1 See Mainberger, G., Die Seinsstufung als methode und Metaphysik (Freiburg, Switzerland, 1959);Gomez-Pin, V., Ordre et substance (Paris, 1976);Owens, Joseph, The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics3 (Toronto, 1978).
2 For discussion of these expressions, with references, see Vlastos, G., ‘A Metaphysical Paradox’, and ‘Degrees of Reality in Plato’, both in Platonic Studies2 (Princeton, 1981).
3 Protrepticus 14, De Caelo 282a8, Met. a I,993a31, Z 2,1028bl4, M 1088a30.
5 Met. Z I,1028a30; O l,1045b27.
6 Examples are: Met. H l,1042al4, and Z 3,1029al.
7 Cat. 5, 2bl7. Other places where this is clear: G&C 318bl 1–15, 32–4; Met. B 1002a26; E4,1027b31; Z l,1028al4, 28, 30; Z 16,1040b22–4; M 3,1077bl2. Aristotle uses ‘nearness’ to Ούσία to express degrees of Ούσία at G&C B 10,336b34; De Caelo IV, 3, 310b32; Ph. I 9, 192a6
8 Further examples of the metalinguistic mode include 2a 15, 2b 17, 2b30, 3b35–56. Examples of the object mode include, for ‘primary’, 2a35, 2b5, 6b, 7, 18, 31, and many others. Examples of in the object mode include 2b7, 22, 23, 27, 3b34, 4a9. The expression ‘chiefly’ () drops out of Chapter 5 after the first line.
9 The continuation of the first passage at 2b22–7 repeats the pattern: thesis, linguistic evidence, conclusion.
10 The argument against the metalinguistic interpretation given here is sufficient for the Categories. To dispose of this interpretation of degrees of being in the Metaphysics a stronger argument will be necessary (pp. 397–400 below); this stronger argument applies the Categories as well.
11 The view that particular substantial predicates do not vary in degree may also be expressed at Met. H 3 1044al0–l 1. However, a possible alternative interpretation of the passage would see it as denying that substances qua form vary in their differentiae.
12 The related topic of ‘the superlative degree’ () is used by Aristotle as a test for sameness and difference in Top. VII l,152a5–30 and 152b6–9.
13 This passage is condensed and somewhat obscure. My interpretation relies on Aristotle's explanation at 115a3–5, where it seems that only ‘essential’ accidents are at stake.
14 See Bonitz' Index 94a9 ff.
15 See also in Cat. 111, 20.
16 The precise force of Simplicius' suggestion depends in part on whether what ‘characterizes’ Ούσία is meant to be a constitutive character, such as differentia or essence, or a ‘property’ in Aristotle's technical sense, or a mere per se accident. Simplicius' use of makes it evident that he means something at least as strong as ‘property’. (See the passages cited in the Index Verborum at the end of in Cat., p. 552; and especially 79, 7.) The intensity interpretation of degrees of being works best with the view that’ underlying’ is a constitutive character of Ούσία. If it is a mere property of Ούσία, some further principle is needed to explain why its variation should carry with it variation in Ούσία. (A principle like that at Topics II, 10 114b37 ff. will do the job.) Moreover the precise force of Simplicius’ suggestion will depend on how ‘underlying’ is understood. If the variation in underlying is given the ordering interpretation - one form of underlying is only prior to another, not really ‘more underlying’ - this will carry over to oiiala also.
18 I am grateful to Malcolm Schofield for urging the importance of this interpretation of
19 See Phillip, De Lacy, ‘ and the antecedents of ancient scepticism’, Phronesis 3 (1958), 59–71.
20 See Met. r5,1009blO–ll.
21 At Rhet. A 2,1358al4 he refers to this form of argument as ‘the topos of the more and less’.
22 In a way it serves the purposes better, since it makes explicit the implication of ‘not’ on which the argument turns. is a strengthened form of the which Aristotle uses at Rhet. 1397b 14.
23 One might object; but not all putative beings are beings. Some arguments are strong enough to rule out certain putative beings as beings. The relative is not less a being than say, ‘goat-stag’, but more. So a problem remains. True enough, but the problem can be solved by supposing that the comparison class Aristotle has in mind in this passage is not ‘all putative beings’, but something more restricted, namely the class of things whose status is at issue between him and his opponents. This, I suppose, is roughly the class, in Aristotle's terms, of categorial items.
