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On The Heavens   

their final issue! And that issue, which in the case of productive

knowledge is the product, in the knowledge of nature is the

unimpeachable evidence of the senses as to each fact.

The result of their view is that earth has the best right to the

name element, and is alone indestructible; for that which is

indissoluble is indestructible and elementary, and earth alone

cannot be dissolved into any body but itself. Again, in the case of

those elements which do suffer dissolution, the 'suspension' of the

triangles is unsatisfactory. But this takes place whenever one is

dissolved into another, because of the numerical inequality of the

triangles which compose them. Further, those who hold these views must

needs suppose that generation does not start from a body. For what

is generated out of planes cannot be said to have been generated

from a body. And they must also assert that not all bodies are

divisible, coming thus into conflict with our most accurate

sciences, namely the mathematical, which assume that even the

intelligible is divisible, while they, in their anxiety to save

their hypothesis, cannot even admit this of every perceptible thing.

For any one who gives each element a shape of its own, and makes

this the ground of distinction between the substances, has to

attribute to them indivisibility; since division of a pyramid or a

sphere must leave somewhere at least a residue which is not sphere

or a pyramid. Either, then, a part of fire is not fire, so that

there is a body prior to the element-for every body is either an

element or composed of elements-or not every body is divisible.


In general, the attempt to give a shape to each of the simple bodies

is unsound, for the reason, first, that they will not succeed in

filling the whole. It is agreed that there are only three plane

figures which can fill a space, the triangle, the square, and the

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