Those things are called relative, which, being either said to be
of something else or related to something else, are explained by
reference to that other thing. For instance, the word 'superior'
is explained by reference to something else, for it is
superiority over something else that is meant. Similarly, the
expression 'double' has this external reference, for it is the
double of something else that is meant. So it is with everything
else of this kind. There are, moreover, other relatives, e.g.
habit, disposition, perception, knowledge, and attitude. The
significance of all these is explained by a reference to
something else and in no other way. Thus, a habit is a habit of
something, knowledge is knowledge of something, attitude is the
attitude of something. So it is with all other relatives that
have been mentioned. Those terms, then, are called relative, the
nature of which is explained by reference to something else, the
preposition 'of' or some other preposition being used to indicate
the relation. Thus, one mountain is called great in comparison
with son with another; for the mountain claims this attribute by
comparison with something. Again, that which is called similar
must be similar to something else, and all other such attributes
have this external reference. It is to be noted that lying and
standing and sitting are particular attitudes, but attitude is
itself a relative term. To lie, to stand, to be seated, are not
themselves attitudes, but take their name from the aforesaid
It is possible for relatives to have contraries. Thus virtue has
a contrary, vice, these both being relatives; knowledge, too, has
a contrary, ignorance. But this is not the mark of all relatives;
'double' and 'triple' have no contrary, nor indeed has any such
It also appears that relatives can admit of variation of degree.
For 'like' and 'unlike', 'equal' and 'unequal', have the
modifications 'more' and 'less' applied to them, and each of
these is relative in character: for the terms 'like' and
'unequal' bear 'unequal' bear a reference to something external.
Yet, again, it is not every relative term that admits of
variation of degree. No term such as 'double' admits of this
modification. All relatives have correlatives: by the term
'slave' we mean the slave of a master, by the term 'master', the
master of a slave; by 'double', the double of its hall; by
'half', the half of its double; by 'greater', greater than that
which is less; by 'less,' less than that which is greater.