Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Aristotle
Pages of On The Generation Of Animals



Previous | Next
                  

On The Generation Of Animals   


way Empedocles says, not the same parts coming from each parent, which
is why they need intercourse with each other.

Yet this also is impossible, just as much as it is impossible for
the parts when full grown to survive and have life in them when torn
apart, as Empedocles accounts for the creation of animals; in the time
of his 'Reign of Love', says he, 'many heads sprang up without necks,'
and later on these isolated parts combined into animals. Now that this
is impossible is plain, for neither would the separate parts be able
to survive without having any soul or life in them, nor if they were
living things, so to say, could several of them combine so as to
become one animal again. Yet those who say that semen comes from the
whole of the body really have to talk in that way, and as it
happened then in the earth during the 'Reign of Love', so it happens
according to them in the body. Now it is impossible that the parts
should be united together when they come into being and should come
from different parts of the parent, meeting together in one place.
Then how can the upper and lower, right and left, front and back parts
have been 'sundered'? All these points are unintelligible. Further,
some parts are distinguished by possessing a faculty, others by
being in certain states or conditions; the heterogeneous, as tongue
and hand, by the faculty of doing something, the homogeneous by
hardness and softness and the other similar states. Blood, then,
will not be blood, nor flesh flesh, in any and every state. It is
clear, then, that that which comes from any part, as blood from
blood or flesh from flesh, will not be identical with that part. But
if it is something different from which the blood of the offspring
comes, the coming of the semen from all the parts will not be the
cause of the resemblance, as is held by the supporters of this theory.
For if blood is formed from something which is not blood, it is enough
that the semen come from one part only, for why should not all the
other parts of the offspring as well as blood be formed from one
part of the parent? Indeed, this theory seems to be the same as that
of Anaxagoras, that none of the homogeneous parts come into being,
except that these theorists assume, in the case of the generation of
animals, what he assumed of the universe.

Then, again, how will these parts that came from all the body of the
parent be increased or grow? It is true that Anaxagoras plausibly says
that particles of flesh out of the food are added to the flesh. But if
we do not say this (while saying that semen comes from all parts of
the body), how will the foetus become greater by the addition of
something else if that which is added remain unchanged? But if that
which is added can change, then why not say that the semen from the
very first is of such a kind that blood and flesh can be made out of
it, instead of saying that it itself is blood and flesh? Nor is
there any other alternative, for surely we cannot say that it is
increased later by a process of mixing, as wine when water is poured
into it. For in that case each element of the mixture would be
itself at first while still unmixed, but the fact rather is that flesh
and bone and each of the other parts is such later. And to say that
some part of the semen is sinew and bone is quite above us, as the
saying is.

Besides all this there is a difficulty if the sex is determined in
conception (as Empedocles says: 'it is shed in clean vessels; some
wax female, if they fall in with cold'). Anyhow, it is plain that
both men and women change not only from infertile to fertile, but also
from bearing female to bearing male offspring, which looks as if the
cause does not lie in the semen coming from all the parent or not, but
in the mutual proportion or disproportion of that comes from the woman
and the man, or in something of this kind. It is clear, then, if we
are to put this down as being so, that the female sex is not
determined by the semen coming from any particular part, and

Previous | Next
Site Search