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[988b] [1] but the inventors of the Forms express it most nearly. For they do not conceive of the Forms as the matter of sensible things (and the One as the matter of the Forms), nor as producing the source of motion (for they hold that they are rather the cause of immobility and tranquillity); but they adduce the Forms as the essential nature of all other things, and the One as that of the Forms.The end towards which actions, changes and motions tend they do in a way treat as a cause, but not in this sense, i.e. not in the sense in which it is naturally a cause. Those who speak of Mind or Love assume these causes as being something good; but nevertheless they do not profess that anything exists or is generated for the sake of them, but only that motions originate from them.1Similarly also those who hold that Unity or Being is an entity of this kind state that it is the cause of existence, but not that things exist or are generated for the sake of it. So it follows that in a sense they both assert and deny that the Good is a cause; for they treat it as such not absolutely, but incidentally.It appears, then, that all these thinkers too (being unable to arrive at any other cause) testify that we have classified the causes rightly, as regards both number and nature. Further, it is clear that all the principles must be sought either along these lines or in some similar way.

[20] Let us next examine the possible difficulties arising out of the statements of each of these thinkers, and out of his attitude to the first principles.

All those who regard the universe as a unity, and assume as its matter some one nature, and that corporeal and extended, are clearly mistaken in many respects. They only assume elements of corporeal things, and not of incorporeal ones, which also exist. They attempt to state the causes of generation and destruction, and investigate the nature of everything; and at the same time do away with the cause of motion.Then there is their failure to regard the essence or formula as a cause of anything; and further their readiness to call any one of the simple bodies—except earth—a first principle, without inquiring how their reciprocal generation is effected. I refer to fire, water, earth and air. Of these some are generated from each other by combination and others by differentiation;and this difference is of the greatest importance in deciding their relative priority. In one way it might seem that the most elementary body is that from which first other bodies are produced by combination;

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