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Robin Waterfield and David Bostock (eds), Oxford World's Classics: Aristotle: Physics
1. Coincidental changes
- 224a21One kind of change is coincidental change* (as, for example,
- when we say that it is an educated person who is walking,
- because what is walking is by coincidence someone educated).
- 23Secondly, we do say that something is changing tout court
- when some aspect of it is changing, as when we describe
- things as changing because their parts are changing (for ex-
- ample, health is restored to the body because it is restored to
- 26the eye or the chest—i.e. to parts of the whole body). Thirdly,
- however, there is the kind of change where something is not
- changing coincidentally or because something else, one of its
- parts, is changing, but because it itself is immediately chang-
- ing. Such a thing is something which is in its own right
- capable of change, but it is differently described depending
- on the kind of change it is capable of. For instance, it might
- be capable of alteration, and more precisely of becoming
- healthy or hot.
- 30The same goes for the agent of change as well. It can impart
- change either coincidentally, or by a part (when some aspect
- of it is causing the change), or immediately and in its own
- right (as, for instance, when a doctor heals or a hand hits).
- 34There is, then, an immediate agent of change and an object
- which is being changed. Then there is the time when the
- change is happening, and since every change is from some-
- thing and to something else, we also have to take into con-
- sideration the starting-point and the end-point of the change.
- 224b1The object which is immediately changing, the starting-point
- of the change and its end-point are all different. Consider
- wood, heat, and cold; they might be respectively the object,
- the end-point, and the starting-point. The change obviously
- takes place in the wood, not in its form, because form (like
- place and quantity) does not cause change* and is not changed
- pg 119either. No, there is that which causes change, that which is
- changed, and the end-point of the change. I say this because
- a change is described by its end-point rather than its starting-
- point. That is why destruction is a change to a state of non-
- existence, despite the fact that anything which is being
- destroyed is changing from a state of existence, and genera-
- tion is change to a state of existence, despite the fact that it
- is from a state of non-existence as well.
- 10I have already* stated what change is. Now, the end-points
- (which may be forms or affections or place*) are not subject
- to change. How could knowledge or heat, for instance, be
- subject to change? (All the same, one might wonder whether
- affections* might not be processes of change, and whether
- pallor might not be such an affection. If so, we would have
- a case of changing to a change. But presumably it is paling,
- 16not pallor, which is a process of change.) Again, these end-
- points may be the end-points of change either coincidentally,
- or because of a part (i.e. depending on something other than
- just themselves), or immediately (i.e. not depending on some-
- thing other than themselves). For instance, something which
- is becoming white might coincidentally change to an object of
- thought* (since by coincidence its colour is being thought
- about), or it might change to a colour in the sense that white
- is a part of colour (and Europe might be the end-point of a
- change because Athens is a part of Europe), or it might in its
- own right change to the colour white.
- 22It is clear, then, what it means to say that something is
- changing or causing change in its own right, what it means
- to say that it is changing or causing change coincidentally,
- and what the difference is between its changing or causing
- change thanks to something other than itself and its changing
- or causing change immediately, because of itself. It is also
- clear that change does not take place in the form, but in that
- which is being changed—which is to say, something capable
- of change when it is actually changing.
- 26Now, I propose to ignore coincidental change, because it is
- a constant aspect of everything in every respect. However, non-
- coincidental change is restricted to things that are opposites
- or intermediates, or in contradiction.* A survey of examples
- pg 120would convince one of this. Things can change from an inter-
- mediate state because it acts as the opposite of either of the
- two extremes, since it is in a sense the extremes. This also
- explains why we talk as if there were opposition between an
- intermediate and the extremes, and between the extremes and
- an intermediate; for example, the middle string makes a high
- note relative to the lowest string, and a low note relative to
- the highest string, and grey is pale relative to black and dark
- relative to white.
The distinction between change and variation
- 35All change is from something to something. The word itself*
- shows this: one thing comes 'after' another thing—that is, there
- is an earlier phase and a later phase. Since all change is from
- something to something, there are four possible ways in which
- it might occur. There is either change from an entity to an
- entity, or from an entity to a non-entity, or from a non-entity
- to an entity, or from a non-entity to a non-entity. By 'an entity'
- I mean something signified by an affirmative term. It neces-
- sarily follows from this that there are three kinds of change:
- from an entity to an entity, from an entity to a non-entity,
- and from a non-entity to an entity. Change from a non-entity
- to a non-entity is impossible* because there is no opposition
- involved: they are neither opposites nor contradictories.
- 225a12Change from a non-entity to an entity, where contradiction
- is involved, is coming to be; it is coming to be in an unqualified
- sense when the change is unqualified, and it is coming to be
- of a particular kind when the change is of a particular kind.
- For example, when something is changed from not being pale
- to being pale, this is the coming to be of this particular quality,
- whereas when something is changed from simply not being to
- being a substance, this is simple coming to be; hence we say
- that it simply comes to be, not that it comes to be something.
- 17Change from an entity to a non-entity is ceasing to be; it
- is simple ceasing to be when it is change from being a substance
- to not being, and a particular kind of ceasing to be when it
- is change to an opposite negation, as I have already explained
- in the case of coming to be.
- pg 12120'Not being' is ambiguous.* Something which 'is not' in the
- sense that it is a false combination or separation of subject
- and predicate cannot vary, and nor can anything which 'is
- not' in the sense that it is only potentially (i.e. in the sense
- that it is opposed to that which actually is, tout court). For
- although something not pale or not good can still vary coin-
- cidentally (since 'something not pale' might be a person),
- nevertheless something which just is not an individual thing
- cannot vary at all. It is impossible, then, for that which does
- 26not exist to vary. It follows from this that it is also impossible
- for coming to be to be a kind of variation, because it is some-
- thing that does not exist that comes to be. I mean, however
- true it may be that it is coincidentally coming to be,* it still
- remains true to say that not being does belong to that which
- simply comes to be. And by the same token, that which does
- not exist cannot be at rest either.* Apart from these awkward
- consequences, everything that undergoes variation is in some
- place or other, but something non-existent is not in place,
- because then it would be somewhere. So ceasing to be is not
- a kind of variation either, because the opposite of a variation
- is either a variation or a state of rest, but ceasing to be is the
- opposite of coming to be.