24 Georgiana Palmer, The Τóποί of Aristotle's Rhetoric as exemplified in the Orators (Diss., Univ. of Chicago, 1934), 18–22.
26 Dem. xliv. 38, p. 1092; Lys. xxxi. 31, p. 189.
27 Lys. xxxv. 16, p. 172.
28 , Andoc. iv. 15, p. 30.
29 Lys. xiv. 11, p. 140; Isaeus v. 38, p. 54; Isoc. xx. 3, p. 396a; Dem. ii. 24, p. 25.
30 ; Aesch. i, 85, p. 11; Lys. xxiv. 8, p. 168. Seivos: Isoc. xiv. 52; xv. 165, p. 86; Lys. vii. 29, p. 110; x. 13, p. 117; xiv. 17, p. 141; xviii, 12, p. 150; Dem. xx. 12, p. 460. The meaning of Seivos in some of these passages shades off into ‘terrible’, ‘horrible’.
31 See Isaeus iii. 35, p. 41; Dinarchus 1, 45; Aesch. i. 28, p. 4; i. 108, p. 15; Dem. xxvii. 57, p. 831; Lys. hi. 32, p. 99.
33 A similar use of is ascribed to Leucippus at Simplicius in Phys. 28, 8.
35 For the B passage, some might be tempted to claim that the of 1001b32 () is implicitly carried forward and understood at 1002a4, 15, and 26. But such a reading strikes me as extremely strained. A full Becker column is too long a distance for such a verb to be carried forward, when there is no grammatical parallelism to serve as a vehicle. Moreover at 1002a7, 18, and 30, Aristotle repeats verbs for ‘seeming’: if were understood throughout, these verbs would be unnecessary. Finally, at 1001b32 Aristotle is reporting a particular widespread opinion concerning earth, air, fire, and water. The other three passages concern body and geometricals, which are a different case.
36 See esp. 1028a21, reading .
37 G'C B 10,336b34, De Caelo IV 3,310b32, Phys. I 9,192a6
38 The English future tense is somewhat more vivid than the Greek, which is optative; but I use it, together with italics, to capture the force of the immediately following .
39 The objection that in the Г 4 passage ‘more true’ means nothing more than closeness to the absolute truth, and hence does not imply ‘degrees’, is wholly misguided. First, a doctrine according to which beings, or truths, have a rank order is a doctrine of degrees of being, although a fairly weak one. But second, there is no question in this passage of Aristotle wanting to reduce degrees of truth to any sort of closeness relation. His conditional ‘if what is more is nearer’ means: ‘if it is a principle of the logic of “more” that wherever there is a “more” there is something to which it is “nearer” (namely a “most”), then…’ This principle enables one to infer from an independently justified ‘more’ to a ‘nearer’, not the other way round.
40 Where the qualification ‘somewhat’ () corresponds to the qualification ‘but not in account’ of the Г 2 passage.
41 The text only says that the species are ‘the same in number’, but the earlier 'sameness of nature’ must imply that the species are the same in nature (if not in account) as well.
42 At this point a possible misunderstanding should be averted. One might raise the following objection. Since coming-in-degrees is a property which can belong to species without belonging to their genera (e.g. there are degrees of straightness and crookedness but perhaps not of shapedness), perhaps continuity, the species, comes in degrees but the genera, being and unity, do not. This objection misunderstands the issue of ‘degrees of being’, which is whether being, in any of its ‘kinds’ or ‘senses’, comes in degrees. Degrees of actuality or truth are degrees of being (and hence of unity) and degrees of continuity are degrees of unity (and hence of being), because actuality, truth, and continuity are all ‘senses’ or ‘species’ of being and unity. Contrast these with animal and figure, which are species of beings and unities, but not of being and unity as such.
44 See Z 3,1029al, 1029a6; M 2,1077bl2.
45 Notably Owen, G. E. L.. See ‘Logic and Metaphysics in Some Earlier Works of Aristotle’, Aristotle and Plato in the Mid-Fourth Century, ed. I. During and Owen, G. E. L. (Goteborg, 1960), 184.
