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Apostolos Pierris









Reality is, according to Aristotle, intrinsically teleological. Of the four types of causality operating in the World, the final Cause is the metaphysically predominant; it concordantly also disposes epistemologically the greatest explanatory force. The purpose of a being deter-mines its essential nature, as it must be of a certain structure and form in order to be able to attain its end. The potency to fulfill its final aim resides in the appropriate specific form. The material cause is thereby equally fixed: the matter must be capable of assuming the form required and of upholding the function necessary for the achievement of the given Aim. Furthermore, the efficient cause, precisely in order to be effective, must involve and indeed possess the essential form of its effect. Thus all other types of causality are basically defined with reference to finality.
The teleological structure of Reality does not consist merely in a mechanical appropriateness, an external adaptation of Means to Ends. It is on the contrary based on an inherently organic relationship between lower and higher degrees of existence. Reality is articulated as a vast hierarchical system, an immensely complicated cosmic ladder where every step below exists in order to render fully possible the steps above, to which it is linked in a chain of the strongest internal bond: what comes next is in a crucial sense already before there. The inferior is the potentiality of the superior; the superior is the actuality of the inferior: the same being-determination existing in two different modes of subsistence.
The potential-actual relationship constitutes the basic structural moment in the World. It can be direct or mediate. In the former case, matter is ready for the assumption of the next form, it is in the proper condition of preparedness and as a result of this it will manifest the subsequent form upon the appropriate presence of this form in a concrete existence which thereby becomes efficient cause. On the other hand, the relation between matter and form is indirect, if various intervening forms separate the one from the other, through all of which matter has in succession to pass before becoming the proximate matter for the form in question.
Since the content of actuality preexists potentially in matter and constitutes matter's real potentiality to assume the corresponding form, the actualization of the potential is thoroughly natural; non-actualization of a real potentiality is an abortion which can affect particular entities and not the World at large. Miscarriages are occasional failures in the natural processes which do not overturn the fundamental natural disequilibrium between actualization and non-actualization, perfection and defect, completion and deficiency. The cosmic scales of being are ontologically tipped in favour of positive accomplishment; and this is involved in the essentiality of being, that things have a nature and that there is a Nature of the World as a whole, that there is a unifying principle of cohesion in the manifestations of all being (particular, specific, generic, universal) governing the entire spectrum of its expansion and development.
The teleological nexus of reality presupposes at its outermost boundaries two opposite poles, one of pure potentiality (prime matter), the other of pure actuality (divine intellection). The former is the absolute substrate of all being, the latter the ultimate end of all being. Primal potentiality aspires to ultimate actuality; but as these poles are not proximate correlatives, a number of intermediate steps has to be realized through each of which prime matter is raised successively nearer to the final aim. Longing to attain ultimate actuality, primal potentiality realizes itself as the proximate actuality. And this mechanism of ascension takes place at each stage in the teleological pattern of reality. As all hierarchy of superior entelechies is comprised potentially in each level of attained actuality, such level really desires every higher constituent of that hierarchy including the supremest perfection - and aims at it. But in a strict sense everything desires, and aims at, what can be achieved immediately, namely its proximate actuality. In particular, the proper End of a being is the highest actualization of its essence, its own paramount, utmost attainment; while the common End of all being is the ultimate actuality. In the proper End of a being (οὗ ἕνεκα) there should not be included all that are simply necessary for its attainment (ὧν οὐκ ἄνευ). On the other hand Nature knows and acknowledges no short-cuts in her workings: no superior entelechy can be realized without the full actuality of the entire series that leads from the prime matter to the proximate matter of the entelechy in question. (V. Appendix on Immanent and Transcendent Teleology).
The proper End of Man, that is, the excelling actualization of its nature, is contemplation, i.e. the entelechy and perfection of the superior power or part of his soul. But the achievement of this perfection presupposes the realization of the supporting actualities, from the combination of the elements in the corporeal homoiomeries, to the bodily organs and their structural and functional co-ordination, to the generative-nutritive faculty, to the sensational-orectic animal principle and to the inferior human psychic constituents, the non-rational in itself but obedient to reason, on the one hand, and that aspect of rationality which considers accidentals on the other. To these internal prerequisities one should add adequate provision of external goods, sufficient for the preservation and material well-being of man and necessary for the exercise of his virtues and excellencies. All these are indispensable conditions (ὧν οὐκ ἄνευ) of human extreme entelechy but not organic constitutive parts of it.
Yet the proper End of Man, his εὐδαιμονία in highest excellence, cannot be achieved in isolation as an individual, but requires his integration within the social nexus. Individual perfection is only attainable in the framework of collective achievements, of a common spiritual heritage; it has to be based on national possessions of high culture and characteristic ways of life; it is reared and flourishes in the bosom of what is given as already accomplished hyperpersonally, a living network of religious experiences, cultural values, intellectual trends, modes of sensibility and moral-practical attitudes, which in their coherent concatenation define the character of the social matrix whose offspring the individual performance is. The individual in its striving towards maximal actualisation, cannot really repeat in itself the historical achievement-record of mankind or of any significant part of it. Even its existence, let alone its superactivated existence or well-being, depends on its participation in the social integration. Hence the paramount importance of culture and education.
