Whether brute animals are differentiated according to their habits.


One asks whether brute animals are differentiated according to their habits.

1. It seems not. Habits exist in a rational being, just as in a subject, by means of participation. But brute animals do not participate in reason. Therefore, good habits are not found in them.

2. Again, happiness is the goal of good habits. If then a brute animal should have good habits, the brute animal would be happy, but the opposite is said in the Ethics.

The Philosopher says the opposite.

One must say that good habits, properly speaking, do not exist in brute animals, but only a certain imitation of good habits. Just as the turtle-dove imitates chastity and the sheep imitates gentleness as a result of each one's nature, so also the lion imitates fortitude and generosity. But they do not practice these for the sake of a good or bad end, but do this by a natural instinct. Thus, they do not observe the conditions required for good habits. For generosity means to give from one's own goods and not from someone else's, but a lion practices generosity by giving of his prey and thus from something that is someone else's. Similarly he has fortitude who fights for the sake of the public good, but a lion only practices fortitude from an internal necessity [ex impetu animi] and therefore for his own good and not for the good of other animals. And the same holds true for other traits. Thus, self-governance [regimen propriae vitae] is not attributed to brute animals, because this consists in three things with respect to one's own life: namely, in the contemplation of truth, to which ethics is ordered; in the running of the household, which economics teaches; and in the separation and association of citizens and cities, which politics teaches. And this is why if some animals or birds are gregarious and sociable, in this respect they imitate political life. Yet they are often deceived. Thus, cranes, having spotted another crane when hunting descend to it, and in this way they are seized by a fowler, and the same is true for pigeons [columbae].[2] And similarly, bees do not share with other bees the provisions they make in hives or hollows, and this is why they lack an ordered life style [regimine vi-tae] in the proper sense of the word.

The arguments prove that brute animals do not, properly speaking, have good habits in the same way they are found in humans, and this is true, but they have them only in an imitative way, and this is how the Philosopher understood it.

Whether every animal that has a vessel to receive the first superfluity, which is excrement, also has a vessel for the second superfluity, which is urine.

"And all animals have two members," etc. In response to this, one asks whether every animal that has a vessel to receive the first superfluity, which is excrement, has a vessel for the second superfluity, which is urine.

1. It seems so. For an animal is nourished by a pure nutriment. But the nutriment is purified in the second digestion, which occurs in the liver, as well as in the first digestion, which occurs in the stomach. Therefore, if it has a vessel to receive the superfluity of the first digestion, it will also have something to receive it in the second digestion.

2. Again, in well-ordered activities there is no transit from one extreme to another except through an intermediary. But there are three superfluities in digestion: namely, excrement, urine, and sweat. But every animal that has excrement has sweat. Therefore, it will also have urine.

The Philosopher says the opposite.

  • [1] For various uses of mores to suggest an animal's lifestyle, habits, or behavior, see also DA n.1 (SZ 1: 667).
  • [2] In this work we regularly translate columba as pigeon and palumba as ringdove. Note, though, that the two were often confused, as at DA (SZ 1: 408). On the difficulty in keeping the two straight, GB 238f., 300f.
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