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[1066b] [1] Further, it may be infinite in respect of addition or of subtraction or of both.

That the infinite should be a separate independent entity,1 and yet imperceptible, is impossible.For if it is neither magnitude nor plurality, but infinity itself is the essence of it, and not merely an accident, it must be indivisible; because that which is divisible is either magnitude or plurality. And if it is indivisible it cannot be infinite, except in the same way as sound is invisible. But this is not what people mean by infinite; and it is not the infinite in this sense that we are investigating, but the infinite in the sense of the untraversable.

Again, how can the infinite exist independently unless number and magnitude, of which infinity is an attribute, also exist independently?2 And further, if the infinite is accidental, it cannot, qua infinite, be an element of things; just as the invisible is not an element of speech, although sound is invisible. It is clear also that the infinite cannot exist actually.Otherwise any part of it which we might take would be infinite; for infinity and the infinite are the same, if the infinite is substance and is not predicated of a subject. Therefore it is either indivisible, or if it is partible, the parts into which it is divisible are infinite. But the same thing cannot be many infinites; for just as a part of air is air, so a part of the infinite will be infinite, if the infinite is a substance and principle.Therefore it is impartible and indivisible. But this is impossible of the actually infinite, because it must be some quantity. Therefore infinity is an accidental attribute. But if so, [20] as we have said, it cannot be it that is a principle, but that of which it is an accident: air3 or "the even."4

The foregoing inquiry is general; but what follows will show that the infinite does not exist in sensible things.If the definition of a body is "that which is bounded by surfaces," then no body, whether sensible or intelligible, can be infinite nor can there be any separate and infinite number, since number or that which involves number is numerable. This is clearly shown by the following concrete argument. The infinite can neither be composite nor simple. For (a) it cannot be a composite body if the elements are limited in number5;for the contraries must be equal, and no one of them must be infinite; for if the potency of one of the two corporeal elements is in any way inferior, the finite element will be destroyed by the infinite. And every element cannot be infinite, because body is that which has extension in all directions, and the infinite is that which is extended without limit; so that if the infinite is corporeal it will be infinite in all directions.6 Nor (b) can the infinite be any simple body; neither, as some7 hold, something which is apart from the elements and from which they suppose the elements to be generated (for there is no such body apart from the elements; everything can be resolved into that of which it consists, but we do not see things resolved into anything apart from the simple bodies),

1 The Pythagorean and Platonic view.

2 Aristotle has argued that they do not in Aristot. Met. 1.9.16-25.

3 According to Anaximenes; cf. Theophrastus, Phys. Opin. Fr. 2 (Ritter and Preller 26).

4 According to the Pythagoreans. Cf. Aristot. Met. 1.5.5. n

5 This is proved in Aristot. Physics 1.6.

6 sc. and so no other body can exist beside it.

7 Anaximander. It seems, however, that by ἄπειρον he meant "indeterminate" or "undifferentiated," although he no doubt regarded this principle as "infinite" as well. Cf. notes on Aristot. Met. 1.7.3, Aristot. Met. 12.2.3.

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