Galen, On the Natural Faculties

LCL 71: 2-3

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ΓΑΛΗΝΟΥ ΠΕΡΙ ΦΥΣΙΚΩΝ ΔΥΝΑΜΕΩΝ

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K. II. p. 1 Ἐπειδὴ τὸ μὲν αἰσθάνεσθαί τε καὶ κινεῖσθαι κατὰ προαίρεσιν ἴδια τῶν ζῴων ἐστί, τὸ δ᾿ αὐξάνεσθαί τε καὶ τρέφεσθαι κοινὰ καὶ τοῖς φυτοῖς, εἴη ἂν τὰ μὲν πρότερα τῆς ψυχῆς, τὰ δὲ δεύτερα τῆς φύσεως ἔργα. εἰ δέ τις καὶ τοῖς φυτοῖς ψυχῆς μεταδίδωσι καὶ διαιρούμενος αὐτὰς ὀνομάζει φυτικὴν μὲν ταύτην, αἰσθητικὴν δὲ τὴν ἑτέραν, λέγει μὲν οὐδ᾿ οὗτος ἄλλα, τῇ λέξει δ᾿ οὐ πάνυ τῇ συνήθει κέχρηται. ἀλλ᾿ ἡμεῖς γε μεγίστην λέξεως ἀρετὴν σαφήνειαν εἶναι πεπεισμένοι 2καὶ ταύτην εἰδότες ǁ ὑπ᾿ οὐδενὸς οὕτως ὡς ὑπὸ τῶν ἀσυνήθων ὀνομάτων διαφθειρομένην, ὡς τοῖς πολλοῖς ἔθος, οὕτως ὀνομάζοντες ὑπὸ μὲν ψυχῆς θ᾿ ἅμα καὶ φύσεως τὰ ζῷ διοικεῖσθαί φαμεν, ὑπὸ δὲ φύσεως μόνης τὰ φυτὰ καὶ τό γ᾿ αὐξάνεσθαί τε καὶ τρέφεσθαι φύσεως ἔργα φαμέν, οὐ ψυχῆς.

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Galen

Galen

On The Natural Faculties1

Book I

I

Since feeling and voluntary motion are peculiar to animals, whilst growth and nutrition are common to plants as well, we may look on the former as effects2 of the soul3 and the latter as effects of the nature.4 And if there be anyone who allows a share in soul to plants as well, and separates the two kinds of soul, naming the kind in question vegetative, and the other sensory, this person is not saying anything else, although his language is somewhat unusual. We, however, for our part, are convinced that the chief merit of language is clearness, and we know that nothing detracts so much from this as do unfamiliar terms; accordingly we employ those terms which the bulk of people are accustomed to use, and we say that animals are governed at once by their soul and by their nature, and plants by their nature alone, and that growth and nutrition are the effects of nature, not of soul.

  • 1That is, “On the Natural Powers,” the powers of the Physis or Nature. By that Galen practically means what we should call the physiological or biological powers, the characteristic faculties of the living organism; his Physis is the subconscious vital principle of the animal or plant. Like Aristotle, however, he also ascribes quasi-vital properties to inanimate things, cf. Introduction, p. xxvii.
  • 2Ergon, here rendered an effect, is literally a work or deed; strictly speaking, it is something done, completed, as distinguished from energeia, which is the actual doing, the activity which produces this ergon. cf. p. 13, and Introduction, p. xxx.
  • 3Gk. psyche, Lat. anima.
  • 4Gk. physis, Lat. natura.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.galen-natural_faculties.1916