Aristotle on the differences between plants, animals, and human beings and on the elements as instruments of the soul (de anima 2.4.415b18).
A new interpretation is proposed of On the Soul 2.4.415b18: "For all the natural bodies are instruments of the soul," against all current interpretations. Aristotle there means that each of the four sublunary elements can be a part of the instrumental body of a soul. The paper continues with discussing the way in which Aristotle connects the several sublunar elements with different levels of life activity, and the troublesome passage in Generation of Animals 3.11.761b22, where Aristotle speaks about a fourth category of living creatures related to the fourth sublunary element, Fire, and the region of the Moon.
The Soul Principle as the Basis for Difference in Quality of Life. How does Aristotle explain differences in level and quality of life? The answer seems obvious. Aristotle divides the realm of (sublunary) living creatures into three subrealms, plants, animals, and human beings. To each subrealm he assigns a different soul-principle. Plants have a vegetative or nutritive soul; animals have a sensitive soul; human beings have a rational soul. (1) For Aristotle there is a difference in "value and lack of value" between these levels of life. For plants produce nothing but seed, for the continuation of their own kind. Animals, however, all have a certain level of "knowledge," though for some kinds this is restricted to the lowest level of perception. This worthiness of only a form of perception may seem minimal in comparison with the human mind, but compared with the condition of a plant or a stone it is something astonishing. (2)
On this view, the soul-principle is the basis for difference in level of life. But this signally fails to do justice to the great variation within each of the subrealms. It also falls to explain why a sensitive soul never manifests itself in a plant or tree. Another question to be decided is whether perhaps a monkey or a wolf or fish possesses a human soul which has degenerated. (3)
"The Body that Receives the Soul" as the Basis for Difference in Quality of Life. There is also another side to the problem. The soul as "the first entelechy of a natural body that potentially possesses life" (4) is never "without soma," says Aristotle. (5) So it is relevant to pay attention to "the body that receives the soul," for "a craft must use its instruments, and a soul its body." (6) A carpenter does not hammer in a nail with a flute. A flautist has no use for a hammer. It thus seems as if the body with which the soul is connected imposes restrictions on the soul and that the quality of the body that receives the soul determines the quality of life (just as the menstrual fluid can only be fertilized by semen of a male partner of the same species).
Note, too, that it is not the structure of a visible animal body which can impose restrictions on a soul-principle. (7) For this visible body is itself the product of an animal soul-principle. And the same applies to the structure of a visible plant body and a visible human body.
Aristotle was aware that it is necessary to speak about the specific quality of "the body that receives the soul," and that it is unsound, as the Pythagoreans did, to put all souls in the same category (8) and not explain why the various kinds of animals and humans (and plants, Aristotle would add) are so different.
The Soul in Combination with "the Body that Receives the Soul" is the Basis for Difference in Quality of Life. However, a famous passage in his great work Generation of Animals (2.3.736b29-35) shows that, according to Aristotle, it is necessary that the soul-principle and the body that receives the soul are in agreement, and that this agreement already exists in the semen phase. Aristotle says there:
The dynamis of every soul seems to have something of a body different from and more divine than the so-called elements; and the differences in value or lack of value between souls correspond with the differences in this substance (physis). For the semen of everything contains within itself its cause of being fertile, viz. so-called vital heat. This vital heat is not fire or any such power but the pneuma which is enclosed in the semen and in the foam-like stuff; it is the active substance which is in pneuma, which is an analogue of the astral element. (9)
Aristotle here identifies vital heat and pneuma. Vital heat is an essential characteristic of pneuma. However, the text also talks explicitly about difference in "value or lack of value" of souls and difference in value and lack of value (10) of the corporeal principle with which these souls are connected. The soul-principle in the seed of the male specimen of a particular kind of living creature is therefore both connected with and suited to the material substance of the seed, which in any case contains vital heat (pneuma), in the sublunary sphere an analogue of the astral ether. (11) This material substance of the male seed is matched, in turn, by the menstrual fluid of the female partner, which bears the soul-principle from the moment of fertilization. (12) Manifestation of the vital functions of a certain living creature is therefore only possible in combination with the suitable "natural body" that receives the soul. Aristotle thus puts paid to Plato's theory that all souls of living creatures are of the same kind, including his theory of the transmigration of a human soul to the body of a wolf or a monkey.
In passing Aristotle also creates room in this passage (737a4-5), as he already did in 1.21.731a8-15, for the very special kind of generation which he will discuss in Generation of Animals 3.11, namely the generation of (inferior) living creatures, not on the basis of sexual reproduction, but by inclusion of a vital principle in a pneuma-containing natural residue. (13)
So Aristotle speaks about the soul's close connection with a very special substance, which is not identical with the visible body of the fully-grown living creature. (14) At the stage of fertilization there is no sign yet of this visible body. It must still be produced by the soul in close cooperation with its "instrumental body." (15)
Differences in Composition of "the Body that Receives the Soul." Now this "instrumental body" which "receives the soul" and which is "suitable matter" for the soul-principle is composed of one or more of the four elements (16) plus vital heat, which is an analogue of the celestial element. In animals which produce semen or menstrual fluid it contains at any rate an aquatic component. (17) This is not or much less the case in plants, as can be concluded from grains of corn or beechnuts. Semen also contains air. For pneuma is "hot air," (18) but not in the sense of air heated by fire, but in the sense of air which is a bearer of vital heat. (19) This means that, for "the body which receives the soul," Aristotle not only assigns a role to the "vital heat," which must in any case be operative in it, but also to the basic elements earth, water, and air. The difference in quality of pneuma (corresponding to the differences in quality of souls), which Generation of Animals 2.3.736b31-3 talks about, can only be explained by the "mixture" of pneuma with other bodies. (20)
We will see in [section]10 below that Aristotle also states that there must be living creatures with a soul-principle of which the "instrumental body" contains fire.
