OUR next task is to study coming-to-be and passing-away. We are to distinguish the causes, and to state the definitions, of these processes considered in general-as changes predicable uniformly of all the things that come-to-be and pass-away by nature. Further, we are to study growth and ‘alteration’. We must inquire what each of them is; and whether ‘alteration’ is to be identified with coming-to-be, or whether to these different names there correspond two separate processes with distinct natures.
On this question, indeed, the early philosophers are divided. Some of them assert that the so-called ‘unqualified coming-to-be’ is ‘alteration’, while others maintain that ‘alteration’ and coming-to-be are distinct. For those who say that the universe is one something (i.e. those who generate all things out of one thing) are bound to assert that coming-to-be is ‘alteration’, and that whatever ‘comes-to-be’ in the proper sense of the term is ‘being altered’: but those who make the matter of things more than one must distinguish coming-to-be from ‘alteration’. To this latter class belong Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Leucippus. And yet Anaxagoras himself failed to understand his own utterance. He says, at all events, that coming-to-be and passing-away are the same as ‘being altered’:’ yet, in common with other thinkers, he affirms that the elements are many. Thus Empedocles holds that the corporeal elements are four, while all the elements-including those which initiate movement-are six in number; whereas Anaxagoras agrees with Leucippus and Democritus that the elements are infinite.
(Anaxagoras posits as elements the ‘homoeomeries’, viz. bone, flesh, marrow, and everything else which is such that part and whole are the same in name and nature; while Democritus and Leucippus say that there are indivisible bodies, infinite both in number and in the varieties of their shapes, of which everything else is composed-the compounds differing one from another according to the shapes, ‘positions’, and ‘groupings’ of their constituents.)
For the views of the school of Anaxagoras seem diametrically opposed to those of the followers of Empedocles. Empedocles says that Fire, Water, Air, and Earth are four elements, and are thus ‘simple’ rather than flesh, bone, and bodies which, like these, are ‘homoeomeries’. But the followers of Anaxagoras regard the ‘homoeomeries’ as ‘simple’ and elements, whilst they affirm that Earth, Fire, Water, and Air are composite; for each of these is (according to them) a ‘common seminary’ of all the ‘homoeomeries’.
Those, then, who construct all things out of a single element, must maintain that coming-tobe and passing-away are ‘alteration’. For they must affirm that the underlying something always remains identical and one; and change of such a substratum is what we call ‘altering’ Those, on the other hand, who make the ultimate kinds of things more than one, must maintain that ‘alteration’ is distinct from coming-to-be: for coming-to-be and passingaway result from the consilience and the dissolution of the many kinds. That is why Empedocles too uses language to this effect, when he says ‘There is no coming-to-be of anything, but only a mingling and a divorce of what has been mingled’. Thus it is clear (i) that to describe coming-to-be and passing-away in these terms is in accordance with their fundamental assumption, and (ii) that they do in fact so describe them: nevertheless, they too must recognize ‘alteration’ as a fact distinct from coming to-be, though it is impossible for them to do so consistently with what they say.
That we are right in this criticism is easy to perceive. For ‘alteration’ is a fact of observation. While the substance of the thing remains unchanged, we see it ‘altering’ just as we see in it the changes of magnitude called ‘growth’ and ‘diminution’. Nevertheless, the statements of those who posit more ‘original reals’ than one make ‘alteration’ impossible. For ‘alteration, as we assert, takes place in respect to certain qualities: and these qualities (I mean, e.g. hot-cold, white-black, dry-moist, soft-hard, and so forth) are, all of them, differences characterizing the ‘elements’. The actual words of Empedocles may be quoted in illustration
The sun everywhere bright to see, and hot,
The rain everywhere dark and cold;
and he distinctively characterizes his remaining elements in a similar manner. Since, therefore, it is not possible for Fire to become Water, or Water to become Earth, neither will it be possible for anything white to become black, or anything soft to become hard; and the same argument applies to all the other qualities. Yet this is what ‘alteration’ essentially is.
It follows, as an obvious corollary, that a single matter must always be assumed as underlying the contrary ‘poles’ of any change whether change of place, or growth and diminution, or ‘alteration’; further, that the being of this matter and the being of ‘alteration’ stand and fall together. For if the change is ‘alteration’, then the substratum is a single element; i.e. all things which admit of change into one another have a single matter. And, conversely, if the substratum of the changing things is one, there is ‘alteration’.
Empedocles, indeed, seems to contradict his own statements as well as the observed facts. For he denies that any one of his elements comes-to-be out of any other, insisting on the contrary that they are the things out of which everything else comes-to-be; and yet (having brought the entirety of existing things, except Strife, together into one) he maintains, simultaneously with this denial, that each thing once more comes-to-be out of the One. Hence it was clearly out of a One that this came-to-be Water, and that Fire, various portions of it being separated off by certain characteristic differences or qualities-as indeed he calls the sun ‘white and hot’, and the earth ‘heavy and hard’. If, therefore, these characteristic differences be taken away (for they can be taken away, since they came-to-be), it will clearly be inevitable for Earth to come to-be out of Water and Water out of Earth, and for each of the other elements to undergo a similar transformation-not only then, but also now-if, and because, they change their qualities. And, to judge by what he says, the qualities are such that they can be ‘attached’ to things and can again be ‘separated’ from them, especially since Strife and Love are still fighting with one another for the mastery. It was owing to this same conflict that the elements were generated from a One at the former period. I say ‘generated’, for presumably Fire, Earth, and Water had no distinctive existence at all while merged in one.
There is another obscurity in the theory Empedocles. Are we to regard the One as his ‘original real’? Or is it the Many-i.e. Fire and Earth, and the bodies co-ordinate with these? For the One is an ‘element’ in so far as it underlies the process as matter-as that out of which Earth and Fire come-to-be through a change of qualities due to ‘the motion’. On the other hand, in so far as the One results from composition (by a consilience of the Many), whereas they result from disintegration the Many are more ‘elementary’ than the One, and prior to it in their nature.
We have therefore to discuss the whole subject of ‘unqualified’ coming-to-be and passingaway; we have to inquire whether these changes do or do not occur and, if they occur, to explain the precise conditions of their occurrence. We must also discuss the remaining forms of change, viz. growth and ‘alteration’. For though, no doubt, Plato investigated the conditions under which things come-to-be and pass-away, he confined his inquiry to these changes; and he discussed not all coming-to-be, but only that of the elements. He asked no questions as to how flesh or bones, or any of the other similar compound things, come-to-be; nor again did he examine the conditions under which ‘alteration’ or growth are attributable to things.
A similar criticism applies to all our predecessors with the single exception of Democritus. Not one of them penetrated below the surface or made a thorough examination of a single one of the problems. Democritus, however, does seem not only to have thought carefully about all the problems, but also to be distinguished from the outset by his method. For, as we are saying, none of the other philosophers made any definite statement about growth, except such as any amateur might have made. They said that things grow ‘by the accession of like to like’, but they did not proceed to explain the manner of this accession. Nor did they give any account of ‘combination’: and they neglected almost every single one of the remaining problems, offering no explanation, e.g. of ‘action’ or ‘passion’ how in physical actions one thing acts and the other undergoes action. Democritus and Leucippus, however, postulate the ‘figures’, and make ‘alteration’ and coming-to-be result from them. They explain coming-to-be and passing-away by their ‘dissociation’ and ‘association’, but ‘alteration’ by their ‘grouping’ and ‘Position’. And since they thought that the ‘truth lay in the appearance, and the appearances are conflicting and infinitely many, they made the ‘figures’ infinite in number. Hence-owing to the changes of the compound-the same thing seems different and conflicting to different people: it is ‘transposed’ by a small additional ingredient, and appears utterly other by the ‘transposition’ of a single constituent. For Tragedy and Comedy are both composed of the same letters.
Since almost all our predecessors think (i) that coming-to-be is distinct from ‘alteration’, and (ii) that, whereas things ‘alter’ by change of their qualities, it is by ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’ that they come-to-be and pass-away, we must concentrate our attention on these theses. For they lead to many perplexing and well-grounded dilemmas. If, on the one hand, coming-to-be is ‘association’, many impossible consequences result: and yet there are other arguments, not easy to unravel, which force the conclusion upon us that coming-to-be cannot possibly be anything else. If, on the other hand, coming-to-be is not ‘association’, either there is no such thing as coming-to-be at all or it is ‘alteration’: or else we must endeavour to unravel this dilemma too-and a stubborn one we shall find it. The fundamental question, in dealing with all these difficulties, is this: ‘Do things come-to-be and “alter” and grow, and undergo the contrary changes, because the primary “reals” are indivisible magnitudes? Or is no magnitude indivisible?’ For the answer we give to this question makes the greatest difference. And again, if the primary ‘reals’ are indivisible magnitudes, are these bodies, as Democritus and Leucippus maintain? Or are they planes, as is asserted in the Timaeus?
To resolve bodies into planes and no further-this, as we have also remarked elsewhere, in itself a paradox. Hence there is more to be said for the view that there are indivisible bodies. Yet even these involve much of paradox. Still, as we have said, it is possible to construct ‘alteration’ and coming-to-be with them, if one ‘transposes’ the same by ‘turning’ and ‘intercontact’, and by ‘the varieties of the figures’, as Democritus does. (His denial of the reality of colour is a corollary from this position: for, according to him, things get coloured by ‘turning’ of the ‘figures’.) But the possibility of such a construction no longer exists for those who divide bodies into planes. For nothing except solids results from putting planes together: they do not even attempt to generate any quality from them.
