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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • (tm)Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE PROPAGATION OF MAN AS TO THE BODY (TWO ARTICLES)
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(tm)Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE PROPAGATION OF MAN AS TO THE BODY (TWO ARTICLES)

We now consider the propagation of man, as to the body. Concerning this
there are two points of inquiry:

(1) Whether any part of the food is changed into true human nature?

(2) Whether the semen, which is the principle of human generation, is
produced from the surplus food?


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether some part of the food is changed into true human nature?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that none of the food is changed into true human
nature. For it is written (Mt. 15:17): "Whatsoever entereth into the
mouth, goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy." But what is
cast out is not changed into the reality of human nature. Therefore none
of the food is changed into true human nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the Philosopher (De Gener. i, 5) distinguishes flesh
belonging to the "species" from flesh belonging to "matter"; and says
that the latter "comes and goes." Now what is formed from food comes and
goes. Therefore what is produced from food is flesh belonging to matter,
not to the species. But what belongs to true human nature belongs to the
species. Therefore the food is not changed into true human nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the "radical humor" seems to belong to the reality of
human nature; and if it be lost, it cannot be recovered, according to
physicians. But it could be recovered if the food were changed into the
humor. Therefore food is not changed into true human nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, if the food were changed into true human nature,
whatever is lost in man could be restored. But man's death is due only to
the loss of something. Therefore man would be able by taking food to
insure himself against death in perpetuity.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Obj. 5 Para. 1/1

OBJ 5: Further, if the food is changed into true human nature, there is
nothing in man which may not recede or be repaired: for what is generated
in a man from his food can both recede and be repaired. If therefore a
man lived long enough, it would follow that in the end nothing would be
left in him of what belonged to him at the beginning. Consequently he
would not be numerically the same man throughout his life; since for the
thing to be numerically the same, identity of matter is necessary. But
this is incongruous. Therefore the food is not changed into true human
nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Vera Relig. xi): "The bodily food
when corrupted, that is, having lost its form, is changed into the
texture of the members." But the texture of the members belongs to true
human nature. Therefore the food is changed into the reality of human
nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 1/6

I answer that, According to the Philosopher (Metaph. ii), "The relation
of a thing to truth is the same as its relation to being." Therefore that
belongs to the true nature of any thing which enters into the
constitution of that nature. But nature can be considered in two ways:
firstly, in general according to the species; secondly, as in the
individual. And whereas the form and the common matter belong to a
thing's true nature considered in general; individual signate matter, and
the form individualized by that matter belong to the true nature
considered in this particular individual. Thus a soul and body belong to
the true human nature in general, but to the true human nature of Peter
and Martin belong this soul and this body.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 2/6

Now there are certain things whose form cannot exist but in one
individual matter: thus the form of the sun cannot exist save in the
matter in which it actually is. And in this sense some have said that the
human form cannot exist but in a certain individual matter, which, they
said, was given that form at the very beginning in the first man. So that
whatever may have been added to that which was derived by posterity from
the first parent, does not belong to the truth of human nature, as not
receiving in truth the form of human nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 3/6

But, said they, that matter which, in the first man, was the subject of
the human form, was multiplied in itself: and in this way the multitude
of human bodies is derived from the body of the first man. According to
these, the food is not changed into true human nature; we take food, they
stated, in order to help nature to resist the action of natural heat, and
prevent the consumption of the "radical humor"; just as lead or tin is
mixed with silver to prevent its being consumed by fire.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 4/6

But this is unreasonable in many ways. Firstly, because it comes to the
same that a form can be produced in another matter, or that it can cease
to be in its proper matter; wherefore all things that can be generated
are corruptible, and conversely. Now it is manifest that the human form
can cease to exist in this (particular) matter which is its subject: else
the human body would not be corruptible. Consequently it can begin to
exist in another matter, so that something else be changed into true
human nature. Secondly, because in all beings whose entire matter is
contained in one individual there is only one individual in the species:
as is clearly the case with the sun, moon and such like. Thus there would
only be one individual of the human species. Thirdly, because
multiplication of matter cannot be understood otherwise than either in
respect of quantity only, as in things which are rarefied, so that their
matter increases in dimensions; or in respect of the substance itself of
the matter. But as long as the substance alone of matter remains, it
cannot be said to be multiplied; for multitude cannot consist in the
addition of a thing to itself, since of necessity it can only result from
division. Therefore some other substance must be added to matter, either
by creation, or by something else being changed into it. Consequently no
matter can be multiplied save either by rarefaction as when air is made
from water; or by the change of some other things, as fire is multiplied
by the addition of wood; or lastly by creation. Now it is manifest that
the multiplication of matter in the human body does not occur by
rarefaction: for thus the body of a man of perfect age would be more
imperfect than the body of a child. Nor does it occur by creation of
flesh matter: for, according to Gregory (Moral. xxxii): "All things were
created together as to the substance of matter, but not as to the
specific form." Consequently the multiplication of the human body can
only be the result of the food being changed into the true human nature.
Fourthly, because, since man does not differ from animals and plants in
regard to the vegetative soul, it would follow that the bodies of animals
and plants do not increase through a change of nourishment into the body
so nourished, but through some kind of multiplication. Which
multiplication cannot be natural: since the matter cannot naturally
extend beyond a certain fixed quantity; nor again does anything increase
naturally, save either by rarefaction or the change of something else
into it. Consequently the whole process of generation and nourishment,
which are called "natural forces," would be miraculous. Which is
altogether inadmissible.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 5/6

