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On The Heavens   


smallest parts; and the primary body must have the primary figure:

therefore fire will be a pyramid. Others, again, express no opinion on

the subject of its figure, but simply regard it as the of the finest

parts, which in combination will form other bodies, as the fusing of

gold-dust produces solid gold. Both of these views involve the same

difficulties. For (1) if, on the one hand, they make the primary

body an atom, the view will be open to the objections already advanced


against the atomic theory. And further the theory is inconsistent with

a regard for the facts of nature. For if all bodies are quantitatively

commensurable, and the relative size of the various homoeomerous

masses and of their several elements are in the same ratio, so that

the total mass of water, for instance, is related to the total mass of

air as the elements of each are to one another, and so on, and if

there is more air than water and, generally, more of the finer body

than of the coarser, obviously the element of water will be smaller

than that of air. But the lesser quantity is contained in the greater.

Therefore the air element is divisible. And the same could be shown of

fire and of all bodies whose parts are relatively fine. (2) If, on the

other hand, the primary body is divisible, then (a) those who give

fire a special shape will have to say that a part of fire is not fire,

because a pyramid is not composed of pyramids, and also that not every

body is either an element or composed of elements, since a part of

fire will be neither fire nor any other element. And (b) those whose

ground of distinction is size will have to recognize an element

prior to the element, a regress which continues infinitely, since

every body is divisible and that which has the smallest parts is the

element. Further, they too will have to say that the same body is

relatively to this fire and relatively to that air, to others again

water and earth.

The common error of all views which assume a single element is

that they allow only one natural movement, which is the same for every

body. For it is a matter of observation that a natural body

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