Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
Aristotle on Soul and Soul-‘Parts’ in Semen (GA 2.1, 735a4-22)
Abraham P. Bos
Vrije Universiteit, Faculteit der Wijsbegeerte, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands firstname.lastname@example.org Received: January 2008; accepted: April 2008
Abstract Aristotle, Generation of Animals 2.1, 735a4-22 speaks about semen and soul. The passage speaks about ‘the soul’ and ‘the parts’. Against all current interpretations it is argued that Aristotle means ‘the soul in its entirety’ and ‘the parts of the soul ’. It is proposed that the Greek text edited by Drossaart Lulofs in 735a22 be corrected by accepting the reading of ms Z. Keywords Aristotle, Generation of Animals, soul-theory, biology, procreation
1. Introduction Generation of Animals 2.1, 735a4-22 raises the question whether semen possesses soul. We could call it a study in ‘semen’-tics. The passage talks about ‘the soul’ and ‘the parts’.1) Modern critics are clear on the meaning
1) Arist. GA 2.1, 735a4-22: Πότερον δ’ ἔχει ψυχὴν τὸ σπέρμα ἢ οὔ; ὁ αὐτὸς λόγος καὶ περὶ τῶν μορίων· οὔτε γὰρ ψυχὴ ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδεμία ἔσται πλὴν ἐν ἐκείνῳ οὗ γ’ ἐστίν, οὔτε μόριον ἔσται μὴ μετέχον ἀλλ’ ἢ ὁμωνύμως ὥσπερ τεθνεῶτος ὀφθαλμός. δῆλον οὖν ὅτι καὶ ἔχει καὶ ἔστι δυνάμει. ἐγγυτέρω δὲ καὶ πορρωτέρω αὐτὸ αὑτοῦ ἐνδέχεται εἶναι δυνάμει, ὥσπερ ὁ καθεύδων γεωμέτρης τοῦ ἐγρηγορότος πορρωτέρω καὶ οὗτος τοῦ θεωροῦντος. ταύτης μὲν οὖν οὐθὲν μόριον αἴτιον τῆς γενέσεως ἀλλὰ τὸ πρῶτον κινῆσαν ἔξωθεν. οὐθὲν γὰρ αὐτὸ ἑαυτὸ γεννᾷ· ὅταν δὲ γένηται αὔξει ἤδη αὐτὸ ἑαυτό. διόπερ πρῶτόν τι γίγνεται καὶ οὐχ ἅμα πάντα. τοῦτο δὲ γίγνεσθαι ἀνάγκη πρῶτον ὃ αὐξήσεως
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A.P. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
of the passage, which they translate and explain along the same lines. According to this interpretation, the passage talks about ‘the soul’ and ‘the parts of the body’. But the same text admits of an entirely diﬀerent explanation. In this alternative interpretation Aristotle talks about ‘the soul in its entirety’ and ‘the parts of the soul ’. Below I reproduce the translation by Peck (1942, 155-7). A number of arguments are then oﬀered which seem to support this explanation. But next I want to see which elements in Aristotle’s oeuvre could point in a diﬀerent direction. Finally, I propose an alternative translation.
Translation by Peck: As for the question whether the semen possesses Soul or not, the same argument holds as for the parts of the body, viz., (a) no Soul will be present elsewhere than in that of which it is the Soul; (b) no part of the body will be such in more than name unless it has some Soul in it (e.g., the eye of a dead person). Hence it is clear both that semen possesses Soul, and that it is Soul, potentially. And there are varying degrees in which it may be potentially that which it is capable of being—it may be nearer to it or further removed from it (just as a sleeping geometer is at a further remove than one who is awake, and a waking one than one who is busy at his studies). So then, the cause of this process of formation is not any part of the body, but the external agent which ﬁrst set the movement going—for of course nothing generates itself, though as soon as it has been formed a thing makes itself grow. That is why one part is formed ﬁrst, not all the parts simultaneously. And the part which must of necessity be formed ﬁrst is the one which possesses the principle of growth: be they plants or animals, this, the nutritive, faculty is present in all of them alike (this also is the faculty of generating another creature like itself, since this is a function which belongs to every animal and plant that is perfect in its nature). The reason why this must of necessity be so is that once a thing has been formed, it must of necessity grow. And though it was generated by another thing bearing the same name (e.g., a man is generated by a man), it grows by means of itself. So then, since it makes itself grow, it is something. (underlinings added)
ἀρχὴν ἔχει· εἴτε γὰρ φυτὸν εἴτε ζῷον ὁμοίως τοῦτο πᾶσιν ὑπάρχει τὸ θρεπτικόν. τοῦτο δ’ ἔστι τὸ γεννητικὸν ἑτέρου οἷον αὐτό· τοῦτο γὰρ παντὸς φύσει τελείου ἔργον καὶ ζῴου καὶ φυτοῦ· ἀνάγκη δὲ διὰ τόδε ὅτι ὅταν τι γένηται αὐξάνεσθαι ἀνάγκη. ἐγέννησε μὲν τοίνυν τὸ συνώνυμον οἷον ἄνθρωπος ἄνθρωπον, αὔξεται δὲ δι’ ἑαυτοῦ. αὐτὸ ἄρα τι ὂν αὔξει. Text Drossaart Lulofs 1965. Underlinings added. In the following I will propose to read in 735a7: οὔτε μορίων ἔσται μὴ μετέχον and in 735a22: ἔστιν ἄρα τι ὃ αὔξει.
when the passage mentions ‘parts’ thrice.2) and A. 61: ‘And has the seed soul or not? The same reasoning applies to it as to the parts. The heart.
Balme 1972. Both translate the crucial elements as ‘parts of the body’ and ‘no part of the body’. Lefèvre (1972. Peck (1942. 3) In Barnes 1984. Louis (1961.
2. 4) Both μόριον and μέρος occur. who notes: ‘les parties du corps’. or not? The same argument applies here as in the question concerning the parts.
. It acquires Soul. nor can there be a part unless it has some soul’. with commentary on p. . Arguments in Favour of the Traditional Interpretation (a) GA 2. As no part. For there can be no soul in anything except in that of which it is in fact the soul. In 734b25 he says that after fertilization each one of the parts gets formed and acquires Soul. because ‘there is no such thing as face.) so no soul will exist in anything except that of which it is soul. D. or ﬂesh either. The translations of Peck and Ferwerda are in complete agreement. 888-9).4) So it seems natural. liver. eye are mentioned as examples of these parts (2. Likewise the interpretation by C. 157. lungs. The chapter deals with the question how a plant or an animal is formed from seed and what entity is responsible for forming ‘the parts’.380
A. Ferwerda. to assume that this again refers to ‘parts of the body’. if it participate not in soul. 56). potentially’ (with only minor changes compared with the 1912 Oxford edition). 735a7-8 seems to repeat the more extensive passage in 734b24-7. 58).1. (b) An ‘eye’ is a Part of the Body. like a ‘face’ or ‘ﬂesh’ The interpretation of Peck and Ferwerda can also base itself on the fact that 2. though the Greek text does not explicitly indicate what ‘parts’ are meant. and is soul. . Lanza (1971. it is plain therefore that semen both has soul. cf. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
2005 saw the publication of an excellent Dutch translation by R.1 talks constantly about ‘parts’. not including the passage quoted above.1. For ‘parts’ of soul.1 uses ‘the parts’ Fifteen Times to Denote ‘the parts of the body’ Generation of Animals 2. The word ‘part’/‘parts’ is used ﬁfteen times in this sense in chapter 1. I 1140-1: ‘Has the semen soul. paying attention only to the meaning ‘parts of the body’. xlvii-xlix) devotes an entry to the word. The same goes for the translation by P.P. Balme. lviii. will be a part except homonymously (. 734a17). Platt3) read ‘the parts’ but in fact make the same choice. where Aristotle also applies the principle of homonymy.
734a14-6.A. not a real hand or foot or eye? In that case it is only homonymously a foot or an eye. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
without Soul in it. just as all parts of the begetter’s body are ensouled. where Aristotle states: ‘For a hand or any part is not a hand or a part if it does not contain a soul or some other power: they only bear the same name. Cf. ἀλλὰ φθαρέντα ὁμωνύμως λεχθήσεται τὸ μὲν εἶναι πρόσωπον τὸ δὲ σάρξ. 215) refers to this text. and though they are still said to be ‘face’ and ‘ﬂesh’ after they are dead.’6) So it does not seem far-fetched to see ‘the parts’ of 735a6 as harking back to what was just said.1.5. Does he mean that.19. and that no part of it does not participate in the soul of the entire creature? And is he pointing out once again that a part of an animal or human being that does not participate in the soul of this animal or human being as a whole is not a ‘part’ of such a living creature. about the parts of the body. Lefèvre is sceptical (59) and points to 2.
. 726b22-4. which says explicitly that soul must always be in a part of the body. What is Aristotle’s Point in the Traditional Interpretation? So did Aristotle try to clarify the question ‘Is there soul in semen?’ by posing the comparable question: ‘Is there soul in a bodily part?’? And did he solve this problem by saying that a soul is always the soul of a speciﬁc living creature. these terms will be names merely (‘homonyms’). just as if the things were to turn into stone or wooden ones’ (transl. 57) notes that Nuyens saw these texts as evidence of the hylomorphistic character of the conception in GA. ὥσπερ κἂν εἰ ἐγίγνετο λίθινα ἢ ξύλινα. 734b24-7: οὐ γάρ ἐστι πρόσωπον μὴ ἔχον ψυχὴν οὐδὲ σάρξ. 741a10-3: ἀδύνατον δὲ πρόσωπον ἢ χεῖρα ἢ σάρκα εἶναι ἢ ἄλλο τι μόριον μὴ ἐνούσης αἰσθητικῆς ψυχῆς ἢ ἐνεργείᾳ ἢ δυνάμει καὶ ἤ πῃ ἢ ἁπλῶς· ἔσται γὰρ οἷον νεκρὸς ἢ νεκροῦ μόριον. in almost the same way. 735a8 talks about ‘an eye’.P. Lefèvre (1972. that is to say. Peck). This can also be taken as a random example of a bodily part.1.5) It is clear there that the ‘parts’ are ensouled and therefore parts of the body. his semen is ensouled too? But then how are we to interpret the conclusion in 735a8? Is it a double conclusion on ‘the soul’ or is it a two-part conclusion that talks about ‘the soul’ and ‘the parts of the
3. 2. Moreover.
Louis (1961. This is also the case in Generation of Animals 1. What argumentative force did Aristotle therefore attribute to the comparison? After all. semen is semen of the begetter and as such not a part of the new specimen. inasmuch as they argue the presence of soul in all parts of the body.
702b15 that the principle of motion is to be situated in the centre of the living creature. According to De anima 2.1. Because Aristotle clariﬁes this with a reference to the phenomenon that both parts of some animals. 412a15 in contrast to a17. Aristotle had already stated in 9. a27-8. The other parts possess life because they are connected with it. ‘to possess’ (ἔχειν). 216. 61) reads here: ‘Clearly therefore it does have soul and exists— potentially’. in the heart (or its analogue).9) An interesting text in this connection is Metaphysics Z 16. which asks what an ousia is. This status is denied to Earth or Water. This is one of the reasons which led Nuyens and his followers to talk about ‘development’ in Aristotle’s philosophy. cf. see GA 1. ἀλλ’ ἔν τινι ἀρχῇ τοῦ σώματος οὔσης τἆλλα ζῆν μὲν τῷ προσπεφυκέναι. a28. ‘to participate’ (μετέχειν). ‘the natural body’ of the soul can ‘potentially’ possess life. But it is unclear why Aristotle would say of bodily parts that they ‘potentially’ participate in soul. that Aristotle also says in De motu animalium 10 that the soul of a living creature is not present in all parts of the living creature.16. he seems to be thinking here of millipedes and the like. hylomorphistic phase. Lanza 1971.P. On the skolopendrai. and to assign MA to his transitional phase but GA and de An. 412a19.. though.382
A. 6. a20. Louis (1961. So we should in any case consider the second option.1.’ Balme (1972. 9) MA 10. 10) Metaph. 707b2-4 and Bos 2007. but ‘to share in’. 531b28 ﬀ. de An. 732b29. 1040b14. 732a11. ‘To have soul’ is quite diﬀerent from ‘being soul’. a12. HA 4. i. ποιεῖν δὲ τὸ ἔργον τὸ αὑτῶν διὰ τὴν φύσιν. 2. For this. But it cannot be ‘life’.6.1. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
body’? And how does the addition ‘potentially’ function? Aristotle’s conciseness again demands a choice here.8) Had he not said in 734b24-5 that there is ‘no face’ or ‘ﬂesh’ of an embryo that ‘does not possess soul’? We should bear in mind.10) Could it be that
7) Thus Peck and Ferwerda. 682b4. 8) It is striking that Aristotle here does not use ‘to have’. IA 7. 56) goes oﬀ on a diﬀerent tack: ‘Il est évident que la semence a une âme et que cette âme est en puissance. More eligible candidates are said to be the ‘parts of ensouled entities and the (parts) of the soul’ (1040b10-1).
.2.23. to his late. 888: ‘È perciò chiaro che il seme possiede un’anima e che è potenzialmente anima’ and Vinci & Robert 2005. 731a32.e. when bisected. but only in its central part. Does he mean: ‘so it is clear that (semen) possesses (soul) and potentially is (soul)’?7) Or: ‘so it is clear that (semen) possesses (soul) and is (a bodily part) potentially (participating in soul)’? The ﬁrst option is highly problematical. PA 4. live on. 703a14 and a36: ὥστε μηδὲν δεῖν ἐν ἑκάστῳ εἶναι ψυχήν. 2.
too. esp. Aristotle is thinking of the phenomenon that. 413b18-9: ὡς οὔσης τῆς ἐν τούτοις ψυχῆς ἐντελεχείᾳ μὲν μιᾶς ἐν ἑκάστῳ φυτῷ.A. In 734a33-b3 he declares that the semen contains ‘no part’ of the new specimen of a living creature. it is hard to understand why Aristotle believes that a reference to the ensouled parts of a living body could clarify why semen possesses soul. but many souls potentially. their parts live on and produce a new plant or insect? Aristotle explains this phenomenon by stating that these plants possess one soul actually. Objections to Peck’s Explanation But there are also arguments against the explanation proposed by Peck and other modern exegetes. when some plants and insects (e.
