and irrational, then mortal and immortal. These differences, rational and mortal, constitute man, rational and immortal, a god, but irrational and mortal, brute animal. Thus, these differences also divide the highest genus, substance: animate and inanimate, sensitive and lacking sense. Animate and sensitive, when adjoined to substance, complete animal, while animate and lacking sense complete plant. Therefore, all of these are called specific, since taken one way they are constitutive, taken in another way they are dividing. Thus, these are most greatly used in the division of genera and in definitions, while accidental differences, even when they are inseparable, are not used, much less separable differences.

8. Those defining it also say that difference is that which species adds to the genus. For man adds rational and mortal to animal: since animal neither has none of these (otherwise how would the species come to have these differences) nor does it have all of these (since then the same thing would have opposites at the same time). Rather, as they say, it has all of the differences of the species made under itself, but only in potency, none of them in act. So it is neither the case that something comes from nothing, nor that opposites are in the same thing at the same time.

9. They also define it thus: difference is that which is attributed to many things differing in species in answer to the question “what kind of thing is it?” For when rational and mortal are attributed to man, they are said of him in answer to the question “what kind is man?” though not in answer to “what is man?” For to anyone asking what man is, we rightly respond “animal.” But to someone asking what kind of animal, we rightly respond: “rational and mortal.” For since things are made from matter and form, or from those things that correspond proportionally to matter and form, then just a statue is made from matter, bronze, and form, a shape, so also man both common and specific is made from a genus, which corresponds to matter by proportion, and difference, which corresponds to form; but the whole here, rational mortal animal, is man, just as there it was with the statue.

10. They also describe it thus: difference is that which has a natural power of separating those which are collected under the same genus. For rational and irrational separate man and horse, which are under the same genus, namely animal.

11. They also explain it as follows: difference is that by which anything differs. For man and horse do not differ by reason of their genus, since both we and the horse are equally animals. But the addition of rational separates us from them. Again we are endowed with reason, as are the gods, but the addition of mortal distinguishes us from them.

12. Indeed, those who earnestly and carefully discuss difference do not say that difference is just anything which separates those under the same genus, but that it relates to the essence or whatness, and that it is part of the thing. For “apt by nature to sail” is not the difference of man, although it is proper to him. Of course, we could say that some animals are of a nature able to sail, and some are not, and thus separate man from other animals. But having a nature able to sail does not have the power of completing the essence, nor is it part of it, but is only an ability or aptitude of it. Thus, it is not such a difference as tells what kind of thing something is, and only these are called specific differences. Therefore, whatever makes another species and whatever inheres in the explicated quiddity of the thing is called a specific difference. Thus, we have spoken enough about difference.

Chapter Five

On Property

1. They divide the proper in three ways. For something is proper [one's own] if it belongs to only one species, even if not to all of it. Thus, to execute the duties of a healer or geometer belongs to man.

2. And that which belongs to all of a species, even if not to it alone, such as man being two-footed.

3. And that which happens to it only, and to all at some time, as men growing gray in old age.

4. And fourth, that in which all these things run together. To it alone, to all, and always; as man being able to laugh. For, even if he is not always laughing, he is still called able to laugh who, while not always laughing, is by nature able to laugh. This is always present in man by nature, just as neighing for the horse. And these are called proper since they are reciprocal. If something is a horse, it can neigh, and if it can neigh, it is a horse.

Chapter Six

On Accident

1. Accident is that which is present or absent without the destruction of the subject. It is divided into two kinds, for one is separable, and the other inseparable. For example, to sleep is a separable accident; to be black, however, so happens to the crow and Ethiopian that it is unable to be separated. But a white crow can be understood, and the Ethiopian can be understood leaving aside color, without the subject being destroyed.

2. They also define accident thus: accident is that which inheres or does not inhere contingently. Or they say that it is whatever is neither genus, nor difference, nor species, nor property, but always inheres in some subject.


Purchase This Course                               << Previous               Next >>                                   Return to Top