The Four Sublunary Elements as "Instruments of the Soul" in On the Soul 2.4.415b18. It might appear against this background that Aristotle holds that, if pneuma or the vital heat is also present, all four sublunary elements can serve as "instruments" of the soul. This could be a reason to look at the striking passage in On the Soul 2.4.415b18, where Aristotle states categorically:
For all the natural bodies are instruments of the soul. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII.]
Does Aristotle mean there that the degree to which a combination of the four sublunary elements is present in the "body that receives the soul" determines the quality and level of life that a certain living creature realizes? For instance in the sense that a plant or tree has a soul-principle of which the soul-body is predominantly earthy? And that a fish or another aquatic animal has a soul-principle of which the soul-body contains water? And that a four-footed mammal has a soul-principle of which the soul-body contains air? Did Aristotle take the principal distinctions in living nature somehow to correspond with the distinction of the elements and their natural regions?
This brings us up against the pressing problem that the relevant passage in On the Soul 2.4 has always been interpreted in an entirely different direction.
(A) The standard interpretation is: "all bodies of living creatures are instruments of soul." Robert D. Hicks (21) translates: "for all the natural bodies are instruments of soul: and this is as true of the bodies of plants as of those of animals." He explains on page 343 that, according to the indications of John Philoponus, we should read "all natural bodies" as "all natural living bodies." Hicks refers to 2.1.412a11-5, "where natural bodies are classified as animate and inanimate. In fact soma is slipping into this narrower meaning in 412b26-3a4." Hicks has clearly felt that there is something strange about his view that Aristotle's focus here is on living natural bodies. He is aware that Aristotle repeatedly characterizes the elementary bodies as "natural bodies." For this reason A. Torstrik (22) had proposed to correct "physika somata" to "empsycha somata." (Apparently Torstrik thought it unlikely that Aristotle would make the careless mistake that Hicks finds here.)
John A. Smith had: "all natural bodies are organs of the soul. This is true of those that enter into the constitution of plants as well as of those which enter into that of animals." (23) Smith was apparently unwilling to identify "natural bodies" with the bodies of living creatures. However, he is forced into a subterfuge, adding the words "that enter into the constitution" in order to make the transition from elementary bodies to the living bodies of animals and plants. (24)
(B) I subjoin the following critical remarks: (a) Everywhere else Aristotle uses the expression "natural bodies" only in the sense of "elementary bodies." (25) In On the Soul 2.1.412a12 he adds that the natural bodies are the principles of other bodies. He also says in 412a13 that "some natural bodies possess life but others do not." In 2.4.415b8 Aristotle talks about the soul as the principle of "the riving body" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and in 415bll about the soul as the principle of "ensouled bodies" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). It is therefore impossible that "natural bodies" in 415b18 suddenly means the same as "living bodies." (26)
(b) We should consider, too, that this passage is obviously connected with Aristotle's definition of the soul in On the Soul 2.1, where Aristotle talks about the necessity of a "natural body" as "soma organikon" of the soul. It is well known that the entire tradition from Alexander of Aphrodisias onwards interpreted this as the visible body "equipped with organs." (27) Nowadays it is clear that this cannot possibly be Aristotle1s meaning. (28) (Traditionally in De Anima 2.1.412a27-8 and 412b5 also "natural body" was taken to mean "the body of a living plant, animal or human being.") However, as soon as the translation "equipped with organs" for "organikon" has been rejected as false, it might be recognized that Aristotle is speaking about a special soul-body. On the Spirit chapter 9 also shows very clearly that Aristotle assumed an indissoluble unity between the soul and its instrumental body. (29) (That was one of the considerations which led to the general rejection of the treatise as spurious.)
Could it not be, then, that the tradition has forced the text of 2.4.415b18 into a Procrustean bed owing to the reinterpretation of Aristotle's theory of soul by Alexander of Aphrodisias, and that Aristotle actually means here: "All elementary (natural) bodies are instruments of the soul?" (30) We might then consider that Aristotle is already working here on his own alternative to the theories criticized in 1.5.411a7-b30, and that, instead, he related differences in quality of life to differences in the quality of the mixture of pneuma with these elements.
If that would be the case it becomes evident that Aristotle's use of the notion of an "instrument" in On the Soul 1.3.407b25-6, 2.1.412a28 and b6, and in 2.4.415b7 and b18 provides the necessary explanation of the difference in quality of life, which explanation is given nowhere else. Living beings differ through the quality of their vital functions (erga) and these functions need an instrumental body which is adequate. An instrument which may be used for the process of concoction is not at the same time adapted to sense perception or locomotion.
Differences in Quality of Life in the Animal World. Various texts in Aristotle's biological works point in this direction. In Generation of Animals 2.1.732b28-9 Aristotle talks about the reason why some animals bear young, whereas others lay eggs, from which young emerge at a later stage. He explains this by saying that viviparous animals "are more perfect in their nature" and "partake of a purer soul principle" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (31) These animals also have lungs (for respiration, which ensures that the vital heat does not rise excessively). For they are "more perfect and by nature hotter and more fluid and not earthy" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (32) The physis of a living creature is seen by Aristotle here as the soul-containing embryo (kyema) from which a living creature is formed. This physis determines the quality of life of the concrete specimen and the differentiations in the constitution of the visible body. The basis for this is emphatically not formed by the parts of the visible body themselves. The presence or absence of feet is not a sound principle of differentiation. (33) For Aristotle, the external parts of the body express the higher or lower quality of the vital principle. (34)
Animals with feathers, armature, or scales do not produce living young. For feathers, armature, and scales express a constitution that tends to be solid and earthy--([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (35) And an earthy constitution is already present at an early stage. Animals which are very "earthy" because of their size have semen that is earthier--[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]--than that of other animals. (36) Animals which produce living young have "a moist physis." Aristotle adds by way of explanation: "the reason being that fluid matter is conducive to life, whereas dryness is furthest removed from what has life" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (37)
Slightly further on Aristotle gives a descending series of five levels of living creatures, from the "more perfect and hotter animals" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] to the "coldest." (38) And he sees this as an indication of "how well nature brings generation about in its several forms: they are arranged in a regular series" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (39) Here, too, the determining principle of the series is not an external feature but an internal soul-principle or vital principle.