4.11) Is perhaps the point of comparison that both semen and the parts of visible bodies possess the soul ‘dormantly’. 6. And it seems to be virtually ruled out by the examples of ‘face’ and ‘ﬂesh’. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
in our text. a ﬁrst reading of the sentence in 735a5 on ‘the parts’ may suggest that it is talking about ‘the parts’ of ‘the soul’ or about ‘the parts’ of ‘the semen’ referred to in the preceding interrogative clause. 467a18-30. 733b32734a16 that ‘the parts’ of the new living creature are produced by ‘a part’ of the embryo which must have been present in the semen. 2.18. Next. δυνάμει δὲ πλειόνων (text quoted from Jannone 1966).2. some worms) are cut into pieces. (a) The Semen and the Parts of the Semen It is not entirely unthinkable that Aristotle would talk about ‘parts’ of the semen.
. however. de An. The context of this passage in itself does not suggest this avenue of approach.g. He makes it very clear that he is addressing a major problem in the theory
See Long. And he has proved in 2. 723b9-11). To start with. without the soul itself being activated? We should note. Cf. a29: αἴτιον δ’ ὅτι ἐνυπάρχει πάντῃ ἡ ἀρχὴ δυνάμει ἐνοῦσα. He is familiar with the possibility of multiple births as the result of one fertilization (GA 1. (b) The Entire Soul and the Parts of the Soul But it is also conceivable that Aristotle is referring to ‘the parts of the soul ’.P.1. that such an explanation assumes extensive knowledge of Aristotle’s discussions in other writings.
1254b8-9.1. His thesis is that it must be something external. 3. . 370: “the seed is not the type of thing that could bear any soul for it is just a residue of a living being and not itself a living being”.16. 5. See also Bonitz. GA 2. 733b32-734a1: ἤτοι γὰρ τῶν ἔξωθέν τι ποιεῖ ἢ ἐνυπάρχον τι ἐν τῇ γονῇ καὶ σπέρματι. viz. 411b2. 467b17. Only two options remain.P. 4. 436a1. 736b5 Aristotle seems to indicate a problem of even greater weight: περὶ νοῦ .3. see also: de An. 13) GA 2. 16. 1. importantly. 1139a9. the question by what entity speciﬁc plants and speciﬁc animals are formed.5.13. .384
A. 735a12 (see below). 1260a11. ἢ ἔχον ἂν εἴη ψυχήν. 2.9. that the productive entity is present in the semen and is either soul or a soul-part. b27. and it is in fact natural to assume. 1. 641b10. either a ‘part of a soul ’ or ‘a soul’ or ‘something that possesses soul’. b14. and then that it is something in the semen itself which does not form part of the semen (734a2-13). This turns out to be relevant. This author states incorrectly on p. 248a8. in the formulation of the problem that he proposes to solve and that amounts to the question whether the productive principle should be identiﬁed with ‘soul’ or with ‘a part of the soul’.2. 2. 6. 449b5. 432a19.
14. Pol. b26. it could be. πῶς ποτε γίγνεται ἐκ τοῦ σπέρματος τὸ φυτὸν ἢ τῶν ζῴων ὁτιοῦν. 741a184.108.40.206. he is determining whether the ﬁrst of the two remaining options from 733b33734a1 is valid. . And this makes sense. a23. b12.
. PA 1. 1102b4.12) that is to say. Clearly this entity cannot itself be a bodily part. 433b1. 7. Metaph. or something in the male semen and seed. because the question being asked is what entity is responsible for producing all parts of the body. For ‘parts’ of the soul. . ἔχει τ’ ἀπορίαν πλείστην. 432b2-3. Juv. 1. 10. 247b1. καὶ τοῦτ’ ἔστιν ἢ μέρος τι ψυχῆς ἢ ψυχή. for it will become clear further on that the bodily part which is produced
12) GA 2. b10: τὴν ὅλην ψυχὴν ἢ τὰ μόρια. When he now asks in 735a4: ‘Does semen possess soul or not?’. 14) This removes the basis of the entire argument put forward by Hinton (2006). 1. 247a6. Index 864b8-865a53 and Feola 2006. 736a30. Whiting 2002. 6. 733b23-4: Περὶ ὧν ἐστιν ἀπορία πλείων.14) This means that Aristotle speaks at least once in chapter 1 about ‘a part’ in the sense of ‘a soul-part’. and is therefore asking whether semen possesses ‘the parts’ of a soul. that he is thinking of the second remaining option from 733b33-734a1. b21. and does so. And when he continues: ‘The same dilemma applies to the parts’. . Mem. Ph. ‘the parts’ of these animals and plants (733b32). 25. 402b9. 1040b11. EN 1.1. Bastit 1996. 413b7. 5.3. 3.1. 1. 468a28. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
of reproduction. 1140b25. b12. 13.13) Of these four options he goes on to exclude the option that ‘something external’ is the productive principle. In 2. 737a22 (see below). Sens.
15) is produced in all living creatures by the vegetative or procreative soul-part. 103-9. . 145 n.17. Cf. 4. 290. All modern translators opt for ‘parts of the body’ here too. He rejects the preformation theory and opts for the epigenesis theory. . 741a6-32). 16) There we also have a clear contrast between Καθόλου μὲν οὖν εἴρηται τί ἐστιν ἡ ψυχή (412b10) and θεωρεῖν δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν μερῶν δεῖ τὸ λεχθέν (412b13). and in 412b17-3a5 explains the unity of the parts of the soul with the instrumental body of the soul. Cf. GA 1. Studying the consequences attendant on the bisection of insects. And.16) He contrasts there ‘the eye’ as the visual faculty’s ‘instrumental body’ with ‘the entire sensitive body’ as the bearer of the faculty of sense in general17) and observes that it must be connected with the soul-body.5. ἀλλήλων μὲν ὡς οὐ χωριστὰ ὄντα.2. 415a1-3 and Whiting 2002. 1. But de An.
We have already seen Aristotle’s repeated assertion that no part of the body is present in semen. 413b19-24.18) as Plato had claimed. the process of producing the bodily parts of young kittens would not get under way. 725a21.
. 18) de An. 149-50.P. Bos 2003. In this context Aristotle also notes that an axe which cannot be used for chopping is an axe only in a homonymous sense and a stone eye or a painted eye an eye only homonymously. This αἴσθησις must be connected with semen. 412b6-17 ﬁrst postulates the unity of the soul and its instrumental sôma. because it cannot perform the function of seeing (of the soul-part which is called the anima sensitiva). the heart or the analogue of the heart. conversely. even if this faculty is dormant in every respect.A. he also concludes that the various functions or ‘parts’ of the soul do not occur separately from each other. 2. 413a4-5 shows clearly that Aristotle talked about ‘the parts’ of the soul. and Bos 2003. 142-50. That is why a ‘wind egg’ (an unfertilized egg) does not yield a chicken (2. . In comparable fashion Aristotle in De anima 2. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
ﬁrst. he says there in 412b24-8.1. If the semen of a cat possessed ‘soul’ but not the vegetative/nutritive soul-part. Cf. Likewise Whiting 2002. 3. καὶ ὁμοειδεῖς εἰσιν ἀλλήλαις καὶ τῇ ὅλῃ. 721b6 and 18. 17) Aristotle there sets the single sense of sight with its bearer (the eye) against ‘the entire faculty of sense’ (412b24) with ‘the entire body which is the bearer of the faculty of sense’. Aristotle holds that chickens do pass on the nutritive/ vegetative soul-part to an egg they lay.1. Shields 2007. but that the sensitive soul-part is contributed by the cock alone. 2.5. 411b24-6: ἐν ἑκατέρῳ τῶν μορίων ἅπαντ’ ἐνυπάρχει τὰ μόρια τῆς ψυχῆς. even though it is mere potentiality.
