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On The Heavens   


so that the body with the finer parts must have priority in the

order of nature. But they say that fire is of all bodies the finest.

Hence fire will be first in the natural order. And whether the

finest body is fire or not makes no difference; anyhow it must be

one of the other bodies that is primary and not that which is

intermediate. Again, density and rarity, as instruments of generation,

are equivalent to fineness and coarseness, since the fine is rare, and

coarse in their use means dense. But fineness and coarseness, again,

are equivalent to greatness and smallness, since a thing with small

parts is fine and a thing with large parts coarse. For that which

spreads itself out widely is fine, and a thing composed of small parts

is so spread out. In the end, then, they distinguish the various other

substances from the element by the greatness and smallness of their

parts. This method of distinction makes all judgement relative.

There will be no absolute distinction between fire, water, and air,

but one and the same body will be relatively to this fire,

relatively to something else air. The same difficulty is involved

equally in the view elements and distinguishes them by their greatness

and smallness. The principle of distinction between bodies being

quantity, the various sizes will be in a definite ratio, and

whatever bodies are in this ratio to one another must be air, fire,

earth, and water respectively. For the ratios of smaller bodies may be

repeated among greater bodies.

Those who start from fire as the single element, while avoiding this

difficulty, involve themselves in many others. Some of them give

fire a particular shape, like those who make it a pyramid, and this on

one of two grounds. The reason given may be-more crudely-that the

pyramid is the most piercing of figures as fire is of bodies,

or-more ingeniously-the position may be supported by the following

argument. As all bodies are composed of that which has the finest

parts, so all solid figures are composed of pryamids: but the finest

body is fire, while among figures the pyramid is primary and has the

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