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On The Heavens   


earth. Again it is absurd to look for a reason why the earth remains

at the centre and not for a reason why fire remains at the

extremity. If the extremity is the natural place of fire, clearly

earth must also have a natural place. But suppose that the centre is

not its place, and that the reason of its remaining there is this

necessity of indifference-on the analogy of the hair which, it is

said, however great the tension, will not break under it, if it be

evenly distributed, or of the men who, though exceedingly hungry and

thirsty, and both equally, yet being equidistant from food and

drink, is therefore bound to stay where he is-even so, it still

remains to explain why fire stays at the extremities. It is strange,

too, to ask about things staying still but not about their

motion,-why, I mean, one thing, if nothing stops it, moves up, and

another thing to the centre. Again, their statements are not true.

It happens, indeed, to be the case that a thing to which movement this

way and that is equally inappropriate is obliged to remain at the

centre. But so far as their argument goes, instead of remaining there,

it will move, only not as a mass but in fragments. For the argument

applies equally to fire. Fire, if set at the centre, should stay

there, like earth, since it will be indifferently related to every

point on the extremity. Nevertheless it will move, as in fact it

always does move when nothing stops it, away from the centre to the

extremity. It will not, however, move in a mass to a single point on

the circumference-the only possible result on the lines of the

indifference theory-but rather each corresponding portion of fire to

the corresponding part of the extremity, each fourth part, for

instance, to a fourth part of the circumference. For since no body

is a point, it will have parts. The expansion, when the body increased

the place occupied, would be on the same principle as the contraction,

in which the place was diminished. Thus, for all the indifference

theory shows to the contrary, earth also would have moved in this

manner away from the centre, unless the centre had been its natural

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