- 4 views
Nothing can show in a clearer point of view that Aristotle was not in reality hostile to the Platonic doctrine of ideas [eidos], than the objections which he adduces against the existence of good [agathon] considered as subsisting by itself, and the cause of all participated good. For the facility with which his objections may be answered, sufficiently proves what we have elsewhere observed, that his opposition to this doctrine of Plato is made by him with no other view than to guard it from being perverted by men of superficial understandings. Previous, therefore, to a solution of the objections of Aristotle, it will be requisite to relate briefly the opinion of Plato contenting the good [agathon]. The principle [arche] of the universe then was divinely denominated by Plato, the one [hen], and the goody the former of these appellations denoting his transcendent simplicity, and causality [aition], and the latter his subsistence as the object of desire to all things. This principle, likewise, as being the one, is celebrated by Plato as superessential, because being [onta], so far as being, cannot subsist without multitude [pan]. All things, therefore, derive their subsistence from this principle through its goodness, and are expanded towards and aspire after it, as from thence deriving the perfection and good which they are naturally adapted to receive.
When Aristotle, therefore, says, “ Perhaps it is better to consider universal good,” the universal here must not be understood in the same way as in logical speculations; for there the universal which is predicated of many things is of posterior origin, but here it is prior to the many, and the many derive their subsistence from it. In short, as all ideas, considered according to their first subsistence in a divine intellect [noûs], are wholes and universals, having an essence prior to and exempt from the forms which are in bodies, much more must the good or the ineffable principle of things be called universal, as being the whole [holon] of all wholes, and comprehending all things in itself superessentially and ineffably. Hence, the objection of Aristotle, as we shall see, applies only to that universal good which is the subject of logical predication, and not to that which is the principle of the universe ; for the former is posterior, but the latter prior to the many.