Press "Enter" to skip to content

Aristotle, Physics. Book IV, Chapter 04

But since one thing is predicated essentially, and another according to something else; with respect to place also one is common in which all bodies are contained, but another proper in which anything primarily subsists. I mean for instance, you are now in the universe, because you are in the air, and this is in the universe. You are also in air, because you are in the earth; and in a similar manner you are in the earth because you are in this particular place, which comprehends nothing more than yourself. If, therefore, place is that which first comprehends each body, it will be a boundary. So that place would appear to be the form and morphe of each thing, by which magnitude is bounded, and the matter of magnitude: for this is the boundary of each. To those therefore who thus consider the affair, place is the form of each of the things which it contains. So far, however, as place appears be the interval of magnitude, it is rather matter. For this is different from magnitude, and this is that which is comprehended and bounded by form, as by a superficies and limit. But matter and the indefinite are of this kind. For when the boundary and the passive qualities of the sphere are taken away, nothing remains except matter. Hence, also, Plato in the Timaeus says, that matter and a receptacle are the same thing. For that which is capable of receiving, and a receptacle, are one and the same thing. But though he there speaks of that which is capable of receiving in a different manner from what he says of it, in what are called his unwritten dogmas, yet at the same time he asserts place and a receptacle to be the same. For all philosophers affirm that place is something; but Plato alone has attempted to say what it is. Hence from these things it may reasonably appear to be difficult, to those who consider the affair, to know what place is, if it is either of these, namely, matter or form. To which it may be added, that these two are attended with the highest speculation, and separate from each other cannot easily be known. It is not, however, difficult to see that it is impossible for either of these to be placed. For form and matter are not separated from the thing; but place may be separated from it. For in that in which there was air, water, as we have said, again enters, water and air alternately succeeding each other, and in a similar manner with respect to other bodies. So that place is neither a part, nor a habit, but is separate from each particular thing. For place appears to be a thing of such a kind as a vessel: since a vessel is a place which may be transferred; and a vessel is not anything belonging to that which it contains. So far therefore as place is separate from the thing which it receives, so far it is not form; and so far as it comprehends, so far it is different from matter. But being always appears to be somewhere, and to be itself something; and it always seems that external too, there is something different from it. We must however ask Plato (if it be necessary to digress) why forms and numbers are not in place, if place is capable of participating, whether that which can participate is the great and the small, or whether it be matter, as he has written in the Timaeus.

Again, how could a thing be carried to its own place if place were matter or form: for it is impossible that place should be that of which there is no motion, nor upward or downward. So that place must be investigated in things of this kind. But if place is in the thing itself, (for it is necessary that it should if it were form or matter) place will be in place: for it will be changed and moved together with the thing. Form, also, and the indefinite, are not always in the same place, but are there where the thing is. So that there will be a place of place. Further still; when water is produced from air, place would perish: for the body which is generated is not in the same place. What then is the corruption? And thus we have shown from what arguments it is necessary that place should be something, and, again, from what someone may doubt concerning its essence.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.