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Aristotle Bilingual Anthology : THE MOST CERTAIN PRINCIPLE

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


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Page 2

It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect; we must presuppose, to guard against dialectical objections, any further qualifications which might be added. This, then, is the most certain of all principles, since it answers to the definition given above. For it is impossible for any one to believe the same thing to be and not to be, as some think Heraclitus says. For what a man says, he does not necessarily believe; and if it is impossible that contrary attributes should belong at the same time to the same subject (the usual qualifications must be presupposed in this premiss too), and if an opinion which contradicts another is contrary to it, obviously it is impossible for the same man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be; for if a man were mistaken on this point he would have contrary opinions at the same time. It is for this reason that all who are carrying out a demonstration reduce it to this as an ultimate belief; for this is naturally the starting-point even for all the other axioms.

τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ ἅμα ὑπάρχειν τε καὶ μὴ ὑπάρχειν ἀδύνατον τῷ αὐτῷ καὶ κατὰ τὸ αὐτό (καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα προσδιορισαίμεθ΄ ἄν͵ ἔστω προσδιωρισμένα πρὸς τὰς λογικὰς δυσχερείας)· αὕτη δὴ πασῶν ἐστὶ βεβαιοτάτη τῶν ἀρχῶν· ἔχει γὰρ τὸν εἰρημένον διορισμόν. ἀδύνατον γὰρ ὁντινοῦν ταὐτὸν ὑπολαμβάνειν εἶναι καὶ μὴ εἶναι͵ καθάπερ τινὲς οἴονται λέγειν Ἡράκλειτον. οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ ἀναγκαῖον͵ ἅ τις λέγει͵ ταῦτα καὶ ὑπολαμβάνειν· εἰ δὲ μὴ ἐνδέχεται ἅμα ὑπάρχειν τῷ αὐτῷ τἀναντία (προσδιωρίσθω δ΄ ἡμῖν καὶ ταύτῃ τῇ προτάσει τὰ εἰωθότα)͵ ἐναντία δ΄ ἐστὶ δόξα δόξῃ ἡ τῆς ἀντιφάσεως͵ φανερὸν ὅτι ἀδύνατον ἅμα ὑπολαμβάνειν τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι καὶ μὴ εἶναι τὸ αὐτό· ἅμα γὰρ ἂν ἔχοι τὰς ἐναντίας δόξας ὁ διεψευσμένος περὶ τούτου. διὸ πάντες οἱ ἀποδεικνύντες εἰς ταύτην ἀνάγουσιν ἐσχάτην δόξαν· φύσει γὰρ ἀρχὴ καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ἀξιωμάτων αὕτη πάντων.

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-Greece/aristotle_principle.asp?pg=2