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Fragments of the Lost Writings of Proclus

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« on: February 06, 2009, 01:13:39 pm »

Fragments of the Lost Writings of Proclus
by Thomas Taylor
[1825]



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Proclus (b. circa. 412 C.E., d. 485) was a Greek Neoplatonist philosopher. This is a short book of translations of fragments of Proclus by Thomas Taylor (b. 1758 d. 1835), the English Neoplatonist and translator of Aristotle, Plato and Orpheus
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« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2009, 01:14:23 pm »

THE
FRAGMENTS
THAT REMAIN OF THE
LOST WRITINGS OF PROCLUS,
SURNAMED
THE PLATONIC SUCCESSOR.
Translated from the Greek.
BY THOMAS TAYLOR.
LONDON:
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR.
 

Εξ ομματων επορισαμεθα φιλοσοφιας γενος, οὖ μελιζον αγαθον  ουτ᾽ ηλθεν ουθ᾽ ηξει ποτε τῳ θνητῳ γενει δωρηθεν εκ θεων.

London: Printed for the author, and sold by Black, Young, and Young

[1825]

Scanned, proofed and formatted by John Bruno Hare at sacred-texts.com, July 2008. This text is in the public domain in the US because it was published prior to 1923.



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TO

Mrs. ELIZABETH HOWARD,

A LADY

NO LESS DISTINGUISHED BY HER GREAT MORAL EXCELLENCE,
TITAN BY HER VERY EXTRAORDINARY
LITERARY ATTAINMENTS.

THIS WORK

IS RESPECTFULLY AND GRATEFULLY INSCRIBED.
BY HER MOST OBEDIENT SERVANT,

THOMAS TAYLOR.


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« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2009, 01:14:41 pm »



PREFACE.
To the lovers of the wisdom of the Greeks, any remains of the writings of Proclus will always be invaluable, as he was a man who, for the variety of his powers, the beauty of his diction, the magnificence of his conceptions, and his luminous development of the abstruse dogmas of the ancients, is unrivalled among the disciples of Plato. As, therefore, of all his philosophical works that are extant, I have translated the whole of some, and parts of others, * I was also desirous to present



p. vi

the English reader with a translation of the existing Fragments of such of his works as are lost.

Of these Fragments, the largest, which is on the Eternity of the World, and originally

p. vii

consisted of eighteen arguments, wants only the first argument to render it complete; and of this I have endeavoured to collect the substance, from what Philoponus has written against it. There is a Latin translation of the work of Philoponus * in which these Arguments are alone to be found—by Joannes Mahotius: Lugdun. 1557. fol.; from which, as the learned reader will perceive, I have frequently been enabled to correct the printed Greek text. The acute Simplicius is of opinion, that this work of Philoponus is replete with garrulity and nugacity, and a considerable portion of his Commentary on Aristotle's Treatise on the Heavens, consists of a confutation of the sophistical reasoning of this smatterer in philosophy.


p. viii

[paragraph continues] In doing this, likewise, he invokes Hercules to assist him in the purification of such an Augean stable.

It is remarkable, that though the writings of Proclus are entirely neglected, and even unknown to many who are called scholars, in this country, yet they are so much esteemed in France and Germany, that such of his works as were only before extant in manuscript, have been recently published by the very learned Professors Boissonade, Victor Cousin, and Creuzer. * The second


p. ix

of these learned men, indeed, conceived so highly of the merits of Proclus, as to say of him, "that, like Homer himself, he obscures, by his own name, the names of all those that preceded him, and has drawn to himself alone the merits and praises of all [the Platonic philosophers]." The eulogy therefore, of Ammonius Hermeas, "that Proclus possessed the power of unfolding the opinions of the ancients, and a scientific judgment of the nature of things, in the highest perfection possible to humanity," *


p. x

will be immediately assented to by every one who is much conversant with the writings of this most extraordinary man. Perhaps, however, the ignorance in this country, of the writings of this Coryphean philosopher, may be very reasonably accounted for, by what Mr. Harris says in the Preface to his Hermes, viz. "’Tis perhaps too much the case with the multitude in every nation, that as they know little beyond themselves and their own affairs, so, out of this narrow sphere of knowledge, they think nothing worth knowing. As we, Britons, by our situation, live divided from the whole world, this, perhaps, will be found to be more remarkably our

p. xi

case. And hence the reason, that our studies are usually satisfied in the works of our own countrymen; that in philosophy, in poetry, in every kind of subject, whether serious or ludicrous, whether sacred or profane, we think perfection with ourselves, and that it is superfluous to search farther."


