Physics, by Aristotle

Book V

1

EVERYTHING which changes does so in one of three senses. It may change (1) accidentally, as for instance when we say that something musical walks, that which walks being something in which aptitude for music is an accident. Again (2) a thing is said without qualification to change because something belonging to it changes, i.e. in statements which refer to part of the thing in question: thus the body is restored to health because the eye or the chest, that is to say a part of the whole body, is restored to health. And above all there is (3) the case of a thing which is in motion neither accidentally nor in respect of something else belonging to it, but in virtue of being itself directly in motion. Here we have a thing which is essentially movable: and that which is so is a different thing according to the particular variety of motion: for instance it may be a thing capable of alteration: and within the sphere of alteration it is again a different thing according as it is capable of being restored to health or capable of being heated. And there are the same distinctions in the case of the mover: (1) one thing causes motion accidentally, (2) another partially (because something belonging to it causes motion), (3) another of itself directly, as, for instance, the physician heals, the hand strikes. We have, then, the following factors: (a) on the one hand that which directly causes motion, and (b) on the other hand that which is in motion: further, we have (c) that in which motion takes place, namely time, and (distinct from these three) (d) that from which and (e) that to which it proceeds: for every motion proceeds from something and to something, that which is directly in motion being distinct from that to which it is in motion and that from which it is in motion: for instance, we may take the three things ‘wood’, ‘hot’, and ‘cold’, of which the first is that which is in motion, the second is that to which the motion proceeds, and the third is that from which it proceeds. This being so, it is clear that the motion is in the wood, not in its form: for the motion is neither caused nor experienced by the form or the place or the quantity. So we are left with a mover, a moved, and a goal of motion. I do not include the starting-point of motion: for it is the goal rather than the starting-point of motion that gives its name to a particular process of change. Thus ‘perishing’ is change to not-being, though it is also true that that that which perishes changes from being: and ‘becoming’ is change to being, though it is also change from not-being.

Now a definition of motion has been given above, from which it will be seen that every goal of motion, whether it be a form, an affection, or a place, is immovable, as, for instance, knowledge and heat. Here, however, a difficulty may be raised. Affections, it may be said, are motions, and whiteness is an affection: thus there may be change to a motion. To this we may reply that it is not whiteness but whitening that is a motion. Here also the same distinctions are to be observed: a goal of motion may be so accidentally, or partially and with reference to something other than itself, or directly and with no reference to anything else: for instance, a thing which is becoming white changes accidentally to an object of thought, the colour being only accidentally the object of thought; it changes to colour, because white is a part of colour, or to Europe, because Athens is a part of Europe; but it changes essentially to white colour. It is now clear in what sense a thing is in motion essentially, accidentally, or in respect of something other than itself, and in what sense the phrase ‘itself directly’ is used in the case both of the mover and of the moved: and it is also clear that the motion is not in the form but in that which is in motion, that is to say ‘the movable in activity’. Now accidental change we may leave out of account: for it is to be found in everything, at any time, and in any respect. Change which is not accidental on the other hand is not to be found in everything, but only in contraries, in things intermediate contraries, and in contradictories, as may be proved by induction. An intermediate may be a starting-point of change, since for the purposes of the change it serves as contrary to either of two contraries: for the intermediate is in a sense the extremes. Hence we speak of the intermediate as in a sense a contrary relatively to the extremes and of either extreme as a contrary relatively to the intermediate: for instance, the central note is low relatively — to the highest and high relatively to the lowest, and grey is light relatively to black and dark relatively to white.

And since every change is from something to something — as the word itself (metabole) indicates, implying something ‘after’ (meta) something else, that is to say something earlier and something later — that which changes must change in one of four ways: from subject to subject, from subject to nonsubject, from non-subject to subject, or from non-subject to non-subject, where by ‘subject’ I mean what is affirmatively expressed. So it follows necessarily from what has been said above that there are only three kinds of change, that from subject to subject, that from subject to non-subject, and that from non-subject to subject: for the fourth conceivable kind, that from non-subject to nonsubject, is not change, as in that case there is no opposition either of contraries or of contradictories.