I add a few texts which point in the same direction. In the passage on the eggs of birds and of fishes Aristotle says:
One part of the egg, the hot part, is closer to the form of the developing creatures; but the other, the more earthy part, supplies the wherewithal for building up the bodily frame and is further removed from the form. (40) That is why in the case of all double-coloured eggs the young animal gets its "principle of generation" from the white, because hot substance is the place where the soul-principle is to be found, while it gets its nourishment from the yolk. (41) With those animals whose nature tends to be hotter than others we find there is a clear distinction between the part [of the egg] from which the principle is formed and the part from which the nourishment is derived. (42) ... the white is not distinct at all; this is because the eggs are small and consist of an abundance of cold and earthy matter. ... old age--geras--is something earthy (as the similarity of the word "earthy"--geeros--shows), and this is due to the fact that the heat is falling and with it the fluid. (44) the hibernating animals too are in their nature less fluid and less hot than human beings. (45)
The importance of "degrees of heat" as an explanatory principle for Aristotle is also shown by On the Spirit 9.485b15-35, where he thus explains the differences in quality of bone between a horse and a lion but also within the same specimen of an animal species.
Differences in Quality of Life between Animals and Plants. The passages quoted deal with differences within the animal world. Aristotle uses a similar distinction to clarify the difference between plants and aquatic animals. Plants do not grow profusely in the sea or suchlike locations, but on land. The element of testaceans, on the other hand, is the sea. Aristotle notes here an analogy between the relation of plants to testaceans and that of earth to water. Just as moisture is more life-generating than dryness, so the physis of testaceans is more vital than that of plants. (46)
In his discussion of the "spontaneous generation" of testaceans Aristotle makes it clear what the crucial point is. Differences in kinds of living creatures are determined by "the value or lack of value" of that which "is enclosed" in the soul-principle. (47) This involves certain physical substances which are enclosed by the soul-principle. So we have a text here that states even more clearly than the passage in Generation of Animals 2.3 that the "instrumental body" (co)determines a living creature's quality of life. In an "instrumental body" which incorporates a relatively large amount of earthy matter, pneuma cannot display its highest degree of purity and therefore can no longer be the bearer of a soul-principle that is high in value. Life may be generated spontaneously in warm places in the sea, because water contains pneuma (and pneuma always contains soul-heat). (48) But that which is enclosed in the bubbles which form a new soul-principle manifests itself in the result. Because the sea contains a great deal of earthy matter, the testaceans which are spontaneously generated and which display an animal life have a hard, earthy exterior. (49)
Differences in Quality between Seawater and Fresh Water. Aristotle sets this up in a passage which has posed many problems to modern interpreters, but which is most certainly in keeping with Aristotle's overall conception. (50) This passage, too, is found in Aristotle's famous chapter on the generatio spontanea (51) of testaceans and certain other kinds of living creatures.
Aristotle had already announced this at the end of book 1.23.731b8-14. (52) He said there that testaceans occupy an intermediate position between animals and plants. As a result, they belong to both classes but do not perform the distinctive function of either.
As plants they do not have male and female and so they do not generate by pairing; as animals they bear no fruit externally like that borne by plants, but they take shape and are generated out of a certain earthy and fluid coagulation. The manner of generation of these creatures, however, must be described later.
When Aristotle fulfils this promise in 3.11, he starts by saying that a moist environment produces more variety in life-forms than land. For moisture has a more "plastic" nature than earth and is "not much less corporeal" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). This is particularly the case in the salt water of the sea. For this reason testaceans and mollusks and crustaceans (all of which are bloodless and have a cold physis) are especially generated in shallow parts of the sea and in river estuaries.
Sea-water is fluid and much more substantial than fresh water and it is hot by nature and it contains a quota of all the parts (53) ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) of fluid, of pneuma, and of earth--so that it also contains a quota of all the creatures which grow in the corresponding different regions. (54)
The translation of this passage (and what follows) by A. Platt (55) is typical of the narrowing of vision evident in many scholars from the beginning of the twentieth century. He translates:
(The sea) has a share in all the parts of the universe, water, air and earth, so that it also has a share in all living things which are produced in connexion with each of these elements.
So Platt translates "pneuma" as "air" and regards the "parts" which Aristotle talks about here as "parts of the universe." (56) He also observes in footnote 2 that he omits the words translated above as "in the different regions" because they are unintelligible.
If we translate pneuma here as "air," as Platt does, this means that Aristotle is claiming: both plants and fish as well as mammals with feet (like turtles) occur in the sea. However, it is somewhat spurious to say that the sea "contains the matching components." Aristotle is convinced that water does not contain air, and that fish therefore do not have respiration, whereas dolphins and the like have to surface in order to breathe. (57) Generation of Animals 3.11 clearly provides the argument announced in 1.21, which was exclusively concerned with testaceans as a category of ensouled entities intermediate between plants and animals. But water does contain pneuma, as Aristotle explicitly says in 3.11.762a20. By pneuma Aristotle may again well mean the bearer of the psychic (vital) heat, (58) as in the text of Generation of Animals 2.3 discussed above.