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Footnotes
v:* I have translated the whole of his Six Books on the Theology of Plato, and have added a Seventh Book, in order to supply the deficiency of another Book on p. vi this subject, which was written by Proclus, but since lost; the whole of his Commentary on the Timæus of Plato; and of his Commentary on the First Book of Euclid. I have also translated nearly the whole of his Scholia on the Cratylus; and have given a translation of the substance of his Commentaries on the First Alcibiades and Parmenides of Plato. These are from the Greek. From the barbarous Latin version of Morbeka, † I have also translated his admirable Treatise on Providence and Fate; all which are published. And I am now waiting for an opportunity, which I trust will soon be afforded me, of publishing my Translation of his Solution of Ten Doubts concerning Providence, and his Treatise on the Subsistence of Evil.

v:† This Morbeka was Archbishop of Corinth in the twelfth century.

vii:* The Greek edition of this work of Philoponus against Proclus was printed at Venice, 1535, fol.

viii:* Of the works of Proclus, the first of these Professors has published the Scholia on the Cratylus; the second, the Commentaries on the First Alcibiades, and Five out of the Seven existing Books on the Parmenides of Plato; and also, from the version of Morbeka, the Treatise on Providence and Fate; A Solution of Ten Doubts concerning Providence; and the Treatise on the Subsistence of Evil: and the third, the Commentaries on the First Alcibiades, and the Theological Elements. p. ix All these learned men have done me the honour to speak of me in the handsomest manner, both in the letters which I have received from them, and in the above-mentioned publications. The last of them, in particular, has adopted most of my emendations of the Greek text of the Theological Elements.

ix:* Ει δε τι και ημεις δυνηθειημεν εισενεγκειν περι την του βιβλιου σαφηνειαν, απονημονευσαντες των εξηγησεων του θειου ημων διδασκαλου Προκλου του πλατωνικου διαδοχου, του εις p. x ακρον της ανθρωπινης φυσεως την τε εξηγητικην των δοκουντων τοις παλαιοις δυναμιν, και την επιστημονικην της φυσεως των οντων κρισιν ασκησαντος, πολλην αν τῳ λογιῳ θεῳ χαριν ομολογησαιμεν.—Ammon. Herm. de Interpret. p. 1.



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« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2009, 01:15:08 pm »

p. 1

A
TRANSLATION
OF
THE FRAGMENTS
THAT REMAIN OF THE
LOST WRITINGS OF PROCLUS.
___________

ON LIGHT. *
If with respect to light, one kind is material, but another immaterial, according to the difference of those illuminating natures, fire and the sun, the light which is immaterial is, in a certain respect, † corrupted; but material light, in a certain respect, pervades through material substances: for the whole air appears to be no less illuminated by the sun than by the fire that is procured by us. And when clouds pass under the sun, the light is in



p. 2

one part intercepted, and we do not receive the whole of it. For how can the light which is in the heavens be continuous with that which is in the air? since the latter is corruptible, but the former not. And the one, indeed, is suspended from its proper principle; but the other, if it should so happen, is cut off, and sometimes is not. The corruptible, however, is not continuous with the incorruptible: for two things of this kind are specifically different from each other.


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Footnotes
1:* This and the five following Fragments are to be found in the Treatise of Philoponus against Proclus, on the Eternity of the World.

1:† Immaterial light is, in a certain respect, corrupted, because the recipient of it is corruptible; and when this is corrupted, the light which it received departs to its fountain, the sun.



