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On The Heavens   

question remains, in what manner it becomes them. Now Anaxagoras

opposes Empedocles' view of the elements. Empedocles says that fire

and earth and the related bodies are elementary bodies of which all

things are composed; but this Anaxagoras denies. His elements are

the homoeomerous things, viz. flesh, bone, and the like. Earth and

fire are mixtures, composed of them and all the other seeds, each

consisting of a collection of all the homoeomerous bodies,

separately invisible; and that explains why from these two bodies

all others are generated. (To him fire and aither are the same thing.)

But since every natural body has it proper movement, and movements are

either simple or mixed, mixed in mixed bodies and simple in simple,

there must obviously be simple bodies; for there are simple movements.

It is plain, then, that there are elements, and why.


The next question to consider is whether the elements are finite

or infinite in number, and, if finite, what their number is. Let us

first show reason or denying that their number is infinite, as some

suppose. We begin with the view of Anaxagoras that all the

homoeomerous bodies are elements. Any one who adopts this view

misapprehends the meaning of element. Observation shows that even

mixed bodies are often divisible into homoeomerous parts; examples are

flesh, bone, wood, and stone. Since then the composite cannot be an

element, not every homoeomerous body can be an element; only, as we

said before, that which is not divisible into bodies different in

form. But even taking 'element' as they do, they need not assert an

infinity of elements, since the hypothesis of a finite number will

give identical results. Indeed even two or three such bodies serve the

purpose as well, as Empedocles' attempt shows. Again, even on their

view it turns out that all things are not composed of homocomerous

bodies. They do not pretend that a face is composed of faces, or

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