The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 56 of 76

Q. Why do horses grow grisly and gray? A. Because they are for the most part in the sun, and heat naturally causes putrefaction; therefore the matter of hair doth putrefy, and in consequence they are quickly peeled.

Q. Why do men get bald, and trees let fall their leaves in winter? A. The want of moisture is the cause in both, which is proved by a man's becoming bald through venery, because by that he lets forth his natural humidity and heat; and by that excess in carnal pleasure the moisture is consumed which is the nutriment of the hair. Thus, eunuchs and women do not grow bald, because they do not part from this moisture; and therefore eunuchs are of the complexion of women.

Q. Why are not women bald? A. Because they are cold and moist, which are the causes that the hair remaineth; for moistness doth give nutriment to the hair, and coldness doth bind the pores.

Q. Why are not blind men naturally bald? A. Because the eye hath moisture in it, and that moisture which should pass through by the substance of the eyes, doth become a sufficient nutriment for the hair and therefore they are seldom bald.

Q. Why doth the hair stand on end when men are afraid? A. Because in time of fear the heat doth go from the outward parts of the body into the inward to help the heart, and so the pores in which the hair is fastened are shut up, after which stopping and shutting up of the pores, the standing up of the hair doth follow.

Of the Head.

Q. Why is a man's head round? A. Because it contains in it the moistest parts of the living creature: and also that the brain may be defended thereby, as with a shield.

Q. Why is the head not absolutely long but somewhat round? A. To the end that the three creeks and cells of the brain might the better be distinguished; that is, the fancy in the forehead, the discoursing or reasonable part in the middle, and memory in the hinder-most part.

Q. Why doth a man lift up his head towards the heavens when he doth imagine? A. Because the imagination is in the fore part of the head or brain, and therefore it lifteth up itself, that the creeks or cells of the imagination may be opened, and that the spirits which help the imagination, and are fit for that purpose, having their concourse thither, may help the imagination.

Q. Why doth a man, when he museth or thinketh of things past, look towards the earth? A. Because the cell or creek which is behind, is the creek or chamber of the memory; and therefore, that looketh towards heaven when the head is bowed down, and so the cell is open, to the end that the spirits which perfect the memory should enter it.

Q. Why is not the head fleshy, like other parts of the body? A. Because the head would be too heavy, and would not stand steadily. Also, a head loaded with flesh, betokens an evil complexion.

Q. Why is the head subject to aches and griefs? A. By reason that evil humours, which proceed from the stomach, ascend up to the head and disturb the brain, and so cause pain in the head; sometimes it proceeds from overmuch filling the stomach, because two great sinews pass from the brain to the mouth of the stomach, and therefore these two parts do always suffer grief together.

Q. Why have women the headache oftener than men? A. By reason of their monthly terms, which men are not troubled with, and by which a moist, unclean and venomous fume is produced, that seeks passage upwards, and so causes the headache.

Q. Why is the brain white? A. 1. Because it is cold, and coldness is the mother of white. 2. Because it may receive the similitude and likeness of all colours, which the white colour can best do, because it is most simple.

Q. Why are all the senses in the head? A. Because the brain is there, on which all the senses depend, and are directed by it; and, consequently, it maketh all the spirits to feel, and governeth all the membranes.

Q. Why cannot a person escape death if the brain or heart be hurt? A. Because the brain and heart are the two principal parts which concern life; and, therefore, if they be hurt, there is no remedy left for cure.

Q. Why is the brain moist? A. Because it may easily receive an impression, which moisture can best do, as it appeareth in wax, which doth easily receive the print of the seal when soft.

Q. Why is the brain cold? A. 1. Because that by this coldness it may clear the understanding of man and make it subtle. 2. That by the coldness of the brain, the heat of the heart may be tempered.

Of the Eyes.

Q. Why have you one nose and two eyes? A. Because light is more necessary to us than smelling; and therefore it doth proceed from the goodness of Nature, that if we receive any hurt or loss of one eye, the other should remain.

Q. Why have children great eyes in their youth, which become small as they grow up? A. It proceeds from the want of fire, and from the assemblage and meeting together of the light and humour; the eyes, being lightened by the sun, which doth lighten the easy humour thereof and purge them: and, in the absence of the sun, those humours become dark and black, and the sight not so good.

Q. Why does the blueish grey eye see badly in the day-time and well in the night? A. Because greyness is light and shining in itself, and the spirits with which we see are weakened in the day-time and strengthened in the night.

Q. Why are men's eyes of diverse colours? A. By reason of diversity of humours. The eye hath four coverings and three humours. The first covering is called consolidative, which is the outermost, strong and fat. The second is called a horny skin or covering, of the likeness of a horn; which is a clear covering. The third, uvea, of the likeness of a black grape. The fourth is called a cobweb. The first humour is called albuginous, from its likeness unto the white of an egg. The second glarial; that is, clear, like unto crystalline. The third vitreous, that is, clear as glass. And the diversity of humours causeth the diversity of the eyes.

Q. Why are men that have but one eye, good archers? and why do good archers commonly shut one? And why do such as behold the stars look through a trunk with one eye? A. This matter is handled in the perspective arts; and the reason is, as it doth appear in The Book of Causes, because that every virtue and strength united and knit together, is stronger than when dispersed and scattered. Therefore, all the force of seeing dispersed in two eyes, the one being shut, is gathered into the other, and so the light is fortified in him; and by consequence he doth see better and more certainly with one eye being shut, than when both are open.

Q. Why do those that drink and laugh much, shed most tears? A. Because that while they drink and laugh without measure the air which is drawn in doth not pass out through the windpipe, and so with force is directed and sent to the eyes, and by their pores passing out, doth expel the humours of the eyes; which humour being expelled, brings tears.

Q. Why do such as weep much, urine but little? A. Because the radical humidity of a tear and of urine are of one and the same nature, and, therefore, where weeping doth increase, urine diminishes. And that they are of one nature is plain to the taste, because they are both salt.

Q. Why do some that have clear eyes see nothing? A. By reason of the oppilation and naughtiness of the sinews with which we see; for the temples being destroyed, the strength of the light cannot be carried from the brain to the eye.

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