Mike Baber wrote:What would be a more literal translation of the phrase «ἔχει καὶ τὸ τόδε τι καὶ τὸ ὄν» in the following passage from Aristotle's Physics?
ἡ δὲ ὑποκειμένη φύσις ἐπιστητὴ κατ' ἀναλογίαν. ὡς γὰρ πρὸς ἀνδριάντα χαλκὸς ἢ πρὸς κλίνην ξύλον ἢ πρὸς τῶν ἄλλων τι τῶν ἐχόντων μορφὴν [ἡ ὕλη καὶ] τὸ ἄμορφον ἔχει πρὶν λαβεῖν τὴν μορφήν, οὕτως αὕτη πρὸς οὐσίαν ἔχει καὶ τὸ τόδε τι καὶ τὸ ὄν.
I don't want to know the translation of other translators on the internet. I would like experts on this forum to evaluate it and let me know your own thoughts, if you don't mind.
You would happen to hit on the sticky issue of Aristotelian technical terminology derived from the verb εἶναι, where οὐσία sometimes means "substance" and at other times means "essence." There's also the idiomatic usage of ἔχειν as "be in a state" or "be disposed." Here ἔχειν πρὸς has the sense "stand in relationship with" or "be related to." So here the "underlying nature" -- i.e. the "substance" is knowable/understandable in terms of its relationship (to something). Bronze is understandable in terms of what it can become, what is made out of it: a statue; wood is understandable in terms of what can be made out of it, a bed or couch. Then the generalization: so anything that is without "form" relates to any of those things that have form: αὕτη (i.e. ἡ ὑποκειμένη φύσις) is related to being "this particular thing" (τὸ τόδε τι) and to being as existence. This is the lead-in to the analysis of the four αἰτίαι, the four "causes" or "explanatory" factors about natural things: material, formal, efficient, final. Here he's talking about the material and formal "factors" We can talk about anything that exists in terms of its substance or in terms of its form.
Probably one ought to have a basic sense of Aristotle's way of thinking about things before tackling his Greek account of anything in particular.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω