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On The Heavens   



true that we speak of above and below, right and left, in these bodies

relatively to ourselves. The reference may be to our own right

hands, as with the diviner, or to some similarity to our own

members, such as the parts of a statue possess; or we may take the

contrary spatial order, calling right that which is to our left, and

left that which is to our right. We observe, however, in the things

themselves none of these distinctions; indeed if they are turned round

we proceed to speak of the opposite parts as right and left, a boy

land below, front and back. Hence it is remarkable that the

Pythagoreans should have spoken of these two principles, right and

left, only, to the exclusion of the other four, which have as good a

title as they. There is no less difference between above and below

or front and back in animals generally than between right and left.

The difference is sometimes only one of function, sometimes also one

of shape; and while the distinction of above and below is

characteristic of all animate things, whether plants or animals,

that of right and left is not found in plants. Further, inasmuch as

length is prior to breadth, if above is the principle of length, right

of breadth, and if the principle of that which is prior is itself

prior, then above will be prior to right, or let us say, since 'prior'

is ambiguous, prior in order of generation. If, in addition, above

is the region from which movement originates, right the region in

which it starts, front the region to which it is directed, then on

this ground too above has a certain original character as compared

with the other forms of position. On these two grounds, then, they may

fairly be criticized, first, for omitting the more fundamental

principles, and secondly, for thinking that the two they mentioned

were attributable equally to everything.

Since we have already determined that functions of this kind

belong to things which possess, a principle of movement, and that

the heaven is animate and possesses a principle of movement, clearly

the heaven must also exhibit above and below, right and left. We

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