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Whether food will be necessary to the animal.

One inquires now about the regimen of life with respect to the nutriment. And first one inquires whether food will be necessary to the animal.

1. And it seems not. That which is especially distant from opposition [a contrarietate] can be maintained longer on its own.[1] This is clear from a celestial body.[2] But the body of an animal is especially distant from opposition, and as a result it is rendered fit for life. It can therefore be maintained more on its own from moisture, and as a result it does not need nutriment.

2. Moreover, that which is corrupt cannot confer anything on another. But nutriment, before it nourishes, is corrupted. Therefore, after its corruption it cannot confer anything on the animal and therefore it cannot nourish.

3. Moreover, the nobler something is, the more solicitous nature is toward it. But the living is nobler than the non-living. Therefore, since the non-living does not require nutriment, how much less so will the living.

The contrary is readily apparent, and the Philosopher makes the same determination.

One must respond that an animal requires nutriment. And the reason for this is that every finite quantity can be quickly consumed by the continuous removal of some finite quantity, unless it is restored. But in an animal the natural heat is situated in the radical moisture just as in a subject and in its nour-ishment. Therefore, its own nourishment is properly moist just like the unctuous moisture of fire. Thus, the heat does not cease to feed off the moisture itself. But that moisture is finite, and therefore, unless it is restored, it will be quickly corrupted. This is why food is necessary for the animal's preservation; because once the food is taken in it resists and blocks the action of the heat, lest the heat act upon its own proper subjectnamely, the radical moisturecorrupting it and, as a consequence, destroying itself as well.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must respond that there are four [things to consider] in an animal body. The first is its distance from opposition, and this is why an animal has the sense of touch. The second is its weak coagulation, since soft bodies are a result of weak coagulation. Third is the frequent action of heat, because heat does not cease to act on the proper object of its action if it should come near to it. Fourth is the continuous operation of the animal, by means of which the animal's powers are weakened. Thus, food is not necessary on account of the first of these, but it is necessary on account of the other three. For because bodies are weakly coagulated they are prone to injury and corruption, and because heat acts on them continuously there is continuously some loss there, and because the animal operates continuously there is a continuous weakening there. Thus food is a necessary remedy against these three.

2. To the second argument one must reply that what has been corrupted, to the extent that it is corrupted, confers nothing. But food, although it is corrupted as far as its own form [ species] is concerned, assumes the form [ forma] of aliment itself, and, as a result, that which was lost earlier from the thing it is nourishing is now restored by the food. So, if it were not corrupted previously, it would be unable to restore what has been lost. Thus, to the extent that it is corrupted, it confers nothing at all, but insofar as it assumes a new form [species] through a transmutation of its nature, [it does confer something].

3. To the third argument one must reply that inanimate things are generated from a determinate matter, and this is why they acquire a perfected quantity in their first generation. But animated beings are generated from semen, which first has a small quantity. Thus in their first generation they do not have a perfected quantity and for this reason animals have their own proper powers: one, by means of which they are moved to a perfected quantity, is the augmentative power; and another, by which they are preserved in their being, is the nutritive power. Thus, the argument can lead to the opposite conclusion, that among these inferior things the more perfect a thing is, the more things are required for its being.[3] And this is why it does not follow that animated beings are <not> nourished, although inanimate things are not nourished. In this way a solution is evident.

  • [1] Although the phrase a contrarietate is cumbersome, Albert seems to mean that when the qualities or elements are properly balanced in a living thing's complexion, that thing will require little or no nutriment to restore that which otherwise is lost through the action of contraries (e.g., hot and cold, moist and dry). Indeed, as he mentions below in QDA 7.5, thirst results from an appetite for the cold and moist, and hunger is an appetite for the hot and dry, but these are in opposition to the foundational principles of living beings, i.e., heat and moisture. This implies that if a being is properly balanced in its complexion, its natural heat and moisture should be self-sustaining.
  • [2] The editor indicates that something seems to be missing from the text here and in the lines immediately following.
  • [3] "Inferior things": that is, not celestial bodies, but those found here below.
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