In that case his argument is that semen which does not take part in the sensitive soul-part is no more semen than a stone eye is a bearer of sensitive soul-activity. it may be. 2. 736a30: ζῷον δ’ ἐστὶ κατὰ τὸ μόριον τῆς ψυχῆς τὸ αἰσθητικόν. 414a32-b3. 5. we will have to take ‘semen’ as the subject of μετέχον in 735a7 and will then have to correct μόριον to μορίων. too. de An. The erroneous reading of the manuscripts may be due to the fact that a scribe was still thinking of the passage 734b24-5. If this is right. but start to function successively and not at the same time. (d) Philosophical Relevance We should note. which talks about ‘face’ and ‘ﬂesh’. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
(c) The Eye is the Instrument of the Sensitive Soul-Part We can note in this connection that the example of ‘the eye of a dead person’ in 735a8 diﬀers signiﬁcantly from the example in 734b24-5 of ‘the face’ or ‘ﬂesh’. or whether they are all present in semen from the outset.20) So if Aristotle had used the example of ‘the face’ or ‘ﬂesh’ here in 735a8. The eye is the instrument of one of the ﬁve sensory faculties which together form the anima sensitiva. and is in fact likely. 2.3..P.21) But now that he uses the example of ‘the eye’.
. 412b17 ﬀ. 741a9-13.1.3. Because these soul-parts do not become operative at the same time.
412b28-9 mentions ‘sense’ (ἐγρήγορσις) and ‘sight’ (ὄψις) as the two conditions of actuality and potentiality for the anima sensitiva. 736a35-b8). as in De anima 2. 20) GA 2. that it is philosophically relevant if Aristotle in 735a4-6 poses the (new) question whether semen also possesses ‘the parts of the soul’.5. it would be natural to assume that ‘the parts’ in 735a6 refers to the parts of the body. is on ‘the parts’ of the soul.3. 21) But even then we would have to take into account GA 2. Living creatures of a higher order than plants possess more than one soul-part: horses at least two and human beings at least three (cf. that his focus here.19) or the soul-part that is typical of an animal as opposed to a plant. but not relevant if he mentions (again) the ensouled nature of the bodily parts. it makes sense to consider whether only one soulpart is initially present in semen and the others later. 741a9-13.386
Semen.’23) It is pneuma (or the vital heat) which is properly the bearer of the soul and possesses the soul actually or potentially. 23) GA 2.A. Barnes considers the work’s likely date to be before 250 BC. Semen is not properly the bearer of the (immaterial) soul. Aristotle says this in as many words in Generation of Animals 2. Semen is not the ‘instrumental body’ (sôma organikon) of the soul. 285-8. 736b29-737a5. Coles 1995. What does Aristotle exactly mean by the question: ‘Does semen possess soul or not?’22) He has given an explicit answer to this question in Generation of Animals 2. 1974. possesses soul inasmuch as it contains this soul plus its instrumental body. viz. which is an analogue of the astral element. Reale & Bos 1995. but is the container of pneuma.1 Aristotle explains that the soul itself is not a sôma. Mu. As
22) On this important subject. however. Trattato Sul cosmo per Alessandro (Napoli) in Classical Review 27 (1977). 4. see Longrigg 1985. But he believes that vocabulary and style do invalidate it. The discussion has been radically aﬀected by the conclusion of Barnes in his review of Reale.24) The heat and the quality of pneuma can diﬀer in the semen of one animal species compared with that of another (GA 2. The above-mentioned article by Hinton (2006) fails to shed light on this subject. but something that is inextricably linked to a natural body. For this instrumental body is the vital heat or pneuma.3: ‘The semen of all living creatures contains within itself its cause of being fertile.
. In De anima 2. 736b33-737a1. G.P. 737a1 ﬀ.3. because it is equally an ‘instrumental body’ of the soul and a bearer of life-giving power. where pneuma is described as: ἥ τε ἐν φυτοῖς καὶ ζῴοις <οὖσα> καὶ διὰ πάντων διήκουσα ἔμψυχός τε καὶ γόνιμος οὐσία. Pneuma is an equivalent (analogon) of the astral element. the so-called vital heat. This vital heat is not ﬁre or any such power but the pneuma which is enclosed within the semen and in the foam-like stuﬀ. Aristotele. And it is semen as the container of pneuma that is compared by Aristotle in 734b9-17 to a winding mechanism of which the parts are successively set in motion. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
(e) In what Way does Semen Possess Soul? It is worthwhile to look more closely at the question broached in §2 above. 440-3 that there are no intrinsic arguments left for denying Aristotle’s authorship. The authorship of On the cosmos has always been hotly contested. 394b9-11.3.). Schenkeveld (1991. But his dating of the work on the basis of language and style raises a new problem: which anonymous and highly skilled author in this period would want to present his own ideas as Aristotelian in this way and why? Today we are able to recognize that the rejection of On the cosmos and of De spiritu was the result of the same erroneous understanding of Aristotle’s psychology. Cf. 24) Cf. it is the active substance which is in pneuma.3. 221-55) argued for a date between 350-200 BC.
. not all bodily parts are formed at the same time. This ﬁrst part of the body. like all subsequent parts of the body. τοῦτο δ’ ἔστι τὸ γεννητικὸν ἑτέρου οἷον αὐτό. That is the gist of De anima 1. one ‘instrumental body’ of a soul diﬀers from that of another and one soul may display vital activity on a higher level than another. This is the principle that begets a new specimen which is exactly like itself. in the process in which the new specimen is formed. but is not itself ‘the nutritive principle’. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
a consequence. See also de An. Aristotle’s point is that the production of the parts of a new specimen of the species ‘man’ always involves the heart.3. καθ’ ἣν ὑπάρχει τὸ ζῆν ἅπασιν. and in the case of insects and plants an analogue. GA 2. and so this speciﬁc form of a human being must guide the production process as a rational (structural) principle (GA 2.26) And it is a consequence of the diﬀerence in quality of souls that the ﬁrst bodily part to be produced in the case of higher animals and man is the heart. 407a13-26. This is entirely disregarded by Hinton (2006). 2.2. where Aristotle explains that the level of functioning of the soul depends on the quality of the receiver (τὸ δεχόμενον. but one ﬁrst and then others. 31-46. So the heart
is the ﬁrst part of the body that is produced by the vegetative-procreative soul-part. is ‘that which possesses ‘the principle of growth’. according to Aristotle.1.1. 413b7: θρεπτικὸν δὲ λέγομεν τὸ τοιοῦτον μόριον τῆς ψυχῆς οὗ καὶ τὰ φυόμενα μετέχει and 4. 734a29-33).3. the lungs.P. ἧς ἐστὶν ἔργα γεννῆσαι καὶ τροφῇ χρῆσθαι.27)
25) 26) 27)
A. 736a35 as τὴν θρεπτικὴν ψυχήν. b21) of the soul. and 416a19 and b15-8. The part of the body that is formed ﬁrst must therefore be produced. but it cannot be produced by a part of the body. 415a23: ἡ γὰρ θρεπτικὴ ψυχὴ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις ὑπάρχει. is produced by ‘the soul and its instrumental body’. And the starting-point is that no part of the body is present in semen. What Aristotle calls τὸ θρεπτικόν here is referred to in 2. in other words: which possesses ‘the nutritive (part of the soul)’. So the heart or ‘very ﬁrst’ part.25) (f ) The Vegetative Soul-Part First It is essential to Aristotle’s argument in this passage that. the eyes of a human being. Bos 2003. καὶ πρώτη καὶ κοινοτάτη δύναμίς ἐστι ψυχῆς. and 416a19: ἐπεὶ δ’ ἡ αὐτὴ δύναμις τῆς ψυχῆς θρεπτικὴ καὶ γεννητική. 735a15-22: τοῦτο δὲ γίγνεσθαι ἀνάγκη πρῶτον ὃ αὐξήσεως ἀρχὴν ἔχει· εἴτε
γὰρ φυτὸν εἴτε ζῷον ὁμοίως τοῦτο πᾶσιν ὑπάρχει τὸ θρεπτικόν.
