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On Generation and corruption   




If Water, Air, and the like are a 'matter' of which the natural

bodies consist, as some thinkers in fact believe, these 'clements'

must be either one, or two, or more. Now they cannot all of them be

one-they cannot, e.g. all be Air or Water or Fire or Earth-because

'Change is into contraries'. For if they all were Air, then

(assuming Air to persist) there will be 'alteration' instead of

coming-to-be. Besides, nobody supposes a single 'element' to

persist, as the basis of all, in such a way that it is Water as well

as Air (or any other 'element') at the same time. So there will be a

certain contrariety, i.e. a differentiating quality: and the other

member of this contrariety, e.g. heat, will belong to some other

'element', e.g. to Fire. But Fire will certainly not be 'hot Air'. For

a change of that kind (a) is 'alteration', and (b) is not what is

observed. Moreover (c) if Air is again to result out of the Fire, it

will do so by the conversion of the hot into its contrary: this

contrary, therefore, will belong to Air, and Air will be a cold

something: hence it is impossible for Fire to be 'hot Air', since in

that case the same thing will be simultaneously hot and cold. Both

Fire and Air, therefore, will be something else which is the same;

i.e. there will be some 'matter', other than either, common to both.

The same argument applies to all the 'elements', proving that

there is no single one of them out of which they all originate. But

neither is there, beside these four, some other body from which they

originate-a something intermediate, e.g. between Air and Water

(coarser than Air, but finer than Water), or between Air and Fire

(coarser than Fire, but finer than Air). For the supposed

'intermediate' will be Air and Fire when a pair of contrasted

qualities is added to it: but, since one of every two contrary

qualities is a 'privation', the 'intermediate' never can exist-as some

thinkers assert the 'Boundless' or the 'Environing' exists-in

isolation. It is, therefore, equally and indifferently any one of

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