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Aristotle
On the Generation of Animals

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2

Of the generation of animals we must speak as various questions arise in order in the case of each, and we must connect our account with what has been said. For, as we said above, the male and female principles may be put down first and foremost as origins of generation, the former as containing the efficient cause of generation, the latter the material of it. The most conclusive proof of this is drawn from considering how and whence comes the semen; for there is no doubt that it is out of this that those creatures are formed which are produced in the ordinary course of Nature; but we must observe carefully the way in which this semen actually comes into being from the male and female. For it is just because the semen is secreted from the two sexes, the secretion taking place in them and from them, that they are first principles of generation. For by a male animal we mean that which generates in another, and by a female that which generates in itself; wherefore men apply these terms to the macrocosm also, naming Earth mother as being female, but addressing Heaven and the Sun and other like entities as fathers, as causing generation.

Male and female differ in their essence by each having a separate ability or faculty, and anatomically by certain parts; essentially the male is that which is able to generate in another, as said above; the female is that which is able to generate in itself and out of which comes into being the offspring previously existing in the parent. And since they are differentiated by an ability or faculty and by their function, and since instruments or organs are needed for all functioning, and since the bodily parts are the instruments or organs to serve the faculties, it follows that certain parts must exist for union of parents and production of offspring. And these must differ from each other, so that consequently the male will differ from the female. (For even though we speak of the animal as a whole as male or female, yet really it is not male or female in virtue of the whole of itself, but only in virtue of a certain faculty and a certain partjust as with the part used for sight or locomotion—which part is also plain to sense-perception.)

Now as a matter of fact such parts are in the female the so-called uterus, in the male the testes and the penis, in all the sanguinea; for some of them have testes and others the corresponding passages. There are corresponding differences of male and female in all the bloodless animals also which have this division into opposite sexes. But if in the sanguinea it is the parts concerned in copulation that differ primarily in their forms, we must observe that a small change in a first principle is often attended by changes in other things depending on it. This is plain in the case of castrated animals, for, though only the generative part is disabled, yet pretty well the whole form of the animal changes in consequence so much that it seems to be female or not far short of it, and thus it is clear than an animal is not male or female in virtue of an isolated part or an isolated faculty. Clearly, then, the distinction of sex is a first principle; at any rate, when that which distinguishes male and female suffers change, many other changes accompany it, as would be the case if a first principle is changed.




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