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Section 17

17. Why are not beauty, goodness and the virtues, together with knowledge and intelligence, included among the primary genera?

If by goodness we mean The First- what we call the Principle of Goodness, the Principle of which we can predicate nothing, giving it this name only because we have no other means of indicating it- then goodness, clearly, can be the genus of nothing: this principle is not affirmed of other things; if it were, each of these would be Goodness itself. The truth is that it is prior to Substance, not contained in it. If, on the contrary, we mean goodness as a quality, no quality can be ranked among the primaries.

Does this imply that the nature of Being is not good? Not good, to begin with, in the sense in which The First is good, but in another sense of the word: moreover, Being does not possess its goodness as a quality but as a constituent.

But the other genera too, we said, are constituents of Being, and are regarded as genera because each is a common property found in many things. If then goodness is similarly observed in every part of Substance or Being, or in most parts, why is goodness not a genus, and a primary genus? Because it is not found identical in all the parts of Being, but appears in degrees, first, second and subsequent, whether it be because one part is derived from another- posterior from prior- or because all are posterior to the transcendent Unity, different parts of Being participating in it in diverse degrees corresponding to their characteristic natures.

If however we must make goodness a genus as well [as a transcendent source], it will be a posterior genus, for goodness is posterior to Substance and posterior to what constitutes the generic notion of Being, however unfailingly it be found associated with Being; but the Primaries, we decided, belong to Being as such, and go to form Substance.

This indeed is why we posit that which transcends Being, since Being and Substance cannot but be a plurality, necessarily comprising the genera enumerated and therefore forming a one-and-many.

It is true that we do not hesitate to speak of the goodness inherent in Being" when we are thinking of that Act by which Being tends, of its nature, towards the One: thus, we affirm goodness of it in the sense that it is thereby moulded into the likeness of The Good. But if this "goodness inherent in Being" is an Act directed toward The Good, it is the life of Being: but this life is Motion, and Motion is already one of the genera.

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