27 April 2006

An Aristotelian Shema

I want to answer my question from the previous post: What argument, if any, in the first philosophy of Lambda, seems intended by Aristotle to draw upon results or material from Z?

There is only one such argument, I believe:

Evidently there is but one heaven. For if there are many heavens as there are many men, the moving principles, of which each heaven will have one, will be one in form but in number many. But all things that are many in number have matter; for one and the same definition, e.g. that of man, applies to many things, while Socrates is one. But the primary essence has not matter; for it is complete reality. So the unmovable first mover is one both in definition and in number; so too, therefore, is that which is moved always and continuously; therefore there is one heaven alone. (1074a31-36)

o3ti de\ ei[j ou)rano&j, fanero&n. ei0 ga_r plei/ouj ou)ranoi\ w3sper a1nqrwpoi, e1stai ei1dei mi/a h( peri\ e3kaston a)rxh&, a)riqmw|~ de/ ge pollai/. a)ll' o3sa a)riqmw|~ polla&, u3lhn e1xei (ei[j ga_r lo&goj kai\ o( au)to_j pollw~nm oi[on a)nqrw&pou, Swkra&thj de\ ei[j): to_ de\ ti/ h}n ei]nai ou)k e1xei u3lhn to_ prw~ton: e0ntele/xeia ga&r. e4n a1ra kai\ lo&gw| kai\ a)riqmw|~ to_ prw~ton kinou~n a)ki/nhton o1n: kai\ to_ kinou&menon a1ra a)ei\ kai\ sunexw~j: ei[j a1ra ou)rano_j mo&noj.
This makes use of the notions familiar from Z of to ti en einai, eidos, and hule; and it makes use, too, of a principle from Z, that matter individuates form. And it is the only such passage.

Now, I can't decide whether this is a significant argument or not:
It is insignificant. Aristotle mentions it in passing. It seems a digression. It looks like an ancillary argument, against those who have claimed that there are 'many worlds'.

It is significant. Although the argument is put forward almost in passing, what is important about it, is the principle on which it depends, and which Aristotle affirms, (using results from Z), namely, that the 'first essence' or 'unmoved mover' --God-- is one.
It seems an odd suggestion, and yet there it is: Could it be that the main purpose and point, in Aristotle's eyes, of all of the build-up to first philosophy, in Z and in the other central books of the Metaphysics, is the simple assertion of monotheism? And then the 'wisdom' of first philosophy becomes: the intellectual recognition of a single, supreme first cause.

On this interpretation, the Metaphysics is, as it were, Aristotle's treatise-length and philosophical equivalent of the shema.

A strange idea, I agree, but I do like it better than the 'philosophical fizzle' interpretation.