Lack of experience diminishes our power of taking a comprehensive view of the admitted facts. Hence those who dwell in intimate association with nature and its phenomena grow more and more able to formulate, as the foundations of their theories, principles such as to admit of a wide and coherent development: while those whom devotion to abstract discussions has rendered unobservant of the facts are too ready to dogmatize on the basis of a few observations. The rival treatments of the subject now before us will serve to illustrate how great is the difference between a ‘scientific’ and a ‘dialectical’ method of inquiry. For, whereas the Platonists argue that there must be atomic magnitudes ‘because otherwise “The Triangle” will be more than one’, Democritus would appear to have been convinced by arguments appropriate to the subject, i.e. drawn from the science of nature. Our meaning will become clear as we proceed. For to suppose that a body (i.e. a magnitude) is divisible through and through, and that this division is possible, involves a difficulty. What will there be in the body which escapes the division?
If it is divisible through and through, and if this division is possible, then it might be, at one and the same moment, divided through and through, even though the dividings had not been effected simultaneously: and the actual occurrence of this result would involve no impossibility. Hence the same principle will apply whenever a body is by nature divisible through and through, whether by bisection, or generally by any method whatever: nothing impossible will have resulted if it has actually been divided-not even if it has been divided into innumerable parts, themselves divided innumerable times. Nothing impossible will have resulted, though perhaps nobody in fact could so divide it.
Since, therefore, the be dy is divisible through and through, let it have been divided. What, then, will remain? A magnitude? No: that is impossible, since then there will be something not divided, whereas ex hypothesis the body was divisible through and through. But if it be admitted that neither a body nor a magnitude will remain, and yet division is to take place, the constituents of the body will either be points (i.e. without magnitude) or absolutely nothing. If its constituents are nothings, then it might both come-to-be out of nothings and exist as a composite of nothings: and thus presumably the whole body will be nothing but an appearance. But if it consists of points, a similar absurdity will result: it will not possess any magnitude. For when the points were in contact and coincided to form a single magnitude, they did not make the whole any bigger (since, when the body was divided into two or more parts, the whole was not a bit smaller or bigger than it was before the division): hence, even if all the points be put together, they will not make any magnitude.
But suppose that, as the body is being divided, a minute section-a piece of sawdust, as it were-is extracted, and that in this sense-a body ‘comes away’ from the magnitude, evading the division. Even then the same argument applies. For in what sense is that section divisible? But if what ‘came away’ was not a body but a separable form or quality, and if the magnitude is ‘points or contacts thus qualified’: it is paradoxical that a magnitude should consist of elements, which are not magnitudes. Moreover, where will the points be? And are they motionless or moving? And every contact is always a contact of two somethings, i.e. there is always something besides the contact or the division or the point.
These, then, are the difficulties resulting from the supposition that any and every body, whatever its size, is divisible through and through. There is, besides, this further consideration. If, having divided a piece of wood or anything else, I put it together, it is again equal to what it was, and is one. Clearly this is so, whatever the point at which I cut the wood. The wood, therefore, has been divided potentially through and through. What, then, is there in the wood besides the division? For even if we suppose there is some quality, yet how is the wood dissolved into such constituents and how does it come-to-be out of them? Or how are such constituents separated so as to exist apart from one another? Since, therefore, it is impossible for magnitudes to consist of contacts or points, there must be indivisible bodies and magnitudes. Yet, if we do postulate the latter, we are confronted with equally impossible consequences, which we have examined in other works.’ But we must try to disentangle these perplexities, and must therefore formulate the whole problem over again.
On the one hand, then, it is in no way paradoxical that every perceptible body should be indivisible as well as divisible at any and every point. For the second predicate will at. tach to it potentially, but the first actually. On the other hand, it would seem to be impossible for a body to be, even potentially, divisible at all points simultaneously. For if it were possible, then it might actually occur, with the result, not that the body would simultaneously be actually both (indivisible and divided), but that it would be simultaneously divided at any and every point. Consequently, nothing will remain and the body will have passed-away into what is incorporeal: and so it might come-to-be again either out of points or absolutely out of nothing. And how is that possible?
But now it is obvious that a body is in fact divided into separable magnitudes which are smaller at each division-into magnitudes which fall apart from one another and are actually separated. Hence (it is urged) the process of dividing a body part by part is not a ‘breaking up’ which could continue ad infinitum; nor can a body be simultaneously divided at every point, for that is not possible; but there is a limit, beyond which the ‘breaking up’ cannot proceed. The necessary consequence-especially if coming-to-be and passing-away are to take place by ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’ respectively-is that a body must contain atomic magnitudes which are invisible. Such is the argument which is believed to establish the necessity of atomic magnitudes: we must now show that it conceals a faulty inference, and exactly where it conceals it.
For, since point is not ‘immediately-next’ to point, magnitudes are ‘divisible through and through’ in one sense, and yet not in another. When, however, it is admitted that a magnitude is ‘divisible through and through’, it is thought there is a point not only anywhere, but also everywhere, in it: hence it is supposed to follow, from the admission, that the magnitude must be divided away into nothing. For it is supposed-there is a point everywhere within it, so that it consists either of contacts or of points. But it is only in one sense that the magnitude is ‘divisible through and through’, viz. in so far as there is one point anywhere within it and all its points are everywhere within it if you take them singly one by one. But there are not more points than one anywhere within it, for the points are not ‘consecutive’: hence it is not simultaneously ‘divisible through and through’. For if it were, then, if it be divisible at its centre, it will be divisible also at a point ‘immediately-next’ to its centre. But it is not so divisible: for position is not ‘immediately-next’ to position, nor point to point-in other words, division is not ‘immediately-next’ to division, nor composition to composition.
Hence there are both ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’, though neither (a) into, and out of, atomic magnitudes (for that involves many impossibilities), nor (b) so that division takes place through and through-for this would have resulted only if point had been ‘immediately-next’ to point: but ‘dissociation’ takes place into small (i.e. relatively small) parts, and ‘association’ takes place out of relatively small parts.
It is wrong, however, to suppose, as some assert, that coming-to-be and passing-away in the unqualified and complete sense are distinctively defined by ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’, while the change that takes place in what is continuous is ‘alteration’. On the contrary, this is where the whole error lies. For unqualified coming-to-be and passing-away are not effected by ‘association’ and ‘dissociation’. They take place when a thing changes, from this to that, as a whole. But the philosophers we are criticizing suppose that all such change is ‘alteration’: whereas in fact there is a difference. For in that which underlies the change there is a factor corresponding to the definition and there is a material factor. When, then, the change is in these constitutive factors, there will be coming-to-be or passing-away: but when it is in the thing’s qualities, i.e. a change of the thing per accidents, there will be ‘alteration’.
‘Dissociation’ and ‘association’ affect the thing’s susceptibility to passing-away. For if water has first been ‘dissociated’ into smallish drops, air comes-to-be out of it more quickly: while, if drops of water have first been ‘associated’, air comes-to-be more slowly. Our doctrine will become clearer in the sequel.’ Meantime, so much may be taken as established-viz. that coming-to-be cannot be ‘association’, at least not the kind of ‘association’ some philosophers assert it to be.
Now that we have established the preceding distinctions, we must first consider whether there is anything which comes-to-be and passes-away in the unqualified sense: or whether nothing comes-to-be in this strict sense, but everything always comes-to-be something and out of something-I mean, e.g. comes-to-be-healthy out of being-ill and ill out of being-healthy, comes-to-be-small out of being big and big out of being-small, and so on in every other instance. For if there is to be coming-to-be without qualification, ‘something’ must-without qualification-’come-to-be out of not-being’, so that it would be true to say that ‘not-being is an attribute of some things’. For qualified coming-to-be is a process out of qualified not-being (e.g. out of not-white or not-beautiful), but unqualified coming-to-be is a process out of unqualified not-being.
Now ‘unqulified’ means either (i) the primary predication within each Category, or (ii) the universal, i.e. the all-comprehensive, predication. Hence, if’unqualified not-being ‘means the negation of ‘being’ in the sense of the primary term of the Category in question, we shall have, in ‘unqualified coming-to-be’, a coming-to-be of a substance out of not-substance. But that which is not a substance or a ‘this’ clearly cannot possess predicates drawn from any of the other Categories either-e.g. we cannot attribute to it any quality, quantity, or position. Otherwise, properties would admit of existence in separation from substances. If, on the other hand, ‘unqualified not-being’ means ‘what is not in any sense at all’, it will be a universal negation of all forms of being, so that what comes-to-be will have to come-to-be out of nothing.
Although we have dealt with these problems at greater length in another work,where we have set forth the difficulties and established the distinguishing definitions, the following concise restatement of our results must here be offered: In one sense things come-to-be out of that which has no ‘being’ without qualification: yet in another sense they come-to-be always out of what is’. For coming-to-be necessarily implies the pre-existence of something which potentially ‘is’, but actually ‘is not’; and this something is spoken of both as ‘being’ and as ‘not-being’.
