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By John Edwin Sandys

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Therefore the sun is not the producer of light. For no substratum is the creative cause of the form that informs it, and nor for that matter is anything at all that possesses them the productive cause of its own property or attribute. In Plotinian terms one would say the same thing [thus]:71 ‘light is an activity of the source of illumination going out to other things’, for which reason he also says: ‘when that which acts is present, its activity is present, when it departs, it departs along with it’.

Once more the necessity is in the other direction. If [such] products exist, the principles in accordance with which they came into existence must in every case exist as well, but [created] things will not in every case follow upon [the existence of] the principles. A shipwright or a builder may be in possession of the principles for [building] a ship or a house but not yet be creating [anything] based on them. The being of such principles consists in their being concepts of a certain kind, but when the creator acts in accord with them, they become patterns as a consequence [of that].

If the world had existed from everlasting, it would be absolutely necessary for the number of things that have come into existence in the world from the beginning up until now – I mean men and plants and the other individuals in each species – to have become actually infinite as well. 32 So since, if the world is ungenerated, the time that has elapsed is also actually infinite, the individual things that have come to be in this infinite time must, I imagine, be actually infinite in number too. And so it will follow that, if the world is ungenerated, an infinite number actually exists and has occurred.

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A history of classical scholarship / Vol. 1 by John Edwin Sandys


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