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.