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Whether pleasure is greater in brute beasts than in the human at the time of intercourse.

One asks whether pleasure is greater in brute beasts than in the human at the time of intercourse.

1. It seems that it is greater in the brute beast. Because one very intense power draws another away from its operation, for intense imaginings perceive less of what is presented to the external senses. But a human inclines more to the animal power than does the brute beast. Therefore, he inclines less to the generative power, etc.

2. In addition, each takes more pleasure in its own proper operation and therefore takes less pleasure in what is contrary to its own proper operation. But the proper operation of a human is [to live] according to reason, and, according to the Philosopher in the third book of the Ethics, the generative operation and the operation of taste work in opposition to this. This is why childish sins[1] consist in these things and why a human takes scant pleasure in them.

The Philosopher implies the opposite. For he says that "a human has intercourse at any time," whereas other animals do not. This would only be so if the human found more pleasure in intercourse than the beast, and therefore, etc.

One must reply that the human has more pleasure than the brute beast. The reason for this is that the pleasure of intercourse consists in touch. Where there is a better and surer sense of touch, there is more pleasure. But touch is surer in the human than in the brute beast. This is why, etc. A further indication of this is the abundance of blood and sperm in the human in comparison to the brute beast.

I. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that one power is only an animal power and another is only a natural power and some are composed of both of these. The power that is only a natural power draws the animal power away from its operation, as is evident in people who are asleep and, contrariwise, in those who are awake. But the generative power is composed of both the natural and the animal power, and on account of this it is neither blocked by nor drawn away from its operation by either one of them. This is because it requires digestion of the aliment, whose superfluity is the semen.

2. To the second argument one must reply that the generative operation and the operation of taste do not work in opposition to an operation according to reason, unless it shall depart from the mean, because the moral power, which does not work in opposition to reason, can reside in these operations. Thus the sensitive appetite works in opposition to reason the most when it is not subordinated to the command of reason, but the generative power and the power of taste themselves do not, nevertheless, work in opposition to reason in this way.

Whether desire in the operation of intercourse is greater in men or in women.

One asks further about desire itself in this operation, whether it is greater in men or in women.

And it seems to be greater in women, because in intercourse the male and female emit sperm and the menses. That is why there is no menstrual flow in virgins, and this is why they are sick more often. Since a woman naturally desires the menstrual flowsince this is a cause of health and not of trouble, which the retention of the menses causesand such trouble does not occur in males from the retention of the sperm, then a woman naturally desires [coition] more than a man.

Moreover, the natural and animal powers in women are likewise weaker and more suppressed than in men, as will be said below. The generative power is therefore more intense in them, and, as a result, so too is desire.

Moreover, love burns more ardently in a woman than in a man; therefore, she has more desire.

To the contrary. Desire occurs on the basis of heat. But the male is hotter than the female, and therefore, etc.

To this, one must reply that two things come into consideration with respect to desire: namely, pleasure and a judgment about what is desirable. If we speak of desire in terms of pleasure, this is naturally greater in the male than in the female.[2] If we speak in terms of the judgment, then one must distinguish, since one judgment is direct and another is indirect. A direct judgment is when something is judged to be pleasurable which is pleasurable. And judgment like this flourishes more in males than in females. An indirect judgment is when something is judged to be pleasurable which is not pleasurable, and this sort flourishes in women. And this is why, when she displays herself to one man, she still desires to display herself to another, for she judges this to be more pleasurable although in fact it is not. Thus, desire in terms of indirect judgment is greater in women, and the arguments show this, but in terms of direct judgment it is greater in males.

  • [1] Peccata: "misdeeds" or "peccadilloes," not necessarily with a theological overtone.
  • [2] Reading si for the nonsensical sie.
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