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[984a] [1] Whether this view of the primary entity is really ancient and time-honored may perhaps be considered uncertain; however, it is said that this was Thales' opinion concerning the first cause. (I say nothing of Hippo,1 because no one would presume to include him in this company, in view of the paltriness of his intelligence.)

Anaximenes2 and Diogenes3 held that air is prior to water, and is of all corporeal elements most truly the first principle. Hippasus4 of Metapontum and Heraclitus5 of Ephesus hold this of fire; and Empedocles6—adding earth as a fourth to those already mentioned—takes all four. These, he says, always persist, and are only generated in respect of multitude and paucity, according as they are combined into unity or differentiated out of unity.7

Anaxagoras of Clazomenae—prior to Empedocles in point of age, but posterior in his activities—says that the first principles are infinite in number. For he says that as a general rule all things which are, like fire and water,8 homoeomerous, are generated and destroyed in this sense only, by combination and differentiation; otherwise they are neither generated nor destroyed, but persist eternally.9

From this account it might be supposed that the only cause is of the kind called "material." But as men proceeded in this way, the very circumstances of the case led them on and compelled them to seek further; because if it is really true [20] that all generation and destruction is out of some one entity or even more than one, why does this happen, and what is the cause?It is surely not the substrate itself which causes itself to change. I mean, e.g., that neither wood nor bronze is responsible for changing itself; wood does not make a bed, nor bronze a statue, but something else is the cause of the change. Now to investigate this is to investigate the second type of cause: the source of motion, as we should say.

Those who were the very first to take up this inquiry, and who maintained that the substrate is one thing, had no misgivings on the subject; but some of those10 who regard it as one thing, being baffled, as it were, by the inquiry, say that that one thing (and indeed the whole physical world) is immovable in respect not only of generation and destruction (this was a primitive belief and was generally admitted) but of all other change. This belief is peculiar to them.

1 Hippo of Samos, a medical writer and eclectic philosopher who lived in the latter half of the fifth century B.C. Cf.Aristot. De Anima 405b 2.

2 The third Milesian monist; fl. circa 545 B.C.

3 Diogenes of Apollonia, an eclectic philosopher roughly contemporary with Hippo.

4 A Pythagorean, probably slightly junior to Heraclitus.

5 Fl. about 500 B.C.

6 Of Acragas; fl. 450 B.C.

7 Cf. Empedocles, Fr. 17 (Diels), R.P. 166; Burnet, E.G.P. 108-109.

8 This is Aristotle's illustration; apparently Anaxagoras did not regard the "elements" as homoeomerous (i.e. composed of parts which are similar to one another and to the whole). Cf. Aristot. De Caelo 302a 28, Aristot. De Gen. et Corr. 314a 24.

9 Cf. Anaxagoras Fr. 4 (Diels); and see Burnet, E.G.P. 130.

10 i.e. the Eleatic school.

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