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Metaphysics   


remain fire or earth (we have spoken about this in our works on
nature); and regarding the cause of movement and the question
whether we must posit one or two, he must be thought to have spoken
neither correctly nor altogether plausibly. And in general, change
of quality is necessarily done away with for those who speak thus, for
on their view cold will not come from hot nor hot from cold. For if it
did there would be something that accepted the contraries
themselves, and there would be some one entity that became fire and
water, which Empedocles denies.
As regards Anaxagoras, if one were to suppose that he said there
were two elements, the supposition would accord thoroughly with an
argument which Anaxagoras himself did not state articulately, but
which he must have accepted if any one had led him on to it. True,
to say that in the beginning all things were mixed is absurd both on
other grounds and because it follows that they must have existed
before in an unmixed form, and because nature does not allow any
chance thing to be mixed with any chance thing, and also because on
this view modifications and accidents could be separated from
substances (for the same things which are mixed can be separated); yet
if one were to follow him up, piecing together what he means, he would
perhaps be seen to be somewhat modern in his views. For when nothing
was separated out, evidently nothing could be truly asserted of the
substance that then existed. I mean, e.g. that it was neither white
nor black, nor grey nor any other colour, but of necessity colourless;
for if it had been coloured, it would have had one of these colours.
And similarly, by this same argument, it was flavourless, nor had it
any similar attribute; for it could not be either of any quality or of
any size, nor could it be any definite kind of thing. For if it
were, one of the particular forms would have belonged to it, and
this is impossible, since all were mixed together; for the
particular form would necessarily have been already separated out, but
he all were mixed except reason, and this alone was unmixed and
pure. From this it follows, then, that he must say the principles
are the One (for this is simple and unmixed) and the Other, which is
of such a nature as we suppose the indefinite to be before it is
defined and partakes of some form. Therefore, while expressing himself
neither rightly nor clearly, he means something like what the later
thinkers say and what is now more clearly seen to be the case.
But these thinkers are, after all, at home only in arguments about
generation and destruction and movement; for it is practically only of
this sort of substance that they seek the principles and the causes.
But those who extend their vision to all things that exist, and of
existing things suppose some to be perceptible and others not
perceptible, evidently study both classes, which is all the more
reason why one should devote some time to seeing what is good in their
views and what bad from the standpoint of the inquiry we have now
before us.
The 'Pythagoreans' treat of principles and elements stranger
than those of the physical philosophers (the reason is that they got
the principles from non-sensible things, for the objects of
mathematics, except those of astronomy, are of the class of things
without movement); yet their discussions and investigations are all
about nature; for they generate the heavens, and with regard to
their parts and attributes and functions they observe the phenomena,
and use up the principles and the causes in explaining these, which
implies that they agree with the others, the physical philosophers,
that the real is just all that which is perceptible and contained by
the so-called 'heavens'. But the causes and the principles which
they mention are, as we said, sufficient to act as steps even up to
the higher realms of reality, and are more suited to these than to
theories about nature. They do not tell us at all, however, how
there can be movement if limit and unlimited and odd and even are
the only things assumed, or how without movement and change there
can be generation and destruction, or the bodies that move through the

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