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[1027a] [1] It is by accident that a builder restores to health, because it is not a builder but a doctor who naturally does this; but the builder happened accidentally to be a doctor. A confectioner, aiming at producing enjoyment, may produce something health-giving; but not in virtue of his confectioner's art. Hence, we say, it was accidental; and he produces it in a sense, but not in an unqualified sense.For there are potencies which produce other things, but there is no art or determinate potency of accidents, since the cause of things which exist or come to be by accident is also accidental.Hence, since not everything is or comes to be of necessity and always, but most things happen usually, the accidental must exist. E.g., the white man is neither always nor usually cultured; but since this sometimes happens, it must be regarded as accidental. Otherwise, everything must be regarded as of necessity.Therefore the cause of the accidental is the matter, which admits of variation from the usual.

We must take this as our starting-point: Is everything either "always" or "usually"? This is surely impossible. Then besides these alternatives there is something else: the fortuitous and accidental. But again, are things usually so, but nothing always , or are there things which are eternal? These questions must be inquired into later1; [20] but it is clear that there is no science of the accidental—because all scientific knowledge is of that which is always or usually so. How else indeed can one learn it or teach it to another? For a fact must be defined by being so always or usually; e.g., honey-water is usually beneficial in case of fever.But science will not be able to state the exception to the rule: when it is not beneficial—e.g. at the new moon; because that which happens at the new moon also happens either always or usually; but the accidental is contrary to this. We have now explained the nature and cause of the accidental, and that there is no science of it.

It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction2; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will A be, or not? Yes, if B happens; otherwise not. And B will happen if C does.It is clear that in this way, as time is continually subtracted from a limited period, we shall come to the present.

1 Cf. Aristot. Met. 12.6-8.

2 On the analogy of accidental events; see 2. 5.

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