because the sensitive soul-part is activated later than the vegetative. after stating that the entity responsible for producing the parts of the visible body must reside either in the semen or outside of it. but not actually. Semen passes on the soul-principle. only potentially.1.P. λεγομένου πολλαχῶς and 9. for
Cf. Parmenides). . But this heart is not ‘the principle of growth’ or ‘the nutritive’ or ‘that which begets a new specimen which is exactly like itself ’. 192a4: τὸ μὲν οὐκ ὂν εἶναι κατὰ συμβεβηκός. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
In 735a23 Aristotle goes on by establishing that in some animals the heart is the ﬁrst diﬀerentiated part of the body. If the heart is the ﬁrst diﬀerentiated part of the body.30) For semen possesses soul. or but and . Aristotle had solved the Eleatic problem of ‘being’ and ‘non-being’ in the same way in Ph. Peck 1942.A. ‘The nutritive’ is the ﬁrst part of the soul.29) Summarizing: the heart. By 736b2: οὐ γὰρ ἅμα γίγνεται ζῷον καὶ ἄνθρωπος Aristotle
does not mean that the parts of the body are not formed simultaneously.3.28) But this means that the sentence: ‘That is why one part is formed ﬁrst.3. as the ﬁrst part of the body of the new living creature. τὴν ὕλην. does so in an argument designed to show that the vegetative soul-part must be the ﬁrst to function and produces a bodily part speciﬁcally geared to it. . and The question with which Aristotle begins this intriguing text is a clear disjunction: ‘Does semen possess soul or not?’ His answer is that the problem has not yet been correctly formulated: semen does and does not possess soul. 186a24: ἁπλῶς λαμβάνει τὸ ὂν λέγεσθαι (sc. not all their parts simultaneously’ (735a14-5). Vinci & Robert 2005. 157 note d. while not yet being present in the semen of the begetter. In GA 2. 29) Cf. 736a35-b5. 740b29-741a3. the nutritive soul-part must be present in it (just as the soul in its entirety resides in the heart according to Aristotle). His solution in 734b6 is: ἔστι μὲν γὰρ ὡς ἐνδέχεται ἔστι δ’ ὡς οὔ. 30) Cf. but that the parts of the soul are not actualized at the same time. (g) Not either . but the soul is not yet activated in any way in this process. which therefore must have been present in the semen. See also MA 10. and that it must needs be one or other of the two. 207. This cannot be said in the same sense of a bodily part. 703a14-6. Aristotle applies the same procedure in 734b2-7. and that later the eyes and the ears are produced. though referring to the heart that is formed as the ﬁrst part of the body. is produced by the vegetative part of the soul.
. 734a14 Aristotle had said: εἰ δὲ δὴ μὴ ἔστι τῆς ψυχῆς μηθὲν ὃ μὴ τοῦ σώματός ἐστιν ἔν τινι μορίῳ. See also 2. 1. GA 2. . .5.
Cf. This insight also sheds light on a passage in the important chapter 2. but as diﬀering essentially
Cf.34) That is the situation in which the soul is the ‘ﬁrst entelechy’. For this problem. 211) is wide of the mark: ‘For both sleep and waking involve the presence of the soul’. ἀλλὰ τὸ ἔχον· τὸ δὲ σπέρμα καὶ ὁ καρπὸς τὸ δυνάμει τοιονδὶ σῶμα. but not actually.1.6. even when asleep. because no vital activity can be detected in it.32) Aristotle is thinking here of a body which does not possess life actually on the one hand and potentially on the other (like the body of a dog that is asleep).1.5. who refers to Somn. 2. For semen possesses the parts of the soul.
1. οἷον αὔξησις φθίσις ἀναπνοή. 35) de An. Aristotle repeatedly talks there about the natural body of the soul as ‘potentially possessing life’. An eye and a face or ﬂesh are always something of an animal or human being that is actually alive and that.33) but a body of which the entire soul and all the soul-parts are ‘dormantly’ present. 736a32:
οὔτε γὰρ ὡς ἄψυχον ἂν θείη τις τὸ κύημα κατὰ πάντα τρόπον ἐστερημένον ζωῆς· οὐδὲν γὰρ ἧττον τά τε σπέρματα καὶ τὰ κυήματα τῶν ζῴων ζῇ τῶν φυτῶν. Polansky (2007. GA 2.1. ἃς οὐ κινοῦνται δι’ αὑτῶν. Aristotle emphasizes this crucial point further on in the same chapter: though semen and karpos do not have soul in actuality. 412a23-4: ἐν γὰρ τῷ ὑπάρχειν τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ ὕπνος καὶ ἐγρήγορσίς ἐστιν.35) This text. 412a27: διὸ ἡ ψυχή ἐστιν ἐντελέχεια ἡ πρώτη σώματος φυσικοῦ δυνάμει ζωὴν ἔχοντος. 454b30-455a3 and 2.31) But this might equally be said of ‘the parts of the soul ’. 456a25-7. 34) de An.). 152-3. Whiting 2002. makes it crystal clear that Aristotle regards semen or a fruit (e. 13) also takes Aristotle to speak about ‘having life ‘in potentiality’ when the living being is actually alive’.Vig. Cf. 8. or of ‘a face’ or of ‘ﬂesh’. 2. 259b8: ἔνεισιν ἄλλαι κινήσεις φυσικαὶ τοῖς ζῴοις. 154 n. Barbotin’s translation is correct here: ‘Car le fait d’être animé comporte les deux états de veille et de sommeil’. 2.
