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Whether an organic member that has been cut off can be restored.

One asks whether an organic member that has been cut off can be restored.

1. It seems so, because organs exist in animals just as branches do in plants. But a branch that has been cut off can be regenerated. Therefore, for the same reason, organic members can be regenerated in animals.

2. Likewise, organic members are composed of homogenous parts, but homogenous parts can be regenerated, as is clear in flesh; therefore, etc.

3. Again, nourishment is converted into the substance of the one nourished; therefore any member that is lost can be restored by nourishment.

The opposite is clear to the senses, since a hand that is cut off or an eye that is plucked out is not regenerated.

One must say that organic (that is, official) members in animals cannot be restored, because the more noble a thing is the more care nature bestows on its production. Thus it disposes a more noble matter upon something capable of being produced more nobly. So the animal's semen is nobler and more subtle than the plant's seed [semen], and this is why nature ordained a determinate place for the animal's semen, namely, the testicles, but not for the plant's seed. Now, however, the organic members are generated from the spermatic semen by means of the power delegated to such parts for the purpose of being a formative power. Therefore, if such a member is cut off, there is no matter remaining in the body from which such a member can be produced nor is there such a productive power in the body, since the productive power of the hand is in the hand and that of the foot is in the foot, and once the hand has been generated this productive power of the hand disappears. Thus such members cannot then be regenerated owing both to a defect in the matter and a defect in the agent.[1]

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that branches that have been cut off can be regenerated because among animated things a plant is nearer to matter and to inanimate things. Thus it is particularly undiversified both in the whole and the part. So no matter is required to produce a branch beyond that which is the principle of nourishment. Thus, in plants the principle of nourishment and of the generation of branches is one and the same. But this is not the case for organic members in animals.

2. To the second, one must reply that some parts, for example, some nerves, bones, and some others like these, cannot be restored, just as the organic parts cannot. For those that partake more of form and less of matter, like those produced mostly from the spermatic semen, cannot be restored. But those that have a more material condition or are nearer to matter, yet do not arise only from the spermatic moisture but rather from the nutrimental moisture, can be restored. Examples include flesh, hair, and nails. And yet there is some flesh, like the flesh on the face, that cannot be restored, and this is because flesh such as this is produced from the spermatic moisture.

Or, in another way. Flesh is of two types: one type with respect to species, and another with respect to matter. The first type is not regenerated, but the second can be, and even comes back the same. Of the first type are the flesh of the foreskin, the lips, the jaws, and the like.

3. To the third, one must reply that although nourishment can be converted into the substance of the one nourished, nevertheless, once a hand has been cut off, the power is absent that can convert nourishment into a likeness of the hand. And this is why such members cannot be restored through nourishment, as has been clearly declared, etc.

  • [1] Reading tum. . . tum for the unintelligible tum . . . cum.
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