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[986b] [1] but the Pythagoreans pronounced how many and what the contraries are. Thus from both these authorities1 we can gather thus much, that the contraries are first principles of things; and from the former, how many and what the contraries are.How these can be referred to our list of causes is not definitely expressed by them, but they appear to reckon their elements as material; for they say that these are the original constituents of which Being is fashioned and composed.

From this survey we can sufficiently understand the meaning of those ancients who taught that the elements of the natural world are a plurality. Others, however, theorized about the universe as though it were a single entity; but their doctrines are not all alike either in point of soundness or in respect of conformity with the facts of nature.For the purposes of our present inquiry an account of their teaching is quite irrelevant, since they do not, while assuming a unity, at the same time make out that Being is generated from the unity as from matter, as do some physicists, but give a different explanation; for the physicists assume motion also, at any rate when explaining the generation of the universe; but these thinkers hold that it is immovable. Nevertheless thus much is pertinent to our present inquiry.It appears that Parmenides conceived of the Unity as one in definition,2 [20] but Melissus3 as materially one. Hence the former says that it is finite,4 and the latter that it is infinite.5 But Xenophanes,6 the first exponent of the Unity (for Parmenides is said to have been his disciple), gave no definite teaching, nor does he seem to have grasped either of these conceptions of unity; but regarding the whole material universe he stated that the Unity is God.This school then, as we have said, may be disregarded for the purposes of our present inquiry; two of them, Xenophanes and Melissus, may be completely ignored, as being somewhat too crude in their views. Parmenides, however, seems to speak with rather more insight. For holding as he does that Not-being, as contrasted with Being, is nothing, he necessarily supposes that Being is one and that there is nothing else (we have discussed this point in greater detail in the Physics7); but being compelled to accord with phenomena, and assuming that Being is one in definition but many in respect of sensation, he posits in his turn two causes, i.e. two first principles, Hot and Cold; or in other words, Fire and Earth.

1 The section of Pythagoreans mentioned in 6, and Lacmaeon.

2 His argument was "Everything that is is one, if 'what is' has one meaning" (πάντα ῞εν, εἰ τὸ ὂν ῝εν σημαίνει, Aristot. Phys. 187a 1); but he probably believed, no less than Melissus, in the material unity of reality. Cf. Melissus Fr. 8 (Diels). It has been suggested, however (by the Rev. C. F. Angus), that he was simply trying to convey in figurative language a conception of absolute existence.

3 Of Samos; defeated the Athenian fleet in 441 B.C.

4 Melissus Fr. 8, ll. 32-3, 42-3.

5 Melissus Fr. 3.

6 Of Colophon, b. 565 (?) B.C. Criticized and ridiculed most of the views of his day, especially the anthropomorphic conception of the gods. Burnet, E.G.P. 55 ff., esp. 61-62. Cf. Xenophanes Fr. 23 (Diels).

7 Aristot. Phys. 1.3

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