- 34Since every variation is a kind of change, and there are
- three kinds of change (as already mentioned), and of these
- the ones involving coming to be and ceasing to be are not
- variations—these are the ones which involve contradiction—
- it necessarily follows that the kind of change which is from
- an entity to an entity is the only one that is a variation. And
- entities are either opposites or intermediates (assuming that
- we may take a privation* as an opposite) and are signified by
- affirmative terms such as 'naked', 'toothless', and 'dark'.
2. The different kinds of variation*
- 225b5Now, predications are divided into the various categories—
- that is, into predications of substance, quality, place, relation,
- quantity, and action or affection.* So it necessarily follows
- that there are three kinds of variation—qualitative variation,
- 10quantitative variation, and variation of place. There is no
- pg 12211variation in respect of substance, because nothing that exists
- is opposite to a substance. Nor is there any variation in re-
- spect of relation, because when one of two things which are
- relative to each other changes, it is possible for the relation
- to cease to obtain† even though the other thing is not chang-
- ing at all, with the result that their variation is coincidental.
- Nor is there variation in respect of the action of what is
- acting (i.e. the agent of variation) or the affection of what is
- acted on (i.e. the thing that varies), because a variation can-
- not vary and a coming to be cannot come to be; to put it
- generally, a change cannot be changed.
- 16The first point to notice here is that there are two ways in
- which variation of a variation might be possible. The variation
- which is varying might be an underlying thing; this is how a
- person varies when he changes to being dark instead of pale.
- But can a variation too become hot or cold in this way, or
- alter its place, or increase or decrease? No, this is impossible,
- 21because change is not an underlying thing. Alternatively, the
- variation might vary because some underlying thing (which is
- not to be identified with the variation itself) changes from a
- process of change to a different species of existence. But this
- is impossible too, except coincidentally, because variation itself
- is change from one form to another, as when a person changes
- from illness to health. (The same goes for coming to be and
- ceasing to be as well, except that they involve opposites of one
- 27kind, whereas variation involves opposites of another kind.) It
- follows that the person of our example, at the same time as
- changing from health to illness, would also be changing from
- this particular change to some other kind of change. So ob-
- viously, by the time he is ill, he will have changed to what-
- ever other change it may be (it could even be a state of rest),
- and moreover the change he changes to will not be just any
- kind of change;† for that too—the process of changing from
- one change to another—must be a change from something to
- something opposite, and so what he changes to will be the op-
- posite process—namely, becoming healthy.* No, a change can
- only change coincidentally, as when there is a change from re-
- membering to forgetting* because the subject involved changes
- at one time to knowing and at another time to ignorance.
- pg 12333Secondly, the idea that a change could change and a coming
- to be could come to be generates an infinite regress. If the later
- change is to happen, then the one that comes before it must
- happen too. For instance, if a simple coming to be was itself
- coming to be at some time, then the thing that would come to
- be was also becoming a thing that comes to be, and so there
- was not yet anything which was simply coming to be, but
- only a thing becoming something (i.e. becoming a thing that
- comes to be). And if this too was also coming to be at some
- time, then at that time it was not yet even becoming a thing
- that comes to be. And since there can be no first term in an
- infinite series, then this sequence cannot start anywhere, and
- so it cannot continue either. Consequently, on this hypothesis
- coming to be, variation, and change are completely impossible.
- 226a6Thirdly,* a single changing thing also has the capacity for
- the opposite kind of change (and also for the state of rest
- which is opposite to its change); and similarly coming to be
- and ceasing to be are properties of the same thing. Now,
- anything which is coming to be a thing that comes to be
- cannot be ceasing to be that thing just as it is coming to be
- it, because in order for anything to cease to be, it first has to
- be, and it cannot do so after it has come to be either; therefore
- it is ceasing to be a thing that comes to be at the very time
- that it has become it!
- 10Fourthly,* anything which is coming to be and anything
- which is changing have to have an underlying matter. On the
- present hypothesis, what will this be? Just as it is either a
- body or a mind which is capable of alteration, what will it
- be that becomes a change or becomes a coming to be? And
- again, what will it be that they change to? After all, the
- change or the coming to be of any specific thing has to be a
- change from one state to another. Moreover, what kind of
- changes will these be? The coming to be of learning cannot
- be learning, and so also the coming to be of coming to be
- cannot be coming to be, and the coming to be of anything
- cannot be that thing either. Also, both the underlying thing
- and the end-point of the change must be one of our three
- forms of variation, and so, for instance, movement must itself
- alter or move.
- pg 12419In short, then, since everything that changes changes in one
- of three ways—either coincidentally or by a part changing or
- in its own right—the only way in which change can change
- is coincidentally (as when someone who is recovering from
- illness runs or learns); but we dismissed coincidental change
- a long time ago.
- 23Since there can be no variation of substance or relation or
- action and affection, it is only in respect of quality and quan-
- tity and place that there can be variation. For each of these
- 26categories admits opposition.* Let variation of quality be 'al-
- teration', since this is a general term which links both the
- opposites together. By 'quality' I do not mean here the kind
- of quality which is an essential property of substance (for the
- differentia of a substance is a quality), but an affective quality,*
- which allows us to describe something as affected or as incap-
- 29able of being affected. There is no general term for variation
- of quantity, but it is described by reference to each opposite
- separately as 'increase' or as 'decrease', increase being change
- towards the completion of a thing's size and decrease being
- 32change away from this. As for variation of place, there is no
- general term which covers both the opposites together or each
- of them separately, but let us use 'movement' as the general
- term, despite the fact that,* strictly speaking, only those things
- are said to be moving which are such that, once they are
- changing place, they do not have the power to stop by them-
- selves, and which do not initiate their own change of place.
