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Section 8

8. The division into elements must, in short, be abandoned, especially in regard to Sensible Substance, known necessarily by sense rather than by reason. We must no longer look for help in constituent parts, since such parts will not be substances, or at any rate not sensible substances.

Our plan must be to apprehend what is constant in stone, earth, water and the entities which they compose- the vegetal and animal forms, considered purely as sensibles- and to confine this constant within a single genus. Neither Matter nor Form will thus be overlooked, for Sensible Substance comports them; fire and earth and the two intermediaries consist of Matter and Form, while composite things are actually many substances in one. They all, moreover, have that common property which distinguishes them from other things: serving as subjects to these others, they are never themselves present in a subject nor predicated of any other thing. Similarly, all the characteristics which we have ascribed to Substance find a place in this classification.

But Sensible Substance is never found apart from magnitude and quality: how then do we proceed to separate these accidents? If we subtract them- magnitude, figure, colour, dryness, moistness- what is there left to be regarded as Substance itself? All the substances under consideration are, of course, qualified.

There is, however, something in relation to which whatever turns Substance into qualified Substance is accidental: thus, the whole of fire is not Substance, but only a part of it- if the term "part" be allowed.

What then can this "part" be? Matter may be suggested. But are we actually to maintain that the particular sensible substance consists of a conglomeration of qualities and Matter, while Sensible Substance as a whole is merely the sum of these coagulations in the uniform Matter, each one separately forming a quale or a quantum or else a thing of many qualities? Is it true to say that everything whose absence leaves subsistence incomplete is a part of the particular substance, while all that is accidental to the substance already existent takes independent rank and is not submerged in the mixture which constitutes this so-called substance?

I decline to allow that whatever combines in this way with anything else is Substance if it helps to produce a single mass having quantity and quality, whereas taken by itself and divorced from this complementary function it is a quality: not everything which composes the amalgam is Substance, but only the amalgam as a whole.

And let no one take exception on the ground that we produce Sensible Substance from non-substances. The whole amalgam itself is not True Substance; it is merely an imitation of that True Substance which has Being apart from its concomitants, these indeed being derived from it as the possessor of True Being. In the lower realm the case is different: the underlying ground is sterile, and from its inability to produce fails to attain to the status of Being; it remains a shadow, and on this shadow is traced a sketch- the world of Appearance.

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