Aristotle METAPHYSICA Book 5 Part 27


1. It is not any chance quantitative thing that can be said to be 'mutilated'; it must be a whole as well as divisible. For not only is two not 'mutilated' if one of the two ones is taken away (for the part removed by mutilation is never equal to the remainder), but in general no number is thus mutilated; for it is also necessary that the essence remain; if a cup is mutilated, it must still be a cup; but the number is no longer the same. Further, even if things consist of unlike parts, not even these things can all be said to be mutilated, for in a sense a number has unlike parts (e.g. two and three) as well as like; but in general of the things to which their position makes no difference, e.g. water or fire, none can be mutilated; to be mutilated, things must be such as in virtue of their essence have a certain position. Again, they must be continuous; for a musical scale consists of unlike parts and has position, but cannot become mutilated. Besides, not even the things that are wholes are mutilated by the privation of any part. For the parts removed must be neither those which determine the essence nor any chance parts, irrespective of their position; e.g. a cup is not mutilated if it is bored through, but only if the handle or a projecting part is removed, and a man is mutilated not if the flesh or the spleen is removed, but if an extremity is, and that not every extremity but one which when completely removed cannot grow again. Therefore baldness is not a mutilation.

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