Home Philosophy The fathers of the church
Why one who has been wounded in the arm's muscle loses the power of speech.
Again one inquires why one who has been wounded in the arm's muscle loses the power of speechwhether it is due to fear or weakness.
One must reply that it is on account of both. For on account of fear the spirit suddenly withdraws to the interior parts, and since it is confined there and is not diffused to the nerves and muscles, this is the cause why speech ceases. It can also be owing to weakness, because a great deal of blood has flowed out and the spirits evaporate. Thus, once the body has been weakened by a loss of blood, the spirits' instruments have been rendered incapable of forming speech.
Why members that are weakened by hunger are immediately strengthened by food that has been received, though not yet incorporated, in the stomach.
Again, when all the members have been weakened by hunger, how is it that, once food has been received in the stomach, even though nothing is incorporated yet, all the members are strengthened and they are made stronger?
We say: Desiccated on account of the preceding hunger, they absorb food avidly, and as a result of this the released moisture represses the dryness a bit, and a strengthening thus occurs. But when a little bread is received, all the members are strengthened. Thus a great deal of moisture is released from it and diffused through the members.
We say otherwise that although all the members are weakened, nevertheless the stomach is weakened more. For the remaining members draw from it, but it draws almost nothing from the others. When it happens that the food is consumed, those parts through which it passes and in which it is found are strengthened by the food's moisture. Thus the body's weakness is strengthened to some degree.
Or it can be referred to the soul. For when the body is afflicted with hunger, the person (that is, the soul) is afraid that it may suffer some greater affliction. When, then, it eats, it begins to be strengthened, observing that it has escaped some future evil. We see somehow that if someone is condemned and despairs of life, and if one should say to him: "Do not be afraid," he hopes on the one hand and despairs on the other.
Why does a dead person staying in the water rise to the top, and a living one sink to the bottom?
Again one asks why a dead person staying in water rises to the top, and a living one sinks to the bottom.
Response. We know that the spirit is the bond between the body and the soul, and once it is released, the soul withdraws from the body. But because nothing can exist in a vacuum, air, which is subtler, moves in to where the spirit was earlier. And just as what is heavier seeks the lower, what is lighter seeks the higher.
One objects: does not water enter into a dead body and not a living body? Therefore, the dead body ought to be heavier.
Response: that water enters with air and that the air cannot be exhaled, and therefore it is diffused throughout the body. Therefore, the dead body is toward the top. Is it not for this reason that a dead person seems to be heavier to carry than a living one? Therefore, it is not lighter, but heavier. But the fact that one seems heavier to carry results from the difficult nature of the carrying. If it can be carried because it is light, it still seems heavy, and conversely, etc.
Why a certain wise man after being bled forgot all that he knew.
Again one inquires why it is that a certain wise man after being bled forgot all that he knew.
Response. When someone sleeps, the humors, impelled by the spirits, cross to a phlegmatic place. Thus, on a day when one is being bled one ought not to sleep, on account of the bubbling up of the humors traveling to the aforementioned place or ascending with an overpowering heat to the head. The bubbling of the humors turns itself toward the chamber devoted to memory and, after the nerve has been blocked through which the animal spirit passes, memory ceases.
Why someone suffering a fever lost the knowledge of letters.
Again one inquires why someone suffering a fever lost the knowledge of letters.
I reply that the fever was in the brain or in some part having a connection to the brain, and the pores closed up on account of the accumulation of humors that occurred near the chamber devoted to memory, through which the animal spirit was conveyed from the rational chamber to the chamber devoted to memory, or perhaps a drying out of its nerve occurred.
Why some people who eat more are thin, whereas others who eat only a little are fat.
Again one inquires why some people who eat more are thin, whereas others who eat only a little are fat.
I respond: Thin people are very hot and dry, and thus the food is consumed by the heat, but the dryness blocks the incorporation of the foods. Others are hot and moist, and the moisture resists the heat so that digestion and the incorporation of foods occur.
Why were eyes and ears absent in a boy that was born?
Again, why were eyes and ears absent in a boy that was born?
Response: there can be a defect in the sperm's [complexional] balance or with the formative power either in the womb or at the beginning of generation.
Why was it that someone who saw an enemy dropped dead?
Again one inquires why it was that someone who saw an enemy dropped dead.
Response: Melancholy, aroused by fear, squeezed the heart, and the vital spirit was suffocated. For just as the heart expands with joy, so too it contracts with fear.
Why is it that must, although it is clearer, does not cause drunkenness?
<Again one asks> why it is that must, although it is clearer, does not cause drunkenness.
Response. For drunkenness to occur, sharp heat and subtlety have to occur simultaneously. Although must is warm, it does not, on account of its thickness, have a penetrating power, and thus it does not cause drunkenness. Water, however, licks away at the subtle smokiness and does not cause drunkenness because it lacks a penetrating power, etc.
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