Society is needed in order that human excellence may be realized. The defining purpose of systematic human congregation is human perfection: society should provide for the satisfaction of all those prerequisite conditions (ὧν οὐκ ἄνευ), external and internal, upon which extreme human actuality (i.e. contemplation, intellection, speculation) is grounded and thrives as the supervening ultimate entelechy of human nature. Social organization must safeguard the attainment of that defining purpose. The Ideal Constitution, as the best social Form, is thus deduced from the End of Man: it is such an essential structure as will nourish, promote and guarantee the achievement of that End.
Πολιτεία is the form of Society, the soul of πόλις. It is no mere "constitution" in the modern sense of the world, but what constitutes the specific character of a given society in its full concreteness (e.g. Πολιτεία Ἀθηναίων). It involves significant city-orientation, type of country landscape, kind of water supply, town-harbour relationship (or what might be called today productive-trading balances), marriage age-limits, regulations regarding rearing of children, education primarily, general ways of life - as well as the fundamental questions of citizenship and sovereignty in state, all these integrated in a unified account articulating the essential nature and proper idiosyncrasy of a given society.
Society and Social Form exist for the sake of the End of Society (οὐ ἕνεκα). The End of Society is the End of Man. The superior End of Man is the highest human actuality, namely contemplation (θεωρία), the supremest human perfection. What form of Society can secure the realization of that End of Society?
Now the End of Society is not a collective achievement in which individuals do not fully partake except as partial means to the End. There can be no perfectly happy Society without perfectly happy men, Aristotle emphasizes against Plato. Perfection of human nature cannot be realized by concrete partial perfections in various individuals, without complete perfection in individuals, without individuals exhibiting full perfection. This, on the other hand, does not imply that Society exists for the sake of the individual and its accomplishments (it exists for the sake of the perfection of human nature); it is always the part that exists for the sake of the whole, and the individual is a part of society, for it cannot even subsist apart from the social nexus. There is a balance struck between individualism and socialism, one founded upon the natural order of things and essential determinations, and not on artificial preconceptions from either side. That balance in Aristotle leads to the perfect Aristocracy.
In order to determine the best constitutional order (and especially the basic issues of citizenship and sovereignty in a state), with reference to the End of Society, the necessary social functions have first to be distinguished (γένη, μόρια or μέρη πόλεως). The generic list of these indispensable professions, occupations, crafts, vocations or employments is as follows: (1) husbandry, (2) artisanship, (3) trade, (4) labour, (5) military, (6) justice and deliberation, (7) wealth (land-capital), (8) magistracy (administration, including education) and (9) priesthood or service to divinity. There are also specific subdivisions of these γένη that have to be taken proper notice of in the detailed account of polities. (Politics, 1328b-24 and Politics, 12290b39-1291b2).
All these represent indispensable conditions (food, artifacts, supply of goods, work, defense and aggression, resolution of internal conflicts and policy-making, expenditure, public service) for the realization in the social web of the End of life, but do not belong to the essential factor of that final aim, i.e. contemplation (θεωρία). Θεωρία can of course be directed to each one of them but the point is its compatibility with the full involvement in the actual application of the theoretical knowledge in practice in each case. The crucial question is whether they may variously and in various combinations, with or without θεωρία, characterize the same people, or whether they should be kept rigidly apart, being exercised by different classes of people, in some form of caste system.
Genuine contemplative life is inconsistent with occupations that are time-consuming (husbandry) or sordid and unhealthy (artisanship) or illiberal (trade) or degrading (labour). Farming destroys the necessary σχολή (leizure) for the pursuit of theorizing. Craftsmanship, by being repetitious in small movements and employing mechanical implements while keeping the overall posture stationary, corrupts the perfect bodily development and restricts the mental outlook. Commerce and exchange tends to concentrate exclusively on profit, and thus compromises the appreciation of the intrinsically valuable and of what is generous and soul-expanding. Finally, labour sold per time-unit is but one remove from slavery, which is labour exploited for life.
This clarification is of the utmost importance. It entails that people in these four vocations cannot coincide with those devoted to the contemplative life. The impossibility in question is normative and refers of course to the nature of things; it does not preclude the existence of particular exceptions.
In the ideal state of affairs (in the case of the absolutely best πολιτεία) the members of the state (the full citizens) enjoy fully and not partly the ultimate benefit for whose sake the state exists, namely the perfect entelechy of human nature, i.e. contemplation. Hence, the citizens of the best (ideal) πολιτεία are men of theoretical and speculative knowledge. Given the inconsistency of contemplative life with the four above noticed occupations, those involved in actual practice with husbandry, artisanship, commerce or labour, will not be proper citizens in the best state organization, although they certainly are indispensable factors for the existence of the State. But what is an indispensable condition of something is not an essential ingredient in its constitution. Correspondingly, the full citizen is distinguished from the inhabitant or denizen of the State or dweller in the city.
Contemplation as active wisdom is the proper entelechy of the highest faculty in man's soul. A superior perfection presupposes the grades of inferior perfections in the chain of more and more intense actualization. Thus theoretical wisdom rests upon and draws in (is activated and activates) the corresponding perfections of the inferior psychic capabilities, the practical wisdom (φρόνησις) of the part apprehending accidental formation in the world of change, and the virtuous disposition of the passive and appetitive faculty of the soul. Therefore, the contemplative man is the one best adapted to deliberate, deliver justice, and administer public functions. He will thus discharge the responsibilities of policy making, judicial judgment and executive officiation in the best Polity.