These distinctions may be taken as established: but even then it is extraordinarily difficult to see how there can be ‘unqualified coming-to-be’ (whether we suppose it to occur out of what potentially ‘is’, or in some other way), and we must recall this problem for further examination. For the question might be raised whether substance (i.e. the ‘this’) comes-to-be at all. Is it not rather the ‘such’, the ‘so great’, or the ‘somewhere’, which comes-to-be? And the same question might be raised about ‘passing-away’ also. For if a substantial thing comes-to-be, it is clear that there will ‘be’ (not actually, but potentially) a substance, out of which its coming-to-be will proceed and into which the thing that is passing-away will necessarily change. Then will any predicate belonging to the remaining Categories attach actually to this presupposed substance? In other words, will that which is only potentially a ‘this’ (which only potentially is), while without the qualification ‘potentially’ it is not a ‘this’ (i.e. is not), possess, e.g. any determinate size or quality or position? For (i) if it possesses none of these determinations actually, but all of them only potentially, the result is first that a being, which is not a determinate being, is capable of separate existence; and in addition that coming-to-be proceeds out of nothing pre-existing-a thesis which, more than any other, preoccupied and alarmed the earliest philosophers. On the other hand (ii) if, although it is not a ‘this somewhat’ or a substance, it is to possess some of the remaining determinations quoted above, then (as we said)’ properties will be separable from substances.
We must therefore concentrate all our powers on the discussion of these difficulties and on the solution of a further question-viz. What is the cause of the perpetuity of coming-to-be? Why is there always unqualified, as well as partial, coming-to-be? Cause’ in this connexion has two senses. It means (i) the source from which, as we say, the process ‘originates’, and (ii) the matter. It is the material cause that we have here to state. For, as to the other cause, we have already explained (in our treatise on Motion that it involves (a) something immovable through all time and (b) something always being moved. And the accurate treatment of the first of these-of the immovable ‘originative source’-belongs to the province of the other, or ‘prior’, philosophy: while as regards ‘that which sets everything else in motion by being itself continuously moved’, we shall have to explain later’ which amongst the so-called ‘specific’ causes exhibits this character. But at present we are to state the material cause-the cause classed under the head of matter-to which it is due that passing-away and coming-to-be never fail to occur in Nature. For perhaps, if we succeed in clearing up this question, it will simultaneously become clear what account we ought to give of that which perplexed us just now, i.e. of unqualified passingaway and coming-to-be.
Our new question too-viz. ‘what is the cause of the unbroken continuity of coming-to-be?’-is sufficiently perplexing, if in fact what passes-away vanishes into ‘what is not’ and ‘what is not’ is nothing (since ‘what is not’ is neither a thing, nor possessed of a quality or quantity, nor in any place). If, then, some one of the things ‘which are’ constantly disappearing, why has not the whole of ‘what is’ been used up long ago and vanished away assuming of course that the material of all the several comings-to-be was finite? For, presumably, the unfailing continuity of coming-to-be cannot be attributed to the infinity of the material. That is impossible, for nothing is actually infinite. A thing is infinite only potentially, i.e. the dividing of it can continue indefinitely: so that we should have to suppose there is only one kind of coming-to-be in the world-viz. one which never fails, because it is such that what comes-to-be is on each successive occasion smaller than before. But in fact this is not what we see occurring.
Why, then, is this form of change necessarily ceaseless? Is it because the passing-away of this is a coming-to-be of something else, and the coming-to-be of this a passing-away of something else?
The cause implied in this solution must no doubt be considered adequate to account for coming-to-be and passing-away in their general character as they occur in all existing things alike. Yet, if the same process is a coming to-be of this but a passing-away of that, and a passing-away of this but a coming-to-be of that, why are some things said to come-to-be and pass-away without qualification, but others only with a qualification?
The distinction must be investigated once more, for it demands some explanation. (It is applied in a twofold manner.) For (i) we say ‘it is now passing-away’ without qualification, and not merely ‘this is passing-away’: and we call this change ‘coming-to-be’, and that ‘passing-away’, without qualification. And (ii) so-and-so ‘comes-to-be-something’, but does not ‘come-to-be’ without qualification; for we say that the student ‘comes-to-be-learned’, not ‘comes-to-be’ without qualification.
(i) Now we often divide terms into those which signify a ‘this somewhat’ and those which do not. And (the first form of) the distinction, which we are investigating, results from a similar division of terms: for it makes a difference into what the changing thing changes. Perhaps, e.g. the passage into Fire is ‘coming-to-be’ unqualified, but ‘passingaway-of-something’ (e.g. Earth): whilst the coming-to-be of Earth is qualified (not unqualified) ‘coming-to-be’, though unqualified ‘passing-away’ (e.g. of Fire). This would be the case on the theory set forth in Parmenides: for he says that the things into which change takes place are two, and he asserts that these two, viz. what is and what is not, are Fire and Earth. Whether we postulate these, or other things of a similar kind, makes no difference. For we are trying to discover not what undergoes these changes, but what is their characteristic manner. The passage, then, into what ‘is’ not except with a qualification is unqualified passing-away, while the passage into what ‘is’ without qualification is unqualified coming-to-be. Hence whatever the contrasted ‘poles’ of the changes may be whether Fire and Earth, or some other couple-the one of them will be ‘a being’ and the other ‘a not-being’.
We have thus stated one characteristic manner in which unqualified will be distinguished from qualified coming-to-be and passing-away: but they are also distinguished according to the special nature of the material of the changing thing. For a material, whose constitutive differences signify more a ‘this somewhat’, is itself more ‘substantial’ or ‘real’: while a material, whose constitutive differences signify privation, is ‘not real’. (Suppose, e.g. that ‘the hot’ is a positive predication, i.e. a ‘form’, whereas ‘cold’ is a privation, and that Earth and Fire differ from one another by these constitutive differences.)
The opinion, however, which most people are inclined to prefer, is that the distinction depends upon the difference between ‘the perceptible’ and ‘the imperceptible’. Thus, when there is a change into perceptible material, people say there is ‘coming-to-be’; but when there is a change into invisible material, they call it ‘passing-away’. For they distinguish ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ by their perceiving and not-perceiving, just as what is knowable ‘is’ and what is unknowable ‘is not’-perception on their view having the force of knowledge. Hence, just as they deem themselves to live and to ‘be’ in virtue of their perceiving or their capacity to perceive, so too they deem the things to ‘be’ qua perceived or perceptible-and in this they are in a sense on the track of the truth, though what they actually say is not true.
Thus unqualified coming-to-be and passingaway turn out to be different according to common opinion from what they are in truth. For Wind and Air are in truth more real more a ‘this somewhat’ or a ‘form’-than Earth. But they are less real to perception which explains why things are commonly said to ‘pass-away’ without qualification when they change into Wind and Air, and to ‘come-to-be’ when they change into what is tangible, i.e. into Earth.
We have now explained why there is ‘unqualified coming-to-be’ (though it is a passingaway-of-something) and ‘unqualified passingaway (though it is a coming-to-be-of-something). For this distinction of appellation depends upon a difference in the material out of which, and into which, the changes are effected. It depends either upon whether the material is or is not ‘substantial’, or upon whether it is more or less ‘substantial’, or upon whether it is more or less perceptible.
(ii) But why are some things said to ‘come to-be’ without qualification, and others only to ‘come-to-be-so-and-so’, in cases different from the one we have been considering where two things come-to-be reciprocally out of one another? For at present we have explained no more than this:-why, when two things change reciprocally into one another, we do not attribute coming-to-be and passing-away uniformly to them both, although every coming-to-be is a passing-away of something else and every passing-away some other thing’s coming-to-be. But the question subsequently formulated involves a different problem-viz. why, although the learning thing is said to ‘come-to-be-learned’ but not to ‘come-tobe’ without qualification, yet the growing thing is said to ‘come-to-be’.
The distinction here turns upon the difference of the Categories. For some things signify a this somewhat, others a such, and others a so-much. Those things, then, which do not signify substance, are not said to ‘come-to-be’ without qualification, but only to ‘come-to-be-so-and-so’. Nevertheless, in all changing things alike, we speak of ‘coming-to-be’ when the thing comes-to-be something in one of the two Columns-e.g. in Substance, if it comes-to-be Fire but not if it comes-to-be Earth; and in Quality, if it comes-to-be learned but not when it comes-to-be ignorant.
We have explained why some things come to-be without qualification, but not others both in general, and also when the changing things are substances and nothing else; and we have stated that the substratum is the material cause of the continuous occurrence of coming to-be, because it is such as to change from contrary to contrary and because, in substances, the coming-to-be of one thing is always a passing-away of another, and the passing-away of one thing is always another’s coming-to-be. But there is no need even to discuss the other question we raised-viz. why coming-to-be continues though things are constantly being destroyed. For just as people speak of ‘a passing-away’ without qualification when a thing has passed into what is imperceptible and what in that sense ‘is not’, so also they speak of ‘a coming-to-be out of a not-being’ when a thing emerges from an imperceptible. Whether, therefore, the substratum is or is not something, what comes-tobe emerges out of a ‘not-being’: so that a thing comes-to-be out of a not-being’ just as much as it ‘passes-away into what is not’. Hence it is reasonable enough that coming-to-be should never fail. For coming-to-be is a passing-away of ‘what is not’ and passing-away is a coming to-be of ‘what is not’.
But what about that which ‘is’ not except with a qualification? Is it one of the two contrary poles of the chang-e.g. Earth (i.e. the heavy) a ‘not-being’, but Fire (i.e. the light) a ‘being’? Or, on the contrary, does what is ‘include Earth as well as Fire, whereas what is not’ is matter-the matter of Earth and Fire alike? And again, is the matter of each different? Or is it the same, since otherwise they would not come-to-be reciprocally out of one another, i.e. contraries out of contraries? For these things-Fire, Earth, Water, Air-are characterized by ‘the contraries’.
