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Whether the informative power for the other members is in the heart after it has been formed.

One asks further whether the informative power [virtus informativa] for the other members is in the heart after it has been formed.

1. It seems that it is. For among those observing a proper order, the prior is the cause of the posterior. But there is an order among the members. Therefore, since the heart is the first, it seems to be the cause of the others.

2. In addition, the same situation exists for the act of influencing as seems to exist for forming [information. But all the members receive the influence of the heart's power, and therefore also its power of informing.

3. In addition, the formative power operates through motion, heat, and spirit. But the principle for motion, heat, and spirit is in the heart. Therefore, the formative power is principally in the heart.

On the contrary. For one effect there is one cause. But an animal is one, and therefore, there is one informative power for the animal. Because it forms the other members as a power, it also forms the heart. If, then, the power that forms the other members were in the heart, then the heart would form itself.

One must reply that the formative power does not thrive in the heart. And the reason for this is that the power required for forming something else and for operating before it has been constituted does not thrive in that thing, because being would then exist in non-being. But the formative power operates before the heart's formation, and this is why, etc. Nevertheless, once the heart is formed, it disposes itself to the formation of the other members because, once the heart is already formed, the members are not in the same power [potential as they were before. This would not be the case if the formative power [virtus formativa] of the heart were not disposed to the formation of the other members. Thus one must say that the informative power [ virtus informativa] is derived from the father's heart and follows after him, but precedes the heart of the actual fetus. Now the power in the male's sperm does not cease to sustain and arrange the matter from the female until form or the sensitive soul is introduced. It is not so much the case that that power, or the formative power, becomes the sensitive,[1] because then the one generating and the one generated would be the same, which would be more nutrition than generation. But since the sensitive soul is in the embryo as its principal part, it then arranges the body in which it exists by means of the augmentative and nutritive power. Thus the informative power is in the sperm until the formation of the embryo, but after the embryo's formation its informative power is in the embryo itself. This question, however, is inquiring into the informative power before the embryo's completion.

1. On to the arguments. To the first, one must reply that in those observing a proper order, the prior is not always the cause of the generation of the posterior, for cause is spoken of in many ways, since that which is prior can be either the final or the formal cause and it is not necessary for a cause such as this to be acting on or informing [what is posterior].

2. To the second argument one must respond that influencing is one thing and informing is another, since influence proceeds from something perfected whereas formation does not proceed from a perfected part. To the contrary, formation ends with a perfected part.

3. To the third argument one must reply that the motion, heat, and spirit, which the informative power uses, are derived radically from the father's heart and follow the father's heart, but precede the heart of the actual fetus.

  • [1] "Sensitive": the grammar here allows for two possibilities: that A. is referring to either the sensitive soul or the sensitive power. We have chosen not to remove the ambiguity.
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