The man of speculative perfection must also enjoy an adequate endowment of external goods as a pool on which to draw for the satisfaction of the necessary demands of his growing actualization (freedom from everyday solicitudes), as a field upon which his ethical virtues may be fully manifested and actively exercised (e.g. magnanimity and generosity par excellence), and as a means for the overall integration of his superlative accomplishments (rightful glorification). Thus he will be the capitalist, the land owner in the ideal state; the farmer, the trader, the craftsman, the labourer are not to possess land.
Since the full citizens are all perfect examples of manhood, there cannot obtain any distinction in them between those ruling and those ruled. The ruler must be superior to the ruled, unless there is simply a change of roles by turns (κατὰ μέρος ἄρχειν καὶ ἄρχεσθαι). Among men similar (ὅμοιοι) in utmost perfection there is neither room nor point for that distinction or for any exchange or rotation of position.
The thorny problem of the military is also solved naturally within the present framework. They cannot be well deprived of full citizenship; for it is absurd and unworkable to make those on whom the maintenance of the Polity depends (against foreign occupation or internal overthrow) not to completely participate in it. Equally, the soldiery cannot be granted full citizenship; for nature herself separates the age of martial prowess from that of prudent cogitation. However this latter fact provides the solution to the puzzle. The division between the military and the magistracy in the best Policy is not one of persons but of age. The same people when younger are fighters and ruled (though full citizens), while when older and maturer they rule by exercising the afore-mentioned social functions. Resentment to be ruled cannot thrive in the soldier-citizens, as they know that they will rule in turn when they reach the stage and fulfill the condition which an older age brings with it: when they become φρόνιμοι and αἰδοῖοι. In the same way, priesthood belongs to the self-same citizens when they have passed well beyond the upper limit of the acme of their mental capabilities: the office is one of honoured relaxation, although essential for the welfare of the society.
Thus then is the best Polity organized in its basic structure. Citizenship and Sovereignty coincide in the same persons; only that the younger citizens do not rule as yet and the older any more, while having been allocated crucial social functions compatible with their personal identity to men of superlative human perfection when in the appropriate age period. These men of contemplation own the private material resources (private land) and exercise the leadership of society in all matters administrative, deliberative and judiciary. The productive and commercial classes are parts of the City (country) without being proper organic parts of the Form of State, of the πολιτεία.
The best Constitution (ἀρίστη πολιτεία) is the highest form, the sublimest entelechy of human society. Those capable of realizing the End of Life (happiness in supreme actuality) are citizens and rulers in that State. In it ἀγαθὸς ἀνήρ and ἀγαθὸς πολίτης coincide absolutely. Politics, 1276b4-1277a16. (The necessary non-citizen is slave, barbarian or περίοικος - dependent). The ἀρίστη πολιτεία is strict and thorough ἀριστοκρατία, both because the true optimates rule and because the functioning of the state is focused on the unconditional cultivation of excellence. Indeed Excellence is the governing principle and the defining quality (ὅρος πολιτείας) of genuine Aristocracy. The best Constitution is pure Aristocracy.
But the perfect Form of Society presupposes for its realization (concrete actualization) an adequate human matter, matter at the appropriate condition of preparedness, ready to proximately assume the Form. Yet this is not usually forthcoming. The various degrees of approximation by which man participates in the perfect entelechy of his own nature provide the ground on which the variety of constitutions (of forms of Society) is grown. The question is treated in detail in my paper “Cause and nature of constitutional diversity in Aristotle’s Politics” in the second volume of K. Boudouris (ed.), Aristotelian Political Philosophy, Athens 1995. [Also in this site].
If the citizen-body of the people, or a significant part thereof, is found on a level of potentiality far removed from supremest actuality, then the perfect social Form cannot be concretized. If now under such general distancing from the real End of life, one individual far excels the rest in perfection of nature, then this is the natural leader of the Society - and this is the foundation of authentic kingship, which thus emerges as, in effect, a special case of aristocracy: it shares the same defining feature and fundamental value with it, e.g. excellence (ἄριστον); and it presupposes some feeling for it even in those removed from its actual manifestation.
When matter is defective, and perfect Form cannot be immediately assumed, intermediate structures have to be adopted suitable to the degree of actuality reached by the matter at hand, and corresponding to its proper degree and character of potentiality ready to be realized. The form of such structure answers to the prevalent value operating in people's life, which again expresses a certain quality (ποιόν) of the society in question.
The aristocratic normative principle is excellence (ἄριστον). When the people are yet immature, the society fails to meet the exigencies of that demanding Norm. Social status (and particularly and crucially ruling-status) cannot any more depend on perfection independently determined, namely by reference to human nature and its essential entelechy. Failing this, status and sovereignty are defined by some consequential attributes of their archetype in the ideal state, and not by its essential determination. Such attributes are wealth, freedom and force; for the perfect man (who is the citizen and the ruler in the best constitution) possesses capital, is self-determined, and exercises authoritative coercion as magistrate, especially when (as his younger self) wields the (military) might of the state. When any of those partial attributes, instead of being co-derivative, supplants the essential character of sovereignty in the best constitution (which is natural perfection), it arrogates to itself the position of the chief normative value expressed in the overall characteristic quality of the society. These qualities (economic power, freedom, compulsion by military force) are then the defining features of the general types of inferior politeia (ὅρος πολιτείας), oligarchic, democratic and tyrannic.