So Aristotle may be saying here that in the sea, (59) where one would only expect to find aquatic animals, testaceans develop too, which closely resemble plants (properly belonging on land). This is because seawater contains the "components" of the soul principles of both plants and aquatic animals. That Aristotle mentions "pneuma" here is clearly connected with his discussion about the spontaneous generation of life-forms in the sea, which in his view possesses intrinsic life-promoting heat in shallow places. (60) The words "in the different regions" are clearly in preparation for what he is going to say next. (61)
Difference in Quality between Elementary Bodies. Aristotle continues with the words:
We may say that plants belong to earth, aquatic creatures to water, and four-footed animals to air TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (62)
He cannot be saying here that the visible bodies of plants consist of earth, those of aquatic animals of water and those of quadruped mammals of air. For he had argued in Parts of Animals 2.1 that the visible bodies of all living entities consist of all sublunar elements (63) and so does the food they take in. Also in On the Soul 3.13 he had said that plants belong to the earth, but he does this in a passage in which he argues that the bodies of animals can never consist of one single element, for instance only of Fire or only of Air, but always of a combination because they have sensation. (64) This "earthiness" of plants comes out precisely in their quality of life: for this reason they do not possess powers of perception.
Aristotle is saying in Generation of Animals 3.11 that the vital principle of plants, or the vegetative soul-part, consists mainly of Earth or dryness; that the vital principle of aquatic animals, or the sensitive soul-part, possesses a higher quality, because it contains (more) moisture; and that quadrupeds have a still higher form of life, because their vital principle also contains the element Air.
Though all natural, elementary bodies can act as the "instruments" of the soul, there is an increase in quality of life in accordance with the quality of "instrumental bodies." Earth occupies the lowest position, (65) Water the lowest but one, and Air one level higher. Aristotle is familiar with plants and trees that grow in water. (66) Nevertheless, he assigns all vegetation to the element Earth, because in his view vegetative life is the lowest, least valuable life-form.
Living Creatures Connected with Fire. An intriguing passage follows the discussion of plants, aquatic animals and land animals in Generation of Animals. Aristotle explains that it is natural to assume that there must be a fourth category of living creatures, related to the fourth sublunary element, Fire. (67) He says that this category should not be sought "in the regions here." So where should we seek it? His answer is: the Moon.
Since the Moon, as it appears, has a share in the fourth degree of remove. ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (68)
Aristotle speaks freely here about living creatures on the Moon, as he does in Motion of Animals. (69) He must have assigned a higher quality of life to them, because he takes the line that the position of greatest distance to the Origin of all life is occupied by plants. Aristotle does not pursue the subject in his study Generation of Animals, but remarks that it will be discussed in another study (3.11.761b23).
We should note that Aristotle's On Youth 19 (On Respiration 13) contains a passage which seems to clash with the text in Generation of Animals 3.11. However, there need not be a contradiction with the passage in Generation of Animals 3.11, if we can assume that, for the living creatures on the Moon, the fire-content of their soul-body is even more dominant than in earthly man.
Aristotle underpins his thesis in Generation of Animals 3.11.761b14-5 by means of a striking statement:
But more and less and nearer and further make a surprisingly great difference. ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (70)
The next passage on living creatures with a fiery vital principle on the Moon shows that Aristotle means "nearer and further" in the sense of "nearer and further" in relation to the ultimate source of life, the divine Ether as the cosmic and God as the metacosmic source of all life. That subject must be preserved for another discussion. (71)
Correspondence to: Abraham P. Bos, Frans Lisztlaan 2, 2102 CK Heemstede, The Netherlands.
(1) Aristotle, De Anima 2.3.414a32-b19; De l'Ame (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1966); On the Soul, Parva Naturalia, On Breath, tran. W. S. Hett (London: W. Heinemann, 1936).
(2) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 1.23.731a25-b4 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965, repr. 2005); Generation of Animals, tran. A. L. Peck (London: W. Heinemann, 1942). Also, Andrew Coles, "Animal and Childhood Cognition in Aristotle's Biology and the Scala Naturae," in Aristotelische Biologie. Intentionen, Methoden, Ergebnisse, eds. W. Kullmann and S. Follinger, (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1997), 287-323, specifically 297
(3) See Plato, Respublica 10.620a-d; The Republic, tran. P. Shorey, 2 vols. (London: W. Heinemann, 1930).
(4) Aristotle, De Anima 2.1.412a27-8.
(5) Aristotle, De Anima 2.2.414a19-21. See De Generatione Animalium 2.4.738b26-7. See also 1.1.403a6 and a9 (where in both cases we should read [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], without an article); a15-7.
(6) Aristotle, De Anima 1.3.407b25-6.
(7) A visible body is never "a body that potentially possesses life," but is already alive. A "natural body that potentially possesses life" is semen or a fruit. Aristotle, De Anima 2.1.412b25-7; De Generatione Animalium 2.1.735a4-9; 3.736a32-5.
(8) Aristotle, De Anima 1.3.407b20-4.
(9) See now also the Dutch translation by Rein Ferwerda, Aristoteles, Over Voortplanting, vertaald, ingeleid en van aantekeningen voorzien (Groningen: Historische Uitgeverij, 2005), 86. See Abraham P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body. A Reinterpretation of Aristotle's Philosophy of Living Nature (Leiden: Brill, 2003), 157-72. For "dynamis of the soul," see De Anima 2.1.412a9; a16-21; 2.414a16. In De Anima 2.2.414a25-7, Aristotle had also said that the entelechy of every living body manifests itself in that which has the potentiality for it and in the matter appropriate to it.
