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On The Heavens   

discussion of time and movement. They are also bound to contradict

themselves. For if the elements are atomic, air, earth, and water

cannot be differentiated by the relative sizes of their atoms, since

then they could not be generated out of one another. The extrusion

of the largest atoms is a process that will in time exhaust the

supply; and it is by such a process that they account for the

generation of water, air, and earth from one another. Again, even on

their own presuppositions it does not seem as if the clements would be

infinite in number. The atoms differ in figure, and all figures are

composed of pyramids, rectilinear the case of rectilinear figures,

while the sphere has eight pyramidal parts. The figures must have

their principles, and, whether these are one or two or more, the

simple bodies must be the same in number as they. Again, if every

element has its proper movement, and a simple body has a simple

movement, and the number of simple movements is not infinite,

because the simple motions are only two and the number of places is

not infinite, on these grounds also we should have to deny that the

number of elements is infinite.


Since the number of the elements must be limited, it remains to

inquire whether there is more than one element. Some assume one

only, which is according to some water, to others air, to others fire,

to others again something finer than water and denser than air, an

infinite body-so they say-bracing all the heavens.

Now those who decide for a single element, which is either water

or air or a body finer than water and denser than air, and proceed

to generate other things out of it by use of the attributes density

and rarity, all alike fail to observe the fact that they are depriving

the element of its priority. Generation out of the elements is, as

they say, synthesis, and generation into the elements is analysis,

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