intelligence of the universal essence of the subject, which is always true, the process of knowledge consists of (1) sense (αἴσθησις), which receives the essence as individual, (2) memory (μνήμη), which is a retention of sensible impression, (3) experience (ἐμπειρία), which consists of a number of similar memories, (4) induction (ἐπαγωγή), which infers the universal as a fact (τὸ ὅτι), (5) intellect (νοῦς), which apprehends the principle (ἀρχή); because it is a true apprehension that the universal induced is the very essence and formal cause of the subject: thereupon, scientific syllogism (ἐπιστημονικὸς συλλογισμός), making the definition (ὁρισμος) of this essence the middle term (τὸ μέσον), becomes a demonstration (ὁρισμος) of the consequences which follow from the essence in the conclusion. Such then is science. In order to acquire the probabilities (τὰ ἔνδοξα) of opinion (δόξα), which are the premisses of dialectical syllogism, the process is still induction, as in science, but dialectical induction by interrogation from the opinions of the answerers until the universal is conceded: thereupon the dialectical syllogism (διαλεκτικὸς συλλογισμός) deduces consequent opinions in the conclusion. Nor does the process of acquiring the premisses of eristical syllogism, which is fallacious either in its premisses or in its process, differ, except that, when the premisses are fallacious, the dialectical interrogations must be such as to cause this fallacy. Hence, as science and dialectic are different, so scientific induction and syllogism must be distinguished from dialectical induction and syllogism. Dialectic is useful, for exercise, for conversation and for philosophical sciences, where by being critical it has a road to principles. But it is by a different process of sense, memory, experience, induction, intelligence, syllogism, that science becomes knowledge of real causes, of real effects, and especially of real essences from which follow real consequences, not beyond, but belonging to real substances. So can we men, not, as Plato thought, by having in our souls universal principles innate but forgotten, but by acquiring universal principles from sense, which is the origin of knowledge, arrive at judgments which are true, and true because they agree with the things which we know by sense, by inference and by science. Such is Aristotle’s psychological and logical realism, contained in the De Anima and logical treatises.
2. Practice (πρᾶξις).—In this natural world of real substances, human good is not an imitation of a supernatural universal form of the good, but is human happiness; and this good is the same both of the individual as a part and of the state as a whole. Ethics then is a kind of Politics. But in Ethics a man’s individual good is his own happiness; and his happiness is no mere state, but an activity of soul according to virtue in a mature life, requiring as conditions moderate bodily and external goods of fortune; his virtue is (1) moral virtue, which is acquired by habituation, and is a purposive habit of performing actions in the mean determined by right reason or prudence; requiring him, not to exclude, but to moderate his desires; and (2) intellectual virtue, which is either prudence of practical, or wisdom of speculative intellect; and his happiness is a kind of ascending scale of virtuous activities, in which moral virtue is limited by prudence, and prudence by wisdom; so that the speculative life of wisdom is the happiest and most divine, and the practical life of prudence and moral virtue secondary and human. Good fortune in moderation is also required as a condition of his happiness. Must we then, on account of misfortunes, look with Solon at the end, and call no man happy till he is dead? Or is this altogether absurd for us who say that happiness is an activity? Virtuous activities determine happiness, and a virtuous man is happy in this life, in spite of misfortunes unless they be too great; while after death he will not feel the misfortunes of the living so much as to change his happiness. Still, for perfect happiness a man should prefer the speculative life of divine intellect, and immortalize (ἀθανατίζειν) as far as possible. For intellect is what mainly makes a man what he is, and is divine and immortal.
To turn from Ethics to Politics, the good of the individual on a small scale becomes on a large scale the good of the citizen and the state, whose end should be no far-off form of good, and no mere guarantee of rights, but the happiness of virtuous action, the life according to virtue, which is the general good of the citizen. Hence, the citizen of the best state is he who has the power and the purpose to be governed and govern for the sake of the life according to virtue.
A right government is one which aims at the general good, whereas any government which aims at its own good is a deviation. Hence governments are to be arranged from best to worst in the following order:—
I. Right governments (ὀρθαὶ πολιτείαι), aiming at the general good:—
- i. Monarchy, of one excelling in virtue:
- ii. Aristocracy, of a class excelling in virtue:
- iii. Commonwealth, of the majority excelling in virtue.
