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On Generation and corruption   


Since almost all our predecessors think (i) that coming-to-be is

distinct from 'alteration', and (ii) that, whereas things 'alter' by

change of their qualities, it is by 'association' and 'dissociation'

that they come-to-be and pass-away, we must concentrate our

attention on these theses. For they lead to many perplexing and

well-grounded dilemmas. If, on the one hand, coming-to-be is

'association', many impossible consequences result: and yet there

are other arguments, not easy to unravel, which force the conclusion

upon us that coming-to-be cannot possibly be anything else. If, on the

other hand, coming-to-be is not 'association', either there is no such

thing as coming-to-be at all or it is 'alteration': or else we must

endeavour to unravel this dilemma too-and a stubborn one we shall find

it. The fundamental question, in dealing with all these

difficulties, is this: 'Do things come-to-be and "alter" and grow, and

undergo the contrary changes, because the primary "reals" are

indivisible magnitudes? Or is no magnitude indivisible?' For the

answer we give to this question makes the greatest difference. And

again, if the primary 'reals' are indivisible magnitudes, are these

bodies, as Democritus and Leucippus maintain? Or are they planes, as

is asserted in the Timaeus?

To resolve bodies into planes and no further-this, as we have also

remarked elsewhere, in itself a paradox. Hence there is more to be

said for the view that there are indivisible bodies. Yet even these

involve much of paradox. Still, as we have said, it is possible to

construct 'alteration' and coming-to-be with them, if one 'transposes'

the same by 'turning' and 'intercontact', and by 'the varieties of the

figures', as Democritus does. (His denial of the reality of colour

is a corollary from this position: for, according to him, things get

coloured by 'turning' of the 'figures'.) But the possibility of such a

construction no longer exists for those who divide bodies into planes.

For nothing except solids results from putting planes together: they

do not even attempt to generate any quality from them.

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