46 Δ 7, 8; Г 2; and E 4 all make this clear.
47 Ibid. My evidence for the influence of his view is mainly oral. In conversations about degrees of being in Aristotle, I have found that scholars frequently treat ‘in a stricter sense’ as an established use of which will account for many, if not all, of its appearances in the Metaphysics.
48 Dϋring, Protrepticus, An Attempt at Reconstruction (Goteborg, 1961), follows Owen's interpretation of this passage in his translation and notes. From Dϋring's preface it seems likely that the interpretation was the subject of discussion between the two men well before it appeared in print. See also Dϋring's later work, Der Protreptikos des Aristoteles (Frankfurt, 1969), 120.
49 Owen cites Phys. 249a3–8; Cat. 11a12–13; and Pol. 1259b36–8.
51 Ross, p. 491.19 (see also 1.14); During, fr. 80.
52 In ‘Predicats univoques et predicats analogiques dans les “Protreptiques” d'Aristote’, Revue Philosophique de Louvain 66 (1968), 597–618 (henceforth ‘1968’) with supplementary material in the note ‘Sur un emploi technique de chez Aristote’, Mnemosyne Ser. IV, 22 (1969), 303–4 (1969a). A shorter presentation of the view may be found in his important review of During's 1961 edition in Gnomon 41 (1969), 233–55 (1969b).
53 In French plutot (1968, p. 608); and in German eher (1969b, pp. 240ff.). (For both, see 1969a, p. 303.) De Strycker creates some confusion when he uses par preference and eher for both (1) a general or neutral translation covering both kinds of , and (2) a specific translation of the exclusive . (Compare 1968, p. 608, lines 8 and 18 with p. 609, line 7, and 1969b, p. 241 line 14 and line 39.) In fact both par preference and eher are quite imprecise, and each can bear both meanings of . Eher, for example, means lieber more frequently than it means mehr, but it has both meanings, along with other related ones. ‘Rather’ and plulot convey precisely the sense of the exclusive .
54 1968, p. 608 n. 30; 1969b, p. 240.
55 For the weight de Strycker places on and , see 1968, pp. 604, 608, and 610; 1969a, p. 303; 1969b, p. 240.
57 Although de Strycker is wrong to claim that he does so here, Aristotle does sometimes elsewhere use the exclusive sense of when distinguishing between senses of a word. See e.g. Phys. B 1, 193b6–7 (interpreted as in the Hardie-Gaye trans.) and (for ) NE VI 8,1141b29–30.
58 See 1968, p. 609, 610; 1969b, p. 241. I suppose that it is the phrase which de Strycker has in mind when he says ‘comme Aristote le dit expressement…’ in 1968, p. 610, n. 36 (my italics).
59 Moreover it is grammatically possible, and only slightly more difficult, to read the sentence in such a way that precedes the description of the first case rather than forming part of it. Thus:’ For we do not only use "more" for the excess (1) of that having one definition, but also (2) in cases where there is a prior and a posterior.’ If this is the right translation, then part of Aristotle's point is to insist explicitly on the intensity interpretation of for both cases.
60 For de Strycker's philosophical worries, see 1968, p. 610.
61 Moreover it would not do to admit that health is better than a scalpel, but insist that the superior goodness of health consists merely in its causal and definitional superiority. The goodness of health consists in its being preferable to the scalpel. The comparative judgement of greater choiceworthiness is essential to practice and to practical philosophy, as Aristotle's language in NE 1,1–2 shows he was aware. Further evidence that Aristotle cannot have shared de Strycker's view that genuinely comparative judgements across relations of priority and posteriority are nonsense in his use of at NE 1,6 1098al 1. Although it is beyond my scope here, NE 1,6 as a whole deserves detailed comparison with Protrepticus, fr. 14 Ross.
63 See the arguments in During's 1961 edition, pp. 33–5.
64 The dating of Physics VII is, however, uncertain. For a summary of the problem see Ross, Aristotle's Physics (Oxford, 1936), 11–18.
65 Part of this paper (along with some other material) was given as a lecture to the Cambridge ‘B’ Club and at Oxford University in May, 1986.1 am indebted to those groups for provocative discussions, and to David Blank, Charlotte Witt and the editors of CQ for their written comments on a later version.