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[1071b] [1] Thus we have stated what the principles of sensible things are, and how many they are, and in what sense they are the same and in what sense different.

Since we have seen1 that there are three kinds of substance, two of which are natural and one immutable, we must now discuss the last named and show that there must be some substance which is eternal and immutable. Substances are the primary reality, and if they are all perishable, everything is perishable. But motion cannot be either generated or destroyed, for it always existed2; nor can time, because there can be no priority or posteriority if there is no time.3 Hence as time is continuous, so too is motion; for time is either identical with motion or an affection of it.4 But there is no continuous motion except that which is spatial, of spatial motion only that which is circular.5

But even if we are to suppose that there is something which is kinetic and productive although it does not actually move or produce, there will not necessarily be motion; for that which has a potentiality may not actualize it.Thus it will not help matters if we posit eternal substances, as do the exponents of the Forms, unless there is in them some principle which can cause change.6 And even this is not enough, nor is it enough if there is another substance besides the Forms; for unless it actually functions there will not be motion.And it will still not be enough even if it does function, if its essence is potentiality; for there will not be eternal motion, since that which exists potentially may not exist. [20] Therefore there must be a principle of this kind whose essence is actuality. Furthermore these substances7 must be immaterial; for they must be eternal if anything is. Therefore they are actuality.

There is a difficulty, however; for it seems that everything which actually functions has a potentiality, whereas not everything which has a potentiality actually functions; so that potentiality is prior. But if this is so, there need be no reality; for everything may be capable of existing, but not yet existent.Yet if we accept the statements of the cosmologists who generate everything from Night,8 or the doctrine of the physicists that "all things were together,"9 we have the same impossibility; for how can there be motion if there is no actual cause? Wood will not move itself—carpentry must act upon it; nor will the menses or the earth move themselves—the seeds must act upon the earth, and the semen on the menses.Hence some, e.g. Leucippus10 and Plato,11 posit an eternal actuality, for they say that there is always motion; but why there is, and what it is, they do not say; nor, if it moves in this or that particular way, what the cause is. For nothing is moved at haphazard, but in every case there must be some reason present; as in point of fact things are moved in one way by nature, and in another by force or mind or some other agent. And further, what kind of motion is primary? For this is an extremely important point.

1 Aristot. Met. 12.1.3, 4.

2 Cf. Aristot. Physics 8.1-3

3 The argument seems to be: If we assume that time was generated, it follows that before that there was no time; but the very term "before" implies time. The same applies to the destruction of time.

4 Cf. Aristot. Met. 11.12.1 n.

5 These statements are proved inAristot. Physics 8.8, 9.

6 As there is not, according to Aristotle; cf. Aristot. Met. 1.7.4.

7 Aristotle is now thinking not only of the prime mover (God or Mind) but also of the movers of the celestial spheres. Cf. Aristot. Met. 12.8.14.

8 Cf. Hes. WD 17, Hes. Th. 116ff.

9 Cf. Aristot. Met. 12.2.3.

10 Cf. Aristot. Met. 1.4.12, Aristot. De Caelo 300b 8, and see Burnet, E.G.P. 178.

11 Cf. Plat. Tim. 30a, and sect. 8 below.

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