Plato's Sophist [89-91]

This applies above all to the Eleatics, who saw immediately nothing but Being. Aristotle brings forward here a phrase of Parmenides: ἓν τὰ πάντα (Phys. I, 2, 185a22). Being is everywhere Being; everything that is is Being, is present, is there. In relation to the task Aristotle imposed on himself, namely to find a manifold of ἀρχαί, i.e., the structure of this ἔν, for him the Eleatic philosophers presented the ἔν in such a way that this basic structure was still συγκεχυμένως and not yet brought to the fore. Others who were not even that far advanced took a determinate being as the ἀρχή and applied it to the whole: e.g., Thales water and Anaximander air.4 What immediately offered itself to them they saw as permeating beings, and they posited it as ἀρχή. Aristotle had this history of ἀρχή-research in mind when he formulated, at the beginning of the Physics, the proposition just mentioned: ἐκ τῶν καθόλου εἰς τά καθ᾽ἕκαστα.

In this way, what Aristotle says can even be understood positively: καὶ τοῦτο ἔργον ἐστίν, ὥσπερ ἐν ταῖς πράξεσι τὸ ποιῆσαι ἐκ τῶν ἑκάστῳ ἀγαθῶν τὰ ὅλως ἀγαθὰ ἑκάστῳ ἀγαθά, οὕτως ἐκ τῶν αὐτῷ γνωριμωτέρων τὰ τῇ φύσει γνώριμα αὐτῷ γνώριμα (Met. VII, 3, 1029b5ff.). This task is the same as in the case of action: "Just as in action it is important to proceed from what is in the individual case good for someone and pass through this good to the ὅλως ἀγαθόν, in such a way that in bringing about the ὅλως ἀγαθόν at the same time the ἕκαστον ἀγαθόν is carried out, likewise in the case of knowledge, one must proceed from what is immediately most familiar for a single individual and pass through this to the τῇ φύσει or ὅλως γνώριμον, in order to go back in turn from that to the αὐτῷ γνώριμον in such a way that the latter will become transparent from the former." Hence it is necessary to press on, from what is in a single case initially most familiar, to the ἀρχή and to appropriate the ἀρχή in such a way that from this appropriation there takes place a genuine appropriation of the καθ᾽ ἕκαστον and so that the transparency of the procedure itself is gained and the καθ᾽ ἕκαστον is understood on the basis of the ἀρχή.

From this we may finally understand what it means that the καθόλου is the proper theme of τέχνη and of ἐπιστήμη.

§13. Continuation: τέχνη and ἐπιστήμη (Met. I, 1). The tendency
residing in τέχνη toward an "autonomous" ἐπιστήμη. The further
development of ἐπιστήμη.

In contradistinction to the ἔμπειρος, the τεχνίτης is the one who ἄνευ τῆς ἐμπειρίας ἔχει τὸν λόγον (cf. Met. I, 1, 981a21), "who, without being used to any particular procedure, knows the εἶδος.

4. Cf. Phys. 1, 2, 184b17f.