Now change from non-subject to subject, the relation being that of contradiction, is ‘coming to be’—‘unqualified coming to be’ when the change takes place in an unqualified way, ‘particular coming to be’ when the change is change in a particular character: for instance, a change from not-white to white is a coming to be of the particular thing, white, while change from unqualified not-being to being is coming to be in an unqualified way, in respect of which we say that a thing ‘comes to be’ without qualification, not that it ‘comes to be’ some particular thing. Change from subject to non-subject is ‘perishing’—‘unqualified perishing’ when the change is from being to not-being, ‘particular perishing’ when the change is to the opposite negation, the distinction being the same as that made in the case of coming to be.

Now the expression ‘not-being’ is used in several senses: and there can be motion neither of that which ‘is not’ in respect of the affirmation or negation of a predicate, nor of that which ‘is not’ in the sense that it only potentially ‘is’, that is to say the opposite of that which actually ‘is’ in an unqualified sense: for although that which is ‘not-white’ or ‘not-good’ may nevertheless he in motion accidentally (for example that which is ‘not-white’ might be a man), yet that which is without qualification ‘not-so-and-so’ cannot in any sense be in motion: therefore it is impossible for that which is not to be in motion. This being so, it follows that ‘becoming’ cannot be a motion: for it is that which ‘is not’ that ‘becomes’. For however true it may be that it accidentally ‘becomes’, it is nevertheless correct to say that it is that which ‘is not’ that in an unqualified sense ‘becomes’. And similarly it is impossible for that which ‘is not’ to be at rest.

There are these difficulties, then, in the way of the assumption that that which ‘is not’ can be in motion: and it may be further objected that, whereas everything which is in motion is in space, that which ‘is not’ is not in space: for then it would be somewhere.

So, too, ‘perishing’ is not a motion: for a motion has for its contrary either another motion or rest, whereas ‘perishing’ is the contrary of ‘becoming’.

Since, then, every motion is a kind of change, and there are only the three kinds of change mentioned above, and since of these three those which take the form of ‘becoming’ and ‘perishing’, that is to say those which imply a relation of contradiction, are not motions: it necessarily follows that only change from subject to subject is motion. And every such subject is either a contrary or an intermediate (for a privation may be allowed to rank as a contrary) and can be affirmatively expressed, as naked, toothless, or black. If, then, the categories are severally distinguished as Being, Quality, Place, Time, Relation, Quantity, and Activity or Passivity, it necessarily follows that there are three kinds of motion — qualitative, quantitative, and local.

2

In respect of Substance there is no motion, because Substance has no contrary among things that are. Nor is there motion in respect of Relation: for it may happen that when one correlative changes, the other, although this does not itself change, is no longer applicable, so that in these cases the motion is accidental. Nor is there motion in respect of Agent and Patient — in fact there can never be motion of mover and moved, because there cannot be motion of motion or becoming of becoming or in general change of change.

For in the first place there are two senses in which motion of motion is conceivable. (1) The motion of which there is motion might be conceived as subject; e.g. a man is in motion because he changes from fair to dark. Can it be that in this sense motion grows hot or cold, or changes place, or increases or decreases? Impossible: for change is not a subject. Or (2) can there be motion of motion in the sense that some other subject changes from a change to another mode of being, as e.g. a man changes from falling ill to getting well? Even this is possible only in an accidental sense. For, whatever the subject may be, movement is change from one form to another. (And the same holds good of becoming and perishing, except that in these processes we have a change to a particular kind of opposite, while the other, motion, is a change to a different kind.) So, if there is to be motion of motion, that which is changing from health to sickness must simultaneously be changing from this very change to another. It is clear, then, that by the time that it has become sick, it must also have changed to whatever may be the other change concerned (for that it should be at rest, though logically possible, is excluded by the theory). Moreover this other can never be any casual change, but must be a change from something definite to some other definite thing. So in this case it must be the opposite change, viz. convalescence. It is only accidentally that there can be change of change, e.g. there is a change from remembering to forgetting only because the subject of this change changes at one time to knowledge, at another to ignorance.