- 226b1Change within a single form—that is, change to a different
- degree of that form—is alteration, since alteration is, in a
- qualified or unqualified sense, change from one opposite or to
- the other. When the direction of the change is towards a lesser
- degree of the form in question, we tend to say that the end-
- point of the change is the opposite of that form, and when
- the direction of the change is towards a greater degree, we tend
- to say that the starting-point of the change is the opposite of
- the form and that the end-point is the form itself. The point
- is that it does not make any difference whether the change is
- qualified or unqualified, except that in the qualified version
- the opposites will have to be present in a qualified sense. The
- form is present to a greater or lesser degree, depending on
- pg 125whether or not there is more or less of the opposite present
- in it.
- 8These arguments show that there are only the three kinds
- of change. Now, something is 'unchanging' not only if it is
- completely incapable of change (compare the invisibility of
- sound), but also if it takes a lot of time and effort to get it
- changing or if its change is initially sluggish (when it is de-
- scribed as 'hard to change'). Then there is also that which is
- by its nature capable of change, but which is not changing
- when, where, and how it is its nature to change. This is the
- only unchanging thing I describe as being at rest, since rest is
- the opposite of change and so will be the privation of change
- in that which is capable of admitting change.
- 16I have now explained what change is, what rest is, how
- many kinds of change there are, and what kinds of change
- there are.
3. Definitions of various terms
- 18Next, we had better define 'together' and 'apart', 'in contact',
- 'between', 'successive', 'consecutive', and 'continuous', and
- explain the kinds of situation to which each of them is by its
- 21nature applicable. I say that things are together in respect of
- place when they coincide in a single immediate place,* apart
- when they are in different immediate places, and in contact
- when their extremes are together.
- 227a7Now, every change involves opposites, and opposites can
- be either contraries or contradictories; but since there is noth-
- ing intermediate between contradictories, it obviously follows
- that there must be contraries for there to be something in
- between. So between involves at least three terms. For the
- final stage of a change is the opposite, and that which is in
- between is what the changing thing naturally reaches before
- it reaches the final stage of its changing, assuming that the
- process of change is continuous and in accordance with the
- 226b27thing's nature. The change is continuous* if none of the pro-
- cess is left out, or only a very little. It is what happens to the
- process in which the change occurs, not to the time, which is
- relevant, because there is nothing to prevent some time being
- pg 126left out, and moreover it is perfectly possible to sound the
- 31highest note immediately after the lowest note. Change of
- place makes clear what I mean, but it is equally evident in
- other kinds of change as well. In change of place, 'opposite'
- refers to that which is furthest away in a straight line, be-
- cause a straight line is the shortest distance between two
- points and is therefore limited; so it acts as a measure, just
- as anything limited does.
- 34A thing is successive when it comes after a beginning, either
- in position or in form or by some other distinguishing criterion,
- and when there is nothing of the same kind as itself between
- it and that to which it is successive. Think of a line (or a
- number of lines) succeeding a line, or a unit (or a number of
- units) succeeding a unit, or a house succeeding a house: it
- does not matter if something of a different nature comes in
- between. The point is that for anything to be successive, it
- has to succeed something and it has to come later than that
- thing. After all, the number one is not successive to the number
- two, and first day of a month is not successive to the second
- day either; it is the other way round.
- 227a6A thing is consecutive if it is both successive and in contact.
- Something continuous is consecutive in a sense, but I say that
- something is continuous rather than consecutive when the
- limits by which the two objects are in contact have become
- identical and, as the word implies, enable one object to con-
- tinue into the other. This is impossible where there are two
- separate limits. It is clear from this definition that continuity
- is a property of things which naturally form a unity by their
- contact with one another. And the way in which what makes
- them continuous* is single determines the way in which the
- whole is single too; this may involve pinning, for instance, or
- gluing, or contact, or grafting.
- 17It is also clear that successiveness is primary. For contact
- inevitably implies successiveness,* but successiveness does not
- necessarily imply contact. (That is why successiveness is a
- property of things which are prior by definition—numbers,
- for instance—but contact is not.) Also, wherever there is
- continuity there is contact, but not vice versa, because the
- fact that the extremes of the things involved are together does
- pg 127not necessarily mean that they are one. If they are one, how-
- ever, they are bound to be together as well. And so growing
- together is the last of the series, because any extremes that
- grow together are bound to be in contact, but the fact that
- things are in contact does not necessarily mean that they are
- growing together. Where there is no contact, however, there
- 27is obviously no growing together either. It follows from this
- that even if, as some say, a point and a unit both have inde-
- pendent existence, they cannot be identified, because contact
- is a property of points,* whereas successiveness is a property
- of units, and also because there can be something between
- points (every line is between points), whereas there cannot be
- anything between units (nothing comes between one and two).
- 32I have now defined 'together' and 'apart', 'contact', 'between',
- 'successive', 'consecutive' and 'continuous', and I have explained
- the kinds of situation to which each of them is applicable.
4. What counts as a single change
- 227b3To say that a change is one is ambiguous, because 'one' is
- ambiguous. Generic unity of change depends on the categories
- of predication; any movement is generically the same as any
- other movement, but alteration is generically different from
- movement. A change is specifically the same as another change,
- however, when it is not only generically identical, but also is
- a change in the same indivisible species. For example, there
- are specific differences within the genus colour, and that is
- why becoming black is specifically different from becoming
- white, but there are no specific differences within whiteness.
- So any instance of becoming white is specifically the same as
- any other.
- 11(If there are things which are species as well as genera,
- there is obviously a sense in which any change which falls
- within such a genus is specifically identical to any other, but
- not unqualifiedly so. Consider learning, for example, given
- that knowledge is a species of apprehension as well as a
- genus consisting of the various branches of knowledge.)
- 14Someone might wonder whether what it takes for the change
- to be specifically one is that the same thing changes from the
- pg 128same starting-point to the same end-point (think, for instance,
- of a single point moving from this place to that over and over
- again). However, if this is so, circular movement will be the
- same as movement in a straight line and rolling will be the
- same as walking. Or have we already decided* that where
- what the change is in is specifically different, the change is
- specifically different, and that a circular route is specifically
- different from a straight route?
