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Did Aristotle really not know anyone who could wiggle his or her ears?

[Originally published at the now defunct group blog explananda.com]

Posted on May 30, 2006
Tags: aristotle
From Aristotle’s History of Animals (492a23-24):
A human being alone, among creatures which have ears, is unable to move them.


Author: Paul
Date: 2006-05-30

Is there anything on which that guy didn’t have an opinion?

Author: DC
Date: 2006-05-31

At first I thought this meant that one man couldn’t physically move other animals that have ears, presumably because they’d hear him sneaking up on them.

Author: upyernoz
Date: 2006-05-31

in defense of big A, i don’t think we have any muscles that are dedicated to ear movement. those who can wiggle their ears are really just moving parts of their face which pull the skin and make the ears move.

but i still think aristotle is mind-numbingly boring. so i’m glad you’re pulling out interesting soundbites for me.

Author: Chris
Date: 2006-05-31

Paul, No

DC, Oops, I did a quick and crappy translation on the fly.

Upyernoz, Ahhhhhhh, cool. I wonder if that’s what big A meant.

Author: DC
Date: 2006-05-31

This reminds me of the superb Irish sit-com “Father Ted”: Ted refers to a “poor old Fr Bigley”.

Fr Dougal: “What happened to him?”

Fr Ted: “Oh he was in an accident years ago, lost the use of his ears”

Fr Dougal: “He’s deaf?”

Fr Ted: “No, no, he used to be able to wiggle his ears.”

Author: anne
Date: 2006-06-01

Noz, I can wiggle my ears, and the muscles I use are at the “roots” of my ears (ie, where they connect to my head). So, you’re right that they don’t reach into the ears themselves – but they are not muscles that I would use for anything else other than ear-wiggling. Or glasses-wiggling, as a later effect of the ear-wiggling.

Glasses-wiggling, by the way, is pure comedy.

Author: Chris
Date: 2006-06-01

There must be a treatise somewhere in the Aristotelian corpus with a chapter beginning, “Now, ear-wiggling is spoken of in two ways, for we might think that ears are wiggled in themselves (kath’ hauto) and through themselves (di’ hauto) and we might also think that ears are wiggled accidentally (kata sumbebekos) in virtue of the wiggling of some other part of the body, as we have discussed elsewhere. Now, some think that the former type is genuine, but they are mistaken, for it is manifest that ears are only wiggled accidentally (kata sumbebekos).”

Author: Kyle G
Date: 2008-05-06

I spent my life working on my ear wiggling and i believe webster had the trick too. for me so far only personnally i find an auditory difference that borders on religious and sci-fi, levels of communication.

but i also have the ability to cry when i want to. or just feel like i am crying.. it’s been an adventure trynna figure out what these things are for.

Date: 2008-12-18

I am in the habit of wigglign my ears. YEs they do have muscles in them that wiggle them. Its not that hard to do. I learned it in a week of practicing but it was one of the biggest mistakes of my life. i now wiggle them uncontrollably 24 hours a day and I suffer from very bad nausea and headaches because of it. This could cause someone to commit suicide its such a big problem. Worse than alchohol and drugs in my opinion.