(10) On this theme, see for example, Aristotle, De Anima 2.3.414b15-9; Historia Animalium 3.19.521a2, 8.1.588b8; De Partibus Animalium 2.2.648a3; De Generatione Animalium 2.6.744a27-31; Metaphysica 1.1.980a27-1a7; Ethica Nicomachea 10.7.1177b30-4; De Respiratione. 13.477a16. See also De Generatione Animalium 3.11.762a24-6, which is discussed below in [section]7.
(11) Contra Paul Moraux, "Quinta essentia," Pauly-Wissowa, Real Enzyklopadie 47 Halbbd. (Stuttgart: Anton Hiersemann, 1963), 1171-1263, col. 1206. See Anthony Preus, "Man and cosmos in Aristotle's Metaphysics A and the Biological works," in Biologie, Logique et Metaphysique chez Aristote, eds. Daniel Devereux and Pierre Pellegrin (Paris: Ed. C.N.R.S, 1990), 471-90, specifically 478-84. Pneuma is an equivalent (analogon) of the astral element inasmuch as both function as "instrumental body" and as bearer of life-generating power. Aristotle's definition of "the soul" also applies to the Ether as natural, ensouled body. Aristotle's main criticism of Plato's psychology involved his rejection of the idea that the soul is a "self-mover," see De Anima 1.3.405b31-6b25. For Aristotle, movement is a matter of natural bodies. See Richard Bodeus, "Ame du Monde ou Corps Celeste? Une Interrogation d'Aristote," in Corps et Ame, ed. C. Viano (Paris: J. Vrin, 1996), 81-8.
(12) The embryo (kyema) contains nothing of the material mass of the male semen. Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.3.737a11. The male specimen supplies the principle of generation. The female specimen supplies "the matter" (that is, for the kyema or embryo). See De Generatione Animalium 1.20.729a9-11; 1.21.729b33-30a23; 2.4.738b20-7. See Andrew Coles, "Biomedical Models of Reproduction in the Fifth Century BC and Aristotle's Generation of animals," Phronesis 46 (1995): 48-88, specifically 51 and following.
(13) See Charles Lefevre, Sur l'Evolution d'Aristote en Psychologie (Louvain: Ed. de l'Institut Superieur de Philosophie, 972), 263-8.
(14) The notorious problems in the traditional view as formulated by John L. Ackrill "Aristotle's Definitions of Psyche," Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73 (1972-73): 119-33 and discussed by Jennifer Whiting, "Living bodies," in Essays on Aristotle's De anima, eds. Martha C. Nussbaum and Amelie Oksenberg Rorty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 75-91 can therefore be put aside. Christopher Shields, Aristotle (London: Routledge, 2007), 285-93 still defends the traditional interpretation.
(15) That is how [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in De Anima 2.1.412b5-6 should be translated. See also 412a28 and note 28 below. De Spiritu 9.485b6-7 and b16 show that the "body which receives the soul" is not just an instrument but also "matter." See A. P. Bos and R. Ferwerda, Aristotle, On the Life-Bearing Spirit (De Spiritu). A Discussion with Plato and his Predecessors on Pneuma as the Instrumental Body of the Soul. Introduction, translation, and commentary (Leiden: Brill, 2008). See Patrick Macfarlane, A Philosophical Commentary on Aristotle's De Spiritu (Ph.D.-Thesis, Duquesne University, 2007), who also argues for the authenticity of De Spiritu.
(16) See Aristotle, De Anima 2.11.423a12-15, where to [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] stands for the instrumental body of the soul. See on that passage A. P. Bos, "The Soul's Instrument for Touching in Aristotle, On the Soul 2.11.422b34-3a21," Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie 92 (2010): 89-102.
(17) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.3.737a11-2. In De Anima 2.4.415b7 Aristotle already said: "For that reason the seed of animals and plants is an instrument of their soul" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). See on that sentence, which has not been included in any of the modern editions, A. P. Bos, "A Lost Sentence on Seed as Instrument of the Soul in Aristotle, On the Soul 2.4.415b7," Hermes 138 (2010), forthcoming.
(18) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.2.735b8-6al.
(19) In De Generatione Animalium 2.3.737a1-3, straight after saying that vital heat is an analogue of the astral element, Aristotle goes on to remark that (ordinary) fire does not produce living creatures and that nothing is generated in boiling hot solids and liquids. See also De Anima 2.4.416a9-18.
(20) For this, see Aristotle, De Spiritu 9.485b15-9 and A. P. Bos and R. Ferwerda, Aristotle, On the Life-Bearing Spirit, 181-2.
(21) R. D. Hicks, Aristotle, De Anima, with translation, introduction and notes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1907), 65
(22) A. Torstrik, Aristotelis De Anima, libri tres (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1862; repr. Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1970), 139.
(23) The Works of Aristotle. ed. W. D. Ross, tran. John A. Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931) vol. 3. Likewise in The Complete Works of Aristotle. The Revised Oxford Translation, 2 vols, ed. Jonathan Barnes (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1984). vol. 1, 661.