Perhaps the solution is that their matter is in one sense the same, but in another sense different. For that which underlies them, whatever its nature may be qua underlying them, is the same: but its actual being is not the same. So much, then, on these topics.
Next we must state what the difference is between coming-to-be and ‘alteration’-for we maintain that these changes are distinct from one another.
Since, then, we must distinguish (a) the substratum, and (b) the property whose nature it is to be predicated of the substratum; and since change of each of these occurs; there is ‘alteration’ when the substratum is perceptible and persists, but changes in its own properties, the properties in question being opposed to one another either as contraries or as intermediates. The body, e.g. although persisting as the same body, is now healthy and now ill; and the bronze is now spherical and at another time angular, and yet remains the same bronze. But when nothing perceptible persists in its identity as a substratum, and the thing changes as a whole (when e.g. the seed as a whole is converted into blood, or water into air, or air as a whole into water), such an occurrence is no longer ‘alteration’. It is a coming-to-be of one substance and a passing-away of the other-especially if the change proceeds from an imperceptible something to something perceptible (either to touch or to all the senses), as when water comes-to-be out of, or passes-away into, air: for air is pretty well imperceptible. If, however, in such cases, any property (being one of a pair of contraries) persists, in the thing that has come-to-be, the same as it was in the thing which has passedaway-if, e.g. when water comes-to-be out of air, both are transparent or cold-the second thing, into which the first changes, must not be a property of this persistent identical something. Otherwise the change will be ‘alteration.’ Suppose, e.g. that the musical man passed-away and an unmusical man came-tobe, and that the man persists as something identical. Now, if ‘musicalness and unmusicalness’ had not been a property essentially inhering in man, these changes would have been a coming-to-be of unmusicalness and a passing-away of musicalness: but in fact ‘musicalness and unmusicalness’ are a property of the persistent identity, viz. man. (Hence, as regards man, these changes are ‘modifications’; though, as regards musical man and unmusical man, they are a passing-away and a coming-to-be.) Consequently such changes are ‘alteration.’ When the change from contrary to contrary is in quantity, it is ‘growth and diminution’; when it is in place, it is ‘motion’; when it is in property, i.e. in quality, it is ‘alteration’: but, when nothing persists, of which the resultant is a property (or an ‘accident’ in any sense of the term), it is ‘coming-to-be’, and the converse change is ‘passing-away’.
‘Matter’, in the most proper sense of the term, is to be identified with the substratum which is receptive of coming-to-be and passingaway: but the substratum of the remaining kinds of change is also, in a certain sense, ‘matter’, because all these substrata are receptive of ‘contrarieties’ of some kind. So much, then, as an answer to the questions (i) whether coming-to-be ‘is’ or ‘is not’-i.e. what are the precise conditions of its occurrence and (ii) what ‘alteration’ is: but we have still to treat of growth.
We must explain (i) wherein growth differs from coming-to-be and from ‘alteration’, and ii) what is the process of growing and the sprocess of diminishing in each and all of the things that grow and diminish.
Hence our first question is this: Do these changes differ from one another solely because of a difference in their respective ‘spheres’? In other words, do they differ because, while a change from this to that (viz. from potential to actual substance) is coming-to-be, a change in the sphere of magnitude is growth and one in the sphere of quality is ‘alteration’-both growth and ‘alteration’ being changes from what is-potentially to what is-actually magnitude and quality respectively? Or is there also a difference in the manner of the change, since it is evident that, whereas neither what is ‘altering’ nor what is coming-to-be necessarily changes its place, what is growing or diminishing changes its spatial position of necessity, though in a different manner from that in which the moving thing does so? For that which is being moved changes its place as a whole: but the growing thing changes its place like a metal that is being beaten, retaining its position as a whole while its parts change their places. They change their places, but not in the same way as the parts of a revolving globe. For the parts of the globe change their places while the whole continues to occupy an equal place: but the parts of the rowing thing expand over an ever-increasing place and the parts of the diminishing thing contract within an ever-diminishing area.
It is clear, then, that these changes-the changes of that which is coming-to-be, of that which is ‘altering’, and of that which is growing-differ in manner as well as in sphere. But how are we to conceive the ‘sphere’ of the change which is growth and diminution? The sphere’ of growing and diminishing is believed to be magnitude. Are we to suppose that body and magnitude come-to-be out of something which, though potentially magnitude and body, is actually incorporeal and devoid of magnitude? And since this description may be understood in two different ways, in which of these two ways are we to apply it to the process of growth? Is the matter, out of which growth takes place, (i) ‘separate’ and existing alone by itself, or (ii) ‘separate’ but contained in another body?
Perhaps it is impossible for growth to take place in either of these ways. For since the matter is ‘separate’, either (a) it will occupy no place (as if it were a point), or (b) it will be a ‘void’, i.e. a non-perceptible body. But the first of these alternatives is impossible. For since what comes-to-be out of this incorporeal and sizeless something will always be ‘somewhere’, it too must be ‘somewhere’-either intrinsically or indirectly. And the second alternative necessarily implies that the matter is contained in some other body. But if it is to be ‘in’ another body and yet remains ‘separate’ in such a way that it is in no sense a part of that body (neither a part of its substantial being nor an ‘accident’ of it), many impossibilities will result. It is as if we were to suppose that when, e.g. air comes-to-be out of water the process were due not to a change of the but to the matter of the air being ‘contained in’ the water as in a vessel. This is impossible. For (i) there is nothing to prevent an indeterminate number of matters being thus ‘contained in’ the water, so that they might come-to-be actually an indeterminate quantity of air; and (ii) we do not in fact see air coming-to-be out of water in this fashion, viz. withdrawing out of it and leaving it unchanged.
It is therefore better to suppose that in all instances of coming-to-be the matter is inseparable, being numerically identical and one with the ‘containing’ body, though isolable from it by definition. But the same reasons also forbid us to regard the matter, out of which the body comes-to-be, as points or lines. The matter is that of which points and lines are limits, and it is something that can never exist without quality and without form.
Now it is no doubt true, as we have also established elsewhere,’ that one thing ‘comes-tobe’ (in the unqualified sense) out of another thing: and further it is true that the efficient cause of its coming-to-be is either (i) an actual thing (which is the same as the effect either generically-or the efficient cause of the coming-to-be of a hard thing is not a hard thing or specifically, as e.g. fire is the efficient cause of the coming-to-be of fire or one man of the birth of another), or (ii) an actuality. Nevertheless, since there is also a matter out of which corporeal substance itself comes-to-be (corporeal substance, however, already characterized as such-and-such a determinate body, for there is no such thing as body in general), this same matter is also the matter of magnitude and quality-being separable from these matters by definition, but not separable in place unless Qualities are, in their turn, separable.
It is evident, from the preceding development and discussion of difficulties, that growth is not a change out of something which, though potentially a magnitude, actually possesses no magnitude. For, if it were, the ‘void’ would exist in separation; but we have explained in a former work’ that this is impossible. Moreover, a change of that kind is not peculiarly distinctive of growth, but characterizes coming-to-be as such or in general. For growth is an increase, and diminution is a lessening, of the magnitude which is there already-that, indeed, is why the growing thing must possess some magnitude. Hence growth must not be regarded as a process from a matter without magnitude to an actuality of magnitude: for this would be a body’s coming-to-be rather than its growth.
We must therefore come to closer quarters with the subject of our inquiry. We must grapple’ with it (as it were) from its beginning, and determine the precise character of the growing and diminishing whose causes we are investigating.
It is evident (i) that any and every part of the growing thing has increased, and that similarly in diminution every part has become smaller: also (ii) that a thing grows by the accession, and diminishes by the departure, of something. Hence it must grow by the accession either (a) of something incorporeal or (b) of a body. Now, if (a) it grows by the accession of something incorporeal, there will exist separate a void: but (as we have stated before)’ is impossible for a matter of magnitude to exist ‘separate’. If, on the other hand (b) it grows by the accession of a body, there will be two bodies-that which grows and that which increases it-in the same place: and this too is impossible.
But neither is it open to us to say that growth or diminution occurs in the way in which e.g. air is generated from water. For, although the volume has then become greater, the change will not be growth, but a coming to-be of the one-viz. of that into which the change is taking place-and a passing-away of the contrasted body. It is not a growth of either. Nothing grows in the process; unless indeed there be something common to both things (to that which is coming-to-be and to that which passed-away), e.g. ‘body’, and this grows. The water has not grown, nor has the air: but the former has passed-away and the latter has come-to-be, and-if anything has grown-there has been a growth of ‘body.’ Yet this too is impossible. For our account of growth must preserve the characteristics of that which is growing and diminishing. And these characteristics are three: (i) any and every part of the growing magnitude is made bigger (e.g. if flesh grows, every particle of the flesh gets bigger), (ii) by the accession of something, and (iii) in such a way that the growing thing is preserved and persists. For whereas a thing does not persist in the processes of unqualified coming-to-be or passing-away, that which grows or ‘alters’ persists in its identity through the ‘altering’ and through the growing or diminishing, though the quality (in ‘alteration’) and the size (in growth) do not remain the same. Now if the generation of air from water is to be regarded as growth, a thing might grow without the accession (and without the persistence) of anything, and diminish without the departure of anything-and that which grows need not persist. But this characteristic must be preserved: for the growth we are discussing has been assumed to be thus characterized.