In the second place, if there is to be change of change and becoming of becoming, we shall have an infinite regress. Thus if one of a series of changes is to be a change of change, the preceding change must also be so: e.g. if simple becoming was ever in process of becoming, then that which was becoming simple becoming was also in process of becoming, so that we should not yet have arrived at what was in process of simple becoming but only at what was already in process of becoming in process of becoming. And this again was sometime in process of becoming, so that even then we should not have arrived at what was in process of simple becoming. And since in an infinite series there is no first term, here there will be no first stage and therefore no following stage either. On this hypothesis, then, nothing can become or be moved or change.

Thirdly, if a thing is capable of any particular motion, it is also capable of the corresponding contrary motion or the corresponding coming to rest, and a thing that is capable of becoming is also capable of perishing: consequently, if there be becoming of becoming, that which is in process of becoming is in process of perishing at the very moment when it has reached the stage of becoming: since it cannot be in process of perishing when it is just beginning to become or after it has ceased to become: for that which is in process of perishing must be in existence.

Fourthly, there must be a substrate underlying all processes of becoming and changing. What can this be in the present case? It is either the body or the soul that undergoes alteration: what is it that correspondingly becomes motion or becoming? And again what is the goal of their motion? It must be the motion or becoming of something from something to something else. But in what sense can this be so? For the becoming of learning cannot be learning: so neither can the becoming of becoming be becoming, nor can the becoming of any process be that process.

Finally, since there are three kinds of motion, the substratum and the goal of motion must be one or other of these, e.g. locomotion will have to be altered or to be locally moved.

To sum up, then, since everything that is moved is moved in one of three ways, either accidentally, or partially, or essentially, change can change only accidentally, as e.g. when a man who is being restored to health runs or learns: and accidental change we have long ago decided to leave out of account.

Since, then, motion can belong neither to Being nor to Relation nor to Agent and Patient, it remains that there can be motion only in respect of Quality, Quantity, and Place: for with each of these we have a pair of contraries. Motion in respect of Quality let us call alteration, a general designation that is used to include both contraries: and by Quality I do not here mean a property of substance (in that sense that which constitutes a specific distinction is a quality) but a passive quality in virtue of which a thing is said to be acted on or to be incapable of being acted on. Motion in respect of Quantity has no name that includes both contraries, but it is called increase or decrease according as one or the other is designated: that is to say motion in the direction of complete magnitude is increase, motion in the contrary direction is decrease. Motion in respect of Place has no name either general or particular: but we may designate it by the general name of locomotion, though strictly the term ‘locomotion’ is applicable to things that change their place only when they have not the power to come to a stand, and to things that do not move themselves locally.

Change within the same kind from a lesser to a greater or from a greater to a lesser degree is alteration: for it is motion either from a contrary or to a contrary, whether in an unqualified or in a qualified sense: for change to a lesser degree of a quality will be called change to the contrary of that quality, and change to a greater degree of a quality will be regarded as change from the contrary of that quality to the quality itself. It makes no difference whether the change be qualified or unqualified, except that in the former case the contraries will have to be contrary to one another only in a qualified sense: and a thing’s possessing a quality in a greater or in a lesser degree means the presence or absence in it of more or less of the opposite quality. It is now clear, then, that there are only these three kinds of motion.

The term ‘immovable’ we apply in the first place to that which is absolutely incapable of being moved (just as we correspondingly apply the term invisible to sound); in the second place to that which is moved with difficulty after a long time or whose movement is slow at the start — in fact, what we describe as hard to move; and in the third place to that which is naturally designed for and capable of motion, but is not in motion when, where, and as it naturally would be so. This last is the only kind of immovable thing of which I use the term ‘being at rest’: for rest is contrary to motion, so that rest will be negation of motion in that which is capable of admitting motion.