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« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2009, 01:15:33 pm »

In Defence of the Timæus of Plato, against the Objections made to it by Aristotle.
Aristotle objects to the very name of paradigm, asserting that it is metaphorical; and he is much more hostile to the dogma which introduces ideas, and particularly to that of animal itself, as is evident from what he says in his Metaphysics. And it appears, that this man is not so averse to any of the dogmas of Plato as he is to the hypothesis of ideas; not only in his Logical Treatises calling ideas sonorous trifles, but also in his Ethics contending against the existence of the good itself. In his Physics, likewise, he does not think it proper to refer the generations of things to ideas: for he says this in his Treatise on

p. 3

[paragraph continues] Generation and Corruption. And this his hostility to the doctrine of ideas * is much more apparent in his Metaphysics; because the discussion there is concerning principles: for there he adduces numerous arguments against ideas, in the beginning, middle, and end of that treatise. In his Dialogues, also, he most manifestly exclaims, that he cannot assent to this dogma, though some one may think that he speaks against it for the purpose of contention.

___________________

The maker always existing, that which is generated by him likewise always exists. For either God does not always make; or, he indeed always makes, but the universe is not always generated; † for, he always makes, and the universe is always generated. But if God does not always make, he will evidently be [at a certain time] an efficient in capacity, and again an efficient in energy, and he will be an imperfect Demiurgus, and indigent of time. I f, however, he always makes, but the



p. 4

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« Reply #5 on: February 06, 2009, 01:15:46 pm »

universe is generated at a certain time, an impossibility will take place. For when that which makes is in energy, that which is generated will also be generated in energy. Both, therefore, exist always; the one being generated, and the other producing perpetually.

The world is always fabricated; and as the Demiurgus fabricated always, and still fabricates, so likewise the world is always fabricated, and now rising into existence, was generated, and, having been made, is always generated [or becoming to be]; so that the world is always fabricated. And as the Demiurgus always did fabricate, and still fabricates, so the world was always and is fabricated; and while it is becoming to be, was generated, and having been generated, is always generated.

Proclus assents to what is said by Aristotle concerning the perpetuity of the world; but he says it was not just in him to accuse Plato. For to be generated, does not signify, with Plato, the beginning of existence, but a subsistence in perpetually becoming to be. For the natures which are established above time, and which are eternal, have the whole of their essence and power, and the perfection of their energy, simultaneously present. But every thing which is in time has not its proper life collectively and at once present. For whatever is in time, though it should be

p. 5

extended to an infinite time, has an existence at a certain time. For that portion of being which it possesses exists in a certain time. For time is not [wholly] present at once; but is generated infinitely, and was not produced at a certain period in the past time. The universe, therefore, was thus generated, as not having a subsistence such as that of eternal beings, but as that which is generated, or becoming to be, through the whole of time, and always subsisting at a certain time, according to that part of time which is present. And again, the universe was generated, as not being the cause to itself of its existence, but deriving its subsistence from some other nature, which is the fourth signification of a generated essence; I mean that which has a cause of its generation.

But if Timæus [in Plato] calls the world a God which will be at a certain time (for perhaps this may give disturbance to some), and induce them to ask whether he gives to the world a generation in a part of time? For the once, or at a certain time, must be admitted by us to be a certain part of time. To this we reply, that every thing which is in time, whether in an infinite or in a finite time, will always exist at a certain time. For whatever portion of it may be assumed, this portion is in a certain time. For the whole of time

p. 6

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« Reply #6 on: February 06, 2009, 01:15:56 pm »

does not subsist at once, but according to a part. If, therefore, any thing is in tine, though it should be extended to an infinite time, it has indeed an existence at a certain time. But it is generated, or becoming to be, to infinity, and is always passing froth an existence at one time * to an existence at another. And it was at a certain time, and is at a certain time, and will be at a certain time. † This existence too, at a certain time, is always different. The world, however, when it exists at a certain time, has a no less [continued] existence. Hence that which has its hypostasis in a part of time, at a certain time is becoming to be, and at a certain time is, and at a certain time will be. But that which exists in every time [or for ever] is



p. 7

indeed at a certain time, but is always generated, or becoming to be; and in perpetually becoming to be, imitates that which always is.

