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On The Heavens   

possesses a principle of movement. If then all bodies are one, all

will have one movement. With this motion the greater their quantity

the more they will move, just as fire, in proportion as its quantity

is greater, moves faster with the upward motion which belongs to it.

But the fact is that increase of quantity makes many things move the

faster downward. For these reasons, then, as well as from the

distinction already established of a plurality of natural movements,

it is impossible that there should be only one element. But if the

elements are not an infinity and not reducible to one, they must be

several and finite in number.


First we must inquire whether the elements are eternal or subject to

generation and destruction; for when this question has been answered

their number and character will be manifest. In the first place,

they cannot be eternal. It is a matter of observation that fire,

water, and every simple body undergo a process of analysis, which must

either continue infinitely or stop somewhere. (1) Suppose it infinite.

Then the time occupied by the process will be infinite, and also

that occupied by the reverse process of synthesis. For the processes

of analysis and synthesis succeed one another in the various parts. It

will follow that there are two infinite times which are mutually

exclusive, the time occupied by the synthesis, which is infinite,

being preceded by the period of analysis. There are thus two

mutually exclusive infinites, which is impossible. (2) Suppose, on the

other hand, that the analysis stops somewhere. Then the body at

which it stops will be either atomic or, as Empedocles seems to have

intended, a divisible body which will yet never be divided. The

foregoing arguments show that it cannot be an atom; but neither can it

be a divisible body which analysis will never reach. For a smaller

body is more easily destroyed than a larger; and a destructive process

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