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On Generation and corruption   


6



(In discussing the causes of coming-tobe) we must first

investigate the matter, i.e. the so-called 'elements'. We must ask

whether they really are clements or not, i.e. whether each of them

is eternal or whether there is a sense in which they come-to-be:

and, if they do come-to-be, whether all of them come-to-be in the same

manner reciprocally out of one another, or whether one amongst them is

something primary. Hence we must begin by explaining certain

preliminary matters, about which the statements now current are vague.

For all (the pluralist philosophers)- those who generate the

'elements' as well as those who generate the bodies that are

compounded of the elements- make use of 'dissociation' and

'association', and of 'action' and 'passion'. Now 'association' is

'combination'; but the precise meaning of the process we call

'combining' has not been explained. Again, (all the monists make use

of 'alteration': but) without an agent and a patient there cannot be

'altering' any more than there can be 'dissociating' and

'associating'. For not only those who postulate a plurality of

elements employ their reciprocal action and passion to generate the

compounds: those who derive things from a single element are equally

compelled to introduce 'acting'. And in this respect Diogenes is right

when he argues that 'unless all things were derived from one,

reciprocal action and passion could not have occurred'. The hot thing,

e.g. would not be cooled and the cold thing in turn be warmed: for

heat and cold do not change reciprocally into one another, but what

changes (it is clear) is the substratum. Hence, whenever there is

action and passion between two things, that which underlies them

must be a single something. No doubt, it is not true to say that all

things are of this character: but it is true of all things between

which there is reciprocal action and passion.

But if we must investigate 'action-passion' and 'combination', we

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