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[994b] [1] (e.g. a child cannot come from a man, for the result of the process of becoming is not the thing which is becoming, but that which exists after the process is complete. So day comes from early dawn, because it is after dawn; and hence dawn does not come from day). But the other class is reversible.In both cases progression to infinity is impossible; for in the former the intermediate terms must have an end, and in the second the process is reversible, for the destruction of one member of a pair is the generation of the other. At the same time the first cause, being eternal, cannot be destroyed; because, since the process of generation is not infinite in the upper direction, that cause which first, on its destruction, became something else, cannot possibly be eternal.1

Further, the Final cause of a thing is an end , and is such that it does not happen for the sake of some thing else, but all other things happen for its sake. So if there is to be a last term of this kind, the series will not be infinite; and if there is no such term, there will be no Final cause. Those who introduce infinity do not realize that they are abolishing the nature of the Good (although no one would attempt to do anything if he were not likely to reach some limit);nor would there be any intelligence in the world, because the man who has intelligence always acts for the sake of something, and this is a limit, because the end is a limit.

Nor again can the Formal cause be referred back to another fuller definition;for the prior definition is always closer, and the posterior is not; and where the original definition does not apply, neither does the subsequent one. [20] Further, those who hold such a view do away with scientific knowledge, for on this view it is impossible to know anything until one comes to terms which cannot be analyzed.Understanding, too, is impossible; for how can one conceive of things which are infinite in this way? It is different in the case of the line, which, although in respect of divisibility it never stops, yet cannot be conceived of unless we make a stop (which is why, in examining an infinite2 line, one cannot count the sections).3Even matter has to be conceived under the form of something which changes,4 and there can be nothing which is infinite.5 In any case the concept of infinity is not infinite.6

Again, if the kinds of causes were infinite in number it would still be impossible to acquire knowledge; for it is only when we have become acquainted with the causes that we assume that we know a thing; and we cannot, in a finite time, go completely through what is additively infinite.

The effect of a lecture depends upon the habits of the listener; because we expect the language to which we are accustomed,

1 The argument is elliptical and confused. The meaning is this: Since there is an upward limit, there is a first cause which is eternal, being independent of any other cause. Therefore this cause cannot cause other things by its destruction, in the manner just described.

2 i.e. infinitely divisible.

3 It does not follow that we can apprehend that which is infinite because we can apprehend a line which is infinitely divisible. We can only really apprehend the line by setting a limit to its divisibility and regarding it simply as divisible into a very great (but not infinite) number of sections. An infinite number of sections can neither be apprehended nor counted.

4 Matter too, which is infinite in its varieties, can only be apprehended in the form of concrete sensible objects which are liable to change. This seems to be the meaning of the text, but Ross's reading and interpretation may be right: see his note ad loc.

5 i.e. not actually, but only potentially.

6 Cf. the third note above.

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