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On Generation and corruption   

Book I


OUR next task is to study coming-to-be and passing-away. We are to

distinguish the causes, and to state the definitions, of these

processes considered in general-as changes predicable uniformly of all

the things that come-to-be and pass-away by nature. Further, we are to

study growth and 'alteration'. We must inquire what each of them is;

and whether 'alteration' is to be identified with coming-to-be, or

whether to these different names there correspond two separate

processes with distinct natures.

On this question, indeed, the early philosophers are divided. Some

of them assert that the so-called 'unqualified coming-to-be' is

'alteration', while others maintain that 'alteration' and coming-to-be

are distinct. For those who say that the universe is one something

(i.e. those who generate all things out of one thing) are bound to

assert that coming-to-be is 'alteration', and that whatever

'comes-to-be' in the proper sense of the term is 'being altered':

but those who make the matter of things more than one must distinguish

coming-to-be from 'alteration'. To this latter class belong

Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Leucippus. And yet Anaxagoras himself

failed to understand his own utterance. He says, at all events, that

coming-to-be and passing-away are the same as 'being altered':' yet,

in common with other thinkers, he affirms that the elements are

many. Thus Empedocles holds that the corporeal elements are four,

while all the elements-including those which initiate movement-are six

in number; whereas Anaxagoras agrees with Leucippus and Democritus

that the elements are infinite.

(Anaxagoras posits as elements the 'homoeomeries', viz. bone, flesh,

marrow, and everything else which is such that part and whole are

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