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On Generation and corruption   


be the case, however, 'a house must come to-be if foundations have

come-to-be', as well as vice versa. For the antecedent was assumed

to be so related to the consequent that, if the latter is to be, the

antecedent must have come-tobe before it. If, therefore, it is

necessary that the consequent should come-to-be, the antecedent also

must have come-to-be: and if the antecedent has come-to-be, then the

consequent also must come-to-be-not, however, because of the

antecedent, but because the future being of the consequent was assumed

as necessary. Hence, in any sequence, when the being of the consequent

is necessary, the nexus is reciprocal-in other words, when the

antecedent has come-to-be the consequent must always come-to-be too.

Now (i) if the sequence of occurrences is to proceed ad infinitum

'downwards', the coming to-be of any determinate 'this' amongst the

later members of the sequence will not be absolutely, but only

conditionally, necessary. For it will always be necessary that some

other member shall have come-to-be before 'this' as the presupposed

condition of the necessity that 'this' should come-to-be:

consequently, since what is 'infinite' has no 'originative source',

neither will there be in the infinite sequence any 'primary' member

which will make it 'necessary' for the remaining members to

come-to-be.

Nor again (ii) will it be possible to say with truth, even in regard

to the members of a limited sequence, that it is 'absolutely

necessary' for any one of them to come-to-be. We cannot truly say,

e.g. that 'it is absolutely necessary for a house to come-to-be when

foundations have been laid': for (unless it is always necessary for

a house to be coming-to-be) we should be faced with the consequence

that, when foundations have been laid, a thing, which need not

always be, must always be. No: if its coming-to-be is to be

'necessary', it must be 'always' in its coming-to-be. For what is

'of necessity' coincides with what is 'always', since that which 'must

be' cannot possibly 'not-be'. Hence a thing is eternal if its

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