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On Generation and corruption   


suffering action itself. For agent and patient have not the same

matter, agent acts without being affected: thus the art of healing

produces health without itself being acted upon in any way by that

which is being healed. But (b) the food, in acting, is itself in

some way acted upon: for, in acting, it is simultaneously heated or

cooled or otherwise affected. Now the art of healing corresponds to an

'originative source', while the food corresponds to 'the last' (i.e.

'continuous') mover.

Those active powers, then, whose forms are not embodied in matter,

are unaffected: but those whose forms are in matter are such as to

be affected in acting. For we maintain that one and the same

'matter' is equally, so to say, the basis of either of the two opposed

things-being as it were a 'kind'; and that that which can he hot

must be made hot, provided the heating agent is there, i.e. comes

near. Hence (as we have said) some of the active powers are unaffected

while others are such as to be affected; and what holds of motion is

true also of the active powers. For as in motion 'the first mover'

is unmoved, so among the active powers 'the first agent' is

unaffected.

The active power is a 'cause' in the sense of that from which the

process originates: but the end, for the sake of which it takes place,

is not 'active'. (That is why health is not 'active', except

metaphorically.) For when the agent is there, the patient he-comes

something: but when 'states' are there, the patient no longer

becomes but already is-and 'forms' (i.e. lends') are a kind of

'state'. As to the 'matter', it (qua matter) is passive. Now fire

contains 'the hot' embodied in matter: but a 'hot' separate from

matter (if such a thing existed) could not suffer any action. Perhaps,

indeed, it is impossible that 'the hot' should exist in separation

from matter: but if there are any entities thus separable, what we are

saying would be true of them.

We have thus explained what action and passion are, what things

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