This, therefore, alone ought to be considered, whether it is necessary to denominate a celestial body, and in a similar manner the whole world, a thing of a generated nature. But how is it possible not to assert this from the very arguments which Aristotle himself affords us? For he says that no finite body has an infinite power; and this he demonstrates in the eighth book of his Physics. If, therefore, the world is finite (for this he demonstrates), it is necessary that it should not possess an infinite power. But in the former part of this treatise we have shewn that eternity is infinite power. The world, therefore, has not an eternal subsistence, since it does not possess infinite power. If, however, it has not an eternal hypostasis, (for a thing of this kind participates of eternity, but that which participates of eternity participates of infinite power,) it is necessary that the world should not always be. * For to exist always, is, according to Aristotle himself, the peculiarity of eternity, since, as he says, eternity


p. 8

from this derives its appellation. For that which is true of eternal being, is not true of that which is always generated [or becoming to be], viz. the possession of infinite power, through being perpetually generated, but this pertains to the maker of it. Hence, too, it is always generated, acquiring perpetuity of existence through that which, according to essence, is eternally being; but it does not possess perpetuity, so far as pertains to itself. So that the definition of that which is generated may also be adapted to the world. Every thing, therefore, which is generated, is indeed itself essentially entirely destructible; but being bound by true being, it remains in becoming to be, and the whole of it is a generated nature. Hence [though naturally destructible] it is not destroyed, in consequence of the participation of existence which it derives from true being. For, since the universe is finite, but that which is finite has not an infinite power, as Aristotle demonstrates; and as that which moves with an infinite motion moves with an infinite power, it is evident that the immovable cause of infinite motion to the universe, possesses itself an infinite power; so that, if you conceive the universe to be separated from its immovable cause, it will not be moved to infinity, nor will it possess an infinite power, but will have a cessation of its motion. It; however,

p. 9

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« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2009, 01:16:12 pm »

you again conjoin this cause with the universe, it will be moved to infinity through it. Nor is there any absurdity in separating by conception things which are conjoined, in order that we may perceive what will happen to the one from the other; and, in consequence of perceiving this, may understand what the inferior nature possesses from itself, and what it derives, from its co-arrangement, from that which is superior to it. For, in short, since, in terrestrial natures, we see that they are partly corrupted through imbecility, and are partly preserved through power, much more will perpetuity and immortality * be inherent in things incorruptible, through infinite power: for every finite power is corrupted.

_____________

For the celestial fire is not caustic, but, as I should say, is vivific, in the same manner as the heat which is naturally inherent in us. And Aristotle himself, in his Treatise on the Generation of Animals, says, that there is a certain illumination from which, being present, every mortal


p. 10

nature lives. All heaven, therefore, consists of a fire of this kind; but the stars have, for the most part, this element, yet they have also the summits of the other elements. * Moreover, if we likewise consider, that earth darkens all illuminative natures, and produces shadow, but that the elements which are situated between earth and fire being naturally diaphanous, are the recipients of both darkness and light, and yet are not the causes of either of these to bodies, but that fire alone is the supplier of light, in the same manner as earth is of darkness, and that these are at the greatest distance from each other,—if we consider this, we may understand how the celestial bodies are naturally of a fiery characteristic. For it is evident that they illuminate in the same manner as our sublunary fire. If, however this is common to both, it is manifest that the fire which is here, is allied to the fire of the celestial bodies. It is not proper, therefore, to introduce to the universe a celestial nature, as something foreign to it, but placing there the summits of sublunary natures, we should admit that the elements which are here, derive their generation through an alliance to the nature of the celestial orbs.



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Footnotes
3:* See my Dissertation on the Philosophy of Aristotle, in which the opposition of Aristotle to Plato's doctrine of ideas is shewn to have been employed for the purpose of guarding from misapprehension, arid not of subverting that doctrine.

3:† Proclus here uses the word γινεται, generated, because the universe, on account of the flowing condition of its nature, is always rising into existence, or becoming to be.

6:* In the original, αλλ᾽ ουποτε εις αλλο αει μεθισταμενον. But the sense requires (and this is confirmed by the version of Mahotius,) that we should read, conformably to the above translation, αϖο του ϖοτε εις αλλο, κ.τ.λ..

6:† The corporeal world is continually rising into existence, or becoming to be, but never possesses real being. Hence, like the image of a tree in a rapid torrent, it has the appearance of a tree without the reality, and seems to endure perpetually the same, yet is continually renewed by the continual renovation of the stream. The world therefore was, and is, and will be at a certain time, in the same manner as it may be said of the image of a tree in a torrent, that it was yesterday, is to-day, and will be to-morrow, without any interruption of the continuity of its flux. Philoponus, not perceiving this, has, with his usual stupidity, opposed what is here said by Proclus.