One might raise a further difficulty. What is ‘that which grows’? Is it that to which something is added? If, e.g. a man grows in his shin, is it the shin which is greater-but not that ‘whereby’ he grows, viz. not the food? Then why have not both ‘grown’? For when A is added to B, both A and B are greater, as when you mix wine with water; for each ingredient is alike increased in volume. Perhaps the explanation is that the substance of the one remains unchanged, but the substance of the other (viz. of the food) does not. For indeed, even in the mixture of wine and water, it is the prevailing ingredient which is said to have increased in volume. We say, e.g. that the wine has increased, because the whole mixture acts as wine but not as water. A similar principle applies also to ‘alteration’. Flesh is said to have been ‘altered’ if, while its character and substance remain, some one of its essential properties, which was not there before, now qualifies it: on the other hand, that ‘whereby’ it has been ‘altered’ may have undergone no change, though sometimes it too has been affected. The altering agent, however, and the originative source of the process are in the growing thing and in that which is being ‘altered’: for the efficient cause is in these. No doubt the food, which has come in, may sometimes expand as well as the body that has consumed it (that is so, e.g. if, after having come in, a food is converted into wind), but when it has undergone this change it has passedaway: and the efficient cause is not in the food.
We have now developed the difficulties sufficiently and must therefore try to find a solution of the problem. Our solution must preserve intact the three characteristics of growth-that the growing thing persists, that it grows by the accession (and diminishes by the departure) of something, and further that every perceptible particle of it has become either larger or smaller. We must recognize also (a) that the growing body is not ‘void’ and that yet there are not two magnitudes in the same place, and (b) that it does not grow by the accession of something incorporeal.
Two preliminary distinctions will prepare us to grasp the cause of growth. We must note (i) that the organic parts grow by the growth of the tissues (for every organ is composed of these as its constituents); and (ii) that flesh, bone, and every such part-like every other thing which has its form immersed in matter-has a twofold nature: for the form as well as the matter is called ‘flesh’ or ‘bone’.
Now, that any and every part of the tissue qua form should grow-and grow by the accession of something-is possible, but not that any and every part of the tissue qua matter should do so. For we must think of the tissue after the image of flowing water that is measured by one and the same measure: particle after particle comes-to-be, and each successive particle is different. And it is in this sense that the matter of the flesh grows, some flowing out and some flowing in fresh; not in the sense that fresh matter accedes to every particle of it. There is, however, an accession to every part of its figure or ‘form’.
That growth has taken place proportionally, is more manifest in the organic parts-e.g. in the hand. For there the fact that the matter is distinct from the form is more manifest than in flesh, i.e. than in the tissues. That is why there is a greater tendency to suppose that a corpse still possesses flesh and bone than that it still has a hand or an arm.
Hence in one sense it is true that any and every part of the flesh has grown; but in another sense it is false. For there has been an accession to every part of the flesh in respect to its form, but not in respect to its matter. The whole, however, has become larger. And this increase is due (a) on the one hand to the accession of something, which is called ‘food’ and is said to be ‘contrary’ to flesh, but (b) on the other hand to the transformation of this food into the same form as that of flesh as if, e.g. ‘moist’ were to accede to ‘dry’ and, having acceded, were to be transformed and to become ‘dry’. For in one sense ‘Like grows by Like’, but in another sense ‘Unlike grows by Unlike’.
One might discuss what must be the character of that ‘whereby’ a thing grows. Clearly it must be potentially that which is growing-potentially flesh, e.g. if it is flesh that is growing. Actually, therefore, it must be ‘other’ than the growing thing. This ‘actual other’, then, has passed-away and come-to-be flesh. But it has not been transformed into flesh alone by itself (for that would have been a coming-to-be, not a growth): on the contrary, it is the growing thing which has come-to-be flesh (and grown) by the food. In what way, then, has the food been modified by the growing thing? Perhaps we should say that it has been ‘mixed’ with it, as if one were to pour water into wine and the wine were able to convert the new ingredient into wine. And as fire lays hold of the inflammable, so the active principle of growth, dwelling in the growing thing that which is actually flesh), lays hold of an acceding food which is potentially flesh and converts it into actual flesh. The acceding food, therefore, must be together with the growing thing: for if it were apart from it, the change would be a coming-to-be. For it is possible to produce fire by piling logs on to the already burning fire. That is ‘growth’. But when the logs themselves are set on fire, that is ‘coming-to-be’.
‘Quantum-in-general’ does not come-to-be any more than ‘animal’ which is neither man nor any other of the specific forms of animal: what ‘animal-in-general’ is in coming-to-be, that ‘quantum-in-general’ is in growth. But what does come-to-be in growth is flesh or bone-or a hand or arm (i.e. the tissues of these organic parts). Such things come-to-be, then, by the accession not of quantified-flesh but of a quantified-something. In so far as this acceding food is potentially the double result e.g. is potentially so-much-flesh-it produces growth: for it is bound to become actually both so-much and flesh. But in so far as it is potentially flesh only, it nourishes: for it is thus that ‘nutrition’ and ‘growth’ differ by their definition. That is why a body’s’ nutrition’ continues so long as it is kept alive (even when it is diminishing), though not its ‘growth’; and why nutrition, though ‘the same’ as growth, is yet different from it in its actual being. For in so far as that which accedes is potentially ‘so much-flesh’ it tends to increase flesh: whereas, in so far as it is potentially ‘flesh’ only, it is nourishment.
The form of which we have spoken is a kind of power immersed in matter-a duct, as it were. If, then, a matter accedes-a matter, which is potentially a duct and also potentially possesses determinate quantity the ducts to which it accedes will become bigger. But if it is no longer able to act-if it has been weakened by the continued influx of matter, just as water, continually mixed in greater and greater quantity with wine, in the end makes the wine watery and converts it into water-then it will cause a diminution of the quantum; though still the form persists.
(In discussing the causes of coming-tobe) we must first investigate the matter, i.e. the so-called ‘elements’. We must ask whether they really are clements or not, i.e. whether each of them is eternal or whether there is a sense in which they come-to-be: and, if they do come-to-be, whether all of them come-to-be in the same manner reciprocally out of one another, or whether one amongst them is something primary. Hence we must begin by explaining certain preliminary matters, about which the statements now current are vague.
For all (the pluralist philosophers)— those who generate the ‘elements’ as well as those who generate the bodies that are compounded of the elements — make use of ‘dissociation’ and ‘association’, and of ‘action’ and ‘passion’. Now ‘association’ is ‘combination’; but the precise meaning of the process we call ‘combining’ has not been explained. Again, (all the monists make use of ‘alteration’: but) without an agent and a patient there cannot be ‘altering’ any more than there can be ‘dissociating’ and ‘associating’. For not only those who postulate a plurality of elements employ their reciprocal action and passion to generate the compounds: those who derive things from a single element are equally compelled to introduce ‘acting’. And in this respect Diogenes is right when he argues that ‘unless all things were derived from one, reciprocal action and passion could not have occurred’. The hot thing, e.g. would not be cooled and the cold thing in turn be warmed: for heat and cold do not change reciprocally into one another, but what changes (it is clear) is the substratum. Hence, whenever there is action and passion between two things, that which underlies them must be a single something. No doubt, it is not true to say that all things are of this character: but it is true of all things between which there is reciprocal action and passion.
But if we must investigate ‘action-passion’ and ‘combination’, we must also investigate ‘contact’. For action and passion (in the proper sense of the terms) can only occur between things which are such as to touch one another; nor can things enter into combination at all unless they have come into a certain kind of contact. Hence we must give a definite account of these three things — of ‘contact’, ‘combination’, and ‘acting’.
Let us start as follows. All things which admit of ‘combination’ must be capable of reciprocal contact: and the same is true of any two things, of which one ‘acts’ and the other ‘suffers action’ in the proper sense of the terms. For this reason we must treat of ‘contact’ first. every term which possesses a variety of meaning includes those various meanings either owing to a mere coincidence of language, or owing to a real order of derivation in the different things to which it is applied: but, though this may be taken to hold of ‘contact’ as of all such terms, it is nevertheless true that contact’ in the proper sense applies only to things which have ‘position’. And ‘position’ belongs only to those things which also have a Place’: for in so far as we attribute ‘contact’ to the mathematical things, we must also attribute ‘place’ to them, whether they exist in separation or in some other fashion. Assuming, therefore, that ‘to touch’ is-as we have defined it in a previous work’-’to have the extremes together’, only those things will touch one another which, being separate magnitudes and possessing position, have their extremes ‘together’. And since position belongs only to those things which also have a ‘place’, while the primary differentiation of ‘place’ is the above’ and ‘the below’ (and the similar pairs of opposites), all things which touch one another will have ‘weight’ or ‘lightness’ either both these qualities or one or the other of them. But bodies which are heavy or light are such as to ‘act’ and ‘suffer action’. Hence it is clear that those things are by nature such as to touch one another, which (being separate magnitudes) have their extremes ‘together’ and are able to move, and be moved by, one another.