From these essential definitions are derived the commoner descriptions of the basic constitutions according to the numerical value of the rulers or the class to which they belong. For capital tends to be concentrated in few hands and binds its possessors in the social class of the rich (εὔποροι). Freedom is likely to be expanded to many, i.e. all free-born inhabitants of the state, whereas it unites those who have nothing else to proclaim, namely the poor (ἄποροι) and unknown (μὴ γνώριμοι). Finally, coercion and military might inherently gravitates to one bearer of force, by the gradual elimination of the contenders.
What is partial and derivative has been construed as whole and fundamental - and this is bad enough. But in addition to this, it may also be absolutised by the negation of its crucially intermediate status. The constitutions other than the best one are really contingent upon the available human stuff, they are ἐξ ὑποκειμένων: they are the necessary defective forms of inapt social matter: given such matter they constitute its appropriate form and inferior actuality. But they should always be oriented to the absolute, not the conditional, good. They must involve somehow the principle of excellence and endeavour (through their institutional formations as well as their pursued policies) to further its influence. Their purpose naturally is to prepare the matter in such a way as to render it capable of assuming the final perfect Form. When this course is effectively followed, these defective constitutions work for the benefit of man; otherwise they promote their own self-preservation as defective organizations, and advance the interests of the ruling classes in them, of the wealthy qua wealthy, of the free qua free, of the strong qua strong, as the case may be. In such absurdly untoward situation are found the oligarchic, democratic and tyrannic Constitutions in reality. They are thus in fact deviations (παρεκβάσεις); they consider themselves statically, not dynamically as passing stages in the advancement towards the realization of the End of Life through the best social organization. Such deviations are constitutions καθ᾿ ὑπόθεσιν, ex hypothesi – and after an invalid hypothesis: let it be maintained, secured and preserved what in reality should not last, what is a transient necessity due to defective material and preparatory of its own sublation into the next higher form of social and political entelechy. Deviation is a disorientation from the right end; it is thus distortion; it works also to the unfair advantage of temporarily beneficial arrangements and to the detriment of permanent objective finalities. Such reverse bias in favour of the proximate against the ultimate characterizes essentially all devious constitutions.
Their distorting one-sidedness can be practically cured only in a fusion of their characters either (1) by combination, or (2) by mediation, or (3) by selective incorporation of their differing, indeed opposing, peculiarities. Thus it is not severally on their own that the three deviations can become valid transitional means of attaining the final end of human society, but in mixture. This mixture will not comprise the principle of Tyranny at all. Very significantly, force and coercion are not counted upon as substantive ingredients in the formation of the "common" constitution, good in most obtaining circumstances, with the necessary minor modifications which can render it nicely adaptable to the precise quality of a given people. There remain only the oligarchic and democratic principles to be balanced against each other, capital and freedom, economic might and self-determination. With the exception of the best constituted state, the opposition of these principles is a real factor generative of antitheses in social reality. For whereas each and every of the indispensable functions in society (γένη, μέρη or μόρια πόλεως) can be claimed to be possibly and rightfully exercised by the same persons, this is patently impossible in the case of wealth and indigence (this latter being the projection of freedom on the concrete plane). Hence we have here to do with conflicting social classes and not with complementary, even if competing, occupations. This is the reason why their harmonious counterpoise is a necessary and vital condition for the existence of a stable social order, as well as for the possibility of providing the aristocratic principle of excellence with a real opportunity and solid foundation to develop. Thus between the oligarchic tendency to segregate people in separate mutually exclusive groups according to social function (the caste syndrom) and the democratical preference to promote participation of all people in all functions, prudent Polity may encourage communicability of certain functions conducive to human excellence, while keeping distinct others (from the former and among themselves, too) ministering in the most efficient way to the necessities of life. The indispensable conditions of life (ζῆν) are treated differently from the supervening demands of perfect life (εὖ ζῆν). In this way, firstly, the inner drive to superlative excellence and natural entelechy as the supreme end in and for itself (not for the sake of something else) is taken care of; secondly, practical concerns and economic interests are given full play to work productively, in efficaciously catering for the material needs of man; and, thirdly, by fostering both those attitudes in their independent courses, and by balancing them in the framework of a closely-knit social nexus, the natural influences from the superior entelechy-oriented mentality filter down spontaneously into the inferior labour-oriented modality, without biasing the theoretical development to become action-bent, or enforcing upon practical procedures directive prerogatives that are alien to their nature - both which measures are artificial and detrimental to both sides. That quiet preeminence of knowledge over action can surely be alertly accepted in a World wanting in true speculative insight into the real nature of things (I am not of course counting on the modern meagre scientific substitute for such integrating wisdom, a substitute which merely represents the projection of the praxis-attitude onto the entelechies-of-theory-realm), yet abounding in feverish action and subjectively misguided, distorting interventionalism in nature and natural perfections. The precedence of contemplation over praxis conforms to the general maxim that only the superior can really benefit the inferior, and this effectively only in the context of their appropripate hiearchical conjoining. Such overruling significance for genuine theoretical insight and wisdom is much in evidence in the temporary scene, especially with the driving monocratoric force in the establishment of a new phase of civilization. And it is precisely here that the modern need and challenge is most conspicuously addressed to Hellenism as the most articulate essentialistic, deeply natural understanding of reality - human reality par excellence. The response to this challenge on the political plane along the delineated aristotelian lines will be appreciated and can be pursued, even if modern man may stand in wonder and hesitation before the further and ideal claim that in the best social order it is the man of genuine theoretical knowledge who will be the capitalist and the policy-maker as well.