The foregoing remarks are sufficient to explain the essential nature of motion and rest, the number of kinds of change, and the different varieties of motion.

3

Let us now proceed to define the terms ‘together’ and ‘apart’, ‘in contact’, ‘between’, ‘in succession’, ‘contiguous’, and ‘continuous’, and to show in what circumstances each of these terms is naturally applicable.

Things are said to be together in place when they are in one place (in the strictest sense of the word ‘place’) and to be apart when they are in different places.

Things are said to be in contact when their extremities are together.

That which a changing thing, if it changes continuously in a natural manner, naturally reaches before it reaches that to which it changes last, is between. Thus ‘between’ implies the presence of at least three things: for in a process of change it is the contrary that is ‘last’: and a thing is moved continuously if it leaves no gap or only the smallest possible gap in the material — not in the time (for a gap in the time does not prevent things having a ‘between’, while, on the other hand, there is nothing to prevent the highest note sounding immediately after the lowest) but in the material in which the motion takes place. This is manifestly true not only in local changes but in every other kind as well. (Now every change implies a pair of opposites, and opposites may be either contraries or contradictories; since then contradiction admits of no mean term, it is obvious that ‘between’ must imply a pair of contraries) That is locally contrary which is most distant in a straight line: for the shortest line is definitely limited, and that which is definitely limited constitutes a measure.

A thing is ‘in succession’ when it is after the beginning in position or in form or in some other respect in which it is definitely so regarded, and when further there is nothing of the same kind as itself between it and that to which it is in succession, e.g. a line or lines if it is a line, a unit or units if it is a unit, a house if it is a house (there is nothing to prevent something of a different kind being between). For that which is in succession is in succession to a particular thing, and is something posterior: for one is not ‘in succession’ to two, nor is the first day of the month to be second: in each case the latter is ‘in succession’ to the former.

A thing that is in succession and touches is ‘contiguous’. The ‘continuous’ is a subdivision of the contiguous: things are called continuous when the touching limits of each become one and the same and are, as the word implies, contained in each other: continuity is impossible if these extremities are two. This definition makes it plain that continuity belongs to things that naturally in virtue of their mutual contact form a unity. And in whatever way that which holds them together is one, so too will the whole be one, e.g. by a rivet or glue or contact or organic union.

It is obvious that of these terms ‘in succession’ is first in order of analysis: for that which touches is necessarily in succession, but not everything that is in succession touches: and so succession is a property of things prior in definition, e.g. numbers, while contact is not. And if there is continuity there is necessarily contact, but if there is contact, that alone does not imply continuity: for the extremities of things may be ‘together’ without necessarily being one: but they cannot be one without being necessarily together. So natural junction is last in coming to be: for the extremities must necessarily come into contact if they are to be naturally joined: but things that are in contact are not all naturally joined, while there is no contact clearly there is no natural junction either. Hence, if as some say ‘point’ and ‘unit’ have an independent existence of their own, it is impossible for the two to be identical: for points can touch while units can only be in succession. Moreover, there can always be something between points (for all lines are intermediate between points), whereas it is not necessary that there should possibly be anything between units: for there can be nothing between the numbers one and two.

We have now defined what is meant by ‘together’ and ‘apart’, ‘contact’, ‘between’ and ‘in succession’, ‘contiguous’ and ‘continuous’: and we have shown in what circumstances each of these terms is applicable.

4

There are many senses in which motion is said to be ‘one’: for we use the term ‘one’ in many senses.

Motion is one generically according to the different categories to which it may be assigned: thus any locomotion is one generically with any other locomotion, whereas alteration is different generically from locomotion.

