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[998a] [1] for as sensible lines are not like those of which the geometrician speaks (since there is nothing sensible which is straight or curved in that sense; the circle1 touches the ruler not at a point, but <along a line> as Protagoras used to say in refuting the geometricians), so the paths and orbits of our heaven are not like those which astronomy discusses, nor have the symbols of the astronomer the same nature as the stars.

Some, however, say that these so-called Intermediates between Forms and sensibles do exist: not indeed separately from the sensibles, but in them. It would take too long to consider in detail all the impossible consequences of this theory, but it will be sufficient to observe the following.On this view it is not logical that only this should be so; in clearly it would be possible for the Forms also to be in sensible things; for the same argument applies to both. Further, it follows necessarily that two solids must occupy the same space; and that the Forms cannot be immovable, being present in sensible things, which move.And in general, what is the object of assuming that Intermediates exist, but only in sensible things? The same absurdities as before will result: there will be a heaven besides the sensible one, only not apart from it, but in the same place; which is still more impossible.2

[20] Thus it is very difficult to say, not only what view we should adopt in the foregoing questions in order to arrive at the truth, but also in the case of the first principles (vi.) whether we should assume that the genera, or the simplest constituents of each particular thing, are more truly the elements and first principles of existing things. E.g., it is generally agreed that the elements and first principles of speech are those things of which, in their simplest form, all speech is composed; and not the common term "speech"; and in the case of geometrical propositions we call those the "elements"3 whose proofs are embodied in the proofs of all or most of the rest.Again, in the case of bodies, both those who hold that there are several elements and those who hold that there is one call the things of which bodies are composed and constituted first principles. E.g., Empedocles states that fire and water and the other things associated with them are the elements which are present in things and of which things are composed; he does not speak of them as genera of things.Moreover in the case of other things too, if a man wishes to examine their nature

1 i.e., the visible circle which we draw. Like the ruler, it is geometrically imperfect; thus they touch at more than one point.

2 The problem is dealt with partly in Aristot. Met. 12.6-10, where Aristotle describes the eternal moving principles, and partly in Books 13 and 14, where he argues against the Platonic non-sensible substances.

3 Cf. Aristot. Met. 5.3.3.

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