Aristotle METAPHYSICA Book 11 Part 11


1. Of things which change, some change in an accidental sense, like that in which 'the musical' may be said to walk, and others are said, without qualification, to change, because something in them changes, i.e. the things that change in parts; the body becomes healthy, because the eye does. But there is something which is by its own nature moved directly, and this is the essentially movable. The same distinction is found in the case of the mover; for it causes movement either in an accidental sense or in respect of a part of itself or essentially. There is something that directly causes movement; and there is something that is moved, also the time in which it is moved, and that from which and that into which it is moved. But the forms and the affections and the place, which are the terminals of the movement of moving things, are unmovable, e.g. knowledge or heat; it is not heat that is a movement, but heating. Change which is not accidental is found not in all things, but between contraries, and their intermediates, and between contradictories. We may convince ourselves of this by induction.

2. That which changes changes either from positive into positive, or from negative into negative, or from positive into negative, or from negative into positive. (By positive I mean that which is expressed by an affirmative term.) Therefore there must be three changes; that from negative into negative is not change, because (since the terms are neither contraries nor contradictories) there is no opposition. The change from the negative into the positive which is its contradictory is generation - absolute change absolute generation, and partial change partial generation; and the change from positive to negative is destruction - absolute change absolute destruction, and partial change partial destruction. If, then, 'that which is not' has several senses, and movement can attach neither to that which implies putting together or separating, nor to that which implies potency and is opposed to that which is in the full sense (true, the not-white or not-good can be moved incidentally, for the not-white might be a man; but that which is not a particular thing at all can in no wise be moved), that which is not cannot be moved (and if this is so, generation cannot be movement; for that which is not is generated; for even if we admit to the full that its generation is accidental, yet it is true to say that 'not-being' is predicable of that which is generated absolutely). Similarly rest cannot be long to that which is not. These consequences, then, turn out to be awkward, and also this, that everything that is moved is in a place, but that which is not is not in a place; for then it would be somewhere. Nor is destruction movement; for the contrary of movement is rest, but the contrary of destruction is generation. Since every movement is a change, and the kinds of change are the three named above, and of these those in the way of generation and destruction are not movements, and these are the changes from a thing to its contradictory, it follows that only the change from positive into positive is movement. And the positives are either contrary or intermediate (for even privation must be regarded as contrary), and are expressed by an affirmative term, e.g. 'naked' or 'toothless' or 'black'.

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