Motion is one specifically when besides being one generically it also takes place in a species incapable of subdivision: e.g. colour has specific differences: therefore blackening and whitening differ specifically; but at all events every whitening will be specifically the same with every other whitening and every blackening with every other blackening. But white is not further subdivided by specific differences: hence any whitening is specifically one with any other whitening. Where it happens that the genus is at the same time a species, it is clear that the motion will then in a sense be one specifically though not in an unqualified sense: learning is an example of this, knowledge being on the one hand a species of apprehension and on the other hand a genus including the various knowledges. A difficulty, however, may be raised as to whether a motion is specifically one when the same thing changes from the same to the same, e.g. when one point changes again and again from a particular place to a particular place: if this motion is specifically one, circular motion will be the same as rectilinear motion, and rolling the same as walking. But is not this difficulty removed by the principle already laid down that if that in which the motion takes place is specifically different (as in the present instance the circular path is specifically different from the straight) the motion itself is also different? We have explained, then, what is meant by saying that motion is one generically or one specifically.

Motion is one in an unqualified sense when it is one essentially or numerically: and the following distinctions will make clear what this kind of motion is. There are three classes of things in connexion with which we speak of motion, the ‘that which’, the ‘that in which’, and the ‘that during which’. I mean that there must he something that is in motion, e.g. a man or gold, and it must be in motion in something, e.g. a place or an affection, and during something, for all motion takes place during a time. Of these three it is the thing in which the motion takes place that makes it one generically or specifically, it is the thing moved that makes the motion one in subject, and it is the time that makes it consecutive: but it is the three together that make it one without qualification: to effect this, that in which the motion takes place (the species) must be one and incapable of subdivision, that during which it takes place (the time) must be one and unintermittent, and that which is in motion must be one — not in an accidental sense (i.e. it must be one as the white that blackens is one or Coriscus who walks is one, not in the accidental sense in which Coriscus and white may be one), nor merely in virtue of community of nature (for there might be a case of two men being restored to health at the same time in the same way, e.g. from inflammation of the eye, yet this motion is not really one, but only specifically one).

Suppose, however, that Socrates undergoes an alteration specifically the same but at one time and again at another: in this case if it is possible for that which ceased to be again to come into being and remain numerically the same, then this motion too will be one: otherwise it will be the same but not one. And akin to this difficulty there is another; viz. is health one? and generally are the states and affections in bodies severally one in essence although (as is clear) the things that contain them are obviously in motion and in flux? Thus if a person’s health at daybreak and at the present moment is one and the same, why should not this health be numerically one with that which he recovers after an interval? The same argument applies in each case. There is, however, we may answer, this difference: that if the states are two then it follows simply from this fact that the activities must also in point of number be two (for only that which is numerically one can give rise to an activity that is numerically one), but if the state is one, this is not in itself enough to make us regard the activity also as one: for when a man ceases walking, the walking no longer is, but it will again be if he begins to walk again. But, be this as it may, if in the above instance the health is one and the same, then it must be possible for that which is one and the same to come to be and to cease to be many times. However, these difficulties lie outside our present inquiry.

Since every motion is continuous, a motion that is one in an unqualified sense must (since every motion is divisible) be continuous, and a continuous motion must be one. There will not be continuity between any motion and any other indiscriminately any more than there is between any two things chosen at random in any other sphere: there can be continuity only when the extremities of the two things are one. Now some things have no extremities at all: and the extremities of others differ specifically although we give them the same name of ‘end’: how should e.g. the ‘end’ of a line and the ‘end’ of walking touch or come to be one? Motions that are not the same either specifically or generically may, it is true, be consecutive (e.g. a man may run and then at once fall ill of a fever), and again, in the torch-race we have consecutive but not continuous locomotion: for according to our definition there can be continuity only when the ends of the two things are one. Hence motions may be consecutive or successive in virtue of the time being continuous, but there can be continuity only in virtue of the motions themselves being continuous, that is when the end of each is one with the end of the other. Motion, therefore, that is in an unqualified sense continuous and one must be specifically the same, of one thing, and in one time. Unity is required in respect of time in order that there may be no interval of immobility, for where there is intermission of motion there must be rest, and a motion that includes intervals of rest will be not one but many, so that a motion that is interrupted by stationariness is not one or continuous, and it is so interrupted if there is an interval of time. And though of a motion that is not specifically one (even if the time is unintermittent) the time is one, the motion is specifically different, and so cannot really be one, for motion that is one must be specifically one, though motion that is specifically one is not necessarily one in an unqualified sense. We have now explained what we mean when we call a motion one without qualification.