- 20That is what it is for change to be generically and spe-
- cifically one, and it is simply one, without any qualification,
- when it is one in definition and in number. The following
- distinctions will show what kind of change this is. There are
- three factors we take into account when talking about
- change—what, in what respect, and when. What I mean is
- that there has to be something which is changing (a person,
- say, or gold), and it has to be changing in a certain respect
- (in place, perhaps, or in some quality), and it has to be chang-
- ing at a certain time, because every change happens in time.
- 27Of these, the respect is responsible for the generic or specific
- unity of the change, and time is responsible for the consecu-
- tiveness of the change; but all of them together are respons-
- ible for unqualified unity. For this, the respect (the species of
- the change) must be one and indivisible, the when (the time
- of the change) has to be single with nothing left out, and the
- changing thing has to be single, and not coincidentally so.
- Think of a pale object turning dark, and of Coriscus walking:
- the pale thing may be the same thing as Coriscus, but that is
- coincidental. Moreover the changing thing must be single,
- not just in the sense that a single common character is in-
- volved; two people might simultaneously be recovering from
- the same ailment (an eye infection, say), but this process of
- recovery is not absolutely single, only specifically so.
- 228a3But what if Socrates alters, with an alteration which is
- specifically the same, and does so first at one time and then
- again at another time? If it is possible for something which
- has ceased to be to come into being again as numerically the
- same one thing, then this alteration of Socrates' could be one
- as well; if it is impossible, however, it is the same alteration,
- but not a single alteration.*
- pg 1296There is a problem which is closely related to this one,
- namely whether health and bodily states and affections in
- general are one in substance.* The problem arises because
- their seats are evidently changing and in flux. If the health I
- had in the morning and the health I have now are one and
- the same, why should health which is restored after an inter-
- val not be the same health too? Why should that health and
- this health not be numerically one? After all, the argument is
- 12the same in both cases. There is this much difference between
- them,* however: if there are two states, because they are the
- states of individuals which are in this way numerically two,†
- there must be two activities as well, since an activity is nu-
- merically one only if it is the activity of something numeric-
- ally one. But if there is one state, that still might not lead us
- to count the activity as one as well, because when a person
- stops walking, the walking no longer exists, but it will exist
- again if he walks again. So if the walking is one and the
- same, it would have to be possible for something which is
- one and the same to cease to exist and then to exist again
- time after time. But these problems lie outside our present
- 20Every change is continuous,* since every change is divisible,
- and so change which is unqualifiedly one must be continuous
- too, and if it is continuous, it must be one. For instance, it
- is not the case that every change is continuous with every
- other change, just as it is not the case that any two objects
- taken at random are continuous; two things are continuous
- only if their limits are one. Now, some things do not have
- limits, and although other things do, their limits are different
- in form from one another and share only a name. How could
- the end of a line and the end of a walk be in contact or
- 26become one? Changes which are specifically or generically
- different could be consecutive to one another: someone could
- go for a run and then immediately come down with a fever.
- And there could be movements which are consecutive, such
- as the race where torches are passed on in relay. They are not
- continuous, however. After all, we have established that con-
- tinuity involves unity of limits. So continuity of time makes
- changes consecutive and successive, but it is continuity of the
- pg 130changes themselves that makes them continuous—that is, when
- 228b1their two limits are the same. That is why for a change to be
- continuous and one in an unqualified sense it has to be speci-
- fically the same, there has to be only one changing thing
- involved, and the change has to happen in a single period of
- time. It has to happen in a single period of time, because other-
- wise there will be a period of non-change in between, since
- when change is interrupted, there is bound to be rest. Any
- change which is interrupted by rest is a number of changes,
- not a single change, and so a change which involves intervals
- of rest is neither single nor continuous, and these intervals
- 7occur if there are intervening periods of time. But even if the
- time involved is continuous, as long as the change is not speci-
- fically the same, it makes no difference that only a single stretch
- of time is involved: the change remains specifically different.
- The point is that although specific identity is a prerequisite
- for a change to be single, it is not the case that a change that
- is specifically single is necessarily unqualifiedly one.
- 11I have now explained what it is for a change to be un-
- qualifiedly one. Moreover, a change is also described as one—
- generically, specifically, or in substance*—if it is complete,
- just as in other cases completeness and wholeness are properties
- of something that is one. But sometimes a change is described
- as one even if it is incomplete, as long as it is continuous.
- 15A uniform change is also described as one, though not in
- the same way as the changes we have already discussed. What
- I mean is that there is a sense in which a non-uniform change
- gives the impression of not being single, whereas this descrip-
- tion seems more suited to a uniform change (as it is to a
- straight line, for instance). After all, a non-uniform change is
- divisible. But non-uniform changes seem to differ in degree,
- some being more uniform than others. Every kind of change
- can be either uniform or non-uniform. An object can alter uni-
- formly, it can move uniformly (around a circle, for instance, or
- in a straight line), and the same goes for increase and decrease.
- Non-uniformity is an inconstancy which may occur in the
- path the change is taking, since it is impossible for a change
- to be uniform if it is moving over a non-uniform magnitude,
- such as an angled line or a spiral or any other magnitude
- pg 131which is not such that any two parts, chosen at random, will
- 25fit on to one another. Alternatively, non-uniformity may occur
- not where the change takes place,† nor in the time, nor in the
- end-point, but in the way the change happens. For instance,
- there may be inconstancy of speed; any change which happens
- at the same speed is uniform, whereas any change where the
- speed differs is non-uniform. That is why quickness and slow-
- ness are neither species nor differentiae of change: it is because
- they are found in all the various species of change. It follows*
- that greater or lesser heaviness and lightness, considered as
- tendencies in a single direction (i.e. when one compares the
- relative weight of one piece of earth with that of another, or
- the relative weight of two bits of fire), do not constitute
- different species of change either.