Wherefore others have said that the human form can indeed begin to exist
in some other matter, if we consider the human nature in general: but not
if we consider it as in this individual. For in the individual the form
remains confined to a certain determinate matter, on which it is first
imprinted at the generation of that individual, so that it never leaves
that matter until the ultimate dissolution of the individual. And this
matter, say they, principally belongs to the true human nature. But since
this matter does not suffice for the requisite quantity, some other
matter must be added, through the change of food into the substance of
the individual partaking thereof, in such a quantity as suffices for the increase required. And this matter, they state, belongs secondarily to
the true human nature: because it is not required for the primary
existence of the individual, but for the quantity due to him. And if
anything further is produced from the food, this does not belong to true
human nature, properly speaking. However, this also is inadmissible.
First, because this opinion judges of living bodies as of inanimate
bodies; in which, although there be a power of generating their like in
species, there is not the power of generating their like in the
individual; which power in living bodies is the nutritive power. Nothing,
therefore, would be added to living bodies by their nutritive power, if
their food were not changed into their true nature. Secondly, because the
active seminal power is a certain impression derived from the soul of the
begetter, as stated above (Q[118], A[1]). Hence it cannot have a greater
power in acting, than the soul from which it is derived. If, therefore,
by the seminal power a certain matter truly assumes the form of human
nature, much more can the soul, by the nutritive power, imprint the true
form of human nature on the food which is assimilated. Thirdly, because
food is needed not only for growth, else at the term of growth, food
would be needful no longer; but also to renew that which is lost by the
action of natural heat. But there would be no renewal, unless what is
formed from the food, took the place of what is lost. Wherefore just as
that which was there previously belonged to true human nature, so also
does that which is formed from the food.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] Body Para. 6/6

Therefore, according to others, it must be said that the food is really
changed into the true human nature by reason of its assuming the specific
form of flesh, bones and such like parts. This is what the Philosopher
says (De Anima ii, 4): "Food nourishes inasmuch as it is potentially
flesh."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Our Lord does not say that the "whole" of what enters into
the mouth, but "all" - because something from every kind of food is cast
out into the privy. It may also be said that whatever is generated from
food, can be dissolved by natural heat, and be cast aside through the
pores, as Jerome expounds the passage.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: By flesh belonging to the species, some have understood
that which first receives the human species, which is derived from the
begetter: this, they say, lasts as long as the individual does. By flesh
belonging to the matter these understand what is generated from food: and
this, they say, does not always remain, but as it comes so it goes. But
this is contrary to the mind of Aristotle. For he says there, that "just
as in things which have their species in matter" - for instance, wood or
stone - "so in flesh, there is something belonging to the species, and
something belonging to matter." Now it is clear that this distinction has
no place in inanimate things, which are not generated seminally, or
nourished. Again, since what is generated from food is united to, by
mixing with, the body so nourished, just as water is mixed with wine, as
the Philosopher says there by way of example: that which is added, and
that to which it is added, cannot be different natures, since they are
already made one by being mixed together. Therefore there is no reason
for saying that one is destroyed by natural heat, while the other remains.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

It must therefore be said that this distinction of the Philosopher is
not of different kinds of flesh, but of the same flesh considered from
different points of view. For if we consider the flesh according to the
species, that is, according to that which is formed therein, thus it
remains always: because the nature of flesh always remains together with
its natural disposition. But if we consider flesh according to matter,
then it does not remain, but is gradually destroyed and renewed: thus in
the fire of a furnace, the form of fire remains, but the matter is
gradually consumed, and other matter is substituted in its place.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The "radical humor" is said to comprise whatever the virtue
of the species is founded on. If this be taken away it cannot be renewed;
as when a man's hand or foot is amputated. But the "nutritive humor" is
that which has not yet received perfectly the specific nature, but is on
the way thereto; such is the blood, and the like. Wherefore if such be
taken away, the virtue of the species remains in its root, which is not
destroyed.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Every virtue of a passible body is weakened by continuous
action, because such agents are also patient. Therefore the transforming
virtue is strong at first so as to be able to transform not only enough
for the renewal of what is lost, but also for growth. Later on it can
only transform enough for the renewal of what is lost, and then growth
ceases. At last it cannot even do this; and then begins decline. In fine,
when this virtue fails altogether, the animal dies. Thus the virtue of
wine that transforms the water added to it, is weakened by further
additions of water, so as to become at length watery, as the Philosopher
says by way of example (De Gener. i, 5).

