by Aristotle

Written ca. 350 B.C.

Translated by W. D. Ross

          Book V - Part 14    


"'Quality' means (1) the differentia of the essence, e.g. man is an

animal of a certain quality because he is two-footed, and the horse is

so because it is four-footed; and a circle is a figure of particular

quality because it is without angles,-which shows that the essential

differentia is a quality.-This, then, is one meaning of quality-the

differentia of the essence, but (2) there is another sense in which it

applies to the unmovable objects of mathematics, the sense in which the

numbers have a certain quality, e.g. the composite numbers which are not

in one dimension only, but of which the plane and the solid are copies

(these are those which have two or three factors); and in general that

which exists in the essence of numbers besides quantity is quality; for

the essence of each is what it is once, e.g. that of is not what it is

twice or thrice, but what it is once; for 6 is once 6.

"(3) All the modifications of substances that move (e.g. heat and cold,

whiteness and blackness, heaviness and lightness, and the others of the

sort) in virtue of which, when they change, bodies are said to alter.

(4) Quality in respect of virtue and vice, and in general, of evil and


"Quality, then, seems to have practically two meanings, and one of these

is the more proper. The primary quality is the differentia of the

essence, and of this the quality in numbers is a part; for it is a

differentia of essences, but either not of things that move or not of

them qua moving. Secondly, there are the modifications of things that

move, qua moving, and the differentiae of movements. Virtue and vice

fall among these modifications; for they indicate differentiae of the

movement or activity, according to which the things in motion act or are

acted on well or badly; for that which can be moved or act in one way is

good, and that which can do so in another--the contrary--way is vicious.

Good and evil indicate quality especially in living things, and among

these especially in those which have purpose.