1. In five passages of the extant corpus, Aristotle explicitly invokes, and in one more he indirectly refers to, as well known, an important distinction in the sense and acceptation of final causality which was established in his dialogue Περὶ Φιλοσοφίας (Fr. 28 Ross. That the distinction was instituted in this dialogue, rightly, already Bernays, Die Dialoge des Aristoteles, p. 109; contra, e.g., Rose, Aristoteles Pseudepigraphus, p. 29). Aristotle presupposes familiarity with the distinction, as having been publicized, maybe even popularized, by his "exoteric" work. As a result he nowhere explains it adequately in his hypomnematic studies that we possess.
One certain fact about the distinction in question is that it had to do with the so-called external teleology, finality, that is, of a thing or process which lies beyond the reach of it, and regards something else. Thus, for instance, oxen in best bovine condition serve in the best way our agricultural interests and nutritional needs. That this holds generally with all inorganic matter and organic forms, with all products of nature or art, in relation to man as End, is precisely the point which the Aristotelian distinction in finality is summoned to articulate and formulate in Fr. 28 = Physica B2, 194a27-36. The second part of B2 establishes the thesis that it is the task of one and the same science (Natural Philosophy or Physics) to study both matter and form in Nature. From 194a27 sqq. a major analogy is instituted to that purpose between natural things and artifacts. In the latter, matter is made by art to assume such a form as will perform in the best way a certain function for a certain purpose. The rudder, for example, is constructed by the rudder-maker for the best use in the hands of the steersman. In nature the same finality obtains:  natural things are constituted in a way that suits owr interest; their perfection securs our best advantage. The difference is that ἐν μὲν οὖν τοῖς κατὰ τέχνην ἡμεῖς ποιοῦμεν τὴν ὕλην (ποιοῦμεν either ἁπλῶς or ἐνεργόν 194a33-4) τοῦ ἔργου ἕνεκα, ἐν δὲ τοῖς φυσικοῖς ὑπάρχει οὖσα (194b7-8). Thus there is nothing here to answer the Art of Making, which in artificial production is distinct, though subordinate, to the Art of Using artifacts; knowledge of constitution in things natural involves, and is involved in, knowledge of their purposes. Their purposes are their good and our benefit. Physica B2, 194a27 sqq.: ἔτι τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα καὶ τὸ τέλος τῆς αὐτῆς (sc. ἐπιστήμης), καὶ ὅσα τούτων ἕνεκα, ἡ δὲ φύσις τέλος καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα… ἐπεὶ καὶ ποιοῦσιν αἱ τέχναι τὴν ὕλην αἱ μὲν ἁπλῶς αἱ δὲ εὐεργόν, καὶ χρώμεθα ὡς ἡμῶν ἕνεκα πάντων ὑπαρχόντων (ἐσμὲν γάρ πως καὶ ἡμεῖς τέλος. διχῶς γὰρ τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα· εἴρηται δ᾿ ἐν τοῖς περὶ φιλοσοφίας). Thomas Aquinatis, in his Expositio in Libros Physicorum, II (Lectio IV §173, seems to have discerned the drift of the distinction. The end of a house is habitation in one sense, but it is also, in another, the man who will use it as a dwelling: ...dupliciter dicitur id cuius causa fit, scilicet cuius et quo; sicut finis domus ut cuius est habitator, ut quo est habitatio. He reverses the correct assignation of the termini technici; but still he is alert to the distinction between immanent (dwelling is the purpose of a house), already achieved in the house itself when this has been properly constructed as an adequate human shelter) and transcendent finality (the man is the end of a house, he for the sake of which a house exists). 
The force of καὶ ἡμεῖς is certainly not exhausted in the intended opposition to the immanent teleology of perfection as an End for the thing (natural or artificial) perfected and for its processes towards that purpose. We, too, are an End of sorts relative to the absolute End of all existence, Godhead; the reason presumably being contemplation (pure noetic activity, θεωρία), as of the essence of divinity, in which man also, after a fashion, participates. Even so, the significance of the above urged point is thereby enhanced. For precisly in the midst of the discussion ex professo. (in Metaphysics Λ) concerning the final causality of the First Principle, the unmoved Mover, Aristotle has recourse to the present distinction. Finality is bound up with change: the End implies processes towards its realization. But this is true necessarily of the finality immanent in the cosmic developments, in this World of becoming. Transcendent finality may exist in realities intact by any kind of change and alteration. Metaphysica Λ7, 1072b1-4: ὅτι δ᾿ ἔστι τό οὗ ἕνεκα ἐν τοῖς ἀκινήτοις, ἡ διαίρεσις δηλοῖ· ἔστι γὰρ τινὶ τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα <καὶ> τινός, ὧν τὸ μὲν (sc. τὸ τινὶ οὗ ἕνεκα) ἔστι (sc. ἐν τοῖς ἀκινήτοις), τὸ δ᾿ (sc. τὸ τινὸς οὗ ἕνεκα) οὐκ ἔστι. κινεῖ δὴ ὡς ἐρώμενον, κινουμένῳ δὲ τἆλλα κινεῖ. (The clause <καὶ> τινός is found in Alexander's Aphrodisiensis text (apud Averroem), it is omitted in most mss. but τινός is preserved in the excellent codex Ab. It is undoubtfully the correct reading. Similarly, κινουμένῳ (sc. οὐρανῷ) is the correct reading, and is the first reading of Ab changed to the wrong reading κινούμενον. What is meant is that the ἀκίνητον θεῖον ἐρώμενον moves everything through the intermediate agency of the first