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On The Generation Of Animals   


On examining the question, however, the opposite appears more
likely, for it is not hard to refute the above arguments and the
view involves impossibilities. First, then, the resemblance of
children to parents is no proof that the semen comes from the whole
body, because the resemblance is found also in voice, nails, hair, and
way of moving, from which nothing comes. And men generate before
they yet have certain characters, such as a beard or grey hair.
Further, children are like their more remote ancestors from whom
nothing has come, for the resemblances recur at an interval of many
generations, as in the case of the woman in Elis who had intercourse
with the Aethiop; her daughter was not an Aethiop but the son of
that daughter was. The same thing applies also to plants, for it is
clear that if this theory were true the seed would come from all parts
of plants also; but often a plant does not possess one part, and
another part may be removed, and a third grows afterwards. Besides,
the seed does not come from the pericarp, and yet this also comes into
being with the same form as in the parent plant.

We may also ask whether the semen comes from each of the homogeneous
parts only, such as flesh and bone and sinew, or also from the
heterogeneous, such as face and hands. For if from the former only, we
object that resemblance exists rather in the heterogeneous parts, such
as face and hands and feet; if then it is not because of the semen
coming from all parts that children resemble their parents in these,
what is there to stop the homogeneous parts also from being like for
some other reason than this? If the semen comes from the heterogeneous
alone, then it does not come from all parts; but it is more fitting
that it should come from the homogeneous parts, for they are prior
to the heterogeneous which are composed of them; and as children are
born like their parents in face and hands, so they are, necessarily,
in flesh and nails. If the semen comes from both, what would be the
manner of generation? For the heteroeneous parts are composed of the
homogneous, so that to come from the former would be to come from
the latter and from their composition. To make this clearer by an
illustration, take a written name; if anything came from the whole
of it, it would be from each of the syllables, and if from these, from
the letters and their composition. So that if really flesh and bones
are composed of fire and the like elements, the semen would come
rather from the elements than anything else, for how can it come
from their composition? Yet without this composition there would be no
resemblance. If again something creates this composition later, it
would be this that would be the cause of the resemblance, not the
coming of the semen from every part of the body.

Further, if the parts of the future animal are separated in the
semen, how do they live? and if they are connected, they would form
a small animal.

And what about the generative parts? For that which comes from the
male is not similar to what comes from the female.

Again, if the semen comes from all parts of both parents alike,
the result is two animals, for the offspring will have all the parts
of both. Wherefore Empedocles seems to say what agrees pretty well
with this view (if we are to adopt it), to a certain extent at any
rate, but to be wrong if we think otherwise. What he says agrees
with it when he declares that there is a sort of tally in the male and
female, and that the whole offspring does not come from either, 'but
sundered is the fashion of limbs, some in man's...' For why does not
the female generate from herself if the semen comes from all parts
alike and she has a receptacle ready in the uterus? But, it seems,
either it does not come from all the parts, or if it does it is in the

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