The manner in which the ‘mover’ moves the moved’ not always the same: on the contrary, whereas one kind of ‘mover’ can only impart motion by being itself moved, another kind can do so though remaining itself unmoved. Clearly therefore we must recognize a corresponding variety in speaking of the ‘acting’ thing too: for the ‘mover’ is said to ‘act’ (in a sense) and the ‘acting’ thing to ‘impart motion’. Nevertheless there is a difference and we must draw a distinction. For not every ‘mover’ can ‘act’, if (a) the term ‘agent’ is to be used in contrast to ‘patient’ and (b) ‘patient’ is to be applied only to those things whose motion is a ‘qualitative affection’-i.e. a quality, like white’ or ‘hot’, in respect to which they are moved’ only in the sense that they are ‘altered’: on the contrary, to ‘impart motion’ is a wider term than to ‘act’. Still, so much, at any rate, is clear: the things which are ‘such as to impart motion’, if that description be interpreted in one sense, will touch the things which are ‘such as to be moved by them’-while they will not touch them, if the description be interpreted in a different sense. But the disjunctive definition of ‘touching’ must include and distinguish (a) ‘contact in general’ as the relation between two things which, having position, are such that one is able to impart motion and the other to be moved, and (b) ‘reciprocal contact’ as the relation between two things, one able to impart motion and the other able to be moved in such a way that ‘action and passion’ are predicable of them.
As a rule, no doubt, if A touches B, B touches A. For indeed practically all the ‘movers’ within our ordinary experience impart motion by being moved: in their case, what touches inevitably must, and also evidently does, touch something which reciprocally touches it. Yet, if A moves B, it is possible-as we sometimes express it-for A ‘merely to touch’ B, and that which touches need not touch a something which touches it. Nevertheless it is commonly supposed that ‘touching’ must be reciprocal. The reason of this belief is that ‘movers’ which belong to the same kind as the ‘moved’ impart motion by being moved. Hence if anything imparts motion without itself being moved, it may touch the ‘moved’ and yet itself be touched by nothing-for we say sometimes that the man who grieves us ‘touches’ us, but not that we ‘touch’ him.
The account just given may serve to distinguish and define the ‘contact’ which occurs in the things of Nature.
Next in order we must discuss ‘action’ and ‘passion’. The traditional theories on the subject are conflicting. For (i) most thinkers are unanimous in maintaining (a) that ‘like’ is always unaffected by ‘like’, because (as they argue) neither of two ‘likes’ is more apt than the other either to act or to suffer action, since all the properties which belong to the one belong identically and in the same degree to the other; and (b) that ‘unlikes’, i.e. ‘differents’, are by nature such as to act and suffer action reciprocally. For even when the smaller fire is destroyed by the greater, it suffers this effect (they say) owing to its ‘contrariety’ since the great is contrary to the small. But (ii) Democritus dissented from all the other thinkers and maintained a theory peculiar to himself. He asserts that agent and patient are identical, i.e. ‘like’. It is not possible (he says) that ‘others’, i.e. ‘differents’, should suffer action from one another: on the contrary, even if two things, being ‘others’, do act in some way on one another, this happens to them not qua ‘others’ but qua possessing an identical property.
Such, then, are the traditional theories, and it looks as if the statements of their advocates were in manifest conflict. But the reason of this conflict is that each group is in fact stating a part, whereas they ought to have taken a comprehensive view of the subject as a whole. For (i) if A and B are ‘like’-absolutely and in all respects without difference from one another — it is reasonable to infer that neither is in any way affected by the other. Why, indeed, should either of them tend to act any more than the other? Moreover, if ‘like’ can be affected by ‘like’, a thing can also be affected by itself: and yet if that were so-if ‘like’ tended in fact to act qua ‘like’-there would be nothing indestructible or immovable, for everything would move itself. And (ii) the same consequence follows if A and B are absolutely ‘other’, i.e. in no respect identical. Whiteness could not be affected in any way by line nor line by whiseness-except perhaps ‘coincidentally’, viz. if the line happened to be white or black: for unless two things either are, or are composed of, ‘contraries’, neither drives the other out of its natural condition. But (iii) since only those things which either involve a ‘contrariety’ or are ‘contraries’-and not any things selected at random-are such as to suffer action and to act, agent and patient must be ‘like’ (i.e. identical) in kind and yet ‘unlike’ (i.e. contrary) in species. (For it is a law of nature that body is affected by body, flavour by flavour, colour by colour, and so in general what belongs to any kind by a member of the same kind-the reason being that ‘contraries’ are in every case within a single identical kind, and it is ‘contraries’ which reciprocally act and suffer action.) Hence agent and patient must be in one sense identical, but in another sense other than (i.e. ‘unlike’) one another. And since (a) patient and agent are generically identical (i.e. ‘like’) but specifically ‘unlike’, while (b) it is ‘contraries’ that exhibit this character: it is clear that ‘contraries’ and their ‘intermediates’ are such as to suffer action and to act reciprocally-for indeed it is these that constitute the entire sphere of passing-away and coming-to-be.
We can now understand why fire heats and the cold thing cools, and in general why the active thing assimilates to itself the patient. For agent and patient are contrary to one another, and coming-to-be is a process into the contrary: hence the patient must change into the agent, since it is only thus that coming-to be will be a process into the contrary. And, again, it is intelligible that the advocates of both views, although their theories are not the same, are yet in contact with the nature of the facts. For sometimes we speak of the substratum as suffering action (e.g. of ‘the man’ as being healed, being warmed and chilled, and similarly in all the other cases), but at other times we say ‘what is cold is ‘being warmed’, ‘what is sick is being healed’: and in both these ways of speaking we express the truth, since in one sense it is the ‘matter’, while in another sense it is the ‘contrary’, which suffers action. (We make the same distinction in speaking of the agent: for sometimes we say that ‘the man’, but at other times that ‘what is hot’, produces heat.) Now the one group of thinkers supposed that agent and patient must possess something identical, because they fastened their attention on the substratum: while the other group maintained the opposite because their attention was concentrated on the ‘contraries’. We must conceive the same account to hold of action and passion as that which is true of ‘being moved’ and ‘imparting motion’. For the ‘mover’, like the ‘agent’, has two meanings. Both (a) that which contains the originative source of the motion is thought to ‘impart motion’ (for the originative source is first amongst the causes), and also (b) that which is last, i.e. immediately next to the moved thing and to the coming-to-be. A similar distinction holds also of the agent: for we speak not only (a) of the doctor, but also (b) of the wine, as healing. Now, in motion, there is nothing to prevent the firs; mover being unmoved (indeed, as regards some ‘first’ movers’ this is actually necessary) although the last mover always imparts motion by being itself moved: and, in action, there is nothing to prevent the first agent being unaffected, while the last agent only acts by suffering action itself. For agent and patient have not the same matter, agent acts without being affected: thus the art of healing produces health without itself being acted upon in any way by that which is being healed. But (b) the food, in acting, is itself in some way acted upon: for, in acting, it is simultaneously heated or cooled or otherwise affected. Now the art of healing corresponds to an ‘originative source’, while the food corresponds to ‘the last’ (i.e. ‘continuous’) mover.
Those active powers, then, whose forms are not embodied in matter, are unaffected: but those whose forms are in matter are such as to be affected in acting. For we maintain that one and the same ‘matter’ is equally, so to say, the basis of either of the two opposed things-being as it were a ‘kind’; and that that which can he hot must be made hot, provided the heating agent is there, i.e. comes near. Hence (as we have said) some of the active powers are unaffected while others are such as to be affected; and what holds of motion is true also of the active powers. For as in motion ‘the first mover’ is unmoved, so among the active powers ‘the first agent’ is unaffected.
The active power is a ‘cause’ in the sense of that from which the process originates: but the end, for the sake of which it takes place, is not ‘active’. (That is why health is not ‘active’, except metaphorically.) For when the agent is there, the patient he-comes something: but when ‘states’ are there, the patient no longer becomes but already is-and ‘forms’ (i.e. lends’) are a kind of ‘state’. As to the ‘matter’, it (qua matter) is passive. Now fire contains ‘the hot’ embodied in matter: but a ‘hot’ separate from matter (if such a thing existed) could not suffer any action. Perhaps, indeed, it is impossible that ‘the hot’ should exist in separation from matter: but if there are any entities thus separable, what we are saying would be true of them.
We have thus explained what action and passion are, what things exhibit them, why they do so, and in what manner. We must go on to discuss how it is possible for action and passion to take place.
Some philosophers think that the ‘last’ agent-the ‘agent’ in the strictest sense-enters in through certain pores, and so the patient suffers action. It is in this way, they assert, that we see and hear and exercise all our other senses. Moreover, according to them, things are seen through air and water and other transparent bodies, because such bodies possess pores, invisible indeed owing to their minuteness, but close-set and arranged in rows: and the more transparent the body, the more frequent and serial they suppose its pores to be. Such was the theory which some philosophers (induding Empedocles) advanced in regard to the structure of certain bodies. They do not restrict it to the bodies which act and suffer action: but ‘combination’ too, they say, takes place ‘only between bodies whose pores are in reciprocal symmetry’. The most systematic and consistent theory, however, and one that applied to all bodies, was advanced by Leucippus and Democritus: and, in maintaining it, they took as their starting-point what naturally comes first.
For some of the older philosophers thought that ‘what is’ must of necessity be ‘one’ and immovable. The void, they argue, ‘is not’: but unless there is a void with a separate being of its own, ‘what is’ cannot be moved-nor again can it be ‘many’, since there is nothing to keep things apart. And in this respect, they insist, the view that the universe is not ‘continuous’ but ‘discretes-in-contact’ is no better than the view that there are ‘many’ (and not ‘one’) and a void. For (suppose that the universe is discretes-in-contact. Then), if it is divisible through and through, there is no ‘one’, and therefore no ‘many’ either, but the Whole is void; while to maintain that it is divisible at some points, but not at others, looks like an arbitrary fiction. For up to what limit is it divisible? And for what reason is part of the Whole indivisible, i.e. a plenum, and part divided? Further, they maintain, it is equally necessary to deny the existence of motion.
