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Section 27

27. On other grounds also, it is indefensible not to have reserved the high place for the true first-principle of things but to have set up in its stead the formless, passive and lifeless, the irrational, dark and indeterminate, and to have made this the source of Being. In this theory God is introduced merely for the sake of appearance: deriving existence from Matter he is a composite, a derivative, or, worse, a mere state of Matter.

Another consideration is that, if Matter is a substrate, there must be something outside it, which, acting on it and distinct from it, makes it the substrate of what is poured into it. But if God is lodged in Matter and by being involved in Matter is himself no more than a substrate, he will no longer make Matter a substrate nor be himself a substrate in conjunction with Matter. For of what will they be substrates, when that which could make them substrates is eliminated? This so-called substrate turns out to have swallowed up all that is; but a substrate must be relative, and relative not to its content but to something which acts upon it as upon a datum.

Again, the substrate comports a relation to that which is not substrate; hence, to something external to it: there must, then, be something apart from the substrate. If nothing distinct and external is considered necessary, but the substrate itself can become everything and adopt every character, like the versatile dancer in the pantomime, it ceases to be a substrate: it is, essentially, everything. The mime is not a substrate of the characters he puts on; these are in fact the realisation of his own personality: similarly, if the Matter with which this theory presents us comports in its own being all the realities, it is no longer the substrate of all: on the contrary, the other things can have no reality whatever, if they are no more than states of Matter in the sense that the poses of the mime are states through which he passes.

Then, those other things not existing, Matter will not be a substrate, nor will it have a place among the Existents; it will be Matter bare, and for that reason not even Matter, since Matter is a relative. The relative is relative to something else: it must, further, be homogeneous with that something else: double is relative to half, but not Substance to double.

How then can an Existent be relative to a Non-existent, except accidentally? But the True-Existent, or Matter, is related (to what emerges from it) as Existent to Non-Existent. For if potentiality is that which holds the promise of existence and that promise does not constitute Reality, the potentiality cannot be a Reality. In sum, these very teachers who deprecate the production of Realities from Nonrealities, themselves produce Non-reality from Reality; for to them the universe as such is not a Reality.

But is it not a paradox that, while Matter, the Substrate, is to them an existence, bodies should not have more claim to existence, the universe yet more, and not merely a claim grounded on the reality of one of its parts?

It is no less paradoxical that the living form should owe existence not to its soul but to its Matter only, the soul being but an affection of Matter and posterior to it. From what source then did Matter receive ensoulment? Whence, in short, is soul's entity derived? How does it occur that Matter sometimes turns into bodies, while another part of it turns into Soul? Even supposing that Form might come to it from elsewhere, that accession of Quality to Matter would account not for Soul, but simply for organized body soulless. If, on the contrary, there is something which both moulds Matter and produces Soul, then prior to the produced there must be Soul the producer.

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