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[1055b] [1] and of these the primary type is contradiction, and an intermediate is impossible in contradiction but possible between contraries, obviously contradiction is not the same as contrariety; and privation is a form of contradiction;for it is either that which is totally incapable of possessing some attribute,1 or that which would naturally possess some attribute but does not, that suffers privation—either absolutely or in some specified way. Here we already have several meanings, which we have distinguished elsewhere. Thus privation is a kind of contradiction or incapacity which is determinate or associated with the receptive material.This is why though there is no intermediate in contradiction there is one in some kinds of privation. For everything is either equal or not equal, but not everything is either equal or unequal; if it is, it is only so in the case of a material which admits of equality. If, then, processes of material generation start from the contraries, and proceed either from the form and the possession of the form, or from some privation of the form or shape, clearly all contrariety must be a form of privation, although presumably not all privation is contrariety.This is because that which suffers privation may suffer it in several senses; for it is only the extremes from which changes proceed that are contraries.

This can also be shown by induction. Every contrariety involves privation as one of its contraries, but not always in the same way: [20] inequality involves the privation of equality, dissimilarity that of similarity, evil that of goodness.And the differences are as we have stated: one case is, if a thing is merely deprived; another, if it is deprived at a certain time or in a certain part—e.g. at a certain age or in the important part—or entirely. Hence in some cases there is an intermediate (there are men who are neither good nor bad), and in others there is not—a thing must be either odd or even.Again, some have a determinate subject, and others have not. Thus it is evident that one of a pair of contraries always has a privative sense; but it is enough if this is true of the primary or generic contraries, e.g. unity and plurality; for the others can be reduced to them.

Since one thing has one contrary, it might be asked in what sense unity is opposed to plurality, and the equal to the great and to the small. For if we always use the word "whether" in an antithesis—e.g., "whether it is white or black," or "whether it is white or not" (but we do not ask "whether it is a man or white," unless we are proceeding upon some assumption, and asking, for instance, whether it was Cleon who came or Socrates.This is not a necessary disjunction in any class of things, but is derived from the use in the case of opposites—for it is only opposites that cannot be true at the same time—and we have this same use here in the question "which of the two came?"

1 This is not a proper example of privation. Cf. Aristot. Met. 5.22.

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