κινοῦν καὶ κινούμενον, the celestial orbit). Divinity is transcendent to the teleological processes in the World as well as of their immanent ends, culminations, perfections; it exercises influence from afar and uncontaminatedly by any involvement in the actual developments, like the loved one, the object of one's aspirations, who remains distinct from, and external to, the lover's longings and satisfactions. God, as ens perfectissimum, is the ultimate οὗ ἕνεκα; He is beyond all striving and action: for action implies necessarily End and Means, final goal and process of attainment; action is the way to cancel one's distance from perfection. So, nicely, in De Caelo B12, 292b4 sqq.: τῷ δ᾿ ὡς ἄριστα ἔχοντι οὐθὲν δεῖ πράξεως· ἔστι γὰρ αὐτὸ τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα, ἡ δὲ πρᾶξις ἀεί ἐστιν ἐν δυσίν, ὅταν καὶ οὗ ἕνεκα ᾗ καὶ τὸ τούτου ἕνεκα. The relationship between the immanent cosmic goodness, the World harmony, on the one hand, and the absolute transcendent Goodness on the other, God as νοερὰ θεωρία pure and immaterial, is well exemplified by the well-ordered army and its general-emperor. Both the pervading order and the separate general are, if he is successful, in excellent condition, but the order is derived from him and not vice-versa. Thus goodness exists more fundamentally in God, and the transcendent End is the source of the immanent finality. Metaph. Λ10, 1075b11-25. (For the dependence of everything, celestial and sublunary, on Godhead, v. Metaph. 1072b13-14; Physica, 192a16-25; cf. De Anima, loc. cit.; De generatione Animalium, 731b31. The dependence is, of course, varying in degree (and kind), stratified; de Caelo 279a25-30).
At the very end of the Eudemian Ethics, the transcendent finality of God is dissociated from what normally accompanies such finality within the World, namely the presupposed state of want which the working of such finality comes to replenish. The (building of the) house exists for the sake of the man who will dwell in it, and who is now, as such, an undweller; the exercise of Medicine with the goal of restoring health occurs for the sake of the man who will become healthy, and is, therefore, sick; and so on. The beneficiary considered as end of an action (the aim at which the action is directed) stands in need of it. This means no degradation in the axiological or ontological status of the goal; it is natural that an end will be realized through the performance of certain acts, i.e. by some means, which enjoy thus temporal (but not essential) precedence over it in any given concrete case. (The question of priority is treated in De generatione animalium, B6, 742a17-b17, a passage to which we shall return). Nonetheless, in the case of the Ultimate End of all existence, Divinity, that state of want not only is annulled, but is further replaced by the plenitude of utmost perfection. In the case, for instance, of human action, phronesis directs it, commanding the appropriate courses to be taken for the benefit of the phronimos, but for the ultimate sake of Godhead, who, of course, stands in no need of anything, and profits not from such action. Ethica Eudemia, Θ3, 1249b13-16: οὐ γὰρ ἐπιτακτικῶς ἄρχων ὁ Θεός, ἀλλ᾿ οὗ ἕνεκα ἡ φρόνησις ἐπιτάττει (διττὸν δὲ τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα· διώρισται δ᾿ ἐν ἄλλοις), ἐπεὶ κεῖνός γε, οὐθενὸς δεῖται. In prudent commands the proximate end (οὗ ἕνεκα) τινί is the receiver of these counsels, while the ultimate is God; the proximate end (οὗ ἕνεκα) τινός is virtuous behaviour, while the ultimate is eudaemonia and beatitude and divine life. (Proximate finality, for a thing, what is its own proper goodness. Cf. Phys. 246b2,28; 247a2; Metaph. 1021b20; EE 1218a30-32; Politica 1261b9; EN. 1106a15-24; Iamblichus, Protrepticus 41.22 sqq. Pistelli; Theophrastus L70 Fortenbaugh. For ultimate causality v. the passages referred to supra. - For the general hierarchical, teleological structure of reality, a very revealing passage is Meteorologica 389b28-390b2).
The before mentioned passage in De Gener. Anim., B, 742a16 sqq. considers the relative precedence (in order of generation or essence) of the various parts of an animal. In the course of the analysis a distinction is made of the correlative pole of οὗ ἕνεκα, namely of the τούτου ἕνεκα. There are two kinds of τούτου ἕνεκα, of this too (δύο δὲ διαφορὰς ἔχει καὶ τὸ τούτου ἕνεκα, 742a22); the tacit reference must be to the two sorts of οὗ ἕνεκα. The τούτου ἕνεκα covers τὸ γεννητικόν or κινητικόν (i.e. whence the teleological movement) and τὸ ὀργανικόν (the instrumental necessity). To the source and beginning of the teleological change corresponds its goal and end, the condition of finality in both senses of the word (τέλος as termination and as perfection; the οὗ ἕνεκα τινός). To the means of the teleological process, there corresponds its (external) point and purpose (τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα τινί), 742a22sqq.: δύο δὲ διαφορὰς ἔχει καὶ τὸ τούτου ἕνεκα· τὸ μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ὅθεν ἡ κίνησις, τὸ δὲ ᾧ χρῆται τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα, λέγω δ᾿ οἵον τό τε γεννητικὸν καὶ τὸ ὀργανικὸν τῷ γεννωμένῳ… τριῶν δ᾿ ὄντων - ἑνὸς μὲν τοῦ τέλους ὃ λέγομεν εἶναι οὗ ἕνεκα, δεύτερον δὲ τῶν τούτου ἕνεκα τῆς ἀρχῆς τῆς κινητικῆς καὶ γεννητικῆς… τρίτου δὲ τοῦ χρησίμου καὶ ᾧ χρῆται τὸ τέλος etc.
