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Metaphysics   


the source of movement (for they say these are causes rather of
immobility and of being at rest), but they furnish the Forms as the
essence of every other thing, and the One as the essence of the Forms.
That for whose sake actions and changes and movements take
place, they assert to be a cause in a way, but not in this way, i.e.
not in the way in which it is its nature to be a cause. For those
who speak of reason or friendship class these causes as goods; they do
not speak, however, as if anything that exists either existed or
came into being for the sake of these, but as if movements started
from these. In the same way those who say the One or the existent is
the good, say that it is the cause of substance, but not that
substance either is or comes to be for the sake of this. Therefore
it turns out that in a sense they both say and do not say the good
is a cause; for they do not call it a cause qua good but only
incidentally.
All these thinkers then, as they cannot pitch on another cause,
seem to testify that we have determined rightly both how many and of
what sort the causes are. Besides this it is plain that when the
causes are being looked for, either all four must be sought thus or
they must be sought in one of these four ways. Let us next discuss the
possible difficulties with regard to the way in which each of these
thinkers has spoken, and with regard to his situation relatively to
the first principles.
8

Those, then, who say the universe is one and posit one kind of
thing as matter, and as corporeal matter which has spatial
magnitude, evidently go astray in many ways. For they posit the
elements of bodies only, not of incorporeal things, though there are
also incorporeal things. And in trying to state the causes of
generation and destruction, and in giving a physical account of all
things, they do away with the cause of movement. Further, they err
in not positing the substance, i.e. the essence, as the cause of
anything, and besides this in lightly calling any of the simple bodies
except earth the first principle, without inquiring how they are
produced out of one anothers-I mean fire, water, earth, and air. For
some things are produced out of each other by combination, others by
separation, and this makes the greatest difference to their priority
and posteriority. For (1) in a way the property of being most
elementary of all would seem to belong to the first thing from which
they are produced by combination, and this property would belong to
the most fine-grained and subtle of bodies. For this reason those
who make fire the principle would be most in agreement with this
argument. But each of the other thinkers agrees that the element of
corporeal things is of this sort. At least none of those who named one
element claimed that earth was the element, evidently because of the
coarseness of its grain. (Of the other three elements each has found
some judge on its side; for some maintain that fire, others that
water, others that air is the element. Yet why, after all, do they not
name earth also, as most men do? For people say all things are earth
Hesiod says earth was produced first of corporeal things; so primitive
and popular has the opinion been.) According to this argument, then,
no one would be right who either says the first principle is any of
the elements other than fire, or supposes it to be denser than air but
rarer than water. But (2) if that which is later in generation is
prior in nature, and that which is concocted and compounded is later
in generation, the contrary of what we have been saying must be
true,-water must be prior to air, and earth to water.
So much, then, for those who posit one cause such as we mentioned;
but the same is true if one supposes more of these, as Empedocles says
matter of things is four bodies. For he too is confronted by
consequences some of which are the same as have been mentioned,
while others are peculiar to him. For we see these bodies produced
from one another, which implies that the same body does not always

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