Taylor’s Dissertation, Chapter 3

Again, Aristotle in his treatise On the Heavens (Book II), apparently opposes what is asserted by Plato in the Timaeus respecting the # dissolution of the world. For Plato says in that dialogue, that every thing which is bound is dissoluble; but to be willing to dissolve that which is beautifully harmonized, is the province of an evil artificer. And again the demiurgus is represented saying to the celestial gods, “You are not indeed entirely immortal, yet you shall never be dissolved, nor become subject to the fatality of death.” Apparently therefore Plato seems to say, that the world is naturally dissoluble, mortal and corruptible, yet will not be corrupted. But Aristotle opposing the apparent meaning of such an assertion says, it is impossible that any thing which is of its own nature corruptible, should not some time or other be corrupted. For if it is possible, it will at the same time be corruptible and incorruptible; i.e. the same thing will be perpetual and corruptible; and it will be both in energy, and not only corruptible in capacity; but as perpetual, so likewise it will be corruptible, which is evidently absurd. For it is possible for the same thing to have the power of opposites, though it should have them perpetually; but it is impossible that it should possess the energies of opposites at one and the same time. Hence, Aristotle very properly adds, in energy.

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But that Aristotle objects to the apparent and not to the real meaning of what Plato says, is evident. For Plato does not say that the world was generated from a certain time, since he asserts that time was generated together with the world. But that which is generated from a certain time, has time existing prior to its generation. Plato, however, says that the world was generated, in consequence of its being # sensible and corporeal, and as # falling off from real being, and having its existence in becoming to be. But he says that it is dissoluble and not entirely immortal, but generable in its own nature; just as Aristotle also shows, that a finite body has in its own nature a finite power. Both Plato and Aristotle however show that the world is incorruptible and immortal, on account of its # proximate production from divinity; the former saying, as from the demiurgus, “Yet you shall never be dissolved, nor become subject to the fatality of death; # my will being a much greater, and more excellent bond than the vital connectives with which you were bound at the commencement of your generation;” but Aristotle asserting, that an immovable cause, moves perpetually, and on this account that which is proximately moved by it, though in its own nature, as being finite, it possesses a finite power, yet is moved perpetually, in consequence of being moved by that which perpetually moves.

