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[999b] [1] If nothing exists apart from individual things, nothing will be intelligible; everything will be sensible, and there will be no knowledge of anything—unless it be maintained that sense-perception is knowledge. Nor again will anything be eternal or immovable, since sensible things are all perishable and in motion.Again, if nothing is eternal, even generation is impossible; for there must be something which becomes something, i.e. out of which something is generated, and of this series the ultimate term must be ungenerated; that is if there is any end to the series and generation cannot take place out of nothing.Further, if there is generation and motion, there must be limit too. For (a) no motion is infinite, but every one has an end; (b) that which cannot be completely generated cannot begin to be generated, and that which has been generated must be as soon as it has been generated.Further, if matter exists apart in virtue of being ungenerated, it is still more probable that the substance, i.e. that which the matter is at any given time becoming, should exist. And if neither one nor the other exists, nothing will exist at all. But if this is impossible, there must be something, the shape or form, apart from the concrete whole.

But again, if we assume this, there is a difficulty: in what cases shall we, and in what shall we not, assume it? Clearly it cannot be done in all cases; for we should not assume that a particular house exists apart from particular houses. [20] Moreover, are we to regard the essence of all things, e.g. of men, as one? This is absurd; for all things whose essence is one are one.Then is it many and diverse? This too is illogical. And besides, how does the matter become each individual one of these things, and how is the concrete whole both matter and form?1

(8.) Further, the following difficulty might be raised about the first principles. If they are one in kind, none of them will be one in number, not even the Idea of Unity or of Being. And how can there be knowledge unless there is some universal term?2On the other hand if they are numerically one, and each of the principles is one, and not, as in the case of sensible things, different in different instances (e.g. since a given syllable is always the same in kind, its first principles are always the same in kind, but only in kind, since they are essentially different in number)—if the first principles are one, not in this sense, but numerically, there will be nothing else apart from the elements; for "numerically one" and "individual" are identical in meaning. This is what we mean by "individual": the numerically one; but by "universal" we mean what is predicable of individuals.

1 For answers to these questions see Aristot. Met. 7.8, 13-14; Aristot. Met. 12.6-10; Aristot. Met. 13.10.

2 If the principles are one in kind only, particular things cannot be referred to the same principle but only to like principles; i.e., there will be no universal terms, without which there can be no knowledge.

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