§26. Movement as ἐντελέχεια τοῦ δυνάμει ὄντος [299–300]

in agreement with what was said, have raised. [Since they could not be done with being, they came to say, simply: there is no movement.] Therefore [since this possibility of explication did not come into view] they were driven so far from the path toward coming to be and passing away, the path toward μεταβολή [that they constructed theories about being, and did not come to see μεταβολή as such.] If this way of being would have become obvious to them, then every unclarity about these beings would have vanished for them.”50 That explicitly shows how clearly Aristotle valued his own discovery, and how fundamental the being-characters of δύναμις, ἐνέργεια, and στέρησις are.

γ. δύναμις

We must try to bring the second determination still closer to us, in order to understand beings in their dual character. What he says about στέρησις is the condition for the fact that the δυνάμει concern a being-character that befits a being-that-is-there already. Δύναμις does not have the sense of the ‘possible’: that which at some time can be there at all. Δύναμις is already the determination of an ἐντελεχείᾳ ὄν, that is, of a being-that-is-there already. A tree that stands in the forest is ἐντελεχείᾳ, present there for me as a tree. Or it can also be there as fallen tree, tree trunk. This tree trunk can be encountered by me in the character of serviceability for . . . , of availability for shipbuilding. The tree trunk has the character of being-serviceable for . . . , of usability for . . . , not in such a way that I thus apprehend it as first, but rather it is the mode of its being. It is encountered such that it is not mere wood, as a thing called wood. The being that is there in the surrounding world has the character of συμφέρον; it refers to something. This character of being-referring in the sense of being-serviceable for . . . determines this being that is there, this trunk, that is there ἐντελεχείᾳ and together with it as δυνάμει. Δυνάμει-being is a positive determination of the mode of its there. For a long time, I have been designating this being-character of being-there as meaningfulness. This being-character is the primary one in which the world is encountered.

That δυνάμει is not empty and formal, but determinate with determinate conditions, that it characterizes beings only at times and always in accordance with circumstances, becomes visible on the basis of Metaphysics Θ, Chapter 7. At the beginning of the chapter, the question: πότε δὲ δυνάμει ἐστὶν ἕκαστον καὶ πότε οὔ, διοριστέον.51 “When a being that is there at the time is δυνάμει and when it is not is to be delimited. It is not δυνάμει at every given time [although it is already there]. Is the earth in its ability-to-be something like a human being? Only if it were something like a σπέρμα, but perhaps not even then.”52

50. Phys. Α 8, 191 b 30 sqq.: ὥσθ’ [. . .] αἱ ἀπορίαι λύονται δι’ ἃς ἀναγκαζόμενοι ἀναιροῦσι τῶν εἰρημένων ἔνια· διὰ γὰρ τοῦτο τοσοῦτον καὶ οἱ πρότερον ἐξετράπησαν τῆς ὁδοῦ τῆς ἐπὶ γένεσιν καὶ φθορὰν καὶ ὅλως μεταβολήν· αὕτη γὰρ ἂν ὀφθεῖσα ἡ φύσις ἔλυσεν πᾶσαν τὴν ἄγνοιαν.
51. Met. Θ 7, 1048 b 36 sq.
52. Met. Θ 7, 1048 b 37 sqq.: . . . οὐ γὰρ ὁποτεοῦν. οἷον ἡ γῆ ἆρ’ ἐστὶν ἄνθρωπος δυνάμει ἢ οὔ, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον ὅταν ἤδη γένηται σπέρμα, καὶ οὐδὲ τότε ἴσως.