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[1010a] [1]

But the reason why these men hold this view is that although they studied the truth about reality, they supposed that reality is confined to sensible things, in which the nature of the Indeterminate, i.e. of Being in the sense which we have explained,1 is abundantly present. (Thus their statements, though plausible, are not true;this form of the criticism is more suitable than that which Epicharmus2 applied to Xenophanes.) And further, observing that all this indeterminate substance is in motion, and that no true predication can be made of that which changes, they supposed that it is impossible to make any true statement about that which is in all ways and entirely changeable.For it was from this supposition that there blossomed forth the most extreme view of those which we have mentioned, that of the professed followers of Heraclitus, and such as Cratylus held, who ended by thinking that one need not say anything, and only moved his finger; and who criticized Heraclitus for saying that one cannot enter the same river twice,3 for he himself held that it cannot be done even once.

But we shall reply to this theory also that although that which is changeable supplies them, when it changes, with some real ground for supposing that it "is not," yet there is something debatable in this; for that which is shedding any quality retains something of that which is being shed, and something of that which is coming to be must already exist. [20] And in general if a thing is ceasing to be, there will be something there which is ; and if a thing is coming to be, that from which it comes and by which it is generated must be ; and this cannot go on to infinity. But let us leave this line of argument and remark that quantitative and qualitative change are not the same.Let it be granted that there is nothing permanent in respect of quantity; but it is by the form that we recognize everything. And again those who hold the theory that we are attacking deserve censure in that they have maintained about the whole material universe what they have observed in the case of a mere minority of sensible things.For it is only the realm of sense around us which continues subject to destruction and generation, but this is a practically negligible part of the whole; so that it would have been fairer for them to acquit the former on the ground of the latter than to condemn the latter on account of the former.

Further, we shall obviously say to these thinkers too the same as we said some time ago4; for we must prove to them and convince them that there is a kind of nature that is not moved(and yet those who claim that things can at once be and not be are logically compelled to admit rather that all things are at rest than that they are in motion; for there is nothing for them to change into, since everything exists in everything).

1 Aristot. Met. 4.4.28.

2 Fl. early 5th century; held views partly Pythagorean, partly Heraclitean.

3 Heraclitus Fr. 41 (Bywater).

4 Aristot. Met. 4.5.7.

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