HERE BEGIN THE ERRORS OF THE PHILOSOPHERS ARISTOTLE, AVERROES, AVICENNA, ALGAZEL, ALKINDI, AND RABBI MOSES (MAIMONIDES), COMPILED BY BROTHER GILES OF THE ORDER OF ST. AUGUSTINE
And a compilation of Aristotle's errors is placed first.
As it is the case that many wrong conclusions follow from one faulty statement, so the Philosopher has drawn many errors from one faulty principle.
I . For he believed nothing to be disposed in some condition in which it previously was not, except it came to be that way through a preceding motion. He held, moreover, that there is no novelty except where there is change, taken properly. Because, therefore, every change taken properly is a terminus of motion, there can be no novelty without a preceding motion. Now from this principle he concluded that motion never began to be; since if motion began, the motion was new. But nothing is new except through some preceding motion. Therefore there was motion before the first motion, which is a contradiction.
2. Further: he erred because he posited time never to have begun. Now time always follows on motion, if, therefore, motion never began, neither did time. Moreover, it seemed to him that the principle of time involved a special difficulty, For since an instant is always the end of the past and the beginning of the future, a first instant cannot be given, because there was a time before every instant, and before any assigned time there was an instant. Time, therefore, did not begin, but is eternal.
3. Further: because of what has already been stated. he was forced to posit a mobile to be eternal and the world to be eternal. For as one cannot give a time without motion, and motion without a mobile, if time and motion are Lternal, the mobile will be eternal, and so the world would never begin. All of this is clear from Book VIII of the Physics.
4. Further: he was forced to posit the heavens to be ungenerated and incorruptible, and never to have been made but always to have been. For since among the varieties of motion only the circular is continuous--as is clear from Book VIII of the Physics--if any motion is eternal, the circular will be eternal. And since circular motion is proper to the heavens--as is shown in Book I On the Heavens and the Earth--it then follows that the heavens are uncreated and that they were never made. Moreover, he had a special reason why the heavens never began: because whatever has the power to be forever in the future, always had the power to be in the past. And since the heavens will never cease to be, they did not begin to be.
5. Further: since, according to him, whatever comes about comes from pre-existent matter, he concluded that there could not be another world. Hence, God could not make another world, since this one is constructed from all the matter there is. This error also is found in Book 1, On the Heavens and the Earth.
6. He held further that generation in this sublunary world would never end, and that it never began. For corruption precedes and follows every generation, and generation precedes and follows every corruption. Because of this, since a corruption has preceded any generation, while some generation has preceded a corruption, it is impossible for generation and corruption to have had a beginning; nor is it possible for them to cease to be, since a corruption follows any generation, and a generation follows any corruption. If, therefore, either generation or corruption were to cease, there would be a generation after the final generation, and a corruption after the final corruption. Moreover, that a corruption precedes and follows generation, he proved by way of motion. For something is not generated except because something is corrupted; and so corruption precedes generation and also follows it, since every generable is corruptible, and every corruptible will be corrupted of necessity. Thus also generation precedes corruption, because nothing is corrupted except it was previously generated; and generation follows because the corruption of one thing is the generation of another. However, this error--that generation and corruption neither begin nor end--can be found in Book 1, and more expressly in Book 11, On Generation and Corruption.
7. Further: since generation in this sublunary world is brought about through the sun, he was forced to maintain that the sun--to quote him--"will never cease to generate plants and animals." This is clear from Book 1, On Plants.
8. Further: since, according to his posited principle, there is no novelty without a preceding motion, he erred in maintaining that something new could not proceed immediately from God. This is clear in Book 11 of his On Generation and Corruption, where he says that "the same thing, remaining the same, always makes the same."
9. Further: he was constrained to deny the resurrection of
the dead. That he held it as erroneous that the dead should
rise again, is clear from Book 1, On the Soul. Also, in Book
VIII of the Metaphysics he held that the dead cannot return
to life except through many intermediaries; and if one does
return, it does not return numerically the same, because
things which have lost substance do not return numerically
the same, as is said at the end of Book 11, On Generation and
Now if someone were to wish to excuse Aristotle on the ground that he is speaking in a naturalistic sense, this would not do: because he believed that nothing new could proceed from God immediately, but that every novelty comes about by way of motion and natural operation.
10. Further: since he believed that nothing new could occur except by way of motion and through the operation of nature, he believed--as appears in Book I of the Physics where he argues against Anaxagoras--that an intellect which wants to separate passions and accidents from substance is, to quote him, "an intellect seeking the impossible." On this account it seems to follow that God cannot make an accident without a subject.
11. Further: since by way of motion the generation of one
thing never occurs unless there is the corruption of another;
and since one substantial form is never introduced unless another
is expelled; and since the matter of all things possessing
matter is the same; it follows that there are not more substantial
forms in one composite than there are in another. Indeed,
to one who would consistently pursue this line of reasoning, it
would appear that there is but one substantial form in every
composite; and this seems to be the Philosopher's view.
Hence, in Book VII of the Metaphysics, in the chapter "On
the Unity of Definition," he holds the parts of a definition not
to be one, as he says, "because they are in one," but rather
because they define one nature.
Now if he means here one composite nature consisting in many forms, then his view can be maintained; but if he means one simple nature, and that there is only one form in such a composite, it is false.
12. Further: he posited that where there is still water, or a sea, at some time it was there dry, and conversely; because time does not cease but is eternal, as is clear from Book I of Meteors. Hence, he also had to say, necessarily, that one cannot posit a first man or a first rainfall.
13. Further: since an intelligence is unable to move something
unless it is itself actually moving; and since intelligences are posited to
be in the best state when they are moving something; he said there were as
many angels, or as many intelligences, as there are orbs. This is quite
clear from Book XII of the Metaphysics.
Divine Scripture, however, contradicts this, saying: "thousands of thousands tended to Him, and ten-thousand times a hundred-thousand stood before Him."
IN WHICH THE ERRORS OF ARISTOTLE ARE RESTATED IN SUM
These, therefore, are all of his errors in sum, namely:
IN WHICH IS REFUTED THE STATEMENT WHICH IS FUNDAMENTAL FOR ALL THE PHILOSOPHER'S ERRORS
Now all of his errors, if one investigates subtly, follow from this position: that nothing new comes into being except there be a preceding motion. This is, therefore, false: because God is the First Agent, and being a non-instrumental agent, He will be able to produce a thing without a preceding motion. Now an agent by nature is an instrumental agent; but because it is of the nature of an instrument that it move the moved, motion is of necessity presupposed in its action. The making, therefore, in the production of a first agent can be without such motion. Creation, therefore, is not motion, because motion presupposes a mobile. Creation, in truth, presupposes nothing; nor is creation properly a change, because all change is a terminus of motion; but, as is commonly held, it is a simple procession of things from the first agent. Therefore, whatever is argued by way of motion against the beginning of the world, or against that which is held by faith, is wholly sophistical.