What is called complete

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What is called complete is in one way that of which it is not possible to find outside any of its part, even a single one; e.g. the complete time of each thing is that in which one cannot find outside any time which is a part of that time. Again that which is in accordance with the excellence and the goodness without being exaggerated in its kind; e.g. a doctor and a flute-player are complete, when they leave nothing outside in virtue of their proper excellence. Whence transferring the word to bad things, we speak of a complete scandalmonger and a complete thief in that we also call them good, e.g. a good thief and a good scandalmonger. But excellence, too, is a completion, since it is when they leave nothing outside in virtue of their proper excellence that a thing and a substance are complete.

Moreover, those things which have come to an end, this being great, are called complete; for they are complete in virtue of being attained their end. Hence, since the end is something ultimate, transferring the word to bad things we say that something has been completely lost out, and completely destroyed, when it lacks nothing of the corruption and the badness, but is at its ultimate point. This is the reason why death, speaking metaphorically, is called an end — they are both ultimate. But the ultimate purpose is also an end.

These, then, are the ways in which things are called complete in themselves. Some because in virtue of the goodness they leave nothing outside, nor do they exaggerate or is there something that one can find outside, others totally in virtue of not being exaggerated in each particular class or is there anything apart, and others that are already called in virtue of the former, either because they produce such a thing (something which is complete), or because they do possess such a thing, or because they are fit for such a thing, or because they are in some way called in virtue of the things that are called complete in the primary sense.

Bibliography: Aristotle, Metaphysics (1021b.12 to 1022a.3)  
Translation: George Kotsalis

 

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