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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Aristotle Bilingual Anthology : THE MOST CERTAIN PRINCIPLE

from Aristotle's Metaphysics, * 1005b, translated by W. D. Ross, Greek Fonts

VIDENTLY then it belongs to the philosopher, i.e. to him who is studying the nature of all substance, to inquire also into the principles of syllogism. But he who knows best about each genus must be able to state the most certain principles of his subject, so that he whose subject is existing things qua existing must be able to state the most certain principles of all things. This is the philosopher, and the most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken; for such a principle must be both the best known (for all men may be mistaken about things which they do not know), and non-hypothetical. For a principle which every one must have who understands anything that is, is not a hypothesis; and that which every one must know who knows anything, he must already have when he comes to a special study. Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is, let us proceed to say.

πασῶν ἀρχῶν βεβαιοτάτη

ὅτι μὲν οὖν τοῦ φιλοσόφου καὶ τοῦ περὶ πάσης τῆς οὐσίας θεωροῦντος ᾗ πέφυκεν καὶ περὶ τῶν συλλογιστικῶν ἀρχῶν ἐστὶν ἐπισκέψασθαι͵ δῆλον· προσήκει δὲ τὸν μάλιστα γνωρίζοντα περὶ ἕκαστον γένος ἔχειν λέγειν τὰς βεβαιοτάτας ἀρχὰς τοῦ πράγματος͵ ὥστε καὶ τὸν περὶ τῶν ὄντων ᾗ ὄντα τὰς πάντων βεβαιοτάτας. ἔστι δ΄ οὗτος ὁ φιλόσοφος. βεβαιοτάτη δ΄ ἀρχὴ πασῶν περὶ ἣν διαψευσθῆναι ἀδύνατον· γνωριμωτάτην τε γὰρ ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι τὴν τοιαύτην (περὶ γὰρ ἃ μὴ γνωρίζουσιν ἀπατῶνται πάντες) καὶ ἀνυπόθετον. ἣν γὰρ ἀναγκαῖον ἔχειν τὸν ὁτιοῦν ξυνιέντα τῶν ὄντων͵ τοῦτο οὐχ ὑπόθεσις· ὃ δὲ γνωρίζειν ἀναγκαῖον τῷ ὁτιοῦν γνωρίζοντι͵ καὶ ἥκειν ἔχοντα ἀναγκαῖον. ὅτι μὲν οὖν βεβαιοτάτη ἡ τοιαύτη πασῶν ἀρχή͵ δῆλον· τίς δ΄ ἔστιν αὕτη͵ μετὰ ταῦτα λέγωμεν.

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