- 229a1Although non-uniform change is single because it is con-
- tinuous, then, it is less single than uniform change, as we can
- see in the case of angled movement; and 'less' always implies
- the infiltration of the opposite. Now, every change that is
- single can be either uniform or non-uniform, and therefore*
- changes which are not specifically the same but are consec-
- utive with one another cannot form a single, continuous unity.
- How could a change which is a combination of alteration
- and movement be uniform? In order to be uniform, its parts
- would have to fit on to one another.
5. How a change is opposite to a change
- 7We should also decide which changes are opposite to which,
- and do the same for rest as well. First, what is it for one
- change to be the opposite of another? Is it that the starting-
- point of one is the end-point of the other (one might be a
- change from health, for instance, while the other is a change
- to health)? This is what seems to apply to coming to be and
- ceasing to be. Or is it that they have opposite starting-points
- (one being a change from health, say, while the other is from
- illness)? Or is it that they have opposite end-points (one being
- a change to health, for instance, while the other is a change
- to illness)? Or is it that the starting-point of one is the opposite
- of the end-point of the other (one being a change from health,
- pg 132for instance, while the other is a change to illness)? Or is it
- that both their end-points and starting-points are opposed to
- one another (one being a change from health to illness, for
- instance, while the other is a change from illness to health)?
- One or more of these kinds of opposition must apply, since
- the list is exhaustive.
- 16Now, changes where the starting-point of one is the opposite
- of the end-point of the other (where one, for instance, is a
- change from health, while the other is a change to illness) are
- not opposites: they are identical, in fact (except that what it
- is to be one is different from what it is to be the other, in the
- sense that it is not the same to change from health and to
- change to illness).
- 20Also, changes with opposite starting-points are not opposites
- either, since a change from an opposite is at the same time a
- change to the opposite of that opposite (or to something in
- between the two opposites)—but I will discuss this in a
- 22Opposite end-points would seem to account for opposition
- between changes better than opposite starting-points, since in
- the latter case there is a loss of opposition, whereas in the
- former case opposition is gained. Besides, we do describe any
- given change in terms of its end-point rather than its starting-
- point: the change to health, for instance, is called 'recovering
- health', and the change to illness is called 'falling ill'.
- 27We are left, then, with changes to opposite end-points, and
- those with both opposite end-points and opposite starting-
- points. Now, it may be that changes to opposite end-points
- are also changes from opposite starting-points, although what
- it is to be the one is perhaps different from what it is to be the
- other. What I mean is that the change to health is different
- from the change from illness, and the change from health is
- different from the change to illness. But since change and vari-
- ation are different (in the sense that variation is change from
- an entity to an entity), then variations whose end-points and
- starting-points are both opposed are opposites; for example,
- the variation from health to illness is the opposite of the
- 229b2variation from illness to health. A survey of particular examples
- shows the kinds of cases which are taken to be opposites. For
- pg 133instance, falling ill is taken to be the opposite of recovering
- health, and being taught the facts is taken to be the opposite
- of being misled by someone else, since the end-points are
- opposed (after all, just as one can acquire the truth from
- someone else, as well as from oneself, so one can also be
- misled by someone else or by oneself). Or again, movement
- upwards is taken to be the opposite of movement downwards
- (since the end-points are opposed on the dimension of length),
- movement to the right is taken to be the opposite of move-
- ment to the left (since the end-points are opposed on the
- dimension of breadth), and movement to the front is taken to
- be the opposite of movement to the back (since here too there
- are opposite end-points).
- 10However, processes in which only the end-point is an op-
- posite (as when pallor comes into being, but not from any-
- thing) are changes, but not variations.* And in cases where
- there is no opposite, one change is the opposite of the other
- if its starting-point is the end-point of the other; that is why
- coming to be is the opposite of ceasing to be, and loss is the
- 14opposite of gain. But these are changes, not variations. In
- cases where the opposites have an intermediate, variations to
- the intermediate point should be counted as variations to
- opposites, in a sense, because as far as the variation is con-
- cerned, the intermediate point acts as an opposite, in which-
- ever direction the change is proceeding. For instance, grey
- acts as black in the change from grey to white, and as black
- again in the change from white to grey, but it acts as white
- in the change from black to grey. For, as I have already said,
- compared to either of the two extremes, the mid-point is
- described as in a sense being either of them.
- 21So the way in which changes are opposed to one another
- is if both their starting-points and their end-points are op-
- posed to one another.
6. How change and rest are opposites
- 23However, change is not only opposed by change: rest seems
- to be the opposite of change too. So here is another issue we
- had better settle. A change is opposed in an unqualified sense
- pg 134by a change, but rest is also opposed to it in that it is the
- privation of change, and there is a sense in which we describe
- the privation of anything as its opposite. Now, the opposite
- of change of a particular kind is rest of the same kind; for
- instance, the opposite of change of place is staying in one
- place. But now this statement needs qualifying. Which is the
- opposite of staying in a given place? Is it movement to that
- place or movement from that place? Clearly (remembering
- that two entities* are involved in movement), staying in place
- A is opposed by moving from there to place B, and staying
- in place B is opposed by moving from there to place A.
- 31At the same time, staying in place A and staying in place
- B are also the opposites of each other. After all, there could
- hardly be opposition between changes and not between states
- of rest; and rest in an opposite state is an opposite state of
- rest. For instance, remaining in a state of health is the opposite
- of remaining in a state of illness (as well as being the opposite
- of the change from health to illness. It would be ridiculous
- for it to be opposed by the change from illness to health,
- because the change whose end-point is the state of remaining
- healthy is a process of coming to rest rather than the opposite
- of the rest, or rather the process of coming to rest happens
- to coincide with the change. But it must be opposed by either
- the change from health to illness or the change from illness
- to health.) After all, it cannot be remaining in the state of
- pallor that is the opposite of remaining in the state of health.
- 230a7In cases where there is no opposite, the change where some-
- thing is the starting-point is the opposite of the change where
- that thing is the end-point; this is not a variation, however.