. Just as misleading is Peck (1942. respiration. in relation to the discussion in Generation of Animals. Semen also does and does not possess the parts of the soul. see Hübner 1999. 412a19-20: ἀναγκαῖον ἄρα τὴν ψυχὴν οὐσίαν εἶναι ὡς εἶδος σώματος φυσικοῦ δυνάμει ζωὴν ἔχοντος. 741a10-3. carries out all kinds of vital processes (of digestion. 33) A similar situation is referred to in GA 2. Cf. a grain of corn or a beech-nut) as a body that seems stone-dead. de An. only potentially. Ph.g. lvii): ‘an animal can ‘have Soul in it’ and yet be asleep’. etc. 412b25-7: ἔστι δὲ οὐ τὸ ἀποβεβληκὸς τὴν ψυχὴν τὸ δυνάμει ὂν ὥστε ζῆν. they diﬀer essentially from a corpse because they do possess soul in potentiality. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
instance ‘an eye’ of a human being or animal. That of Ross (1961.P.1 of De anima.390
85-94. This is also suggested by GA 2. as the modern translations assume. 735a9-11 elaborates the distinction between potentiality and actuality in three steps. We shall therefore have to translate 735a8-9 as: ‘Hence it is clear that (semen) has (soul) and that (semen) is (participatory in the parts of the soul). while in De anima 2. 61) can translate: ‘Clearly therefore it does have soul and exists—potentially’. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
from the corpse of a deceased animal or human being. b15: πάσας γὰρ ἀναγκαῖον δυνάμει πρότερον ἔχειν ἢ ἐνεργείᾳ and 737a16-8: Περὶ μὲν
οὖν ψυχῆς πῶς ἔχει τὰ κυήματα καὶ ἡ γονὴ καὶ πῶς οὐκ ἔχει διώρισται· δυνάμει μὲν γὰρ ἔχει. because it has all the vital potentialities of its kind in it. 414a20.1 he conﬁnes this to two steps. is.37) (h) Degrees of Potentiality Against the background of the fundamental distinctions in De anima 2. ἐνεργείᾳ δ’ οὐκ ἔχει.A. .3.36) But the statement that semen has ‘soul’ must of course tally with the deﬁnition of ‘soul’ which Aristotle gives in De anima 2. 412a9 Aristotle notes that the entelechy is the eidos of something that serves as matter. il est âme. which in 413a5 are said to be ‘the parts of the soul ’. In my view.P.
. 37) Cf. or contains. for there are no organs in semen. following Nuyens. this interpretation is more in line with Aristotle’s argument than καὶ ἔστι δυνάμει <ψυχή>. Lefèvre 1972. This is another compelling argument against the translation of ὀργανικόν in De anima 2. And Aristotle says this in an exposition ‘on the parts’ (412b18). 2. .1.1. 56) seems to adopt the same view: ‘Il est donc
évident que la semence a une âme et que cette âme est en puissance’. In De anima 2.. 735a8: δῆλον οὖν ὅτι καὶ ἔχει καὶ ἔστι (μετέχον) δυνάμει. Soul potentially’. It therefore cannot ‘be soul’ in the sense of the eidos or the entelechy. How Balme (1972. But he adds: ‘Now there are two kinds of entelechy. the bearer of pneuma. potentially. Bos 2003. I do not understand. . however.1. xiii) leaves the question open: ‘the female’s residue . Cf. and as such the bearer of the soul plus its instrumental body and of the parts of the soul. See also Bos & Ferwerda 2007 and 2008. 2. corresponding to knowledge and to reﬂecting’. 736b8-10: τὴν μὲν οὖν θρεπτικὴν ψυχὴν τὰ σπέρματα καὶ τὰ κυήματα τὰ ἀχώριστα δῆλον ὅτι δυνάμει μὲν ἔχοντα θετέον. Louis (1961. Semen is. en puissance’.1.1. Peck (1942. Cf. 412a28 and 412b6 as ‘equipped with organs’. 412a17. We shall have to interpret the pneuma in semen as the ‘instrumental’ body of the soul. . 71: ‘le sperme a une âme. This is repeated in
36) GA 2. de An. which can be present potentially or actually.1. Semen is always a sôma.1 it is also easier to understand why Aristotle in Generation of Animals 2. This could at most be said of pneuma. ἐνεργείᾳ δ’ οὐκ ἔχοντα .
A. Aristotle starts by saying: ‘The same argument applies here as in the case of the parts. If we follow the standard interpretation. that a newly born rabbit has the potential to see. 412a22: ἡ μὲν ὡς ἐπιστήμη. 735a10 with a practitioner of the theoretical science of mathematics than with a traditional ‘land surveyor’. ἔστω ἄλλος λόγος· ὁ αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστι καὶ περὶ τῶν ἄλλων μορίων. 5. According to this interpretation. both parts of which start in Greek with ‘not’. de An. In Generation of Animals 2. Bonitz. ἡ δ’ ὡς τὸ θεωρεῖν it seems more natural to identify the γεωμέτρης of GA 2. 326) argues that Aristotle designated Plato’s Ideas and the concreta of the same name as ‘homonyms’.’40) And he continues with a two-part sentence. But the second part reads: ‘On the other hand a part will not not participate in it’. This addition. but that the semen of a rabbit also possesses the potentiality of an anima sensitiva. this is not ‘the same argument’. 703a16-8: Πότερον
μὲν οὖν ταὐτόν ἐστι τὸ πνεῦμα ἀεὶ ἢ γίνεται ἀεὶ ἕτερον. however. makes sense only if Aristotle is talking about the soul in its entirety and the parts of the soul in their varying degrees of potentiality and actualization. as Ferwerda proposes. cf. and Cael.3.P.
2. 422b17. 2. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
412a22-3 with the clariﬁcation that soul is ﬁrst present as potentiality. Male semen which has not yet led to a complete embryo has a prior degree of ‘potentiality’. In 735a10-1 he distinguishes a ‘sleeping’ from a ‘waking’ and from a ‘scientiﬁcally active’ mathematician.38) In this way he tries to make it clear that a fully grown rabbit can use its eyes. Cf. MA 10. The ﬁrst part reads: ‘On the one hand a soul will not be present in something other than that of which it is the soul’.11. the eye.1.1 Aristotle thus clariﬁes the distinction between the possession of a potentiality and the actualization of a potentiality of an existing soul. 40) For the expression ὁ αὐτὸς λόγος.17. 270a11-2: ὁ γὰρ αὐτὸς λόγος περὶ ὅλου καὶ μέρους. For this argument is supported with reference to a part of the body. 721b7 and 18.1.
. 1026a7-29. too. Yet such an interpretation of these lines is problematical. 722a11: καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν φυτῶν δὲ ὁ αὐτὸς λόγος. Metaph.1 he goes back a further step. 39) Anton (1968. In De anima 2. Index 436a6 ﬀ.1. (i) The Argument of Homonymy The argument on the basis of homonymy39) that Aristotle uses in 735a7-8 seemed a decisive point in favour of the standard interpretation. See now also Shields 1999. but the opposite!
In view of de An. as we argued in §2 under (b). 1. GA 1. though there is no question of an eye-to-be nor of a working eye.
Third. and speciﬁcally the primary. that Aristotle continues by indicating that. 734b24-5: οὐ γάρ ἐστι πρόσωπον μὴ ἔχον ψυχὴν οὐδὲ σάρξ. 43) Likewise Lanza 1971. most
GA 2. the introduction of ‘this process of formation’. Second. but cannot perform the function of an eye.1. which follows ‘the same argument’ for both halves of the sentence. straight after the production of semen by the father ﬁgure.P. 889 and Ferwerda 2005. Arist. This two-part statement. is then stipulated by the remark about speaking homonymously. but the external agent which ﬁrst set the movement going’. In this alternative explanation Aristotle says: ‘a soul can only be present in that of which it is the soul (so it must be present in semen). Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
For it is said of the soul that it must always be present in something corporeal. Semen that does not possess soul is ‘semen’ in the way that a eunuch can be called a ‘man’. 766a24-30. Balme (1972. In my explanation this can be defended.
