On Generation and corruption
quality, yet how is the wood dissolved into such constituents and
how does it come-to-be out of them? Or how are such constituents
separated so as to exist apart from one another? Since, therefore,
it is impossible for magnitudes to consist of contacts or points,
there must be indivisible bodies and magnitudes. Yet, if we do
postulate the latter, we are confronted with equally impossible
consequences, which we have examined in other works.' But we must
try to disentangle these perplexities, and must therefore formulate
the whole problem over again.
On the one hand, then, it is in no way paradoxical that every
perceptible body should be indivisible as well as divisible at any and
every point. For the second predicate will at. tach to it potentially,
but the first actually. On the other hand, it would seem to be
impossible for a body to be, even potentially, divisible at all points
simultaneously. For if it were possible, then it might actually occur,
with the result, not that the body would simultaneously be actually
both (indivisible and divided), but that it would be simultaneously
divided at any and every point. Consequently, nothing will remain
and the body will have passed-away into what is incorporeal: and so it
might come-to-be again either out of points or absolutely out of
nothing. And how is that possible?
But now it is obvious that a body is in fact divided into
separable magnitudes which are smaller at each division-into
magnitudes which fall apart from one another and are actually
separated. Hence (it is urged) the process of dividing a body part
by part is not a 'breaking up' which could continue ad infinitum;
nor can a body be simultaneously divided at every point, for that is
not possible; but there is a limit, beyond which the 'breaking up'
cannot proceed. The necessary consequence-especially if coming-to-be
and passing-away are to take place by 'association' and 'dissociation'
respectively-is that a body must contain atomic magnitudes which are
invisible. Such is the argument which is believed to establish the