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On Generation and corruption   


viz. agents which have not the same matter as their patients, act

without themselves suffering action. Such agents cannot 'combine'-that

is why neither the art of healing nor health produces health by

'combining' with the bodies of the patients. Amongst those things,

however, which are reciprocally active and passive, some are

easily-divisible. Now (i) if a great quantity (or a large bulk) of one

of these easily-divisible 'reciprocating' materials be brought

together with a little (or with a small piece) of another, the

effect produced is not 'combination', but increase of the dominant:

for the other material is transformed into the dominant. (That is

why a drop of wine does not 'combine' with ten thousand gallons of

water: for its form is dissolved, and it is changed so as to merge

in the total volume of water.) On the other hand (ii) when there is

a certain equilibrium between their 'powers of action', then each of

them changes out of its own nature towards the dominant: yet neither

becomes the other, but both become an intermediate with properties

common to both.

Thus it is clear that only those agents are 'combinable' which

involve a contrariety-for these are such as to suffer action

reciprocally. And, further, they combine more freely if small pieces

of each of them are juxtaposed. For in that condition they change

one another more easily and more quickly; whereas this effect takes

a long time when agent and patient are present in bulk.

Hence, amongst the divisible susceptible materials, those whose

shape is readily adaptable have a tendency to combine: for they are

easily divided into small particles, since that is precisely what

'being readily adaptable in shape' implies. For instance, liquids

are the most 'combinable' of all bodies-because, of all divisible

materials, the liquid is most readily adaptable in shape, unless it be

viscous. Viscous liquids, it is true, produce no effect except to

increase the volume and bulk. But when one of the constituents is

alone susceptible-or superlatively susceptible, the other being

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