7:* In the original, αναγκη μη ειναι τον κοσμον αει. For the world is not always, αλλα γιγνεται αει, i.e. but is always becoming to be, or, rising into existence; since it has not an eternal sameness of being, but a perpetually flowing subsistence.

9:* In the original, πολλῳ μαλλον εν τοις αφθαρτοις η αφθαρσια δια δυναμιν δηλονοτι απειρον. But from the version of Mahotius,—which is, "Multo magis his, quæ non intereunt, conveniat perpetuitas, atque immortalitas, propter vires, easque infinitas,"—it appears that, for η αφθαρσια, it is requisite to read η αϊδιοτης και αθανασια, agreeably to the above translation.

10:* Viz. the sublunary elements have, in the stars and in the heavens, a causal subsistence. See more on this subject in the third book of my translation of Proclus on the Timæus of Plato.



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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2009, 01:16:41 pm »

p. 11

The Original of the following Extracts, from the same Treatise of Proclus, is only to be found in the Commentary of Simplicius on the Third Book of Aristotle's Treatise on the Heavens. *
IN answer to the objection of Aristotle, that if the elements are generated by a dissolution into planes, it is absurd to suppose that all things are not generated from each other,—Proclus observes, "that we must assert the very contrary. For the phænomena do not accord with those who transmute earth, and move things immovable. For we never see earth changed into other things; but terrestrial natures are changed, so far as they are full of air or water. All earth, however, is unchangeable,



p. 12

because earth alone becomes, as it were, ashes, or a calx. For in metallic operations, the whole of the moisture in metals is consumed, but the ashes remain impassive. Not that earth is entirely impassive to other things; for it is divided by them falling upon it; yet the parts of it remain, until again falling on each other, they from themselves make one body. But if it should be said that earth, on account of its qualities, is changed into other things, being itself cold and dry, earth will be more swiftly changed into fire than into water; though water, indeed, appears to be burnt, but earth, when subsisting by itself, (i.e. when it is pure earth, and earth alone,) is not burnt." He adds, "And the heaven, indeed, is neither divisible nor

p. 13

imitable; but the earth existing as the most ancient of the bodies within the heaven, is divisible, but not mutable; and the intermediate natures are both divisible and mutable."

Aristotle observes, "that earth is especially an element, and is alone incorruptible, if that which is indissoluble is incorruptible, and an element. For earth alone is incapable of being dissolved into another body." The philosopher Proclus replies to this objection, yielding to what Aristotle says about earth, viz. that it is perfectly incapable of being changed into the other three elements. And he says, "that Plato, on this account, calls it the first and most ancient of the bodies within the heaven, as unchangeable into other things, and that the other elements give completion to the earth, in whose bosom they are seated, viz. water, air, and sublunary fire. But in consequence of being, after a manner, divided by the other elements, it becomes one of them; for division is a passion which exterminates continuity. If, however, it suffers being divided by the other elements, and energises on them, embracing, compressing, and thus causing them to waste away, it is very properly co-divided with those things from which it suffers, and on which it energises according to the same passion in a certain respect. For there is a division of each,

p. 14

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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2009, 01:16:56 pm »

though the more attenuated are divided by the more sharp in one way, as in the arts by saws, augers, and gimlets; and the more gross in another way, by trampling and compression."

In the next place, Aristotle says, "But neither in those things which are dissolved, is the omission of triangles reasonable. This, however, takes place in the mutation of the elements into each other, because they consist of triangles unequal in multitude."

The philosopher Proclus here observes, "that in the dissolution of water into air, when fire resolves it, two parts of air are generated, and one part of fire. But when, on the contrary, water is generated from air, three parts of air being resolved, the four triangles which are mingled together from the same cause, viz. from condensation, together with two parts of air, make one part of water." He adds, "But it is not at all wonderful, that they should be moved in a certain form; for it must be granted, that in all mutations there is something without form, to a certain extent; but being vanquished by some form, they pass into the nature of that which vanquishes. For we also acknowledge, that, in the mutation of the elements with which we are conversant, certain half-generated parts frequently remain."

