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Whether the egg white is generated from some superfluity of the egg or from some substance of the one laying the egg.

Next one asks about the parts of the egg. And first one inquires into the white of the egg, whether it is generated from some superfluity of the egg or from some substance of the egg-layer.

1. It seems that it is from the substance of the egg-layer. Now the one generating generates something like itself. But a flyer is generated from the white [albugo] and the white [albumen] is generated from the flyer.[1] Therefore, the white is like the flyer in substance.

2. Moreover, the frequent emission of eggs weakens the egg-layer, for it is said in the text that "hens laying a great deal die more quickly." But this would not happen if the white of the egg were not derived from the substance of the egg-layer; therefore, etc.

3. Moreover, spirits and heat are derived from the one generating, as will be explained in book sixteen of this work. But spirits would not be derived from the spirits of the one generating, nor heat from its heat nor power from its power unless the one generated from it were of the same substance as the one generating. Since, then, a fetus comes to be from the white, as the text says,6 the white will be of the substance of the one generating.

To the contrary. The white is in egg-layers just as the sperm is in those generating and the seed is in plants. But the sperm is not of the same substance as the one generating, nor is the seed of the same substance as the plant. These come rather from a superfluity of their nutriment. Therefore, etc.

One should say that the white in the egg stems from the superfluity of the third digestion and is not from the substance of the egg-layer, because if it were from the egg-layer's substance, then it would be derived either from one part alone or from the whole. If from one part alone, then the animal could not be produced from the white, but only a part of an animal could be so produced. If it were actually derived from the whole, then the white would itself be a small animal that would have in itself the nature of every animal, or it would be composed from all the parts of the animal.

Moreover, separation from something continuous does not occur without pain; if, then, sperm were of the same substance as the one generating it, its separation would not occur without pain, and as a consequence there would be no pleasure in that act, which is false. But the white in egg-layers is analogous to sperm in viviparous animals.[2] Therefore, the white will not be from the substance of the one generating, but rather from some superfluity of the nutriment.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one should reply that when one says, "the one generating generates something like itself," this should be understood to mean generating in a univocal sense, and principally, and not equivocally and instrumentally. But the white in the egg does not have the nature [ratio] of

2. To the second argument one should respond that frequent egg-laying weakens the egg-layer, just as the frequent emission of sperm or frequent coition weakens one generating, not because something belonging to the substance of the egg-layer is in the egg, but because the white of the egg comes from superfluous nutriment, and when there is frequent egg-laying, whatever should be converted into the substance of the members is converted into the white before it is converted [into the members]. This is just as occurs in those having frequent intercourse: what should be converted into the substance of the members is emitted through the seminal vessels [vasa seminaria].

3. To the third argument one should reply that the spirit, heat, and other power of the egg-layer is derived along with the egg, because these are the means of reducing to act that which exists in the egg potentially. But this is not the case for the white itself, and for that reason, etc., as has been said.

  • [1] Throughout this section A. uses albugo and albumen interchangeably.
  • [2] "Viviparous animals": generantibus animalia. Or, perhaps, "those that produce by generation." a generating principle, but is rather an instrument of the principal agent.
 
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