This instrumental aspect in teleological structuring, is paramount in the second occurence of the distinction within 20 lines, in De Anima B4. Body is an instrument to the soul and exists for the sake of her. "For the sake of" (οὗ ἕνεκα) has a double meaning: "with the purpose of" (οὗ ἕνεκα τινός) or "to the benefit of, on account of" (οὗ ἕνεκα τινί). 415b19 sqq.: πάντα γὰρ τὰ φυσικὰ σώματα τῆς ψυχῆς ὄργανα, καὶ καθάπερ τὰ τῶν ζῴων, οὕτω καὶ τὰ τῶν φυτῶν, ὡς ἕνεκα τῆς ψυχῆς ὄντα. διττῶς δὲ τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα, τό τε οὗ καὶ τὸ ᾧ. The distinction is not particularly apposite in the present context: the body is both the instrument and the appropriate matter of the soul. The former tends to render the finality involved transcendent, while the latter leaves the immanent teleology paramount (Cf. on this point infra). Yet it is characteristic that with the instrumental aspect emphasized, the distinction is utilized. And so with the former application of the distinction in 415b2. Natural beings aspire to the perpetuity of divine life, but are unable to attain it; by acting for the sake of it however, they are raised to everlastingness of a sort, in species, as the best possible surrogate (a veritable δεύτερος πλοῦς) to full numerical eternity. 415a30 sqq. (generation from themselves happens in the various species) ἵνα τοῦ ἀεὶ καὶ τοῦ θείου μετέχωσιν ᾗ δύνανται· πάντα γὰρ ἐκείνου ὀρέγεται, καὶ ἐκείνου ἕνεκα πράττει ὅσα πράττει κατὰ φύσιν. τὸ δ᾿ οὗ ἕνεκα διττόν, τὸ μὲν οὗ, τὸ δὲ ᾧ. ἐπεὶ οὖν κοινωνεῖν ἀδυνατεῖ τοῦ ἀεὶ καὶ τοῦ θείου τῇ συνεχείᾳ, διὰ τὸ μηδὲν ἐνδέχεσθαι τῶν φθαρτῶν ταὐτὸ καὶ ἓν ἀριθμῷ διαμένειν, ᾗ δύναται μετέχειν ἕκαστον, κοινωνεῖ ταύτῃ, τὸ μὲν μᾶλλον τὸ δ´ἧττον· καὶ διαμένει οὐκ αὐτό, ἀλλ᾿ οἷον αὐτό, ἀριθμῷ μὲν οὐχ ἕν, εἴδει δ᾿ ἕν. The ἐνδεχομένη ἀθανασία (perpetuity in kind) is the οὗ ἕνεκα τινός for a living being; the divine eternal life is the οὗ ἕνεκα τινί. Contra: Themistius, Comm. ad Arist. de Anima,  loc. cit. p. 50 Heinze. The interpretation is common to the Neoplatonic Scholia, v. p. 805a38 sqq. Brandis. Averrois, Commentarium Magnum in Aristotelis de Anima libros, II 35.15 sqq. p. 183; II. 37.58 sqq. p. 187 Crawford. Similarly Thomas Aquinas, In Aristotelis Librum de Anima Commentarium §316, p. 82 Pirotta. For them οὗ = the end, ᾧ = that in which the end is realized. Themistius turns the general interpretation into singular use here: οὗ = divine eternity, ᾧ = the individual in this world. This is patently unsatisfactory, as is the pedantic account of a powerful and major distinction. Brave but confused is Bernays, op. cit., p. 108: τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα τινος = objective purpose, where the attainment of the end concludes the process; τὸ οὗ ἕνεκα τινι = subjective purpose, where the achieved situation continues to be used after completion. Dropping the totally unsuitable objective - subjective labeling, we might discern the fundamental point that in the former case we have to do with immanent finality, while in the latter the end is external to that which exists for the sake of the end. But Bernays misses the point: he maintains that the unmoved God can only be "objective" End of the World. In fact, he can only be "subjective" End, if we leave out of the picture in this conception the idea of an efficient causality involved in that continuing use.
The grand focal conception is this: By striving after the absolute Good, by acting for its sake, things attain their own perfection as end of their existence and functioning. Thus, the inferior exists for the sake of the superior, and thereby achieves its own complete satisfaction (Cf. Politica, 1333a21-3; Magna Moralia 1208a12-20).
In this way External and internal finalities are intrinsically co-implicated. Prime Matter aspires to divinity but cannot assume it directly; it, first, becomes the four physical elements; then these combine in multifarious ways, some privileged among which are capable of being informed by plant life; optimal manifestation of plant life is the appropriate receptacle of animal soul, and again the animal principle carrying to its extreme perfection the corresponding bodily constitution makes it suitable subject of human reason, which at the pinnacle of the ascending ladder for an inworldly being, can become the vehicle of noetic illumination (contemplation). The requirement for a proximate supporting (sub-sisting) matter in all worldly perfection is rendered manifest in the doctrine of the παθητικὸς νοῦς as the necessary prerequisite of active intellection.
