On the motion of animals

“Elsewhere we have investigated in detail the movement of animals after their various kinds, the differences between them, and the reasons for their particular characters (for some animals fly, some swim, some walk, others move in various other ways); there remains an investigation of the common ground of any sort of animal movement whatsoever.

Now we have already determined (when we were discussing whether eternal motion exists or not, and its definition, if it does exist) that the origin of all other motions is that which moves itself, and that the origin of this is the immovable, and that the prime mover must of necessity be immovable.

Now in the animal world there must be not only an immovable without, but also within those things which move in place, and initiate their own movement. For one part of an animal must be moved, and another be at rest, and against this the part which is moved will support itself and be moved; for example, if it move one of its parts; for one part, as it were, supports itself against another part at rest.

For all things without life are moved by something other, and the origin of all things so moved are things which move themselves.

And out of these we have spoken about animals (for they must all have in themselves that which is at rest, and without them that against which they are supported); but whether there is some higher and prime mover is not clear, and an origin of that kind involves a different discussion. Animals at any rate which move themselves are all moved supporting themselves on what is outside them (…).

And since all inorganic things are moved by some other thing – and the manner of the movement of the first and eternally moved, and how the first mover moves it, has been determined before in our Metaphysics, it remains to inquire how the soul moves the body, and what is the origin of movement in a living creature. For, if we except the movement of the universe, things with life are the causes of the movement of all else, that is of all that are not moved by one another by mutual impact. And so all their motions have a term or limit, inasmuch as the movements of things with life have such. For all living things both move and are moved with some object, so that this is the term of all their movement, the end, that is, in view. Now we see that the living creature is moved by intellect, imagination, purpose, wish, and appetite. And all these are reducible to mind and desire.

The prime mover then moves, itself being unmoved, whereas desire and its faculty are moved and so move. But it is not necessary for the last in the chain of things moved to move something else; wherefore it is plainly reasonable that motion in place should be the last of what happens in the region of things happening, since the living creature is moved and goes forward by reason of desire or purpose, when some alteration has been set going on the occasion of sensation or imagination.

But how is it that thought (viz. sense, imagination, and thought proper) is sometimes followed by action, sometimes not; sometimes by movement, sometimes not? What happens seems parallel to the case of thinking and inferring about the immovable objects of science. There the end is the truth seen (for, when one conceives the two premisses, one at once conceives and comprehends the conclusion), but here the two premisses result in a conclusion which is an action.

What I need I ought to make, I need a coat: I make a coat. And the conclusion I must make a coat is an action.”