Reasoning in this way, therefore, they were led to transcend sense-perception, and to disregard it on the ground that ‘one ought to follow the argument’: and so they assert that the universe is ‘one’ and immovable. Some of them add that it is ‘infinite’, since the limit (if it had one) would be a limit against the void.
There were, then, certain thinkers who, for the reasons we have stated, enunciated views of this kind as their theory of ‘The Truth’. . . . Moreover, although these opinions appear to follow logically in a dialectical discussion, yet to believe them seems next door to madness when one considers the facts. For indeed no lunatic seems to be so far out of his senses as to suppose that fire and ice are ‘one’: it is only between what is right and what seems right from habit, that some people are mad enough to see no difference.
Leucippus, however, thought he had a theory which harmonized with sense-perception and would not abolish either coming-to-be and passing-away or motion and the multiplicity of things. He made these concessions to the facts of perception: on the other hand, he conceded to the Monists that there could be no motion without a void. The result is a theory which he states as follows: ‘The void is a “not being”, and no part of “what is” is a “not-being”; for what “is” in the strict sense of the term is an absolute plenum. This plenum, however, is not “one”: on the contrary, it is a many” infinite in number and invisible owing to the minuteness of their bulk. The “many” move in the void (for there is a void): and by coming together they produce “coming to-be”, while by separating they produce “passing-away”. Moreover, they act and suffer action wherever they chance to be in contact (for there they are not “one”), and they generate by being put together and becoming intertwined. From the genuinely-one, on the other hand, there never could have come-to-be a multiplicity, nor from the genuinely-many a “one”: that is impossible. But’ (just as Empedocles and some of the other philosophers say that things suffer action through their pores, so) ‘all “alteration” and all “passion” take place in the way that has been explained: breaking-up (i.e. passing-away) is effected by means of the void, and so too is growth-solids creeping in to fill the void places.’ Empedocles too is practically bound to adopt the same theory as Leucippus. For he must say that there are certain solids which, however, are indivisible-unless there are continuous pores all through the body. But this last alternative is impossible: for then there will be nothing solid in the body (nothing beside the pores) but all of it will be void. It is necessary, therefore, for his ‘contiguous discretes’ to be indivisible, while the intervals between them-which he calls ‘pores’-must be void. But this is precisely Leucippus’ theory of action and passion.
Such, approximately, are the current explanations of the manner in which some things ‘act’ while others ‘suffer action’. And as regards the Atomists, it is not only clear what their explanation is: it is also obvious that it follows with tolerable consistency from the assumptions they employ. But there is less obvious consistency in the explanation offered by the other thinkers. It is not clear, for instance, how, on the theory of Empedocles, there is to be ‘passing-away’ as well as ‘alteration’. For the primary bodies of the Atomists-the primary constituents of which bodies are composed, and the ultimate elements into which they are dissolved-are indivisible, differing from one another only in figure. In the philosophy of Empedocles, on the other hand, it is evident that all the other bodies down to the ‘elements’ have their coming-to-be and their passingaway: but it is not clear how the ‘elements’ themselves, severally in their aggregated masses, come-to-be and pass-away. Nor is it possible for Empedocles to explain how they do so, since he does not assert that Fire too (and similarly every one of his other ‘elements’) possesses ‘elementary constituents’ of itself.
Such an assertion would commit him to doctrines like those which Plato has set forth in the Timaeus. For although both Plato and Leucippus postulate elementary constituents that are indivisible and distinctively characterized by figures, there is this great difference between the two theories: the ‘indivisibles’ of Leucippus (i) are solids, while those of Plato are planes, and (ii) are characterized by an infinite variety of figures, while the characterizing figures employed by Plato are limited in number. Thus the ‘comings-to-be’ and the ‘dissociations’ result from the ‘indivisibles’ (a) according to Leucippus through the void and through contact (for it is at the point of contact that each of the composite bodies is divisible), but (b) according to Plato in virtue of contact alone, since he denies there is a void.
Now we have discussed ‘indivisible planes’ in the preceding treatise.’ But with regard to the assumption of ‘indivisible solids’, although we must not now enter upon a detailed study of its consequences, the following criticisms fall within the compass of a short digression: i. The Atomists are committed to the view that every ‘indivisible’ is incapable alike of receiving a sensible property (for nothing can ‘suffer action’ except through the void) and of producing one-no ‘indivisible’ can be, e.g. either hard or cold. Yet it is surely a paradox that an exception is made of ‘the hot’-’the hot’ being assigned as peculiar to the spherical figure: for, that being so, its ‘contrary’ also (’the cold’) is bound to belong to another of the figures. If, however, these properties (heat and cold) do belong to the ‘indivisibles’, it is a further paradox that they should not possess heaviness and lightness, and hardness and softness. And yet Democritus says ‘the more any indivisible exceeds, the heavier it is’-to which we must clearly add ‘and the hotter it is’. But if that is their character, it is impossible they should not be affected by one another: the ‘slightly-hot indivisible’, e.g. will inevitably suffer action from one which far exceeds it in heat. Again, if any ‘indivisible’ is ‘hard’, there must also be one which is ‘soft’: but ‘the soft’ derives its very name from the fact that it suffers a certain action-for ‘soft’ is that which yields to pressure.
II. But further, not only is it paradoxical (i) that no property except figure should belong to the ‘indivisibles’: it is also paradoxical (ii) that, if other properties do belong to them, one only of these additional properties should attach to each-e.g. that this ‘indivisible’ should be cold and that ‘indivisible’ hot. For, on that supposition, their substance would not even be uniform. And it is equally impossible (iii) that more than one of these additional properties should belong to the single ‘indivisible’. For, being indivisible, it will possess these properties in the same point-so that, if it ‘suffers action’ by being chilled, it will also, qua chilled, ‘act’ or ‘suffer action’ in some other way. And the same line of argument applies to all the other properties too: for the difficulty we have just raised confronts, as a necessary consequence, all who advocate ‘indivisibles’ (whether solids or planes), since their ‘indivisibles’ cannot become either ‘rarer’ or ‘derser’ inasmuch as there is no void in them.
III. It is a further paradox that there should be small ‘indivisibles’, but not large ones. For it is natural enough, from the ordinary point of view, that the larger bodies should be more liable to fracture than the small ones, since they (viz. the large bodies) are easily broken up because they collide with many other bodies. But why should indivisibility as such be the property of small, rather than of large, bodies?
IV. Again, is the substance of all those solids uniform, or do they fall into sets which differ from one another-as if, e.g. some of them, in their aggregated bulk, were ‘fiery’, others earthy’? For (i) if all of them are uniform in substance, what is it that separated one from another? Or why, when they come into contact, do they not coalesce into one, as drops of water run together when drop touches drop (for the two cases are precisely parallel)? On the other hand (ii) if they fall into differing sets, how are these characterized? It is clear, too, that these, rather than the ‘figures’, ought to be postulated as ‘original reals’, i.e. causes from which the phenomena result. Moreover, if they differed in substance, they would both act and suffer action on coming into reciprocal contact.
V. Again, what is it which sets them moving? For if their ‘mover’ is other than themselves, they are such as to ‘suffer action’. If, on the other hand, each of them sets itself in motion, either (a) it will be divisible (’imparting motion’ qua this, ‘being moved’ qua that), or (b) contrary properties will attach to it in the same respect-i.e. ‘matter’ will be identical in-potentiality as well as numerically-identical.
As to the thinkers who explain modification of property through the movement facilitated by the pores, if this is supposed to occur notwithstanding the fact that the pores are filled, their postulate of pores is superfluous. For if the whole body suffers action under these conditions, it would suffer action in the same way even if it had no pores but were just its own continuous self. Moreover, how can their account of ‘vision through a medium’ be correct? It is impossible for (the visual ray) to penetrate the transparent bodies at their ‘contacts’; and impossible for it to pass through their pores if every pore be full. For how will that differ from having no pores at all? The body will be uniformly ‘full’ throughout. But, further, even if these passages, though they must contain bodies, are ‘void’, the same consequence will follow once more. And if they are ‘too minute to admit any body’, it is absurd to suppose there is a ‘minute’ void and yet to deny the existence of a ‘big’ one (no matter how small the ‘big’ may be), or to imagine ‘the void’ means anything else than a body’s place-whence it clearly follows that to every body there will correspond a void of equal cubic capacity.
As a general criticism we must urge that to postulate pores is superfluous. For if the agent produces no effect by touching the patient, neither will it produce any by passing through its pores. On the other hand, if it acts by contact, then-even without pores-some things will ‘suffer action’ and others will ‘act’, provided they are by nature adapted for reciprocal action and passion. Our arguments have shown that it is either false or futile to advocate pores in the sense in which some thinkers conceive them. But since bodies are divisible through and through, the postulate of pores is ridiculous: for, qua divisible, a body can fall into separate parts.
Let explain the way in which things in fact possess the power of generating, and of acting and suffering action: and let us start from the principle we have often enunciated. For, assuming the distinction between (a) that which is potentially and (b) that which is actually such-and-such, it is the nature of the first, precisely in so far as it is what it is, to suffer action through and through, not merely to be susceptible in some parts while insusceptible in others. But its susceptibility varies in degree, according as it is more or less; such-and such, and one would be more justified in speaking of ‘pores’ in this connexion: for instance, in the metals there are veins of ‘the susceptible’ stretching continuously through the substance.
