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The primary contrariety is that between positive state and
privation-not every privation, however (for 'privation' has several
meanings), but that which is complete. And the other contraries must
be called so with reference to these, some because they possess these,
others because they produce or tend to produce them, others because
they are acquisitions or losses of these or of other contraries. Now
if the kinds of opposition are contradiction and privation and
contrariety and relation, and of these the first is contradiction, and
contradiction admits of no intermediate, while contraries admit of
one, clearly contradiction and contrariety are not the same. But
privation is a kind of contradiction; for what suffers privation,
either in general or in some determinate way, either that which is
quite incapable of having some attribute or that which, being of
such a nature as to have it, has it not; here we have already a
variety of meanings, which have been distinguished elsewhere.
Privation, therefore, is a contradiction or incapacity which is
determinate or taken along with the receptive material. This is the
reason why, while contradiction does not admit of an intermediate,
privation sometimes does; for everything is equal or not equal, but
not everything is equal or unequal, or if it is, it is only within the
sphere of that which is receptive of equality. If, then, the
comings-to-be which happen to the matter start from the contraries,
and proceed either from the form and the possession of the form or
from a privation of the form or shape, clearly all contrariety must be
privation, but presumably not all privation is contrariety (the reason
being that that has suffered privation may have suffered it in several
ways); for it is only the extremes from which changes proceed that are
And this is obvious also by induction. For every contrariety
involves, as one of its terms, a privation, but not all cases are
alike; inequality is the privation of equality and unlikeness of
likeness, and on the other hand vice is the privation of virtue. But
the cases differ in a way already described; in one case we mean
simply that the thing has suffered privation, in another case that
it has done so either at a certain time or in a certain part (e.g.
at a certain age or in the dominant part), or throughout. This is
why in some cases there is a mean (there are men who are neither
good nor bad), and in others there is not (a number must be either odd
or even). Further, some contraries have their subject defined,
others have not. Therefore it is evident that one of the contraries is
always privative; but it is enough if this is true of the first-i.e.
the generic-contraries, e.g. the one and the many; for the others
can be reduced to these.

Since one thing has one contrary, we might raise the question
how the one is opposed to the many, and the equal to the great and the
small. For if we used the word 'whether' only in an antithesis such as
'whether it is white or black', or 'whether it is white or not
white' (we do not ask 'whether it is a man or white'), unless we are
proceeding on a prior assumption and asking something such as 'whether
it was Cleon or Socrates that came' as this is not a necessary
disjunction in any class of things; yet even this is an extension from
the case of opposites; for opposites alone cannot be present together;
and we assume this incompatibility here too in asking which of the two
came; for if they might both have come, the question would have been
absurd; but if they might, even so this falls just as much into an
antithesis, that of the 'one or many', i.e. 'whether both came or
one of the two':-if, then, the question 'whether' is always
concerned with opposites, and we can ask 'whether it is greater or
less or equal', what is the opposition of the equal to the other
two? It is not contrary either to one alone or to both; for why should
it be contrary to the greater rather than to the less? Further, the
equal is contrary to the unequal. Therefore if it is contrary to the

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