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On Generation and corruption   

Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive

view of the admitted facts. Hence those who dwell in intimate

association with nature and its phenomena grow more and more able to

formulate, as the foundations of their theories, principles such as to

admit of a wide and coherent development: while those whom devotion to

abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too

ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations. The rival

treatments of the subject now before us will serve to illustrate how

great is the difference between a 'scientific' and a 'dialectical'

method of inquiry. For, whereas the Platonists argue that there must

be atomic magnitudes 'because otherwise "The Triangle" will be more

than one', Democritus would appear to have been convinced by arguments

appropriate to the subject, i.e. drawn from the science of nature. Our

meaning will become clear as we proceed. For to suppose that a body

(i.e. a magnitude) is divisible through and through, and that this

division is possible, involves a difficulty. What will there be in the

body which escapes the division?

If it is divisible through and through, and if this division is

possible, then it might be, at one and the same moment, divided

through and through, even though the dividings had not been effected

simultaneously: and the actual occurrence of this result would involve

no impossibility. Hence the same principle will apply whenever a

body is by nature divisible through and through, whether by bisection,

or generally by any method whatever: nothing impossible will have

resulted if it has actually been divided-not even if it has been

divided into innumerable parts, themselves divided innumerable

times. Nothing impossible will have resulted, though perhaps nobody in

fact could so divide it.

Since, therefore, the be dy is divisible through and through, let it

have been divided. What, then, will remain? A magnitude? No: that is

impossible, since then there will be something not divided, whereas ex

hypothesis the body was divisible through and through. But if it be

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