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[1049a] [1] E.g., is earth potentially a man? No, but rather when it has already become semen,1 and perhaps not even then; just as not everything can be healed by medicine, or even by chance, but there is some definite kind of thing which is capable of it, and this is that which is potentially healthy.

The definition of that which as a result of thought comes, from existing potentially, to exist actually, is that, when it has been willed, if no external influence hinders it, it comes to pass; and the condition in the case of the patient, i.e. in the person who is being healed, is that nothing in him should hinder the process. Similarly a house exists potentially if there is nothing in X, the matter, to prevent it from becoming a house, i.e., if there is nothing which must be added or removed or changed; then X is potentially a house;and similarly in all other cases where the generative principle is external. And in all cases where the generative principle is contained in the thing itself, one thing is potentially another when, if nothing external hinders, it will of itself become the other. E.g., the semen is not yet potentially a man; for it must further undergo a change in some other medium.2 But when, by its own generative principle, it has already come to have the necessary attributes, in this state it is now potentially a man, whereas in the former state it has need of another principle;just as earth is not yet potentially a statue, because it must undergo a change before it becomes bronze.

It seems that what we are describing is not a particular thing, but a definite material; e.g., a box is not wood, but wooden material,3 [20] and wood is not earth, but earthen material; and earth also is an illustration of our point if it is similarly not some other thing, but a definite material—it is always the latter term in this series which is, in the fullest sense, potentially something else.E.g., a box is not earth, nor earthen, but wooden; for it is this that is potentially a box, and this is the matter of the box—that is, wooden material in general is the matter of "box" in general, whereas the matter of a particular box is a particular piece of wood.

If there is some primary stuff, which is not further called the material of some other thing, this is primary matter. E.g., if earth is "made of air," and air is not fire, but "made of fire," then fire is primary matter, not being an individual thing.For the subject or substrate is distinguishable into two kinds by either being or not being an individual thing. Take for example as the subject of the attributes "man," or "body" or "soul," and as an attribute "cultured" or "white." Now the subject, when culture is induced in it, is called not "culture" but "cultured," and the man is called not whiteness but white; nor is he called "ambulation" or "motion," but "walking" or "moving"; just as we said that things are of a definite material.Thus where "subject" has this sense, the ultimate substrate is substance; but where it has not this sense, and the predicate is a form or individuality, the ultimate substrate is matter or material substance. It is quite proper that both matter and attributes should be described by a derivative predicate,

1 This is inconsistent with Aristotle's doctrine that the semen is the formal element in reproduction. Cf. Aristot. Met. 8.4.5, Aristot. Met. 6.9.5.

2 This is inconsistent with Aristotle's doctrine that the semen is the formal element in reproduction. Cf. Aristot. Met. 8.4.5, Aristot. Met. 9.6.5.

3 Cf. Aristot. Met. 7.7.10-12.

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