Home Philosophy The fathers of the church
Why the owl [bubo] does not see in the daytime.
One inquires why the owl [bubo] does not see in the daytime, although it has good and clear eyes.
One must reply that the owl has large, but not firm, eyes. As a result, its vision is diffused or dispersed during daytime, whereas the contrary occurs at night because then its vision is unified by the darkness, and this is why it does not see during the day as it does at night. For this reason, etc.
Whether art and craft are more suited to ringed flyers than to other animals.
Further one asks about the industry of ringed flyers. And first, whether art and craft are more suited to ringed flyers than to other animals.
It seems not. Art and craft are present in brute beasts in the same way that they have the senses. Now in those in which the sensitive powers are more perfect, art and craft will be found to be more perfect. But the senses of other animals are more perfect than [than those of ringed flyers], and therefore, etc.
Moreover, art and cleverness [ingenium] follow upon the subtlety of the spirits, but the spirit's subtlety follows upon the goodness of the blood and natural heat. Since, therefore, animals such as these lack blood and, as a result, are deficient in heat, it seems that they are less inclined to craft and are less clever than others.
On the contrary. Animals whose activity extends to things that lie beyond their own conditions are the more clever ones. The human, therefore, is the cleverest animal, because his activity extends to things that are above him. But the activity of this sort of [ringed] animal does extend itself this way, because the spider makes a web, and an ant gathers grain into a storehouse, and the bee builds a dwelling and makes honey and lives in society [congregat] as does a human. Therefore, they extend themselves to activities concerning things that are above them.
One must respond that art and cleverness can be found together in an animal for many reasons. In one way, it is due to an excellence in making distinctions and comparisons, and these traits are found especially this way in a human. In another way, it is due to the good disposition of the flesh, and thus among humans these may be present more in one than another, because, as is said in book two of On the Soul, "Those soft in flesh are sharp in mind." In a third way, it is due to subtlety of the spirits and agility of the members, and in this way they are found more in flyers than in walkers. In a fourth way, it is due to a certain melancholy solicitude, with the result that, since such an animal as this fears everything, then for that reason it takes precautions or safeguards itself from all things, as we already said concerning the deer, but this is per accidens. In a fifth way, it is due to the elevation of the estimative sense and its goodness, and in these last two ways art and cleverness especially belong to ringed animals, because these are melancholy, venomous, bloodless animals and have a very elevated estimative sense. And other causes are found more in others; etc.
Whether the ant gathers seeds.
Further one asks whether the ant gathers seeds.
1. And it seems not, for if it gathered seeds it would gather them at a time especially appropriate for their collection, just as the bee does its gathering. But the ant rests during the day, although the daytime is more suitable for this activity. Therefore, etc.
2. Moreover, if it is directed to gather seeds, this is either owing to its complexion or to its sensitive power. But it is not owing to its complexion, for this is comparable to that of the spider and to others of the same complexion. Nor is it owing to its sensitive power, for the same reason. It therefore remains to us to ask what directs the ant to gather seeds.
The Philosopher says the opposite.
One must reply that the ant gathers seeds. And it is directed to do so for the benefit of its own species, because the operation makes known the form just as transformation does the matter. Thus form is the cause of the operation, and this is why those of different species have different operations. Nevertheless, the ant does not gather seeds because it anticipates the future, but its present actions are linked to future ones, and this is why from the imaging [imagination of the present they do some things that are linked to future things.
1. To the arguments. To the first, one should reply that the ant is an animal with little power, and this is why, owing to the fear it has of encountering obstacles or opponents during the daytime, it labors especially at night and particularly when the moon is full, because, owing to the full moon, it is able to see what it is doing at that time.
2. To the second argument one should respond that it is directed to this work by its own species.
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