Every kind of natural being is a provisional "stop" in the process through which prime matter is divinized, a step in the cosmic teleological ladder. For the step next in order, the one immediately below is a means for its own existence and perfection; and conversely the former is an external end for the latter. Cf. the important passage already mentioned, Meteorologica, 389b28-390b2. But what is means and external end for two proximate steps, is matter and form, potentiality and actuality, substance and entelechy when considered in the context of the entire process whereby divine contemplation becomes manifest in the world of matter. As part of what comes next, the former stage is matter actualized and fulfilled in it (eternal finality). As independent entity, as an arresting moment in the ascending cosmic movement, it is an instrument for the benefit of the higher developments. Internal and external finality are two aspects of the same reality; their distinction depends on the viewpoint; it is a matter of perspective.
It is not difficult to apply this insight to particular, concrete cases. We saw above that all inferior forms of existence are as means for man, as well; man is their external finality. For instance, plants and animals may be used as food by man. But this example discloses what is really at stake: for food is transformed into nutritive substance through digestion, is assimilated to our proximate bodily matter. And this holds in general: the plant and animal life, as well as the natural principle in the inorganic realm are involved in our constitution, perfected and incorporated in it as necessary essential parameters of our being and entelechy. As such they are themselves perfected in our nature and supreme excellence, and we are their internal end.
Again, medical science is an intellectual perfection in the scientist. The end of the doctor qua doctor is however primarily not to be transmit knowledge, but to impart (and maintain) health in someone else who is sick (or is prone to fall ill). Thus the doctor exists for the sake of the man (in actual or potential illness), who is thus his external end. (The two coincide only per accidents, as Aristotle clarifies). Medicine is for the sake of health, transcendently. But it is also so immanently: medical knowledge is the systematic articulation of a body of doctrine which focuses on health; it, of course, involves knowledge of what follows health, what is conducive to health, conditions, materials, modes of life favourable or adverse to health etc.; but unless it does not possess and adequate account of the nature of health, it is no real science. Health in its full essence is thus the immanent end of Medicine, something which must, in a crucial sense, be attained by it, if it is to be real knowledge.
Analogous is, finally, the case with artificial production. The building art exists in the builder, and its excellence constitutes his perfection; the house and its best condition (when it is well built) are external to the art and the architect. And yet, it is the full apprehension of the house's nature and function in all their ramifications that makes for the excellence in the building art; the (form of the) house is the immanent focal point of the art. As has been noticed, the same biaspectuality occurs with the house vis-a-vis the dweller. He is external to the house and its dwelling perfection; but the best house is that best suited for human habitation, and thus home dwelling perfection involves the nature, needs and life of man, as determinative factors (formally) immanent in it.
The specific examples illustrate the underlying thesis. External finality results from the separate existence of the various steps in the teleological ladder of reality. Ultimately, it stems from the pyramidal structure of the World. Less and less matter is able to reach such perfection in each stage, that will render it apt to assume the proximate form, that will make reality to ascend to the next phase in the movement towards the supreme culmination: deification through contemplation. Thus, there remains at each step much refuse, so to speak, necessary and useful for the existence of the higher orders. For that, and major, portion of each stage, the proximate superior formation is an external end; the rest, and minor, part has been incorporated into the higher achievement. (That the inferior nature is involved in, and presupposed by, the superior can be illustrated by the hierarchical system of gradations in the psychic principle. V. De anima 414b20-415a13, esp.: ἀεὶ γὰρ ἐν τῷ ἐφεξῆς ὑπάρχει δυνάμει τὸ πρότερον ἐπί τε τῶν σχημάτων καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἐμψύχων, οἷον ἐν τετραγώνῳ μὲν τρίγωνον, ἐν αἰσθητικῷ δὲ τὸ θρεπτικόν). Even in processes within a given realm, like the operations of human arts and craftsmanships, the same principle obtains: in the last resort it is the frequent failure of doctors to cure the sick, that renders actual health an external end for medical knowledge; and so with the house relative to the building art, and with the dweller relative to habitation.
As things are, however, (and so they must needs be), the perfection of a thing is the immanent finality of its nature, while it is also the best means for the superior entity's existence and perfection. (The best state of the art in building constitutes perfection for the architect, and simultaneously produces best houses, which again are both perfections for the building materials assembled and harmonized through the habitation form, and aptest instruments for the men dwelling in them.
The above analysis also clarifies the question regarding the correct ascription of the two termini technici of the Aristotelian distinction in finality. οὗ ἕνεκα οὗ or τινός is the immanent τέλος of the being in question; it belongs to the thing in question according to nature and its entelechy. Οὗ ἕνεκα ᾧ or τινί is the transcendent τέλος; it is not that in which (ἐν ᾧ) it exists, but that for the sake and the benefit of which (χάριν τινος) it exists. In the continuous process from prime matter to worldly divine contemplation, there is place at bottom only for οὗ ἕνεκά τινος. But in what stays outside the ladder of ascent either as a provisional interim step which friezes and crystallizes as permanent stop, or as a heavenly or hypercosmic entity, transcendent teleology becomes operative and paramount.


[Published in K. Boudouris (ed.), Aristotelian Political Philosophy, vol I, 1995, pp. 127-142]