(24) It is unclear in Smith whether Aristotle describes the elementary bodies as "instruments of the soul" or the bodies of plants and animals. See also Paul Gohlke, Aristoteles, Uber die Seele, (Paderborn: F. Schoningh, 1947), 66; Innocentius J. M. van den Berg, Aristoteles' Verhandeling over de Ziel (Utrecht/Nijmegen: Dekker & Van de Vegt, 1953),109; Jean Tricot, Aristote, De l'Ame, traduction nouvelle et notes (Paris: J. Vrin, 1959), 88: "car tous les corps naturels <vivants>"; W. David Ross, Aristotle, De Anima, edited, with introduction and commentary (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1961), 229; Antonio Jannone and Edmond Barbotin, Aristote, De l'Ame (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1966), 39: "tous les corps naturels [vivants] sont de simples instruments de l'ame"; Pierre Thillet, Aristote, De l'Ame. Traduit du Grec. Edition etablie, presentee et annotee (Paris: Gallimard, 2005), 115: "Tousles corps naturels, en effet, sont des instruments de l'ame; c'est le cas des corps des animaux...." A very free translation is Michel Bastit, "Qu'est-ce qu'une Partie de l'Ame pour Aristote?," in Corps et ame. Sur le De Anima d'Aristote, ed. Cristina Viano (Paris: J. Vrin, 1996), 13-35, on p. 32: "Tousles corps dotes d'une nature organique sont les instruments de l'ame"; David W. Hamlyn, Aristotle's De Anima, Books H and III (with certain Passages from book I). Trans. with Intro. and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), translation on p. 18 with his commentary on p. 96: "It cannot be said that the sense in which the soul is the end is very clear." He notes that the words "instruments for soul" should not be taken in the sense that the soul uses these instruments. For the soul is final cause here and there is no question of the soul "acting as agent." This statement by Hamlyn is at odds with Aristotle's definition of the soul (properly understood) and with De Anima 1.3.407b13-26 and De Spiritu 9.485a30-b15. Monte Ransome Johnson, Aristotle on Teleology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), 75 translates in 415b16: "animate bodies" and in 415b18 "natural bodies," but takes these again as "natural bodies of animals" and plants.
(25) See A. P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body, 74-8.
(26) The Greek text of this passage poses many problems. Moreover, the critical apparatuses of W. D. Ross and A. Jannone/E. Barbotin are not in agreement. It may be that the text has been adapted on the basis of suppositions about Aristotle's intentions. In codex E there is an alternative version of this passage which needs to be judged on its merits.
(27) See Alexander Aphrodisiensis, De Anima, ed. I. Bruns (Berlin:, Georg Remer, 1887), Supplementum C.A.G., 16.11: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Quaestiones, ed. I. Brtms (Berlin: George Reimer, 1892), Supplementum C.A.G., vol. 2, part 2, 54.9-11. In this interpretation it remains completely unclear how the development of the embryo can take place up fill this stage of differentiated organs and how the soul could then be added at this stage. Because Aristotle states in Historia Animalium7 (9)3.583b15-28 that a male foetus is still [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (unarticulated) during its first 40 days, scholars later concluded that such a foetus does not yet contain a soul. See G. Jerouschek, Lebensschutz und Lebensbeginn. Kulturgeschichte des Abtreibungsverbot (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke Verlag, 1988), 14-6; 41. This is based on a misinterpretation of Aristotle's definition of soul, nor does Aristotle say such a thing anywhere. Also, it would clash with his views in De Generatione Animalium 2.1 and De Anima 2.1.412b27 and 5.417b16-8, where he explicitly declares the soul to be present in semen. If Aristotle had really wanted to talk about "a body that possesses differentiated parts," he would have written [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. To effect this differentiation, the soul always needs an "instrumental body."
(28) See Marie L. Gill, Aristotle on Substance. The Paradox of Unity (Princeton: Princeton U.P., 1989), 133, 220; Giovanni Reale and Abraham P. Bos, Il Trattato Sul Cosmo per Alessandro attribuito ad Aristotele (Milano: Vitae Pensiero, 1995), 288; Geoffrey E. R. Lloyd, Aristotelian Explorations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 41; Stephen Everson, Aristotle on Perception (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), 64; A. P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body, especially 69-122. See also J. Barnes, "Review of S. Everson (1997)," Classical Review 49, (1999): 121; Ben Schomakers, Aristoteles, De Ziel (Leende: Damon, 2000), 219, 220; R. Ferwerda, Aristoteles, Over Dieren, vertaald, ingeleid en van aantekeningen voorzien (Groningen: Historische Uitgeverij, 2000), 19; R. Ferwerda, Aristoteles, Over Voortplanting, 136; David Gutierrez-Giraldo, "[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Genotype," in Aristotle and Contemporary Science, ed. Demitri Sfendoni-Mentzou (New York: P. Lang, 2001), vol. 2, 163-72, on p. 164; Lambertus M. de Rijk, Aristotle. Semantics and Ontology, 2 vols (Leiden: Brill, 2002), vol. 1, 50, n. 145; Lloyd P. Gerson, Aristotle and Other Platonists (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005), 136; Diana Quarantotto, Causa Finale, Sostanza, Essenza in Aristotele (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 2005), 240; David Bronstein, "Review of A. P. Bos (2003)," in Ancient Philosophy 26 (2006): 425; John Dillon, "Come fa l'Anima a dirigere il Corpo? Tracce di una Disputa sulla Relazione Corpo-Anima nell'Antica Accademia," in Interiorita e Anima. La 'Psyche' in Platone, eds. Maurizio Migliori, Linda M. Napolitano Valditara and Arianna Fermani (Milano: Vita e Pensiero, 2007), 51-7, see p. 55, n. 7; Pavel Gregoric, Aristotle on the Common Sense (Oxford: Oxford University Press., 2007), 19 and 23; Richard King, "Review of A. P. Bos (2003)," in Classical Review 57 (2007): 323; Marilisa Canarsa, "Una Lacuna Platonica. Il Problema della Relazione Anima-Corpo nella Prima Accademia Antica," in Attivita e Virtu. Anima e Corpo in Aristotele, eds. A. Fermani and M. Migliori, (Milano: Vitae Pensiero, 2009), 43-82, see p. 76, n. 79; Maurizio Migliori, "L'Anima in Aristotele. Una concezione polivalente e al contempo aporetica," in Attivita e Virtu. Anima e Corpo in Aristotele, eds. A. Fermani and M. Migliori, (Milano: Vitae Pensiero, 2009) 227-60, see pp. 243-4. All these authors accept the translation "instrumental" for "organikon." Nonetheless, D. Bronstein believes that this may refer to the visible body. In that case Aristotle has included the definiendum in his definiens.