In the next place let us see according to what signification of the generable, Aristotle denies generation of the heavens, hastening to show that it is without generation; and again, according to what signification Plato says, that heaven and the world are generable. That Aristotle, therefore, calls the mutation from non-being to being that generation, to which corruption entirely succeeds, is evident from those arguments by which he shows that the heavens are not only without generation, but also that they are incorruptible. And this is still more evident, when he clearly shows that what is generated, is corruptible in every way, and that what may be corrupted is generated. Hence, demonstrating that there is a certain other fifth essence besides the sublunary elements, viz. the essence of a celestial body, and which is naturally more perfect than these, he likewise # denies of this essence gravity and levity and motion in a right line, which are the peculiarities of sublunary bodies Thus also he denies of this fifth essence the generation and corruption of sublunary natures. And this indeed may be considered as indubitable; both from his calling generation and corruption a certain mutation, one thing being generated and corrupted after another, and from his showing, in contradiction to those who assert that the world was generated but is incorruptible, that what is generable is always corruptible. Nor is it at all wonderful that Aristotle always wishes to assume things obvious to every one, and to call that generable which participates of every kind of generation, and clearly appears to be generable and corruptible in a part of time. But Plato knew indeed this generation of sublunary natures which is opposite to corruption, as is evident from the tenth book of his Laws, in which he says, “The generation of all things is effected, when a certain # passion becomes # apparent; for instance, when the principle receiving an increase by transition arrives at the first, and from this to that which is next, and having arrived as far as to three{2} things, it possesses sense in sentient natures. By transition, therefore, and transitive motion, every thing is generated: but it is true being when it abides. When, however, it is changed into another habit, it is perfectly corrupted.” He also knew another kind of generation, according to which a thing arriving at corporeal interval, is no longer able to produce itself, but alone subsisting from some other cause, is called generable, receiving a # division opposite to true being, as to its proximate cause. For it is necessary that what is generated, and receives its subsistence externally, should derive its existence from true being, and that which is self-subsistent; or there must be a procession to infinity, and the generable must always be admitted prior to the generable. But defining this generable after true being, in the Timaeus, he says, that according to it the world is generable. And the definition indeed of both being produced from the gnostic powers in us, is as follows: “What is that which is always being, but which is without generation, and what is that which is becoming to be indeed, but is never being ? That which may be comprehended, therefore, by intelligence in conjunction with reason, and which always possesses an invariable sameness of subsistence, is being; but that which is apprehended by opinion in conjunction with irrational sense, is that which is generable and destructible, and is never truly being”. According to this kind of generable, therefore, Plato says, that the world was generated by true being ; for he thus writes about the world : “Whether shall we say that the world always was having no principle whatever of generation, or that it was generated? It was generated; for it is visible and tangible, and has a body. And every thing of this kind appears to be generated and generable.” For that which is self-subsistent ought to be impartible, and the whole must be adapted to the whole of itself. Hence that which is not self-subsistent, has entirely its existence from something else; and on this account is said to be generated. Since, however, some perversely understanding the destructible in the definition of that which is generated, fancy that Plato admitted the corruption of the world and the heavens, it is necessary to show what the destructible here signifies. That Plato, therefore, when to that which is generated he adds, “But which never truly is” clearly shows that an eternal nature is exempt from an existence in some portion of time is evident from what has been already observed. For an existence sometimes is never properly asserted of eternal natures. But that which always has a subsistence, in consequence of being proximately produced by true being and an immovable cause, and through this again is neither self-subsistent, nor true being, nor the whole and all of it subsisting at once, in the same manner as true being; — a nature of this kind has a certain mutation, at different times receiving a different condition, because its proximately producing cause subsists in conjunction with the immoveable, and because in consequence of its own aptitude, it proximately derives its existence from true being. But that Plato did not fancy this mutation belongs to it as to that which is generated and corrupted in a part of time, but that it pertains to it in consequence of a corporeal nature, through which it has not the whole of its blessedness at once, in the same manner as true being, may be easily learnt from what is written in the Politicus, as follows: “That which we denominate heaven or the world, has derived many and blessed prerogatives from its generator. Since, however, it communicates with body, it is impossible for it to remain entirely free from mutation. And if indeed it were corrupted into another world, it would have a place of mutation; but if into non-being, it could no longer be said to be changed. For that which has transition is changed from one thing into another. How, therefore, could he say, “entirely free” if it had not something mutable? That, however, Plato did not think that the world was generated in a part of time, or that it would be corrupted in a part of time, is evident from what he says in the Timaeus. For in the first place, he there clearly asserts, that time was generated together with the heaven, i. e. the world. It is impossible, therefore, for time to have existed prior to the world. But if this be the case, the world did not