Desktop version

Home arrow Philosophy arrow The fathers of the church

On animals that ruminate and have long extremities.

Further one asks whether every ruminant animal lacks teeth on the upper part [of its jaw], that is, on its superior mandible.

And it seems so. Rumination is due to a defect of digestion. But the lack of teeth causes a defect in digestion. Therefore, etc.

Moreover, every animal that lacks teeth on the upper part [of the jaw] ruminates. Therefore, contrariwise, every ruminant lacks [these] teeth. This is the reason why, etc.

But the Philosopher says the opposite.

Next one asks why ruminants abound in waste, as it is said in the text.

Third, why these animals are social animals.

Fourth, why animals that have long extremities, like the crane, abound in waste, as do the stork and goose and others of this type.

To the first question one should reply that not every ruminant animal lacks teeth, although the opposite may be said. And the reason is this: Rumination belongs to an animal owing to a defect in digestion. Now in these animals, what is received into the stomach cannot be well digested, so nature provides that the same food will be returned to the mouth to be more completely chewed. But a defect in digestion can occur for two reasons: in one way, naturally, because of a lack of teeth, and this is why the cow and the camel ruminate. In another way, this can occur from excessive gluttony, because some animals snatch up their food so greedily that they swallow it unchewed, and in order for it to be properly digested it is necessary for it to be returned to the teeth. It is for this reason that mice ruminate, as is said in the text.

And thus a response to the arguments is clear.

To the second question one must reply that an abundance of waste occurs from an abundance of superfluous moistures. But this abundance is present in ruminant animals, since for the most part ruminants are domestic animals and are for the most part at rest and at leisure, and this is why moist superfluities multiply in them. But non-ruminants are for the most part wild, or at least they are in motion more, and as a result their nutriment is more completely digested, and less of it is converted into waste.

To the third question one should reply that ruminant animals have common food and communicate with one another, and for that reason they pasture in social groups [ socialiter], but non-ruminants live for the most part by theft, and they are rapacious and fearful that what has been obtained by one will be stolen by another; and this is the reason that, etc.

To the fourth question one should reply that animals that have long extremities have a short body and, as a result, they have short intestines, and this is why their food and the excrement quickly pass through the intestines, and this is why they abound in waste.

Whether the camel and the horse distinguish their mothers from others.

One asks whether the camel and the horse distinguish their mothers from others.

1. It seems not. To distinguish is an operation of reason. But these animals lack reason. Therefore, they also lack the power of making a distinction.

2. Moreover, among such animals the father does not distinguish his daughter from others, nor does the brother his sister. Therefore, for the same reason, neither does the son distinguish his mother from others.

The Philosopher says the opposite. For he says that a certain camel had coitus with his mother, and after she knew that she was his mother, she killed the one who had covered her head.[1] And in the same way he tells of a certain noble horse in the northern region that had coitus with his mother and after he discovered it he fled and cast himself off into a ditch and died.

It must be said that, just as in the natural order something caused receives influence and power from its cause, so in the course of generation, the one generated receives a power from the one generating, but not contrariwise, and this is why the one generated owes more respect to the one generating than does the one generating to the one generated. But the act of coitus induces shame, and the horse and the camel strive to observe the order of nature by a natural instinct. And this is why the son naturally hates to have coitus with his mother. Nevertheless, this is not true of all horses, but only of noble horses. Therefore, just as a man hates to have intercourse with his mother, because it is prohibited, so does the horse, because it is repugnant to the order of nature.

1. To the first argument one should reply that it is not an operation of reason to make universal distinctions among individual things. Rather, differentiation among individual intentions can be made by estimation, just as a bird differentiates between grain and a stone, and a sheep between a wolf and a lamb or a man. Thus such differentiation can occur without reason.

2. To the second argument one should reply that the father receives nothing from a daughter, nor does a brother from a sister, in the way that the son does from the mother, and this is why the same argument does not apply to each.

  • [1] The keeper who had contrived to have the son mate with his mother had covered her head to keep her from recognizing her son. When the mother realized what she had done, she killed the keeper. Ar., HA 9.47 (63ob31f.). Cf. Avic., DA 8.7 (fol. 4ova); A., DA, 8.5.2.209-10 (SZ 1: 758-59).
 
Found a mistake? Please highlight the word and press Shift + Enter  
< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >

Related topics