MacKenna: Tratado 12,14 (II,4,14) — A matéria e a privação

14. But is Absence this privation itself, or something in which this Privation is lodged?

Anyone maintaining that Matter and Privation are one and the same in substratum but stand separable in reason cannot be excused from assigning to each the precise principle which distinguishes it in reason from the other: that which defines Matter must be kept quite apart from that defining the Privation and vice versa.

There are three possibilities: Matter is not in Privation and Privation is not in Matter; or each is in each; or each is in itself alone.

Now if they should stand quite apart, neither calling for the other, they are two distinct things: Matter is something other than Privation even though Privation always goes with it: into the principle of the one, the other cannot enter even potentially.

If their relation to each other is that of a snubnose to snubness, here also there is a double concept; we have two things.

If they stand to each other as fire to heat – heat in fire, but fire not included in the concept of heat – if Matter is Privation in the way in which fire is heat, then the Privation is a form under which Matter appears but there remains a base distinct from the Privation and this base must be the Matter. Here, too, they are not one thing.

Perhaps the identity in substance with differentiation in reason will be defended on the ground that Privation does not point to something present but precisely to an absence, to something absent, to the negation or lack of Real-being: the case would be like that of the affirmation of non-existence, where there is no real predication but simply a denial.

Is, then, this Privation simply a non-existence?

If a non-existence in the sense that it is not a thing of Real-being, but belongs to some other Kind of existent, we have still two Principles, one referring directly to the substratum, the other merely exhibiting the relation of the Privation to other things.

Or we might say that the one concept defines the relation of substratum to what is not substratum, while that of Privation, in bringing out the indeterminateness of Matter, applies to the Matter in itself: but this still makes Privation and Matter two in reason though one in substratum.

Now if Matter possesses an identity – though only the identity of being indeterminate, unfixed and without quality – how can we bring it so under two principles?