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[1047b] [1] for some non-existent things exist potentially; yet they do not exist, because they do not exist in complete reality.

Now if, as we have said, that is possible which does not involve an impossibility, obviously it cannot be true to say that so-and-so is possible, but will not be, this view entirely loses sight of the instances of impossibility.1 I mean, suppose that someone—i.e. the sort of man who does not take the impossible into account—were to say that it is possible to measure the diagonal of a square, but that it will not be measured, because there is nothing to prevent a thing which is capable of being or coming to be from neither being nor being likely ever to be.But from our premisses this necessarily follows: that if we are to assume that which is not, but is possible, to be or to have come to be, nothing impossible must be involved. But in this case something impossible will take place; for the measuring of the diagonal is impossible.

The false is of course not the same as the impossible; for although it is false that you are now standing, it is not impossible.At the same time it is also clear that if B must be real if A is, then if it is possible for A to be real, it must also be possible for B to be real; for even if B is not necessarily possible, there is nothing to prevent its being possible. Let A, then, be possible. Then when A was possible, if A was assumed to be real, nothing impossible was involved; but B was necessarily real too. [20] But ex hypothesi B was impossible. Let B be impossible.Then if B is impossible, A must also be impossible. But A was by definition possible. Therefore so is B.

If, therefore, A is possible, B will also be possible; that is if their relation was such that if A is real, B must be real.Then if, A and B being thus related, B is not possible on this condition, A and B will not be related as we assumed; and if when A is possible B is necessarily possible, then if A is real B must be real too. For to say that B must be possible if A is possible means that if A is real at the time when and in the way in which it was assumed that it was possible for it to be real, then B must be real at that time and in that way.

Since all potencies are either innate, like the senses, or acquired by practice, like flute-playing, or by study, as in the arts, some—such as are acquired by practice or a rational formula—we can only possess when we have first exercised them2; in the case of others which are not of this kind and which imply passivity, this is not necessary.

1 If it is true to say that a thing which is possible will not be, anything may be possible, and nothing impossible.

2 Cf. Aristot. Met. 9.8.6, 7.

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