Aristotle adduces, as a fourth absurdity, "that

p. 15

this hypothesis makes the generation of body simply, but not of some particular body. But if body is generated upon body, it was before shewn that there must necessarily be a separate vacuum, which the authors of this hypothesis do not admit. For if body is generated, it is generated from that which is incorporeal. It is necessary, therefore, that there should be some void place the recipient of the generated body. Hence, if they say that body is generated from planes, it will not be generated from body; for a plane has length and breadth alone." To this, however, Proclus replies, "that natural planes are not without depth; for if body distends the whiteness which falls upon it, it will much more distend the planes which contain it. But if the planes have depth, the generation of fire will no longer be from that which is incorporeal; but the more composite will be generated from a more simple body."

In the next place Aristotle observes, "that those who attribute a figure to each of the elements, and by this distinguish the essences of them, necessarily make them to be indivisibles. For a pyramid or a sphere being in a certain respect divided, that which remains will not be a sphere or a pyramid. Hence, either a part of fire is not fire, but there will be something prior to an element, because every body is either an element

p. 16

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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2009, 01:17:12 pm »

or from elements; or not every body is divisible." Proclus, in reply to this, "blames him who makes lire to be a pyramid, and who does not abide in the Platonic hypothesis, since Plato says that a pyramid is the figure of fire; but he does not say that it is fire. For fire is a collection of pyramids, any one of which is invisible, on account of its smallness; nor will fire, so long as it is divided into fire, be divided into pyramids. One pyramid, however, is no longer fire, but the element of fire, invisible from its smallness. If, therefore, this pyramid were divided, it would neither be an element, nor composed of elements, since it would not be divided into pyramids or planes. And why is it wonderful that there should be something inordinate in sublunary bodies? For, in the mutation of the elements with which we are conversant, there is something inordinate." Proclus adds, "that certain differences also are produced, which occasion pestilential consequences in the whole genus, and turn the elements into a condition contrary to nature. But what impossibility is there," says he, "that this section of an element being taken, and fashioned into form and figure by atoms, should again become a pyramid, or some other element, in consequence of being assimilated to the natures which comprehend and compress it."

p. 17

The sixth argument of Aristotle endeavours to shew, that if the elements are fashioned with the above-mentioned figures, there must necessarily be a vacuum which is not even asserted by the advocates for planes. But he spews this from there being but few figures, both in planes and solids, which are able to fill the place about one point, so as to leave no vacuum. *


p. 18

Proclus observes, in reply to this argument of Aristotle, "that the elements being placed by each other, and supernally compressed by the heaven, the more attenuated are compelled into the places of the more gross. Hence, being impelled, and entering into the place about one point, they fill up the deficiency. For Plato also assigns this as the cause of no vacuum being left, viz. that less are arranged about greater things. For thus the cavities of the air have pyramids which fill up the place; those of water have dispersed octaedra; and those of earth have all the figures; and no place is empty."

In the seventh argument, Aristotle says, "that all simple bodies appear to be figured in the place which contains them, and especially water and air." He adds, "it is impossible, therefore, that the figure of an element should remain; for the whole would not on all sides touch that which contains it. But if it were changed into another figure, it would no longer be water, if it differed in figure; so that it is evident that the figures of it are not definite," &c.

Proclus, in opposition to this seventh argument, observes, "that he does not admit that the elements have a characteristic figure, since they can neither have it stably, nor abandon it." He also says, "that it is not the wholenesses of these four

p. 19

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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2009, 01:17:26 pm »

bodies which are fashioned with these figures, but the elements of these, viz. those small and invisible bodies from the congress of which these sensible natures, fire, water, air, and earth, are produced. But the wholes of the elements have a spherical figure, being on all sides assimilated to the heaven. For each of them has something better than its own characteristic property, from more divine natures, just as things which approximate to the heaven have a circular motion. It is evident, therefore, that the last of the pyramids which are with the circumambient, (i.e. which are in contact with the sphere of the moon, this being the sphere in which fire is proximately contained,) though they consist of plane triangles, yet, being compressed, they become convex, in order that they may be adapted to the cavity of the heaven. But the parts existing in other things, as in vessels, and receiving configuration together with them, do not destroy the figure of the elements. For the bodies which contain others are from right-lined elements, and nothing prevents them from concurring with each other. But we, expecting to see the superficies of the containing bodies to be cylindrical or spherical, in consequence of being ignorant that they also consist of right-lined elements, are involved in doubt. All the containing natures, therefore,

p. 20

were from the same things as the natures which they contain, and all are adapted to each other, according to planes."

