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[1070b] [1] What then can their common constituent be? For there is nothing common to and yet distinct from substance and the other predicable categories, yet the element is prior to that of which it is an element. Moreover substance is not an element of relations, nor is any of the latter an element of substance. Further, how can all the categories have the same elements?For no element can be the same as that which is composed of elements; e.g., neither B nor A can be the same as BA (nor indeed can any of the "intelligibles,"1 e.g. Unity or Being, be an element; for these apply in every case, even to composite things); hence no element can be either substance or relation. But it must be one or the other. Therefore the categories have not all the same elements.

The truth is that, as we say, in one sense all things have the same elements and in another they have not. E.g., the elements of sensible bodies are, let us say, (1) as form, the hot, and in another sense the cold, which is the corresponding privation; as matter, that which directly and of its own nature is potentially hot or cold. And not only these are substances, but so are (2) the compounds2 of which they are principles, and (3) any unity which is generated from hot and cold, e.g. flesh or bone; for the product of hot and cold must be distinct from them.These things, then, have the same elements and principles, although specifically different things have specifically different elements; we cannot, however, say that all things have the same elements in this sense, but only by analogy: i.e., one might say that there are three principles, form, privation and matter.But each of these is different in respect of each class of things, [20] e.g., in the case of color they are white, black, surface; or again there is light, darkness and air, of which day and night are composed. And since not only things which are inherent in an object are its causes, but also certain external things, e.g. the moving cause, clearly "principle" and "element" are not the same; but both are causes. Principles are divided into these two kinds, and that which moves a thing or brings it to rest is a kind of principle and substance.Thus analogically there are three elements and four causes or principles; but they are different in different cases, and the proximate moving cause is different in different cases. Health, disease, body; and the moving cause is the art of medicine. Form, a particular kind of disorder, bricks; and the moving cause is the art of building.And since in the sphere of natural objects the moving cause of man is man, while in the sphere of objects of thought the moving cause is the form or its contrary, in one sense there are three causes and in another four. For in a sense the art of medicine is health, and the art of building is the form of a house, and man begets man; but besides these there is that which as first of all things moves all things.3

Now since some things can exist in separation and others cannot, it is the former that are substances.

1 Unity and Being are called intelligibles as being the most universal predicates and as contrasted with particulars, which are sensible.

2 This apparently refers to the elements; fire and air are hot matter, water and earth cold matter.

3 For the first time the ultimate efficient cause is distinguished from the proximate. Aristotle is leading up to the description of the Prime Mover which occupies the latter half of the book.

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