Further, a motion is also said to be one generically, specifically, or essentially when it is complete, just as in other cases completeness and wholeness are characteristics of what is one: and sometimes a motion even if incomplete is said to be one, provided only that it is continuous.

And besides the cases already mentioned there is another in which a motion is said to be one, viz. when it is regular: for in a sense a motion that is irregular is not regarded as one, that title belonging rather to that which is regular, as a straight line is regular, the irregular being as such divisible. But the difference would seem to be one of degree. In every kind of motion we may have regularity or irregularity: thus there may be regular alteration, and locomotion in a regular path, e.g. in a circle or on a straight line, and it is the same with regard to increase and decrease. The difference that makes a motion irregular is sometimes to be found in its path: thus a motion cannot be regular if its path is an irregular magnitude, e.g. a broken line, a spiral, or any other magnitude that is not such that any part of it taken at random fits on to any other that may be chosen. Sometimes it is found neither in the place nor in the time nor in the goal but in the manner of the motion: for in some cases the motion is differentiated by quickness and slowness: thus if its velocity is uniform a motion is regular, if not it is irregular. So quickness and slowness are not species of motion nor do they constitute specific differences of motion, because this distinction occurs in connexion with all the distinct species of motion. The same is true of heaviness and lightness when they refer to the same thing: e.g. they do not specifically distinguish earth from itself or fire from itself. Irregular motion, therefore, while in virtue of being continuous it is one, is so in a lesser degree, as is the case with locomotion in a broken line: and a lesser degree of something always means an admixture of its contrary. And since every motion that is one can be both regular and irregular, motions that are consecutive but not specifically the same cannot be one and continuous: for how should a motion composed of alteration and locomotion be regular? If a motion is to be regular its parts ought to fit one another.

5

We have further to determine what motions are contrary to each other, and to determine similarly how it is with rest. And we have first to decide whether contrary motions are motions respectively from and to the same thing, e.g. a motion from health and a motion to health (where the opposition, it would seem, is of the same kind as that between coming to be and ceasing to be); or motions respectively from contraries, e.g. a motion from health and a motion from disease; or motions respectively to contraries, e.g. a motion to health and a motion to disease; or motions respectively from a contrary and to the opposite contrary, e.g. a motion from health and a motion to disease; or motions respectively from a contrary to the opposite contrary and from the latter to the former, e.g. a motion from health to disease and a motion from disease to health: for motions must be contrary to one another in one or more of these ways, as there is no other way in which they can be opposed.

Now motions respectively from a contrary and to the opposite contrary, e.g. a motion from health and a motion to disease, are not contrary motions: for they are one and the same. (Yet their essence is not the same, just as changing from health is different from changing to disease.) Nor are motion respectively from a contrary and from the opposite contrary contrary motions, for a motion from a contrary is at the same time a motion to a contrary or to an intermediate (of this, however, we shall speak later), but changing to a contrary rather than changing from a contrary would seem to be the cause of the contrariety of motions, the latter being the loss, the former the gain, of contrariness. Moreover, each several motion takes its name rather from the goal than from the starting-point of change, e.g. motion to health we call convalescence, motion to disease sickening. Thus we are left with motions respectively to contraries, and motions respectively to contraries from the opposite contraries. Now it would seem that motions to contraries are at the same time motions from contraries (though their essence may not be the same; ‘to health’ is distinct, I mean, from ‘from disease’, and ‘from health’ from ‘to disease’).