(29) Aristotle, De Spiritu 9.485b6-15. See A. P. Bos and R. Ferwerda, Aristotle, On the Life-Bearing Spirit, 177-80.
(30) See Ronald Polansky, Aristotle's De Anima (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 210: "the natural bodies utilized by soul need hardly thus be restricted to bodies of animals and plants--the claim is for all natural bodies--since nonliving natural bodies can also serve as instruments for soul." Note, too, that Aristotle is arguing in this passage that nature, like the mind, works with a view to a goal. This goal of nature is the mature specimen of a kind which is capable of reproduction. Pace D. W. Hamlyn, the soul for Aristotle is always the immanent productive principle (De Generatione Animalium 2.1.735a2-4), but as immaterial formal principle the soul can only produce thanks to the "instrumental body" with which it is inextricably linked. So Aristotle is probably saying here: "all four sublunary elements are instruments of the soul, and this applies to the instrumental bodies of the soul of both plants and animals." That is to say: the soul of a plant, too, accomplishes "work" of its own, the conversion of food into parts of the living body, and the plant soul needs an "instrumental body" for this.
(31) David M. Balme, Aristotle's De Partibus Amimalium De De Generatione Animalium I (with Passages from II, 1-3) translated with notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972), 59: "the viviparous are those animals that are more perfected in nature and partake in a purer source." See also Andrew Coles, "Animal and Childhood Cognition."
(32) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.1.732b29-32.
(33) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.3.736b26-8.
(34) See his criticism of Anaxagoras in De Partibus Animalium 4.10.687a6-10; Parts of Animals, tran. Arthur L. Peck (London: W. Heinemann, 1937).
(35) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.1.733a12-4.
(36) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.2.736a5-8.
(37) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.1.733al 1-2.
(38) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.1.733a32-b12.
(39) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 2.1.733a33. Aristotle uses in 733a33 the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. We also find it in the description in On the Cosmos 6.397629 of the power of God, which is passed on "in a continuous series" to increasingly lower levels. It is the motif of the "continuity" of "the chain of being."
(40) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.1.751b1-4.
(41) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.1.751b4-7.
(42) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.1.751b7-9.
(43) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.1.751b15--9.
(44) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 5.3.783b6-8; see Long. 5.466a19; b14.
(45) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 5.3.783624-5.
(46) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.761a27-9: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Arthur L. Peck, Aristotle, Generation of Animals with an English translation (London: W. Heinemann, 1942), 349 translates here: "water and fluid matter are better able to support life than earth and solid matter." Peck is thinking too much here of existing living creatures and their need for moisture. Aristotle is talking here about physis, the vital principle of plants or testaceans. A plant may need more water to stay alive than a testacean. The point here is that a testacean displays superior life because its physis is more moist.
(47) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.762a24-6. See also 762b16-7. In De Generatione Animalium 2.3.737a9, Aristotle had also talked about living creatures in which "something divine" is present in the soul-principle. He is referring there to living beings who possess a rational soul (with a potential for intellect).
(48) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.762a20. As in 2.3.736a36 and 3.11.761b11, pneuma is explicitly said here to be the bearer of vital heat and not "air."
(49) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.762a18-30.
(50) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.761a32-b23.
(51) See D. M. Balme, "The Development of Biology in Aristotle and Theophrastus: Theory of Spontaneous Generation," Phronesis 7 (1962): 91104; John G. Lennox, "Teleology, change and Aristotle's theory of spontaneous generation," Journal of the History of Philosophy 20 (1982): 219-38; Allan Gotthelf, "Teleology and Spontaneous Generation in Aristotle: a Discussion," Apeiron 22 (1989): 181-93; A. Preus, "Man and cosmos," 471-90; A. P. Bos, The Soul and its Instrumental Body, 172-80. Unlike Diego Lanza and Mario Vegetti, Aristotele, Opere Biologiche (Torino: Editrice Torinese, 1971), 966, n. 55, I believe that the theory of spontaneous generation is not "just a hypothesis," but an integral and fitting part of Aristotle's view of everything that lives.
(52) He had also said there that some insects and even some plants are generated in this way: De Generatione Animalium 1.1.715a24-b7; 715b25-30; 2.1.732b11-2. On the generation of testaceans, see also Historia Animalium 5.15.547b18 and following.
(53) It is remarkable that here in 761bll Aristotle talks about "parts" (pop'tcov), and not about "elements" or "bodies." Perhaps Aristotle means "components of soul-principles," namely, earth as a component of the vegetative soul-part, moisture as the component of the sensitive soul-part, and pneuma as the bearer of the life-generating power of the soul.
(54) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.761b8--12. On this text in particular, see William Lameere, "Au Temps ou Franz Cumont s'interrogeait sur Aristote," L'Antiquite classique 18 (1949): 279-324, specifically 287 and following.
(55) The Works of Aristotle, eds. J. A. Smith and W. D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), vol. 5. See also The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes, vol. 1, 479.
(56) Likewise Pierre Louis, Aristote, De la Generation des Animaux (Paris, Les Belies Lettres, 1961), 129.
(57) Aristotle, De Respiratione 1.470a15-24; De Spiritu 2.482a22-4.
(58) This is also the view of A. L. Peck in Aristotle, Generation of Animals, 351, though he suggests in note d that he is following A. Platt. Platt has no problems with translating 762a20 as: "there is water in earth, and air in water."
