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[1002a] [1] their heat and cold and the like are modifications, not substances; and it is only the body which undergoes these modifications that persists as something real and a kind of substance.Again, the body is less truly substance than the plane, and the plane than the line, and the line than the unit or point; for it is by these that the body is defined, and it seems that they are possible without the body, but that the body cannot exist without them.This is why the vulgar and the earlier thinkers supposed that substance and Being are Body, and everything else the modifications of Body; and hence also that the first principles of bodies are the first principles of existing things; whereas later thinkers with a greater reputation for wisdom supposed that substance and Being are numbers.

As we have said, then, if these things are not substance, there is no substance or Being at all; for the attributes of these things surely have no right to be called existent things. On the other hand, if it be agreed that lines and points are more truly substance than bodies are, yet unless we can see to what kind of bodies they belong (for they cannot be in sensible bodies) there will still be no substance.Further, it is apparent that all these lines are divisions of Body, either in breadth [20] or in depth or in length. Moreover every kind of shape is equally present in a solid, so that if "Hermes is not in the stone,"1 neither is the half-cube in the cube as a determinate shape.Hence neither is the plane; for if any kind of plane were in it, so would that plane be which defines the half-cube. The same argument applies to the line and to the point or unit. Hence however true it may be that body is substance, if planes, lines and points are more truly substance than Body is, and these are not substance in any sense, the question of what Being is and what is the substance of things baffles us.Because, in addition to the above arguments, absurd results follow from a consideration of generation and destruction; for it seems that if substance, not having existed before, now exists, or having existed before, subsequently does not exist it suffers these changes in the process of generation and destruction. But points, lines and planes, although they exist at one time and at another do not, cannot be in process of being either generated or destroyed;for whenever bodies are joined or divided,

1 Apparently a proverbial expression.

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