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[991b] [1] Further, it would seem impossible that the substance and the thing of which it is the substance exist in separation; hence how can the Ideas, if they are the substances of things, exist in separation from them?1 It is stated in the Phaedo2 that the Forms are the causes both of existence and of generation.Yet, assuming that the Forms exist, still the things which participate in them are not generated unless there is something to impart motion; while many other things are generated (e.g. house, ring) of which we hold that there are no Forms. Thus it is clearly possible that all other things may both exist and be generated for the same causes as the things just mentioned.

Further, if the Forms are numbers, in what sense will they be causes? Is it because things are other numbers, e.g. such and such a number Man, such and such another Socrates, such and such another Callias? then why are those numbers the causes of these? Even if the one class is eternal and the other not, it will make no difference.And if it is because the things of our world are ratios of numbers (e.g. a musical concord), clearly there is some one class of things of which they are ratios. Now if there is this something, i.e. their matter , clearly the numbers themselves will be ratios of one thing to another.I mean, e.g., that if Callias is a numerical ratio of fire, earth, water and air, the corresponding Idea too will be a number of certain other things which are its substrate. The Idea of Man, too, whether it is in a sense a number or not, will yet be an arithmetical ratio of certain things, [20] and not a mere number; nor, on these grounds, will any Idea be a number.3

Again, one number can be composed of several numbers, but how can one Form be composed of several Forms? And if the one number is not composed of the other numbers themselves, but of their constituents (e.g. those of the number 10,000), what is the relation of the units? If they are specifically alike, many absurdities will result, and also if they are not (whether (a) the units in a given number are unlike, or (b) the units in each number are unlike those in every other number).4 For in what can they differ, seeing that they have no qualities? Such a view is neither reasonable nor compatible with our conception of units.

Further, it becomes necessary to set up another kind of number (with which calculation deals), and all the objects which are called "intermediate" by some thinkers.5 But how or from what principles can these be derived? or on what grounds are they to be considered intermediate between things here and Ideal numbers? Further, each of the units in the number 2 comes from a prior 2; but this is impossible.6

1 Cf. Aristot. Met. 1.10.

2 Plat. Phaedo 100d.

3 The point, which is not very clearly expressed, is that the Ideas will not be pure numerical expressions or ratios, but will have a substrate just as particulars have.

4 That the words in brackets give the approximate sense seems clear from Aristot. Met. 13.6.2-3, Aristot. Met. 13.7.15; but it is difficult to get it out of the Greek.

5 Cf. vi. 4.

6 i.e., if 2 is derived from a prior 2 (the Indeterminate Dyad; Aristotle always regards this as a number 2), and at the same time consists of two units or 1s, 2 will be prior both to itself and to 1.

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