.42) And semen of a human being that does not possess a sensitive soul-part would be like the eye of a dead person. the soul of the living creature itself sets to work. too. GA 4. But ‘the part’ (of the body) is then said to participate in the soul.43) Three things are remarkable here. There. the question why Aristotle would suggest here that a part of the body brings about the process in which a new living creature is formed. (j) The Genesis of the Soul and the Genesis of the Soul-Parts There is another passage which remains unclear in the text that formed our starting-point. it is unclear why Aristotle uses the verb ‘to participate’ here. the standard interpretation is unanimous but disputable. potentially’. why in Greek the word ‘this’ is ﬁve words removed from ‘process of formation’. On the eunuch.41) But the question remains whether the example of homonymy is in keeping with the previous statements. This is still called ‘an eye’.1. it is not easy to explain how this sentence can be interpreted as ‘following a similar argument’ to the ﬁrst part of the sentence.A. Moreover. cf. the cause of this process of formation is not any part of the body. First. 62) translates: ‘Now this generative process is not caused by any of its parts’. 735a7: μετέχον. It is 735a12-3. too. Note. though the preceding passage does not talk about a speciﬁc process of formation. In Peck’s translation we read: ‘So then. In my view. whereas he had said ‘possesses’ in 734b25. and (semen) is (participatory in the parts of the soul).
αὕτη ἐστὶ καὶ ἡ γεννῶσα. Aristotle is taking for granted here what. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
basic soul-part. 734b17-9: Ὅτι μὲν οὖν ἔστι τι ὃ ποιεῖ.48) (k) The Greek Text of 735a22 In passing we arrive at a passage in which a striking textual variant has been passed down by. κινοῦν πρῶτον καὶ δημιουργοῦν. manuscript Z. in the sense that ‘part’ here should again be taken as soul-part. But this function starts as the function of the father (the ‘external agent’). GA 2. We should therefore consider an alternative explanation here too. but the begetter is the cause. 740b34: ἡ γὰρ αὐτή ἐστιν ὕλη ᾗ αὐξάνεται καὶ ἐξ ἧς συνίσταται τὸ πρῶτον. εἰ οὖν αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ θρεπτικὴ ψυχή.4. however.46) The conclusion of this passage and this chapter also makes it clear that Aristotle has been talking about ‘the ﬁrst moving and eﬃcient’ principle of the soul. 45) That is to say. 6) suggested this possibility.44) In that case the demonstrative pronoun should not be connected with ‘process of formation’ but with ‘soul’ (of the semen). of which all soul-parts are also operative in actuality. the nutritive or vegetative soul-part. signiﬁcantly. and not yet on the higher levels.45) For Aristotle the ‘generative’ and the ‘nutritive’ functions are the same function.1. is activated only on the vegetative level. As soon as fertilization has taken place. Aristotle is therefore saying: no part of this (soul in the semen) is the cause of formation. it then continues to operate as the nutritive function of the embryo.
A. 46) GA 2. according to my alternative interpretation. 47) GA 2. though belonging to the entire soul of the mature specimen of the kind in question. he posited in 735a4-9. which is three centuries older
Louis (1961. 215 n. 735a27-9: Τί μὲν οὖν ἐστιν αἴτιον ὡς ἀρχὴ τῆς περὶ ἕκαστον γενέσεως.1.47) And his argument links up closely with what he had emphasized in 734b17-9: the begetter is always a living creature in actuality.
ὥστε καὶ ἡ ποιοῦσα δύναμις ταὐτὸ τῷ ἐξ ἀρχῆς· μείζων δὲ αὕτη ἐστιν. but he passes on a movement via his semen in such a way that the movement. οὐχ οὕτως δὲ ὡς τόδε τι οὐδ’ ἐνυπάρχον ὡς τετελεσμένον τὸ πρῶτον. present in all living entities. but rejected it because he thought it more logical to interpret ‘part’ here as ‘partie du corps’.P. εἴρηται πρὸς τὰ διαπορηθέντα πρότερον. Aristotle is thus refer48)
ring both to the begetter and to the form-producing movement of the begetter’s semen. the new specimen feeds itself independently thanks to its nutritive soul-part (which must therefore already be present in the semen).
49) This alternative reading can be seen as decisive evidence for my alternative explanation. But Z has an entirely diﬀerent reading: ἔστιν ἄρα τι ὃ αὔξει. But it grows by itself. 165: ‘the female material contains potentially both sets of parts by which the sexes are distinguished’. it is said there. We must conclude that Drossaart Lulofs. 56: αὐτὸ ἄρα τι ὂν αὔξει. including the male and female genitals. a process of growth must be instigated which the begetter no longer carries out. 175: ‘all the parts of the body’. (l) The Menstrual Fluid also Potentially Contains all the ‘parts’ A text from Generation of Animals 2.52) But this would be a totally irrelevant statement.50) That is to say: as soon as the begetter has secreted his semen. The text should be corrected in the way indicated by manuscript Z (as the obvious lectio diﬃcilior). On this. are potentially present in the menstrual ﬂuid. it causes itself to grow’. has: εστιν αρα τι ο αυξει. This can only be the potential for growth which. very exceptionally. Likewise Louis 1961.
. And it would be just as bizarre as a statement along the lines: this one wooden beam potentially contains an entire house. καὶ γὰρ τὰ τοιαῦτ’ ἔχει μόρια δυνάμει ᾗ διαφέρει τὸ θῆλυ τοῦ ἄρρενος. 50) Louis (1961.
Drossaart Lulofs 1965. as the vegetative soul-part. But Z. see Bos 2006.3.A. Cooper 1990. The edition by Drossaart Lulofs reads there: ‘So. 56) translates strikingly: ‘Il existe par conséquent quelque chose qui le fait croître’. 889 has: ‘Vi è dunque qualche cosa che fa crescere’. which hardly notes any accents or aspiration marks.
ἐνεργείᾳ δ’ οὐθέν. 737a22-5: καὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνο περίττωμα καὶ πάντα τὰ μόρια ἔχει δυνάμει. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
than all the others. Balme 1972. has chosen the wrong side.
Peck 1942. 87: ‘alle lichaamsdelen’. a potential for growth must already have become operative. 56. But this means that.’ The Z reading now has: ‘So there must be something which brings about growth’.3 is also relevant to the text which formed our starting-point. ‘contains all the parts potentially. The menstrual ﬂuid which the female contributes to the reproductive process. before a heart has been formed.51) What is the purport of this text? The reading of all modern exegetes here is that all the parts of the body. though none in actuality. though he prints a Greek text which does not allow this! Lanza 1971. In the edition of the text this would be: ἔστιν ἄρα τι ὃ αὔξει. Ferwerda 2005. 173-5). is present in the semen. 51) GA 2.P. Aristotle says in 735a20: ‘Something with the same name has begotten it. and ‘all’ includes those parts which distinguish the both sexes’ (Peck 1942. as soon as it exists. 58: ‘all the bodily parts’. for instance a man a man.
731a8: τὸ δὲ λοιπὸν τροφὴ γίγνεται τῷ βλαστῷ καὶ τῇ GA 2. Inasmuch as part of the menstrual ﬂuid is used as ‘food’ or ‘matter’ for a part of the new specimen. thanks to the activity of the male.4. 737a33: ὅταν δὲ μετάσχῃ τοιαύτης ἀρχῆς τὸ περίττωμα τὸ τοῦ θήλεος κύημα
ῥίζῃ τῇ πρώτῃ. a problem arises because he also states that no physical substance of the male semen remains in the embryo. but crucial of course is that the embryo.
