Home Philosophy The fathers of the church
Whether it is necessary for every animal to have members specially designated for generation.
One asks further whether it is necessary for every animal to have members specially designated for generation, namely, testicles.
1. It seems not. A power that resides in every part of the body does not need a determinate part. But the generative power exists in every part of the body; otherwise, the one generated would not be assimilated to the one generating both in toto and in respect to its individual parts. For unless the generative power existed in the hand of the one generating, and so too in other parts, the one that is generated would not have a hand; therefore, etc.
2. Moreover, the generative power is no less in the plant than in the animal, which is evident from the plurality of parts in the plant. But there is no part specially designated for generation in the plant, and therefore not in the animal either.
The opposite is evident from the determination made by the Philosopher.
One must respond that some animals are generated from propagation, and some from putrefaction. In those generated from putrefaction there are no members designated for generation, because they are not generated from semen. But in those generated through propagation this is necessary, because in such as these the male emits semen outside itself, which would not happen if the semen were not collected and digested in a determinate part. And this is why males have testicles, in which the semen is digested and fermented, and a penis, through which it is emitted at the time of generation. But the female has a womb that receives and informs it, and a mouth of the womb (which is the vulva), through which it receives it when it is spewed forth by the penis.
1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that semen arises from the superfluity of the nourishment that has been prepared almost to the point of conversion into a member, but because there is so much of it, some is not converted. This is why it has the disposition of every member potentially, because, if it had it in act, it would have been converted into those members. So the semen, when it receives the form of the semen or the sperm or of the one doing the generating (which are one and the same thing), receives a power for producing one like the one whose semen it is, and does so by virtue of the power of the one in which it exists. And although semen is digested or collected in a determinate part, like the testicles, it is nevertheless a superfluity of food that is potentially like the whole, and for that reason not only is the one produced from semen similar when born to the part, but also to the entirety of the one doing the generating.
2. To the second argument one must respond that the more imperfect the form is, the less variety there will be in its matter. For there is less variety in the matter of fire or earth than in that of a plant, and less in the plant than in the animal, and this is why it is not necessary that the generative power of a plant be in a determinate part. Instead, there can be a principle sufficient to produce another plant like itself and it can be present in any part. And this is owing to the imperfection of the plant, because there is little variation in its material. But this is not the case in animals generated through propagation; and for that reason, etc.
And once more the plant is not generated by propagation, but rather through sprouting, because it is evident to the senses among plants that sprout from some part of themselves, that the power of sprouting exists in every part of the plant unless a hard covering should prevent it, as is the case on its trunk. But it is not this way on animals, and for that reason, etc. Hereby the solution to the whole question is clear.
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