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DO NOT SEARCH FOR A SUBSTANCE WITHOUT QUALITIES

from St Basil's Homilies on the Hexaemeron, * 1.8. Translated by B. Jackson, Greek Fonts ||| St Basil Home Page


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S concerns the earth, let us resolve not to torment ourselves by trying to find out its essence, not to tire our reason by seeking for the substance which it conceals. Do not let us seek for any nature devoid of qualities by the conditions of its existence, but let us know that all the phenomena with which we see it clothed regard the conditions of its existence and complete its essence. Try to take away by reason each of the qualities it possesses, and you will arrive at nothing. Take away black, cold, weight, density, the qualities which concern taste, in one word all these which we see in it, and the substance vanishes.

μὴ ζητεῖν τινα φύσιν ἔρημον ποιοτήτων

Περὶ τῆς γῆς συμβουλεύωμεν ἑαυτοῖς͵ μὴ πολυπραγμονεῖν αὐτῆς τὴν οὐσίαν ἥτις ποτέ ἐστι͵ μηδὲ κατατρίβεσθαι τοῖς λογισμοῖς αὐτὸ τὸ ὑποκείμενον ἐκζητοῦντας͵ μηδὲ ζητεῖν τινα φύσιν ἔρημον ποιοτήτων͵ ἄποιον ὑπάρχουσαν τῷ ἑαυτῆς λόγῳ͵ ἀλλ΄ εὖ εἰδέναι ὅτι πάντα τὰ περὶ αὐτὴν θεωρούμενα εἰς τὸν τοῦ εἶναι κατατέτακται λόγον͵ συμπληρωτικὰ τῆς οὐσίας ὑπάρχοντα. Εἰς οὐδὲν γὰρ καταλήξεις͵ ἑκάστην τῶν ἐνυπαρχουσῶν αὐτῇ ποιοτήτων ὑπεξαιρεῖσθαι τῷ λόγῳ πειρώμενος. Ἐὰν γὰρ ἀποστήσῃς τὸ μέλαν͵ τὸ ψυχρὸν͵ τὸ βαρὺ͵ τὸ πυκνὸν͵ τὰς κατὰ γεῦσιν ἐνυπαρχούσας αὐτῇ ποιότητας͵ ἢ εἴ τινες ἄλλαι περὶ αὐτὴν θεωροῦνται͵ οὐδὲν ἔσται τὸ ὑποκείμενον. 

Cf. ARISTOTLE : Nature, Substance of the elements ||| DIONYSIUS THE AREOPAGITE : All-comprehending Smallness and Super-essential Identity


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