II. Deviations (παρεκβάσεις), aiming at the good of the government:—
- i. Democracy, aiming at the good of the majority:
- ii. Oligarchy, aiming at the good of the few:
- iii. Tyranny, aiming at the good of one.
Such is Aristotle’s practical philosophy, contained in his matured Nicomachean Ethics, and his unfinished Politics.
3. Production (ποίησις).—Production differs from practice in being an activity (ἐνέργεια; e.g. building) which is always a means to a work (ἔργον; e.g. a house) beyond itself. Productive science, or art, is an intellectual habit of true reasoning from appropriate principles, acquired from experiences, and applied to the production of the work which is the end of the art. All the arts are therefore at once rational and productive. They are either for necessity (e.g. medicine) or for occupation (e.g. poetry), the former being inferior to the latter. Rhetoric is a faculty on any subject of investigating what may be persuasive (πιθανόν), which is the work of no other art; its means are artificial and inartificial evidences (πίστεις), and, among artificial evidences, especially the logical arguments of example and enthymeme. Poetry is the art of producing representations; (1) in words, rhythm and harmony (ἁρμονία, “harmony” in the original sense); (2) of men like ourselves, or better as in tragedy, or worse as in comedy; (3) by means of narrative as in epic, or by action as in the drama. The cause of poetry is man’s instinct of representation and his love of representations caused by the pleasure of learning. Comedy is representation of men inferior in being ludicrous: epic is like tragedy a representation of superior men, but by means of narrative and unlimited in time: tragedy is a representation of an action superior and complete, in a day if possible, by means of action, and accomplishing by pity and fear the purgation of such passions (Poetics, 1449 b 24). Music is a part of moral education; and for this end we should use the most moral harmonies. But music has also other ends and uses, and on the whole four; namely amusement, virtue, occupation and purgation of the affections; for some men are liable more than others to pity and fear and enthusiasm, but from sacred melodies we see them, when they have heard those which act orgiastically on the soul, becoming settled by a kind of medicine and purgation (κάθαρσις), and being relieved with pleasure. Finally, art is not morality, because its end is always a work of art, not virtuous action: on the other hand, art is subordinate to morality, because all the ends of art are but means to the end of life, and therefore a work of art which offends against morality is opposed to the happiness and the good of man. Such is Aristotle’s productive science or art, contained in his Rhetoric and Poetics, compared with his Ethics and Politics.
Aristotle, even in this sketch of his system, shows himself to be the philosopher of facts, who can best of all men bear criticism; and indeed it must be confessed that he retained many errors of Platonism and laid himself open to the following objections. Two substances, being individuals, e.g. Socrates and Callias, are in no way the same, but only similar, even in essence, e.g. Socrates is one rational animal, Callias another. A universal, e.g. the species man, is not predicate of many individuals (ἓν κατὰ πολλῶν, Post. An. i. II), but a whole number of similar individuals, e.g. all men; and not a whole species, but only an individual, is a predicate of such individual, e.g. Socrates is a man, not all men, and one white thing, not all white things. Consequently, a species or genus is not a substance, as Aristotle says it is in the Categories (inconsistently with his own doctrine of substances), but a whole number of substances, e.g. all men, all animals. Similarly, the universal essence of a species is not one and the same as each individual essence, but is the whole number of similar individual essences of the similar individuals of the species, e.g. all rational animals. Consequently, the universal essence of a species of substances is not one and the same eternal essence in all the individuals of a species but only similar, and is not substance as Aristotle calls it in the Metaphysics, inconsistently with his own doctrine of substance, but is a whole number of similar substances, e.g. all rational animals which are what all men are. Hence again, the natural world of species and essences is not eternal, but only endures as long as there are individual substances. Hence, moreover, a natural substance or body as an efficient cause or force causes an effect on another, not by propagating one eternal essence of a species into the matter of the other, but so far as we really understand force, by their reciprocally preventing one another from occupying the same place at the same moment on account of the mutual resistance of any two bodies. The essence of a natural substance, e.g. wood, is not immateriate, but is the whole body as what it is. The matter of a natural substance is not a primary matter which is one indeterminate substratum of all natural substances, but is only one body as able to be changed by a force which is another substance able to change it, e.g. a seed becoming wood, wood becoming coal, &c. A natural substance or body, therefore, is not a heterogeneous compound of essence and matter, but is essence as what it is, matter as able passively to be changed, force as able actively to change. The simple bodies which are the matter of the rest are not terrestrial earth, water, air, fire,