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On The Heavens   

child. For it is clear that when the elements come together the result

is not a chance system and combination, but the very same as

before-especially on the view of those who hold this theory, since

they say that the contrary is the cause of each state. So that if

the totality of body, which is a continuum, is now in this order or

disposition and now in that, and if the combination of the whole is

a world or heaven, then it will not be the world that comes into being

and is destroyed, but only its dispositions.

If the world is believed to be one, it is impossible to suppose that

it should be, as a whole, first generated and then destroyed, never to

reappear; since before it came into being there was always present the

combination prior to it, and that, we hold, could never change if it

was never generated. If, on the other hand, the worlds are infinite in

number the view is more plausible. But whether this is, or is not,

impossible will be clear from what follows. For there are some who

think it possible both for the ungenerated to be destroyed and for the

generated to persist undestroyed. (This is held in the Timaeus,

where Plato says that the heaven, though it was generated, will none

the less exist to eternity.) So far as the heaven is concerned we have

answered this view with arguments appropriate to the nature of the

heaven: on the general question we shall attain clearness when we

examine the matter universally.


We must first distinguish the senses in which we use the words

'ungenerated' and 'generated', 'destructible' and 'indestructible'.

These have many meanings, and though it may make no difference to

the argument, yet some confusion of mind must result from treating

as uniform in its use a word which has several distinct

applications. The character which is the ground of the predication

will always remain obscure.

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