environment to subserve its own existence and thus goes through a course of growth and development, which in the end passes into decay and death. So long as this series of changes goes on, the individual unity of the plant maintains itself, and reproduction is only a farther extension of the same process whereby a specific form is realised in a new individual which must go through the same cycle of change. For, as Aristotle says, adopting the language of Plato, "it is the most natural of all functions for the living being to produce another like itself, the plant a plant, the animal an animal, in order that they may partake in the eternal, so far as is possible for them. This is what all beings seek for, and in view of this they do all that it is natural for them to do. We must, however, distinguish between the objective end which they all seek and the realisation of it which is possible to the particular subject. Now, since living beings cannot partake in the divine and the eternal continuing their individual existence—it being impossible for a nature which is finite and perishable to maintain for ever its individuality and numerical identity—they partake in it as they can. In other words, they abide, not in themselves, but in what is like them; not as numerically one, but in the unity of one species."1 What we have in the plant
290 ARISTOTLE'S VIEW OF REASON
life is, therefore, not merely a continuation of the process of change, whereby the different inorganic elements are incessantly passing into each other; for these elements and their process are subordinated to a higher principle of unity, first in the individual, and then, when the individual fails, in the race. Thus by the continuous cyclical movement of individual and racial life the transitory existence of finite beings is turned, in Platonic language, into a moving image of eternity.
Again, just as the nutritive life is not a mere repetition of the process of the elements, nor even that with the addition of another process, but involves the subjection of these elements to a higher principle of unity, so the sensitive and appetitive life of animals is not an external addition to the nutritive and reproductive process, but absorbs and, so to speak, transubstantiates its results. In one sense it might be said that the animal goes through the same round of existence as the plant, and that the ends realised in it are still the same, the maintenance of the individual and of his kind. But this is only superficially true: for these very ends become changed in character when they are mediated by conscious ness, by sensation and desire. It is true, indeed, that these ends da not exist in their generality for the animal itself, any more than for the plant, and therefore the animal cannot be said to will them,
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