(59) Testaceans certainly are animals, even though they resemble plants. This removes the objection of A. Platt, who in n. 2 takes exception to the word "animals" in 761b12, because he takes this to include plants. For the same reason D. Lanza, Aristotele, Opere Biologiche, 964, n. 52 proposes to replace [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Aristotle is saying here that, as well as aquatic animals, the sea contains earthy animals, namely testaceans. See 762a27-32.
(60) D. Lanza, Aristotele, Opere Biologiche, 964 does translate "pneuma," but identifies this with "aria."
(61) Hence these words cannot be deleted, as A. L. Peck does following A. Platt; see A. L. Peck translation of Aristotle, Generation of Animals. In De Iuventute et Senectute 20 / De Respiratione 14.477b16 Aristotle states emphatically that the physis of every kind, as regards its material aspect, agrees most with the region in which the kind lives.
(62) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.761b13-4. Quadrupeds are assigned to the element Air, not to "pneuma," which according to De Generatione Animalium 2.3.736b29-7al is present in the instrumental body of every soul. As in De Respiratione 13.477a29, Aristotle talks here about "peza," "animals (and human beings) with feet." These are living creatures which have high vital heat and therefore require respiration. See De Partibus Animalium 3.6.668b33-9a7. In this passage Aristotle also explains that some aquatic animals have lungs and some quadrupeds live in water.
(63) In De Partibus Animalium 2.1 Aristotle explains that all living creatures consist of nonhomogeneous parts; these nonhomogeneous parts consist of homogeneous parts; and these homogeneous parts of the elementary bodies. See De Generatione Animalium 1.1.715a9-11. In Gener. corr. 2.8.335a8-9 Aristotle even says that every compound body contains all the simple bodies.
(64) Aristotle, De Anima 3.13.435al l-b3.
(65) In De Generatione Animalium 2.1.733all we already found the statement: "fluid matter is conducive to life, whereas dryness and ensouled entities are at opposite poles."
(66) See Aristotle, De Mundo 4.396a23. See the principle formulated in De Generatione Animalium 2.1.732b15: "Actually there is a good deal of overlapping between the various classes."
(67) In 761b17 Aristotle talks about "the order (of rank) (taxis) of Fire." A. Platt hears "a military metaphor" in this; see A. Platt (trans.), The Works of Aristotle, vol. 5. See also De Iuventute et Senectute 19 / De Respiratione 13, 477a30-1; Meteorologica 1.3.339b6 and 340a19 (tetaktai). De Generatione et Corruptione 2.10.336b12 reads: "all things have their own taxis." In De Mundo 2.391bll Aristotle defines "kosmos" as "the ordering (taxis) and arrangement (diakosmesis) of all parts, maintained by and through God." See also Metaphysica 12.10.1075a11-23 on "the general" and his army, and A. Preus, "Man and cosmos," 487-90; M. Ransome Johnson, Aristotle on Teleology, 274-5.
(68) Aristotle, De Generatione Animalium 3.11.761b22. Aristotle has started his count with the plants (and the element Earth) and arrives for the fourth kind at the "fourth degree of remove" in relation to the centre of the cosmos. By comparison Aristotle can talk about Ether as the "first element" (De Caelo 1.3.270b11), but also as "the fifth" (De Mundo 2.393al-3; On Philosophy, fr. 27 W. D. Ross). On the position of the Moon, see Franz Cumont, Recherches sur le symbolisme funeraire des Romains (1942; repr. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste, 1966) 177-252: "La lune sejour des morts," 182 and following.
(69) Aristotle, De Motu Animalium 4.699b19, quoted above. Aristotle notes there that these beings are beyond our field of vision, but are not invisible in an absolute sense. M. C. Nussbaum, Aristotle's De Motu Animalium, text with translation, commentary and interpretive essays (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1978), 314-5 sticks up for Aristotle by talking about "for purpose of the argument" and "Aristotle speculates that if there are any 'fire-animals' they are most likely to be found on the moon." A. Coles, "Animal and Childhood Cognition," 304 dismisses our text as "a whimsical association of fire with moon-dwellers." W. Lameere, "Au Temps off Franz Cumont s'interrogeait sur Aristote," 297 suggests that we are dealing in De Generatione Animalium 3.11 with a text from an earlier period of Aristotle's activity because he sees a contrast between this text and that of De Anima 1.5.411a7-11. See also P. Louis, Aristote, De la Generation des Animaux, ixx. But there is no longer a sound basis for the theory of a three-phase development in Aristotle's philosophy of Werner W. Jaeger, Aristoteles. Grundlegung einer Geschichte seiner Entwicklung (Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1923; repr. 1955); English version: Aristotle. Fundamentals of the History of his Development, transl, with the author's corrections and additions by R. Robinson (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1934; 2nd ed. 1948; repr. 1962), contra Aristotle's Philosophical Development. Problems and Prospects, ed. William Wians (Lanham/London: Rowman, 1996).
(70) A. L. Peck, Aristotle, Generation of Animals, 351 remarks in note e: "It is difficult to attach any meaning to this statement." A. Platt, The Works of Aristotle, vol. 5, had already commented: "I confess I cannot attach any definite meaning to the words." R. Ferwerda, Aristoteles, Over Voortplanting, 143, n. 51 notes: "De passage is duister" (The passage is obscure). But see W. Lameere, "Au Temps off Franz Cumont s'interrogeait sur Aristote," 288.
(71) See A. P. Bos, "Aristotle on God as Principle of Genesis," The British Journal for the History of Philosophy 18 (2010), forthcoming.
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|Author:||Bos, Abraham P.|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2010|
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