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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Is the entelechy of the seed corn


potential being to actual being

the explicit conception of becoming, and in the four principles we have a distribution of this conception in its parts. The Aristotelian system is consequently a system of the becoming, in which the Heraclitic principle appears again in a richer and profounder apprehension, as that of the Eleatics had done with Plato. Aristotle in this has made no insignificant step towards the subjection of the Platonic dualism. If matter is the possibility of form, or reason becoming, then is the opposition between the idea and the phenomenal world potentially overcome, at least in principle, since there is one being which appears both in matter and form only in different stages of development. The relation of the potential to the actual Aristotle exhibits by the relation of the unfinished to the finished work, of the unemployed carpenter to the one at work upon his building, of the individual asleep to him awake. Potentially the seed-corn is the tree, but the grown up tree is it actually; the potential philosopher is he who is not at this moment in a philosophizing condition; even before the battle the better general is the potential conqueror; potentially is space infinitely divisible; in fact every thing is potentially which possesses a principle of motion, of development, or of change, and which, if unhindered by any thing external, will be of itself. Actuality or entelechy on the other hand indicates the perfect act, the end as gained, the completely actual (the grown-up tree _e.g._ is
the entelechy of the seed-corn), that activity in which the act and the completeness of the act fall together, _e. g._ to see, to think where he sees and he has seen, he thinks and he has thought (the acting and the completeness of the act) are one and the same, while in those activities which involve a becoming, _e. g._ to learn, to go, to become well, the two are separated. In this apprehension of form (or idea) as actuality or entelechy, _i. e._ in joining it with the movement of the becoming, is found the chief antagonism of the Aristotelian and Platonic systems. Plato considers the idea as being at rest, and consisting for itself, in opposition to the becoming and to motion; but with Aristotle the idea is the eternal product of the becoming, it is an eternal energy, _i. e._ an activity in complete actuality, it is not perfect being, but is being produced in every moment and eternally, through the movement of the potential to its actual end.

(4.) _The Absolute, Divine Spirit._--Aristotle has sought to establish from a number of sides, the conception of the absolute spirit, or as he calls it, the first mover, and especially by joining it to the relation of potentiality and actuality.

(_a._) _The Cosmological Form._--The actual is ever antecedent to the potential not only in conception (for I can speak of potentiality only in reference to some activity) but also in time, for the acting becomes actual only through an acting; the uneducated becomes educated through the educated, and this leads to the claim of a first mover which shall be pure activity. Or, again, it is only possible that there should be motion, becoming, or a chain of causes, except as a principle of motion, a mover exists. But this principle of motion must be one whose essence is actuality, since that which only exists in possibility cannot alone become actual, and therefore cannot be a principle of motion. All becoming postulates with itself that which is eternal and which has not become, that which itself unmoved is a principle of motion, a first mover.


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