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[1] R.O. 5 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 5: As the Philosopher says (De Gener. i, 5), when a certain
matter is directly transformed into fire, then fire is said to be
generated anew: but when matter is transformed into a fire already
existing, then fire is said to be fed. Wherefore if the entire matter
together loses the form of fire, and another matter transformed into
fire, there will be another distinct fire. But if, while one piece of
wood is burning, other wood is laid on, and so on until the first piece
is entirely consumed, the same identical fire will remain all the time:
because that which is added passes into what pre-existed. It is the same
with living bodies, in which by means of nourishment that is renewed
which was consumed by natural heat.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the semen is produced from surplus food?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the semen is not produced from the surplus
food, but from the substance of the begetter. For Damascene says (De Fide
Orth. i, 8) that "generation is a work of nature, producing, from the
substance of the begetter, that which is begotten." But that which is
generated is produced from the semen. Therefore the semen is produced
from the substance of the begetter.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the son is like his father, in respect of that which he
receives from him. But if the semen from which something is generated, is
produced from the surplus food, a man would receive nothing from his
grandfather and his ancestors in whom the food never existed. Therefore a
man would not be more like to his grandfather or ancestors, than to any
other men.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the food of the generator is sometimes the flesh of
cows, pigs and suchlike. If therefore, the semen were produced from
surplus food, the man begotten of such semen would be more akin to the
cow and the pig, than to his father or other relations.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. x, 20) that we were in Adam
"not only by seminal virtue, but also in the very substance of the body."
But this would not be, if the semen were produced from surplus food.
Therefore the semen is not produced therefrom.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher proves in many ways (De Gener. Animal.
i, 18) that "the semen is surplus food."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, This question depends in some way on what has been stated
above (A[1]; Q[118], A[1]). For if human nature has a virtue for the
communication of its form to alien matter not only in another, but also
in its own subject; it is clear that the food which at first is
dissimilar, becomes at length similar through the form communicated to
it. Now it belongs to the natural order that a thing should be reduced
from potentiality to act gradually: hence in things generated we observe
that at first each is imperfect and is afterwards perfected. But it is
clear that the common is to the proper and determinate, as imperfect is
to perfect: therefore we see that in the generation of an animal, the
animal is generated first, then the man or the horse. So therefore food
first of all receives a certain common virtue in regard to all the parts
of the body, which virtue is subsequently determinate to this or that
part.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Body Para. 2/3

Now it is not possible that the semen be a kind of solution from what is
already transformed into the substance of the members. For this solution,
if it does not retain the nature of the member it is taken from, it would
no longer be of the nature of the begetter, and would be due to a process
of corruption; and consequently it would not have the power of
transforming something else into the likeness of that nature. But if it
retained the nature of the member it is taken from, then, since it is
limited to a certain part of the body, it would not have the power of
moving towards (the production of) the whole nature, but only the nature
of that part. Unless one were to say that the solution is taken from all
the parts of the body, and that it retains the nature of each part. Thus
the semen would be a small animal in act; and generation of animal from
animal would be a mere division, as mud is generated from mud, and as
animals which continue to live after being cut in two: which is
inadmissible.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] Body Para. 3/3

It remains to be said, therefore, that the semen is not something
separated from what was before the actual whole; rather is it the whole,
though potentially, having the power, derived from the soul of the
begetter, to produce the whole body, as stated above (A[1]; Q[108], A[1]
). Now that which is in potentiality to the whole, is that which is
generated from the food, before it is transformed into the substance of
the members. Therefore the semen is taken from this. In this sense the
nutritive power is said to serve the generative power: because what is
transformed by the nutritive power is employed as semen by the generative
power. A sign of this, according to the Philosopher, is that animals of
great size, which require much food, have little semen in proportion to
the size of their bodies, and generated seldom; in like manner fat men,
and for the same reason.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Generation is from the substance of the begetter in animals
and plants, inasmuch as the semen owes its virtue to the form of the
begetter, and inasmuch as it is in potentiality to the substance.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The likeness of the begetter to the begotten is on account
not of the matter, but of the form of the agent that generates its like.
Wherefore in order for a man to be like his grandfather, there is no need
that the corporeal seminal matter should have been in the grandfather;
but that there be in the semen a virtue derived from the soul of the
grandfather through the father. In like manner the third objection is
answered. For kinship is not in relation to matter, but rather to the
derivation of the forms.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 4: These words of Augustine are not to be understood as though
the immediate seminal virtue, or the corporeal substance from which this
individual was formed were actually in Adam: but so that both were in
Adam as in principle. For even the corporeal matter, which is supplied by
the mother, and which he calls the corporeal substance, is originally
derived from Adam: and likewise the active seminal power of the father,
which is the immediate seminal virtue (in the production) of this man.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[119] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 2/2

But Christ is said to have been in Adam according to the "corporeal
substance," not according to the seminal virtue. Because the matter from
which His Body was formed, and which was supplied by the Virgin Mother,
was derived from Adam; whereas the active virtue was not derived from
Adam, because His Body was not formed by the seminal virtue of a man, but
by the operation of the Holy Ghost. For "such a birth was becoming to
Him," [*Hymn for Vespers at Christmas; Breviary, O. P.], WHO IS ABOVE ALL
GOD FOR EVER BLESSED. Amen.




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