Since then change differs from motion (motion being change from a particular subject to a particular subject), it follows that contrary motions are motions respectively from a contrary to the opposite contrary and from the latter to the former, e.g. a motion from health to disease and a motion from disease to health. Moreover, the consideration of particular examples will also show what kinds of processes are generally recognized as contrary: thus falling ill is regarded as contrary to recovering one’s health, these processes having contrary goals, and being taught as contrary to being led into error by another, it being possible to acquire error, like knowledge, either by one’s own agency or by that of another. Similarly we have upward locomotion and downward locomotion, which are contrary lengthwise, locomotion to the right and locomotion to the left, which are contrary breadthwise, and forward locomotion and backward locomotion, which too are contraries. On the other hand, a process simply to a contrary, e.g. that denoted by the expression ‘becoming white’, where no starting-point is specified, is a change but not a motion. And in all cases of a thing that has no contrary we have as contraries change from and change to the same thing. Thus coming to be is contrary to ceasing to be, and losing to gaining. But these are changes and not motions. And wherever a pair of contraries admit of an intermediate, motions to that intermediate must be held to be in a sense motions to one or other of the contraries: for the intermediate serves as a contrary for the purposes of the motion, in whichever direction the change may be, e.g. grey in a motion from grey to white takes the place of black as starting-point, in a motion from white to grey it takes the place of black as goal, and in a motion from black to grey it takes the place of white as goal: for the middle is opposed in a sense to either of the extremes, as has been said above. Thus we see that two motions are contrary to each other only when one is a motion from a contrary to the opposite contrary and the other is a motion from the latter to the former.

6

But since a motion appears to have contrary to it not only another motion but also a state of rest, we must determine how this is so. A motion has for its contrary in the strict sense of the term another motion, but it also has for an opposite a state of rest (for rest is the privation of motion and the privation of anything may be called its contrary), and motion of one kind has for its opposite rest of that kind, e.g. local motion has local rest. This statement, however, needs further qualification: there remains the question, is the opposite of remaining at a particular place motion from or motion to that place? It is surely clear that since there are two subjects between which motion takes place, motion from one of these (A) to its contrary (B) has for its opposite remaining in A while the reverse motion has for its opposite remaining in B. At the same time these two are also contrary to each other: for it would be absurd to suppose that there are contrary motions and not opposite states of rest. States of rest in contraries are opposed. To take an example, a state of rest in health is (1) contrary to a state of rest in disease, and (2) the motion to which it is contrary is that from health to disease. For (2) it would be absurd that its contrary motion should be that from disease to health, since motion to that in which a thing is at rest is rather a coming to rest, the coming to rest being found to come into being simultaneously with the motion; and one of these two motions it must be. And (1) rest in whiteness is of course not contrary to rest in health.

Of all things that have no contraries there are opposite changes (viz. change from the thing and change to the thing, e.g. change from being and change to being), but no motion. So, too, of such things there is no remaining though there is absence of change. Should there be a particular subject, absence of change in its being will be contrary to absence of change in its not-being. And here a difficulty may be raised: if not-being is not a particular something, what is it, it may be asked, that is contrary to absence of change in a thing’s being? and is this absence of change a state of rest? If it is, then either it is not true that every state of rest is contrary to a motion or else coming to be and ceasing to be are motion. It is clear then that, since we exclude these from among motions, we must not say that this absence of change is a state of rest: we must say that it is similar to a state of rest and call it absence of change. And it will have for its contrary either nothing or absence of change in the thing’s not-being, or the ceasing to be of the thing: for such ceasing to be is change from it and the thing’s coming to be is change to it.

