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Section XIV

XIV. But Boethus adduces the most convincing arguments, which we shall proceed to mention immediately; for if, says he, the world was created and is liable to destruction, then something will be made out of nothing, which appears to be most absurd even to the Stoics. Why so? Because it is not possible to discover any cause of destruction either within or without, which will destroy the world. For on the outside there is nothing except perhaps a vacuum, inasmuch as all the elements in their integrity are collected and contained within it, and within there is no imperfection so great as to be the cause of dissolution to so great a thing. Again, if it is destroyed without any cause, then it is plain that from something which has no existence will arise the engendering of destruction, which is an idea quite inadmissible by reason; and, indeed, they say that there are altogether three generic manners of corruption, one which arises from division, another which proceeds from a destruction of the distinctive quality which holds the thing together, and the third from confusion; therefore the things which consist of a union of separate members, such as flocks of goats, herds of oxen, choruses, armies; or, again, bodies which are compounded of limbs joined together, are dissolved by disjunction and separation. But wax, when stamped with a new impression, or softened before being remodelled so as to present a new and different appearance, is corrupted by a destruction of the distinctive quality which previously held it together. Other things are corrupted by confusion, as the medicine which the physicians call tetrapharmacon, for the powers of the drugs brought together and combined were destroyed in such a manner as to produce one perfect medicine of especial virtue. By which, then, of these modes of corruption is it becoming to say that the world is destroyed? By that which is caused by separation? No, for it is not compounded of separate members so that its different parts can be dispersed, nor of portions joined together so that they can be dissolved; nor is it united together in a similar manner to our own bodies, for they have the seeds of decay in themselves, and they are subject to influence of a great variety of things by which they are at times injured; but the power of the world is invincible, since by its great superiority to other things it has dominion over everything. Is it then destroyed by a complete destruction of its distinctive qualities? This again is impossible, for there remains, as the adversaries affirm, a quality of arrangement which by the process of conflagration is only diminished to a lesser substance ... Is it destroyed then by confusion? Away with such an idea, for in that case it would be necessary to confess that the corruption of a body can be reduced to a state of non-existence. Why so? Because if each of the particular elements were destroyed separately, it would be possible for it to become changed into another; but if they are altogether destroyed at one and the same moment by confusion, then it would be necessary to imagine what is absolutely impossible.

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