γίγνεται. And she also has a potential for soul. lxvii): ‘semen possesses the principle of sentient Soul. This view always sees the female contribution as providing the corporeal side of the new specimen.23. But
Cf.P. including those to which it bears a diﬀerent relationship from the (semen of the) male. 740b18: τὸ περίττωμα τὸ τοῦ θήλεος δυνάμει τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν οἷον φύσει τὸ ζῷον. is necessary to the course of the argument and is emphatically supported by the context.53) All other parts of the new specimen are produced from food that has been drawn from outside.396
.56) But not by itself. its purpose is to form the very ﬁrst bodily part of the new specimen. which goes back to Alexander of Aphrodisias. And a condition for this is that the menstrual ﬂuid of the female shares in the soul-principle provided by the male via his semen. the heart or its analogue.4. But the proposition that the menstrual ﬂuid possesses all parts of the soul.55) The female menstrual ﬂuid has the potential to become what the living creature is by nature. given that the female menstrual ﬂuid needs to be ‘worked on’ by the male partner? For the male semen may possess ‘soul’ and ‘the parts’ of the soul. For though Aristotle has demonstrated that male semen must possess the entire soul and all parts of the soul. Aristotle must be talking here about ‘parts of the soul ’. This leads once again to the question: can we be sure that the embryo possesses the entire soul and all parts of the soul. A female can produce life. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
We should ask ourselves whether this traditional interpretation does not depend on the equally traditional (and erroneous) hylomorphistic interpretation of Generation of Animals. is it possible to understand that the menstrual ﬂuid provides the corporeal side of the soul (as a composite of entelechy and instrumental body). menstrual ﬂuid possesses only nutritive Soul (potentially)’. but only up to a certain level. This puts a diﬀerent complexion on all kinds of details. Only when we have abandoned this view. GA 2. 56) GA 2.
The diﬀerence between the male and the female with regard to the soul-parts is lucidly explained by Peck (1942.54) As in the case of semen. 740b2-8 and 1.3. comes to possess these.
through the eﬀect of the male’s movement.5 we ﬁnd that the female περίττωμα diﬀers from the male περίττωμα in lacking the animal and human soulfunctions as entelechy.59) And after fertilization the menstrual ﬂuid must diﬀerentiate itself into a male or female embryo before it can produce male or female genitals. 156. But we have yet to deal with a possible objection: the traditional explanation seems to be strongly supported by the passage in Generation of Animals 4. too. then. It does have. 60) GA 4.5. also the sensitive and dianoetic soul-parts which it does not possess of itself. the vegetative soul. including all parts of the soul. Cf. The male semen possesses soul as ‘ﬁrst entelechy’ but ‘dormantly’.58) Here in Generation of Animals 2. really is male or female only from the time when it has got the parts by which female diﬀers from male’. Note the striking diﬀerence between ᾗ διαφέρει and οἷς διαφέρει in the texts of 2.4. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
only for the most basic kind. 393) reads there: ‘As far.57) The diﬀerence between male semen and female menstrual ﬂuid is that the male semen potentially possesses the soul of the speciﬁc living creature. Ferwerda 2005. But by itself the menstrual ﬂuid potentially possesses only the vegetative soul.P. 766b26: τούτῳ δὲ τὸ θῆλυ διαφέρει τῷ μορίῳ τοῦ ἄρρενος.1. Ποίαν οὖν ταύτην· ἀνάγκη δὴ τὴν ἐσχάτην. the potential for all the higher soul-parts of the animal of the speciﬁc kind.A.60) Peck (1942. he uses the
57) GA 2. The female menstrual ﬂuid possesses only the vegetative soul (dormantly) and not the entire soul. including all parts of the soul. On this view the passage underlines the correctness of our explanation of the earlier passage in Generation of Animals 2.
This could lead to the conclusion that Aristotle talks in two diﬀerent ways about ‘potentially possessing soul’. but has the potential. to become a bearer of the soul in actuality. 58) GA 2. with 741a23: δῆλον οὖν ὅτι ἔχει τινὰ δυνάμει ψυχήν. See also 4. as the principle and the cause of male and female is concerned. Aristotle is in fact talking here about the parts of the visible body which diﬀer in male and female specimens. 766b3-5: ἡ μὲν οὖν ἀρχὴ τοῦ θήλεος καὶ τοῦ ἄρρενος καὶ ἡ αἰτία αὕτη καὶ ἐν τούτῳ ἐστίν. 417a28: διὸ δεῖται τῆς τοῦ ἄρρενος κοινωνίας. 741a17: δύναται μέχρι γέ τινος τὸ θῆλυ γεννᾶν. 737a24 about ‘the parts regarding which the female diﬀers from the male’. 766b3-5. this is what it is and where it is situated.1.1. αὕτη δ’ ἐστὶν ἡ θρεπτική. besides. For only a female soul-principle plus instrumental body produces a female body. a creature. And here. however.1 and 4. Θῆλυ δ’ ἤδη καὶ ἄρρεν ἐστὶν ὅταν ἔχῃ καὶ τὰ μόρια οἷς διαφέρει τὸ θῆλυ τοῦ ἄρρενος. and this is what Aristotle is referring to in his statement in 2.5. But for this it needs fertilization by the male.
766a34-6 that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are assigned as predicates on the basis of diﬀerent sexual characteristics. not all the parts simultaneously. but the external agent which ﬁrst set the movement going. Of this (soul) no part is the cause of its coming-to-be. Bos / Mnemosyne 62 (2009) 378-400
unspeciﬁed term ‘the parts’. the vital heat of the soul’s instrumental body.398
A. Hence it is clear both that (semen) possesses Soul. this. From the perspective of this passage in book 4. since this is a function which belongs to every animal and plant that is perfect in its nature. Yet this train of thought is not compelling. No soul will be present elsewhere than in that of which it is the soul. and a waking one than one who is busy at his studies). The passage occurs in a much later part of the argumentation. There are varying degrees in which something may be potentially that which it is capable of being—it may be nearer to and further removed from it (just as a sleeping geometer is at a further remove than one who is awake. potentially. And though another thing bearing the same name does generate it (e.
5. the nutritive faculty (of soul).1 the reference to the diﬀerence in genitals is wholly appropriate. In 2.
. it must of necessity grow. For nothing generates itself. the argument would have been much less structured than it is now.1 Aristotle is still dealing with a prior issue. just as the eye of a dead person (is called an eye but does not participate in the sensitive soul-part). And the part which must of necessity be formed ﬁrst is the one which possesses the principle of growth: be they plants or animals. and that it is (participatory in the parts of the soul).g. nor will (semen) not participate in parts (of the soul) unless homonymously.1. it seems wholly reasonable to follow the same line in book 2. a man is generated by a man). Alternative Translation
Does semen possess soul or not? The same dilemma (holds) for the parts (of the soul). he says that this distinction is determined much earlier by the real principle of diﬀerentiation between a male and a female specimen.1. but as soon as it has been formed a thing makes itself grow. it grows by means of itself. Establishing in 2. is present in all of them alike.P. So there must be something which brings about growth.1. This also is the faculty of generating another creature like itself. In book 4. The reason why this must of necessity be so is that once a thing has been formed.1. If the same theme had already been addressed in book 2. That is why one part is formed ﬁrst.
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