- Change from being, for instance, is the opposite of change to
- being. Also, in these cases there is no such thing as rest,* but
- only changelessness. And if some entity was involved, its
- changelessness in existence would be the opposite of its change-
- 12lessness in non-existence. But one might object that there is
- no such thing as a non-existent thing, and ask what change-
- lessness in existence is opposed to, and whether changelessness
- in existence is in fact a state of rest. But if it is, then either
- it is possible for the opposite of a state of rest not to be a
- variation, or else coming to be and ceasing to be are variations.
- pg 135Clearly, then, since coming to be and ceasing to be are not
- in fact variations, we should not describe changelessness in
- existence as a state of rest; we should acknowledge its simi-
- larity to a state of rest, but call it a state of changelessness.
- And it will be the opposite either of nothing or of changeless-
- ness in non-existence or of ceasing to exist, because ceasing
- to exist is a change which has this state of changelessness as
- its starting-point, while coming to be is a change which has
- it as its end-point.
The opposition between natural and unnatural change and rest
- 18Why, someone might ask, should both rest and change be
- either natural or unnatural in the case of change of place,
- while this does not obtain for other kinds of change? For
- instance, the contrast between natural and unnatural does
- not apply to alterations: recovering health is no more natural
- or unnatural than falling ill, and paling is no more natural or
- 23unnatural than darkening. The same goes for increase and
- decrease: they are not opposed to each other in the sense that
- while one is natural, the other is unnatural, and one increase
- is not opposed to another increase in that way either. The
- same argument applies to coming to be and ceasing to be: it
- is not the case that coming to be is natural, while ceasing to
- be is unnatural (after all, growing old is natural), and it is
- also evident that the contrast between natural and unnatural
- does not apply to instances of coming to be.
- 29However, if what happens by force is unnatural, then forced
- ceasing to be is unnatural, and is opposed to natural ceasing
- to be. There are also some instances of coming to be that are
- forced and are not as destined (and are therefore opposed to
- natural instances). And are there not forced instances of in-
- crease and decrease, such as the rapid growth to maturity of
- those who have been given a luxurious diet, or the ripening†
- of grain even when it is not compressed?* And what about
- alteration? Is it not the same for it too? If so, some alterations
- would be forced, while others are natural. An example of the
- difference between the two kinds of alteration might be people
- recovering from fever on non-critical days, as distinct from
- pg 136those who do so on the critical days: the second kind of
- alteration would be natural, the first unnatural.
- 230b6So there will also be instances of ceasing to be which are
- opposed to one another, not to instances of coming to be.
- Why not? Why should there not be a sense in which this is
- so? After all, one instance of ceasing to be may be enjoyable,
- while another is distressing. In other words, it is not the case
- that instances of ceasing to be are opposed to each other in
- an unqualified sense, but in the sense that one of them has
- one quality, while the other has a different quality.
- 10Generally speaking, then, changes are opposed to changes,
- and states of rest to states of rest, in the way I have described.
- For example, since up and down are opposites in the category
- of place, upward movement is the opposite of downward
- movement. Fire naturally moves upwards, and this is the op-
- posite of the natural movement of earth, which is downwards;
- the natural upward movement of fire is the opposite of its
- 15unnatural downward movement. The same goes for states of
- rest: rest high up (unnatural for earth) is the opposite of
- movement down from high up (which is natural for earth); so
- unnatural rest is the opposite of a thing's natural movement.
- After all, a thing's movements are opposed on the same prin-
- ciple: one of its movements—either upward or downward—
- is natural, while the other is unnatural.
- 21There is a problem here: if a state of rest is not everlasting,
- does it come into being and is its coming into being the same
- as coming to rest? Coming into being would then be some-
- thing that happened to unnatural states of rest (such as earth
- being at rest high up), and it would follow that when earth
- is forced to move upwards, it is coming to rest. But every
- process of coming to rest seems to involve the object accel-
- erating, whereas the opposite is the case when a thing has
- been forced to move. So it would be at a standstill without
- having come to a standstill. Also, a thing's coming to rest is
- generally taken to be either the same as its moving to its
- proper place, or at least to be something that coincidentally
- happens at the same time.
- 28It might be objected that rest in a given place might not be
- the opposite of movement from that place, on the grounds
- pg 137that when something is moving away from a place and losing
- touch with it, it seems to retain what is being left behind;*
- therefore, it might be said, if the state of rest in question is
- the opposite of movement from there to somewhere which is
- opposed to there, the object will have two opposites simultan-
- eously. However, surely it is in some sense at rest, provided
- that it remains in its former state; and, to put the matter
- generally, whenever something is changing, part of it is at the
- starting-point of the change and part of it is going towards
- the end-point. That is also why the opposite of a change is
- better regarded as another change, rather than a state of rest.
- 231a2I have now explained in what sense change and rest are
- each single, and what kinds of opposition exist among them.
224a21 coincidental change: as with causes, so also with changes, Aristotle holds that there is some one preferred way of describing the agent of change, the object changed, and the initial and final states of the change. The preferred description is said to describe 'a change in its own right', and other descriptions are said to describe 'a coincidental change'. Again, as with causes, Aristotle gives no criteria for the preferred description, but we get some idea of what he has in mind by attending to his examples.
224b5 form … does not cause change: presumably what Aristotle means is that form is not an agent of change; the Greek word here translated 'cause change' could also be rendered 'set a change in motion'. Even so, this claim is not too easy to reconcile with the claim of Book II that form should be counted as efficient cause and formal cause and (in particular) final cause of many natural changes (198a24). See also note on 224b11.
224b10 already: in Chs. 1–2 of Book III.
224b11 forms or affections or place: probably 'form' is here to be understood as limited to 'substantial forms', i.e. to predicates in the category of substance. Also 'affection' is used here for qualities, and quantities are omitted from the list. (Similarly at b5 above, where qualities are omitted from the list.) But at b25 below, 'form' is apparently used to cover all four of the categories in which change takes place, as in Ch. 7 of Book I. (Cf. 225b24.)