begin to be generated from a certain time. For time would have existed prior to itself, and prior to that now in which the world was generated, there would entirely have been some past time. Neither is it possible for the world to be corrupted in a part of time. For again, after this now in which it is corrupted, there will be some future time. But if Plato says, “Time was generated together with the heaven, that being generated together, they may also together be dissolved, if ever a dissolution of them shall take place,” through this he shows that the world is indissoluble. For if it is necessary that the world should be dissolved together with time, if it ever will be dissolved, but time is indissoluble, since that which is some time or other dissolved will have time posterior to it, some time being a part of time, the world is evidently indissoluble. To what has been observed, this also may be added, that the world is said by Plato to be generated, in consequence of its artificer looking to an eternal paradigm, in order that it might as much as possible be similar to it. For because it is generated according to this paradigm it is perpetual ; having its essence co-extended with the infinity of time. How, therefore, will a thing of this kind be generated from a certain time; for instance, six thousand years ago? Or can that be corrupted in a certain time, which in all time is becoming to be, and is, and will be? But those who are not able to separate the perpetuity of this time from the eternal, are not ashamed to say that time is always generated and corrupted in a part of time. They also adduce Plato as a witness, who says, “that the world was generated most similar to all perfect and intelligible animal itself, in imitation of an eternal nature.” Though how can that be most similar to the eternal, which is generated in a part of time, and that a very small part, as they say, and especially if it be compared with the perpetual ? What occasion is there, however to be prolix, since Plato clearly says, that celestial and sublunary natures, the earth and the wholeness of the other elements, participating of a certain mutation from their own nature which is corporeal and endued with interval, are not entirely immortal ; but through the goodness of him by whom they were proximately fabricated, who always imparts to them his own good, they are indissoluble, and will never receive the destiny of death. It is better, however, to hear the words of Plato, in the Timaeus, or rather of the fabricator of the universe, whose intellect and energies Plato prophetically announcing to us, exclaims as follows: “When, therefore, all such gods as visibly revolve, and all such as become apparent when they please, were generated, the Artificer of the universe thus addressed them: Gods of gods, of whom I am the demiurgus and father, whatever is generated by me is indissoluble, such being my will in its fabrication. Indeed, every thing which is bound is dissoluble : but to be willing to dissolve that which is beautifully harmonized and well composed, is the property of an evil nature. Hence, so far as you are generated, you are not immortal, nor in every respect indissoluble, yet you shall never be dissolved, nor become subject to the fatality of death; my will being a much greater and more excellent bond than the vital connectives with which you were bound at the commencement of your generation. Learn, therefore, what I now say to you indicating my desire. Three genera of mortals yet remain to be produced. Without the generation of these, therefore, the universe will be imperfect; for it will not contain every kind of animal in its spacious extent. But it ought to contain them that it may be sufficiently perfect. Yet if these are generated, and participate of life through me, they will become equal to the gods. That mortal natures, therefore, may subsist, and that the universe may be truly all, convert yourselves according to your nature, to the fabrication of animals, imitating the power which I employed in your generation. And whatever among these is of such a nature as to deserve the same appellation with immortals, which obtains sovereignty in these, and willingly pursues justice, and reverences you,—of this I myself will deliver the seed and beginning: it is your business to accomplish the rest; to weave together the mortal and immortal nature; by this means fabricating and generating animals, causing them to increase by supplying them with aliment, and receiving them back again when dissolved by corruption.”What then can more clearly show than this passage, that Plato considered those beings, which proximately derive their subsistence from the artificer of the universe, to be indissoluble and immortal from his goodness; though these beings, in consequence of having an adventitious union, which he denominates a bond, are dissoluble so far as pertains to themselves, i. e. so far as respects their own proper separation from being. And what can be clearer than this: “You are not in every respect immortal, i. e. immutable, according to every kind of mutation, as I am; yet you shall never be dissolved, nor become subject to the fatality of death?” And who can be so shameless or insensate, as to fancy, after these words, that Plato thought the world was corruptible? Nor is this less manifest when he says, “three genera of mortals yet remain to be produced”, the junior gods, that is, the stars and spheres of the elements, being evidently not mortal. And the demiurgus orders these perpetual natures to mingle the whole of a mortal with a perpetual essence, by their natural conversion and motion; for mortals could not otherwise be generated unless that which produces them is mutable. Hence, he adds, “That mortal natures, therefore may subsist, and that the universe may be truly all, convert yourselves according to your nature to the fabrication of animals.” How, therefore, can celestial natures be mortal which are produced by the demiurgus who energizes immovably and perpetually? But the words, “fabricating and generating animals, causing them to increase by supplying them with aliment, and receiving them back again when dissolved by corruption”, appear to be addressed to the gods who preside over the wholes of the elements, so far as these wholes also have something perpetual. For from the proximately sublunary elements, partial animals are generated, nourished and increased ; and when corrupted, are again resolved into the wholenesses of the elements.