In the eighth argument, Aristotle says, "that neither flesh nor bone, nor any other composite, can be generated from the elements themselves, because that which is continued is not generated from composition, nor from the conjunction of planes: for the elements are generated by composition, and not those things which consist of the elements."

Proclus, in objection to this, says, "that composition is not produced from air alone, nor from water alone. In these, therefore, things that have the smallest parts, being assumed between those that have great parts, fill place, and leave no void. But if this is opposition, and not union, you must not wonder; for it is necessary that they should be distant from each other. And if, when placed by each other, they are with difficulty separated, neither is this wonderful: bodies which consist of larger planes, not being naturally adapted to yield to those which consist of smaller, nor those which are composed of firmer, to those which derive their composition from easily movable planes."

Aristotle, in the ninth argument, says, "that if the earth is a cube, because it is stable and abides; and if it abides not casually, but in its proper

p. 21

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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2009, 01:17:42 pm »

place, and is moved from a foreign place, if nothing impedes it; and if this, in a similar manner, happens to fire and the other elements,—it is evident that fire, and each of the elements in a foreign place, will be a sphere or a pyramid, but in its proper place a cube."

In opposition to this ninth argument, Proclus says, "that though the elements are in their proper places, yet such as consist of easily movable figures are not without motion; for pyramids are always moved from the dissimilitude of the vertex to the base. Thus also with respect to air, the elements of it, when it exists in its proper place, are assimilated to things perpetually flowing; and the elements of water love collision. For the summits are adjacent to the bases of their similars, and being impelled, they strike against the whole in the place in which each is contained. But being thus moved, they imitate the motion in a circle, neither being moved from the middle nor to the middle, but revolving about each other in their own place. The elements of earth, however, remain, because they have their summits the same with their bases. But nothing similar acts on the similar, whether they possess similitude according to figures, or according to power, or according to magnitude."

"Farther still," says Aristotle, "if fire heats

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and burns through its angles, all the elements will impart heat, but one perhaps more than another; since all of them will have angles; as, for instance, the octaedron and the dodecaedron. And according to Democritus, a sphere also burns, as being a certain angle; so that they will differ by the more and the less. This, however, is evidently false."

Proclus, in opposition to this tenth argument, says, "that it is improperly assumed that an angle is calorific, and that a false conclusion is the consequence of this assumption. For Timæus assumes from sense, that sharpness and a power of dividing are certain properties of heat. But that which cuts, cuts not simply by an angle, but by the sharpness of the angle, and tenuity of the side. For thus also the arts make incisive instruments, and nature sharpens the angles of those teeth that are called incisores, and giving breadth to the grinders, has attenuated the sides. An acute angle also is subservient to rapid motion. Hence a power of this kind is not to be ascribed to an angle simply, but to the penetrating acuteness of the angle, the incisive tenuity of the side, and the celerity of the motion. It is likewise necessary that magnitude should be present, as in the pyramid, that it may forcibly enter. If, therefore, in fire alone there is acuteness of

p. 23

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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2009, 01:17:56 pm »

angle, tenuity of side, and swiftness of motion, this element alone is very properly hot. This, however, is not the case with all fire, but with that alone which consists of larger pyramids; on which account, as Timæus says, there is a certain fire which illuminates indeed, but does not burn, because it is composed of the smallest elements. And according to this, fire is visible."

Aristotle adds, "at the same time also it will happen that mathematical bodies will burn and impart heat; for these likewise have angles; and atoms, cubes, spheres, and pyramids, are inherent in them, especially if, as they say, these are indivisible magnitudes. For if some of them burn, and others do not, the cause of this difference must be assigned, but not simply so as they assign it."

Proclus, well opposing what is here said, does that which Aristotle desires, viz. he assigns the difference consequent to the hypothesis according to which some bodies burn, but mathematical bodies do not burn. For Plato says, that burning bodies are material and moved figures; on which account also he says, that ϐ is added to the name, this letter being the instrument of motion. Not every thing, therefore, which is angular, is calorific, unless it is acute-angled, is attenuated in its sides, and may be easily moved.