So long, indeed, as any body is naturally coherent and one, it is insusceptible. So, too, bodies are insusceptible so long as they are not in contact either with one another or with other bodies which are by nature such as to act and suffer action. (To illustrate my meaning: Fire heats not only when in contact, but also from a distance. For the fire heats the air, and the air-being by nature such as both to act and suffer action-heats the body.) But the supposition that a body is ‘susceptible in some parts, but insusceptible in others’ (is only possible for those who hold an erroneous view concerning the divisibility of magnitudes. For us) the following account results from the distinctions we established at the beginning. For (i) if magnitudes are not divisible through and through-if, on the contrary, there are indivisible solids or planes-then indeed no body would be susceptible through and through:but neither would any be continuous. Since, however, (ii) this is false, i.e. since every body is divisible, there is no difference between ‘having been divided into parts which remain in contact’ and ‘being divisible’. For if a body ‘can be separated at the contacts’ (as some thinkers express it), then, even though it has not yet been divided, it will be in a state of dividedness-since, as it can be divided, nothing inconceivable results. And (iii) the suposition is open to this general objection-it is a paradox that ‘passion’ should occur in this manner only, viz. by the bodies being split. For this theory abolishes ‘alteration’: but we see the same body liquid at one time and solid at another, without losing its continuity. It has suffered this change not by ‘division’ and composition’, nor yet by ‘turning’ and ‘intercontact’ as Democritus asserts; for it has passed from the liquid to the solid state without any change of ‘grouping’ or ‘position’ in the constituents of its substance. Nor are there contained within it those ‘hard’ (i.e. congealed) particles ‘indivisible in their bulk’: on the contrary, it is liquid-and again, solid and congealed-uniformly all through. This theory, it must be added, makes growth and diminution impossible also. For if there is to be opposition (instead of the growing thing having changed as a whole, either by the admixture of something or by its own transformation), increase of size will not have resulted in any and every part.
So much, then, to establish that things generate and are generated, act and suffer action, reciprocally; and to distinguish the way in which these processes can occur from the (impossible) way in which some thinkers say they occur.
But we have still to explain ‘combination’, for that was the third of the subjects we originally proposed to discuss. Our explanation will proceed on the same method as before. We must inquire: What is ‘combination’, and what is that which can ‘combine’? Of what things, and under what conditions, is ‘combination’ a property? And, further, does ‘combination’ exist in fact, or is it false to assert its existence?
For, according to some thinkers, it is impossible for one thing to be combined with another. They argue that (i) if both the ‘combined’ constituents persist unaltered, they are no more ‘combined’ now than they were before, but are in the same condition: while (ii) if one has been destroyed, the constituents have not been ‘combined’-on the contrary, one constituent is and the other is not, whereas ‘combination’ demands uniformity of condition in them both: and on the same principle (iii) even if both the combining constituents have been destroyed as the result of their coalescence, they cannot ‘have been combined’ since they have no being at all.
What we have in this argument is, it would seem, a demand for the precise distinction of ‘combination’ from coming-to-be and passingaway (for it is obvious that ‘combination’, if it exists, must differ from these processes) and for the precise distinction of the ‘combinable’ from that which is such as to come-to-be and pass-away. As soon, therefore, as these distinctions are clear, the difficulties raised by the argument would be solved.
Now (i) we do not speak of the wood as ‘combined’ with the fire, nor of its burning as a ‘combining’ either of its particles with one another or of itself with the fire: what we say is that ‘the fire is coming-to-be, but the wood is ‘passing-away’. Similarly, we speak neither (ii) of the food as ‘combining’ with the body, nor (iii) of the shape as ‘combining’ with the wax and thus fashioning the lump. Nor can body ‘combine’ with white, nor (to generalize) ‘properties’ and ‘states’ with ‘things’: for we see them persisting unaltered. But again (iv) white and knowledge cannot be ‘combined’ either, nor any other of the ‘adjectivals’. (Indeed, this is a blemish in the theory of those who assert that ‘once upon a time all things were together and combined’. For not everything can ‘combine’ with everything. On the contrary, both of the constituents that are combined in the compound must originally have existed in separation: but no property can have separate existence.)
Since, however, some things are-potentially while others are-actually, the constituents combined in a compound can ‘be’ in a sense and yet ‘not-be’. The compound may he-actually other than the constituents from which it has resulted; nevertheless each of them may still he-potentially what it was before they were combined, and both of them may survive undestroyed. (For this was the difficulty that emerged in the previous argument: and it is evident that the combining constituents not only coalesce, having formerly existed in separation, but also can again be separated out from the compound.) The constituents, therefore, neither (a) persist actually, as ‘body’ and ‘white’ persist: nor (b) are they destroyed (either one of them or both), for their ‘power of action’ is preserved. Hence these difficulties may be dismissed: but the problem immediately connected with them-whether combination is something relative to perception’ must be set out and discussed.
When the combining constituents have been divided into parts so small, and have been juxtaposed in such a manner, that perception fails to discriminate them one from another, have they then ‘been combined Or ought we to say ‘No, not until any and every part of one constituent is juxtaposed to a part of the other’? The term, no doubt, is applied in the former sense: we speak, e.g. of wheat having been ‘combined’ with barley when each grain of the one is juxtaposed to a grain of the other. But every body is divisible and therefore, since body ‘combined’ with body is uniform in texture throughout, any and every part of each constituent ought to be juxtaposed to a part of the other.
No body, however, can be divided into its ‘least’ parts: and ‘composition’ is not identical with ‘combination’, but other than it. From these premises it clearly follows (i) that so long as the constituents are preserved in small particles, we must not speak of them as ‘combined’. (For this will be a ‘composition’ instead of a ‘blending’ or ‘combination’: nor will every portion of the resultant exhibit the same ratio between its constituents as the whole. But we maintain that, if ‘combination’ has taken place, the compound must be uniform in texture throughout-any part of such a compound being the same as the whole, just as any part of water is water: whereas, if ‘combination’ is ‘composition of the small particles’, nothing of the kind will happen. On the contrary, the constituents will only be ‘combined’ relatively to perception: and the same thing will be ‘combined’ to one percipient, if his sight is not sharp, (but not to another,) while to the eye of Lynceus nothing will be ‘combined’.) It clearly follows (ii) that we must not speak of the constituents as ‘combined in virtue of a division such that any and every part of each is juxtaposed to a part of the other: for it is impossible for them to be thus divided. Either, then, there is no ‘combination’, or we have still to explain the manner in which it can take place.
Now, as we maintain, some things are such as to act and others such as to suffer action from them. Moreover, some things-viz. those Which have the same matter-’reciprocate’, i.e. are such as to act upon one another and to suffer action from one another; while other things, viz. agents which have not the same matter as their patients, act without themselves suffering action. Such agents cannot ‘combine’-that is why neither the art of healing nor health produces health by ‘combining’ with the bodies of the patients. Amongst those things, however, which are reciprocally active and passive, some are easily-divisible. Now (i) if a great quantity (or a large bulk) of one of these easily-divisible ‘reciprocating’ materials be brought together with a little (or with a small piece) of another, the effect produced is not ‘combination’, but increase of the dominant: for the other material is transformed into the dominant. (That is why a drop of wine does not ‘combine’ with ten thousand gallons of water: for its form is dissolved, and it is changed so as to merge in the total volume of water.) On the other hand (ii) when there is a certain equilibrium between their ‘powers of action’, then each of them changes out of its own nature towards the dominant: yet neither becomes the other, but both become an intermediate with properties common to both.
Thus it is clear that only those agents are ‘combinable’ which involve a contrariety-for these are such as to suffer action reciprocally. And, further, they combine more freely if small pieces of each of them are juxtaposed. For in that condition they change one another more easily and more quickly; whereas this effect takes a long time when agent and patient are present in bulk.
Hence, amongst the divisible susceptible materials, those whose shape is readily adaptable have a tendency to combine: for they are easily divided into small particles, since that is precisely what ‘being readily adaptable in shape’ implies. For instance, liquids are the most ‘combinable’ of all bodies-because, of all divisible materials, the liquid is most readily adaptable in shape, unless it be viscous. Viscous liquids, it is true, produce no effect except to increase the volume and bulk. But when one of the constituents is alone susceptible-or superlatively susceptible, the other being susceptible in a very slight degree-the compound resulting from their combination is either no greater in volume or only a little greater. This is what happens when tin is combined with bronze. For some things display a hesitating and ambiguous attitude towards one another-showing a slight tendency to combine and also an inclination to behave as ‘receptive matter’ and ‘form’ respectively. The behaviour of these metals is a case in point. For the tin almost vanishes, behaving as if it were an immaterial property of the bronze: having been combined, it disappears, leaving no trace except the colour it has imparted to the bronze. The same phenomenon occurs in other instances too.
It is clear, then, from the foregoing account, that ‘combination’ occurs, what it is, to what it is due, and what kind of thing is ‘combinable’. The phenomenon depends upon the fact that some things are such as to be (a) reciprocally susceptible and (b) readily adaptable in shape, i.e. easily divisible. For such things can be ‘combined’ without its being necessary either that they should have been destroyed or that they should survive absolutely unaltered: and their ‘combination’ need not be a ‘composition’, nor merely ‘relative to perception’. On the contrary: anything is ‘combinable’ which, being readily adaptable in shape, is such as to suffer action and to act; and it is ‘combinable with’ another thing similarly characterized (for the ‘combinable’ is relative to the ‘combinable’); and ‘combination’ is unification of the ‘combinables’, resulting from their ‘alteration’.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:45