2241b14 affections: as in English, the Greek word 'affection' can be used both for the process of being affected by something and for the product of that process.
224b18 change to an object of thought: suppose that I bleach the shirt so that it becomes white, and meanwhile you are thinking of the colour white. Of course it does not follow that the shirt comes to be thought of (by you), but it may be said to follow that the shirt comes to be something (namely white) that is being thought of (by you).
224b29 opposites or intermediates, or in contradiction: in Ch. 5 of Book I Aristotle argued that all change is between opposites or intermediates, but in Ch. 7 this was subsumed under the more general claim that all change is between a form and its privation. This included generation and destruction, for in such changes the matter was held to persist throughout, now with the form and now with the privation. But here Aristotle will not draw attention to anything that persists through generation and destruction (save possibly at 225a27), and he will say that this case, and this case only, is covered by 'contradiction' but not by 'opposites or intermediates'. (See also note on 225b3.)
225a1 the word itself: the word 'change' (metabolē) is a compound word, with the word 'after' (meta) as its first component.
225a10 change from a non-entity to a non-entity is impossible: what changes from weighing less than a pound to weighing more than a pound must also change from weighing neither r pound nor more to weighing; neither 1 pound nor less, but no doubt Aristotle would dismiss the latter description as merely 'coincidental'.
225a20 'Not being' is ambiguous: in Greek 'is not' can be used to mean 'is not the case', or 'does not exist', or (in context) 'is not so-and-so, e.g. pale'. These are Aristotle's three examples. He claims that what 'is nor' in either of the first two ways cannot vary, but his real concern here is just with what does not exist.
225a27 it is coincidentally coming to be: this is an obscure phrase. Perhaps Aristotle means, in accordance with the doctrine of Ch. 7 of Book I, that there is always a kind of coincidence involved when anything comes to be. For example, when a statue comes to be, that is because some bronze has become statue-shaped, and then this bronze is the statue, but only coincidentally. But one could wish that he had been more explicit.
225a29 cannot be at rest either: when the two standard words for change in Greek are distinguished as 'change' (metabolē) and 'variation' (kinēsis), it is the latter that contrasts with 'rest' (ēremia). So, on Aristotle's account, to be at rest is to be capable of varying but not actually varying. Hence he infers that since what does not exist is not capable of varying, it cannot be said to be at rest either (cf. 261b11–12).
225b3 a privation: of the examples that follow, it would seem that 'naked' and 'toothless' are examples of opposites that are privations, whereas 'dark' is an example of an opposite that is not a privation. Aristotle claims here that words for privations are positive. (The word for 'toothless' does not have a negative prefix or suffix in Greek.) This may be contrasted with his practice in Ch. 7 of Book I, where the privation is always expressed by a negative term, and with the way that he goes on to identify the privation with not being in Chs. 8 and 9 (191b15–16, 192a3–6).
225b5 The different kinds of variation: this heading is inserted where the sense demands it. But the MSS mark the beginning of Ch. 2 as occurring two sentences later, at 225b10.
225b7 action or affection: note that time is omitted from this list. (See Introduction, p. xlvii.) Note also that the phrase 'action or affection' seems here to be treated as the name of a single category.
225b12 Reading μεταβάλλοντος 〈μή〉 (Schwegler).
225b30 Reading τυχοῦσαν, δεῖ γὰρ κἀκείνην ἔκ τινος εἴς τι ἕτερον, ὥστε with MS H.
225b31 namely, becoming healthy: the argument is that if a person undergoing the change from being healthy to being ill is to change from undergoing that change to undergoing another, then he must change to the opposite change, i.e. the change from being ill to being healthy. Aristotle apparently thinks that this is contradictory, for the first change will lead to his being ill at the same time as the second makes him healthy. But the truth seems to be that we have here a perfectly coherent case of one who is getting an illness, but this process is then reversed (e.g. by a dose of medicine), so he never does go down with the disease but ends up as healthy as at first.
225b32 a change from remembering to forgetting: Aristotle writes as though he supposes that remembering and forgetting are themselves changes (rather than states). This is strange.
226a6 Thirdly: the argument is this. Suppose that from t0 to t1, a thing x is coming to be a thing that comes to be, and that from t1 to t2 it is coming to be. The premiss is that a process of coming to be must be answered by a corresponding process of ceasing to be, so there must also be a period when x is ceasing to be a thing that comes to be. But when could this be? Not before t1, for x does not become a thing that comes to be until t1; not between t1, and t2, for at those times x is a thing coming to be, and so cannot also be ceasing to be such a thing; and finally not after t2, for by then x has ceased to be a thing coming to be, and so cannot be ceasing to be such. (Compare the puzzle at 218a16–21 on when an instant of time ceases to be.) However, there does not seem to be anything wrong with the reply that x is ceasing to be a thing that is coming to be during the later part of the period from t1 to t2.
226a10 Fourthly: by the doctrine of Ch. 7 of Book I, if anything comes into being there must be some matter that is first in one state and then in another, and the matter in its final state constitutes the thing that comes to be. Aristotle asks what this matter could be, and what its final state is, when what comes into being is itself a change or a coming to be. (The plural 'they change to' at a13 shows that he thinks that the matter would have to be different in the two cases under discussion, i.e. the coming into being of (i) a change (i.e. variation) and (ii) a coming into being. The final sentence of the paragraph assumes that the matter, i.e. 'the underlying thing', would itself have to be a change (i.e. variation) of some kind. It is not clear how this assumption is justified.)
226a25 each of these categories admits opposition: some qualities have opposites (e.g. pale and dark) and some do not (e.g. round, square, triangular), but any quality can be the end-point of a change. No specific quantity (such as 3 feet long) has an opposite, but again any such quantity can be the end-point of a change. (The 'opposition' that Aristotle sees in this category is that of 'more and less'.) Similarly, no specific place is opposite to any other (but Aristotle is probably thinking of the opposition between up and down).
