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On Generation and corruption   

how anything is to result from two of them taken together-e.g. from

'cold' and hot', or from Fire and Earth. For if flesh consists of both

and is neither of them, nor again is a 'composition' of them in

which they are preserved unaltered, what alternative is left except to

identify the resultant of the two 'elements' with their matter? For

the passingaway of either 'element' produces either the other or the


Perhaps we may suggest the following solution. (i) There are

differences of degree in hot and cold. Although, therefore, when

either is fully real without qualification, the other will exist

potentially; yet, when neither exists in the full completeness of

its being, but both by combining destroy one another's excesses so

that there exist instead a hot which (for a 'hot') is cold and a

cold which (for a 'cold') is hot; then what results from these two

contraries will be neither their matter, nor either of them existing

in its full reality without qualification. There will result instead

an 'intermediate': and this 'intermediate', according as it is

potentially more hot than cold or vice versa, will possess a

power-of-heating that is double or triple its power-of-cooling, or

otherwise related thereto in some similar ratio. Thus all the other

bodies will result from the contraries, or rather from the 'elements',

in so far as these have been 'combined': while the elements' will

result from the contraries, in so far as these 'exist potentially'

in a special sense-not as matter 'exists potentially', but in the

sense explained above. And when a thing comes-to-be in this manner,

the process is cobination'; whereas what comes-to-be in the other

manner is matter. Moreover (ii) contraries also 'suffer action', in

accordance with the disjunctively-articulated definition established

in the early part of this work.' For the actually-hot is

potentially-cold and the actually cold potentially-hot; so that hot

and cold, unless they are equally balanced, are transformed into one

another (and all the other contraries behave in a similar way). It

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