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Aristotle ON GENERATION AND CORRUPTION Complete

Translated by H. Joachim.

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On Generation And Corruption, by Aristotle



BOOK I

Part 1

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.)

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