Again, a further difficulty may be raised. How is it, it may be asked, that whereas in local change both remaining and moving may be natural or unnatural, in the other changes this is not so? e.g. alteration is not now natural and now unnatural, for convalescence is no more natural or unnatural than falling ill, whitening no more natural or unnatural than blackening; so, too, with increase and decrease: these are not contrary to each other in the sense that either of them is natural while the other is unnatural, nor is one increase contrary to another in this sense; and the same account may be given of becoming and perishing: it is not true that becoming is natural and perishing unnatural (for growing old is natural), nor do we observe one becoming to be natural and another unnatural. We answer that if what happens under violence is unnatural, then violent perishing is unnatural and as such contrary to natural perishing. Are there then also some becomings that are violent and not the result of natural necessity, and are therefore contrary to natural becomings, and violent increases and decreases, e.g. the rapid growth to maturity of profligates and the rapid ripening of seeds even when not packed close in the earth? And how is it with alterations? Surely just the same: we may say that some alterations are violent while others are natural, e.g. patients alter naturally or unnaturally according as they throw off fevers on the critical days or not. But, it may be objected, then we shall have perishings contrary to one another, not to becoming. Certainly: and why should not this in a sense be so? Thus it is so if one perishing is pleasant and another painful: and so one perishing will be contrary to another not in an unqualified sense, but in so far as one has this quality and the other that.

Now motions and states of rest universally exhibit contrariety in the manner described above, e.g. upward motion and rest above are respectively contrary to downward motion and rest below, these being instances of local contrariety; and upward locomotion belongs naturally to fire and downward to earth, i.e. the locomotions of the two are contrary to each other. And again, fire moves up naturally and down unnaturally: and its natural motion is certainly contrary to its unnatural motion. Similarly with remaining: remaining above is contrary to motion from above downwards, and to earth this remaining comes unnaturally, this motion naturally. So the unnatural remaining of a thing is contrary to its natural motion, just as we find a similar contrariety in the motion of the same thing: one of its motions, the upward or the downward, will be natural, the other unnatural.

Here, however, the question arises, has every state of rest that is not permanent a becoming, and is this becoming a coming to a standstill? If so, there must be a becoming of that which is at rest unnaturally, e.g. of earth at rest above: and therefore this earth during the time that it was being carried violently upward was coming to a standstill. But whereas the velocity of that which comes to a standstill seems always to increase, the velocity of that which is carried violently seems always to decrease: so it will he in a state of rest without having become so. Moreover ‘coming to a standstill’ is generally recognized to be identical or at least concomitant with the locomotion of a thing to its proper place.

There is also another difficulty involved in the view that remaining in a particular place is contrary to motion from that place. For when a thing is moving from or discarding something, it still appears to have that which is being discarded, so that if a state of rest is itself contrary to the motion from the state of rest to its contrary, the contraries rest and motion will be simultaneously predicable of the same thing. May we not say, however, that in so far as the thing is still stationary it is in a state of rest in a qualified sense? For, in fact, whenever a thing is in motion, part of it is at the starting-point while part is at the goal to which it is changing: and consequently a motion finds its true contrary rather in another motion than in a state of rest.

With regard to motion and rest, then, we have now explained in what sense each of them is one and under what conditions they exhibit contrariety.

[With regard to coming to a standstill the question may be raised whether there is an opposite state of rest to unnatural as well as to natural motions. It would be absurd if this were not the case: for a thing may remain still merely under violence: thus we shall have a thing being in a non-permanent state of rest without having become so. But it is clear that it must be the case: for just as there is unnatural motion, so, too, a thing may be in an unnatural state of rest. Further, some things have a natural and an unnatural motion, e.g. fire has a natural upward motion and an unnatural downward motion: is it, then, this unnatural downward motion or is it the natural downward motion of earth that is contrary to the natural upward motion? Surely it is clear that both are contrary to it though not in the same sense: the natural motion of earth is contrary inasmuch as the motion of fire is also natural, whereas the upward motion of fire as being natural is contrary to the downward motion of fire as being unnatural. The same is true of the corresponding cases of remaining. But there would seem to be a sense in which a state of rest and a motion are opposites.]

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 12:59