226a29 an affective quality: affective qualities are defined at Categories 9a28–10a10 as a special class of qualities (cf. note on 244b5), but here Aristotle presumably means the term to include all qualities except those that are essential to the subject in question. (Loss of an essential quality is destruction.)
226a33 despite the fact that: the word here used for 'movement' is more literally 'being carried', and is standardly used of the movements of non-living things. It would not naturally be used of, e.g., walking or running or jumping.
226b22 when they coincide in a single immediate place: that is, when they completely occupy exactly the same place. Aristotle will apply this notion not to three-dimensional bodies but to limits, e.g. points and surfaces, and two limits which touch do occupy exactly the same place where they touch. (But one may observe that Aristotle's account of place in Book IV does not allow such a limit to have a place.)
226b27 change is continuous: what follows is not the definition of continuity promised at the beginning of the chapter; that is coming later at 227a10, and it will explain what it is for one object to be continuous with another. Nor is it Aristotle's usual account of what makes a change continuous, for that does require that there be no gaps in the time (as e.g. in the next chapter; see note on 228a20). Rather, this is an ad hoc meaning for 'continuous', adopted simply to clarify the idea of one thing being between others. The thought is that x is between y and z if a natural change from y to z would go through x.
227a16 what makes them continuous: more literally, what holds them together, since the word 'continuous' literally means 'held together' in Greek. (Cf. note on 220a10.) Aristotle is thinking that if the limits of x and y 'are identical' where they touch, then the whole which has x and y as parts will move as a piece. But (a) I should not have thought that nailing or gluing two objects together would count as making their limits 'identical', and (b) the top half and the bottom half of the water in the jug surely do have limits that 'are one', but they do not move as a piece.
227a18 contact… implies successiveness: this is a mistake, on the existing definitions, for Aristotle has (very naturally) defined 'successive' in such a way that if x succeeds y then x must come after y in some suitable ordering. But contact does not require any ordering from before to after.
227a29 contact is a property of points: Aristotle cannot mean that one point can touch another; he always (and correctly) denies this. I take it that he must mean, somewhat loosely, that points are involved in contact, for one thing will touch another at one or more points.
227b19 have we already decided: the correct answer seems to be 'No', but perhaps Aristotle thinks that at 227b7 the phrase 'in the same indivisible species' should be taken as covering 'what the change is in' as used here, i.e. the path of the change (straight or circular) and the manner of the change (by walking or by rolling).
228a6 the same alteration, but not a single alteration: that is, the same in species but not in number.
228a8 one in substance: Aristotle usually uses this phrase to mean 'one in definition' (and it is so translated in the other books of the Physics), but here it apparently means 'one in number'. Cf. 228b13.
228a12 this much difference between them: the text of the rest of this sentence is very uncertain; the reading adopted here is designed to give a reasonable argument, namely this. Suppose one says that my state of health this morning cannot be the same state as my state of health this afternoon, because they are not states of the same thing, on the ground that they are states of the body and the body is 'changing and in flux' (so it is 'in this way'—i.e. because of the flux—'numerically two'). Then it will follow by the same argument that my activity of walking this morning is equally not the same activity as my activity of walking this afternoon. On the other hand, if we insist that the body is still the same body (despite its flux), then we can maintain that there is only one state of health, existing both in the morning and in the afternoon, while still insisting that there are two distinct activities of walking, one in the morning and a different one in the afternoon. This is because the two activities are separated by a temporal gap, during which there is no walking.
It may be noted that Aristotle here equates activities with changes (such as alterations, a3–6). But elsewhere he distinguishes them, and counts walking as a change but not an activity. (The locus classicus is Metaphysics Θ6, 1048b18–35.)
228a13 Reading διὰ τὸ οὕτως τῷ ἀριθμῷ 〈δυοῖν εἶναι〉 (Bostock).
228a20 Every change is continuous: elsewhere Aristotle defines a continuous thing as one that is divisible (only) into parts that are themselves further divisible, and hence as something that is infinitely divisible (De Caelo 268a6–7; cf. Physics vi. 232b24–5). That appears to be the definition he is relying on here, when he says: 'since every change is divisible [sc. into smaller changes]'. The definition, however, leaves out a point that he relies on in the opening argument of Book VI, and that he evidently regards as crucial, namely that the parts into which a continuous thing is divided must share their limits I suspect that he would welcome a definition such as this. A continuous change occupies a continuous period of time, i.e. one with no gaps; moreover, at every instant during that period the changing object is in a state that is different from its states at suitably nearby instants (i.e. it is not at rest at any instant in the period); and further, its state at one instant of the period differs by as little as you please from its states at suitably nearby instants (i.e. it never 'leaps' instantaneously from one state to a different state).
228b26 Retaining ποῦ with the MSS.
228b30 It follows: because the difference in heaviness between one piece of earth and another is the difference in the speeds of their natural motion.
229a4 and therefore: the argument is that a change which combines changes of two different species, one after the other, cannot proceed uniformly, but every single change can proceed uniformly (even if it does not always do so).
229a22 in a moment: at a27 ff.
229b10 changes, but not variations: at 225a14–15 Aristotle had suggested that a change from not being pale to being pale could be viewed as a kind of coming to be, i.e. a coming to be of pallor, but presumably this can also be viewed as a variation in the underlying thing which is first not pale and later pale. Here he perhaps has in mind not something which turns pale but something which comes into existence as a pale thing (e.g. a growing mushroom).
230a10 no such thing as rest: recall that for Aristotle rest is opposed to variation, and variation does not include coming to be or ceasing to be. Cf. note on 225a29.
230b2 Omitting ταχύ (Bostock).
230b3 even when it is not compressed?: Ross's explanation is that corn will grow and ripen even when it is not packed down in the earth (but—e.g.—grown on blotting paper?). This strikes me as improbable, but I have no better explanation to offer.
230b30 it seems to retain what is being left behind: Aristotle is thinking of an extended thing moving from its place, and noting that some part of the thing will still be in the place even after the motion has started (cf. 234b10–17, 240b20–31). He goes on to suggest (implausibly) that this part may be said to be at rest.