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METAPHYSICS BOOK Z, CH. 1 (1028a35-37): Comparing translations - Part 6

       Here is the next section of chapter 1. This section discusses how Substance is first in λόγῳ. In the previous section Aristotle had discussed the ways in which something can be first, and made the claim that οὐσίας IS first in all these ways. He then, in this section, goes on to explain why it is that οὐσίας is first in λόγῳ. The footnote for this section is particularly interesting. Referring to my discussion of λόγος from the footnote of the preceding section I concentrate on the Greek word ἐνυπάρχειν which is sometimes translated existence, and discuss what it means for the οὐσίας to be ἐνυπάρχειν in the λόγῳ. For the preceding parts in this series see: Part 1, Part 2 - a discussion of the meaning and best translation for οὐσίας, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.


(1028a35-37) καὶ τῷ λόγῳ δὲ τοῦτο πρῶτον. ἀνάγκη γὰρ ἐν τῷ ἑκάστου λόγῳ τὸν τῆς οὐσίας ἐνυπάρχειν.[1]

My Translation – And, on the one hand, this is first to the λόγῳ. For in the λόγῳ of each one the οὐσίας must be present (there).

Ross – “And (I) in definition also this is first; for in the definition of each term the definition of its substance must be present.”

Tredennick – “And it is primary also in definition, because in the formula of each thing the formula of substance must be inherent.”

Apostle – “And in formula, too, substance is primary; for in the formula of each of the other categories the formula of a substance must be present.”

Tricot – “D’autre part, elle est aussi première logiquement, car dans la définition de chaque être est nécessairement contenue celle de sa substance.”



[1]The word ἐνυπάρχειν can be translated, “existing” in. It is a word composed of the preposition ἐν, which means “in”, and the word υπάρχειν which is the singular accusative feminine noun of ὑπάρχω, which can be translated as “to begin, to come into existence (being), to be born or come out of, to be the result of, to be, to subsist, to be the foundation of, to be after, to be available, to be in possession, to belong, etc. This word, as with many other Greek words is used in a multitude of situations. However, the best translation in this text seems to be, “being present in”, as most of the translators above have noted.

Aristotle seems to be saying that substance is first in λόγῳ because the οὐσίας must be included in the λόγῳ of anything whatsoever. That is, in one’s display (description, definition, formulation, presenting) of a Be-ing (that which is, regardless of the nature of its Be-ing – i.e. – Be-ing purely in the imagination, Be-ing a cause of stress, Be-ing true, etc.) one necessarily includes it’s οὐσίας – its foundational and intrinsic beingness (its mode or way of Be-ing) and that which is particular to it (frequently described as its form, essence or nature – the way in which it presents itself). Not only is the οὐσίας necessarily included in any λόγῳ (formulation, definition or presenting) of a be-ing, but it is presupposed in all λόγῳ of that Be-ing (even in describing how it be’s in action, and those things which present themselves through it or depend upon the way in which a Be-ing is in and of itself in order to Be – commonly referred to by Aristotle as accidental being (cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1017a7-8).). One must be careful to not interpret Aristotle as saying that one cannot display, talk about, or define anything unless one knows what its οὐσίας is (unless one knows its Be-ing as it is). On the contrary, Aristotle only seems to be saying that in any λόγῳ (declaration, description, formulation, definition or word), about anything whatsoever, the λόγῳ presupposes that there is a οὐσίας that is the object of the λόγῳ, even if the speaker does not know, himself, the οὐσίας that is being brought to light by the λόγῳ. In other words, it is possible to talk about something without having exhaustive knowledge (or, in fact, any substantial knowledge at all) of the thing in question. Even a description of the things actions presupposes that there is a thing that has acted, and that can be talked about, regardless of whether or not one has any knowledge of what that thing is; all that is presupposed, in talking about the actions of any given thing is that that thing, whatever it is, at least exists or existed, such that it is, or was, able to act.

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