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Aristotle ON GENERATION AND CORRUPTION Complete

Translated by H. Joachim.

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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-

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Reference address : https://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/aristotle/generation-corruption.asp?pg=2