But Aristotle signifies that he considers a celestial body to be exempt from contraries, not simply from contraries according to their characteristic peculiarity, but from those which change into each other, and are incapable of being mutually co-existent, such as are sublunary contraries. For it is evident that a celestial body participates at the same time of motion and permanency in consequence of being circularly moved in the same place. It also participates of sameness and difference, unity and multitude ; but these are co existent and consubsistent with each other; yet they are not, like sublunary natures, corrupted, nor changed into each other.

Vocabulary notes

# becomes apparent: occurs, becomes available; Cf. Latin, ■→apparere, to attend upon, serve.

# denies of gravity: cf. ■→equivalence relation.

# dissolution of the world: the world fading, as ceasing on the first principle;
Cf. Greek ἀναστοιχείωσις, anastoiheiosis, ■→Perseus;
■→stoiheio, in
■→antistoiheiosis, change of a letter, as in ■→φιτπῶν for ■→φυτρῶν; cf. ■→φύσις as origin.
■→astoiheiotos, ignorant of the first elements, ἀστοιχείωτος, cf. Miller-Urey;
■→stoiheioma, elementary;
■→stoiheiosis, teaching.
Feel also welcome to compare Emily Dickinson, The First Lesson.

# divinity: Perseus broad search, ■→divi; ydomantis, ὑδρόμαντις, one who divines from water, cf. aposomatosis (# falling off from real being); stohastes, στοχαστής, diviner, cf. stochastic, probabilistic; thea, θέα, seeing, looking at, tithemi, τίθημι, having three senses (military), theomoiros, θεόμοιρος, partaking of divine nature; Greeks reportedly used also partial vacuum, to obtain fresh water from sea water.
Cf. in the context, proximate production of this natural world from divinity: a thesis that laws and principles of earthly physics or chemistry allow to suppose there is logically a premise not limited to Earth; rules by that premise would be productive on Earth, as in the process to obtain fresh water from sea. Ancient Greek military probably knew it and held secret, as it much extended time on sea. See also Rene Allendy’s Treason Complex, for Aristotle.

# division opposite: cf. ancient experiments on electric storage; for today, cf. geomagnetic reversal.

# falling off from real being: conversion from stasis, cf. ■→aposomatosis, ἀποσωμάτωσις, conversion of/from corporeal form; ■→stasis, στάσις. Ancients made many observations on water, ■→ydor, ὕδωρ, ἀποσωμάτωσις ὑδάτων.
Feel welcome to my gist, Simple English Aristotle: If we sifted a “physical order” out of a body of water, extracts would be smaller and smaller, until the water would have only the minimum proportion. Then, extraction would be arrested, and the water might not contain the particular structure or entity anymore.
Contextual search, ■→monomial, for the “real being” or “true stasis” rather than homeostasis, physically to belong with theory more than earthly reality; ■→Newton’s binomial, for earthly living. ■→Stasis, sense 2, comes to mind with the phrase “becoming to be”, in Taylor’s context.

# my will: binding force, cf. Greek ■→menos, μένος, might, force; cf. ■→crucible, metallurgic melting pot made of ■→graphite and ■→clay, known to ancients, used in “vanishing ■→diamond” experiments (■→here); diamond was considered another form of graphite, and the matter was observed to give different results, as in the crucible and the stone, see more over ■→Wikipedia. For today, compare the ■→mesonic molecule, ■→prism, ■→optic lens; Greek ■→meson, μέσον, ■→μέσος.
Mesons come to mind in context with the “bond more excellent than the vital connectives”, the latter possibly to denote corpuscular phenomena of chemical and physical interaction; the ancients had an atom for the smallest and indivisible particle in nature, phenomena more specific to have been subsumed as “force”, or “will” in translation. The reference is to celestial bodies.

# passion: being affected, influenced, as in a chain reaction; ■→Wiktionary sense 9;
cf. Perseus search, ■→passion: ■→ehethymos, ἐχέθυμος, self-controlled, ■→thymós, mind soul;
cf. ■→poiein, ποιέω, to make; ■→epomai, ἕπομαι, to follow.

# sensible and corporeal: recognized systematically and material; Perseus broad search,corp; cf. somatoeides, ■→σωματοειδής, somatofyes ■→σωματοφυής; cf. antistoiheiosis, # dissolution of the world.


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Świat może i nigdy nie widział jej oryginalnego pisma, jeśli jej umiejętność została wzięta za nadnaturalną. Zapraszam do Wierszy Emilii Dickinson w przekładzie Teresy Pelka: zwrotka tematyczna, notki o inspiracji greką i łaciną, korelacie z Websterem 1828 oraz wątku arystotelesowskim, Rzecz perpetualna — ta nie zasadza się na czasie, ale na wieczności.

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