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Again, Aristotle says, "let it be reasonable, therefore, that to cut and divide should be accidents to figure; yet, that a pyramid should necessarily make pyramids, or a sphere spheres, is perfectly absurd, and is just as if some one should think that a sword may be divided into swords, or a saw into saws."

To this also Proclus replies, "that fire dissolves the elements of that which it burns, and transmutes them into itself. But a sword does not act upon the essence of that which it cuts. For it does not dissolve the essence of it, but by dividing it, makes a less from a greater quantity; since it has not its figure essentially, but from accident. If, therefore, nothing which cuts changes that which is cut into the essence of itself, nor dissolves the form of it, how can it make a division into things similar to itself? But it may be said, Let bodies which are burnt be dissolved into triangles, for instance, water and air, and the elements of them, the icosaedron and octaedron, yet what is which composes the triangles of these into the figure of fire, viz. into the pyramid, so as that many such being conjoined, fire is produced? Plato therefore says, in the Timæus, that the triangles being dissolved by fire, do not cease to pass from one body into another until they conic into another form; for instance, the triangles of

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the icosaedron, which are divisible into octaedra, or rather till they pass into fire, which is of a dividing nature. For if they are composed into the nature of fire, they cease their transition; since similars neither act upon, nor suffer from each other. But it will be well to hear the most beautiful words themselves of Plato: 'When any one of the forms (says he), becoming invested by fire, is cut by the acuteness of its angles and sides, then, passing into the nature of fire, it suffers no farther discerption. For no form is ever able to produce mutation or passivity, or any kind of alteration, in that which is similar and the same with itself; but as long as it passes into something else, and the more imbecile contends with the more powerful, it will not cease to be dissolved.' It is evident, however, that the planes are not composed casually, and as it may happen, at one time in this, and at another in that figure; but that which dissolves them exterminates the aptitude which they had to that figure, for instance, to the icosaedron, this aptitude being more gross and turbulent, and transfers it to the purer aptitude of the air which is near. And in the first place, they acquire a bulk from octaedra. Afterwards being dissolved by fire, they are more purified and attenuated, and become adapted to the composition of a pyramid. But it is evident that

p. 26

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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2009, 01:18:08 pm »

to whatever form they are adapted, from their figure, they easily receive this form, and on this account, from water air is first generated, and then from air fire."

In the next place, Aristotle says, "that it is ridiculous to attribute a figure to fire for the purpose of dividing alone; for fire appears rather to collect and bring boundaries together, than to separate. For it separates accidentally things which are not of a kindred nature, and collects especially those which are."

Proclus opposes this argument, and says, "that the very contrary is true. For fire essentially separates, but collects things together accidentally; since to take away things of a foreign nature from such as are similar, predisposes the concurrence of the latter into each other, and their tendencies to the same thing. For all fiery natures, according to all the senses, have a separating power. Thus, heat separates the touch, the splendid separates the sight, and the pungent the taste. And farther still, all medicines which are of a fiery nature have a diaphoretic power. Again, every thing which collects strives to surround that which is collected, at the same time compelling it; but fire does not endeavour to surround, but to penetrate through bodies." Proclus adds, "that according to those, also, who

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do not give figures to the elements, fire is thought to rank among things of the most attenuated parts. But a thing of this kind is rather of a separating nature, entering into other things, than of a collective nature. That what essentially separates, however, belongs to fire, is evident from this, that it not only separates things heterogeneous from each other, but every particular thing itself. For it melts silver, and gold, and the other metals, because it separates them."

Aristotle farther observes, "in addition to these things, since the hot and the cold are contrary in capacity, it is impossible to attribute any figure to the cold, because it is necessary that the figure which is attributed should be a contrary; but nothing is contrary to figure. Hence all physiologists omit this, though it is fit either to define all things or nothing by figures."

This objection also, Proclus dissolving says, "that the argument of Aristotle very properly requires that a figure should be assigned adapted to the cold; but that it is necessary to recollect concerning heat, how it was not said that heat is a pyramid, but that it is a power affective, through sharpness of angles and tenuity of side. Cold, therefore, is not a figure, as neither is heat,

p. 28

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