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Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

Allan Gotthelf

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199287956
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191738296 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287956.001.0001

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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This book — an interconnected set of sixteen chapters, four previously unpublished, addresses in parallel three main topics and Aristotle's three main biological treatises. Starting with a set of six studies of central aspects of Aristotle's natural teleology, including its basis in what the book calls ‘irreducible potentials for form’, the book proceeds to the axiomatic (and other explanatory) structure of biological explanation to be found in the Parts of Animals, identifying three sorts of first principles involved in that structure. An exploration, in Part III, of the implications of these two treatises for our understanding of Aristotle's metaphysics (including the teleological basis of his theory of substance and essence), is followed in Part IV by a study of the method by which Aristotle, in the History of Animals, organizes the data that makes possible such systematic, explanatory study of animals; this study offers a new view of the place of classification in that enterprise. The concluding part, on ‘Aristotle as Theoretical Biologist’, first explores the basis of Charles Darwin's great 1882 praise of Aristotle, and then, in the first printing of a general lecture long delivered worldwide, provides an overview of Aristotle's practice as a philosophically oriented biologist, and ‘a proper verdict’ on his greatness as a scientist.

Keywords: Aristotle; biology; teleology; irreducibility; explanation; axiomatic structure; essence; substance; Generation of Animals; Parts of Animals; History of Animals; classification; Theophrastus; Darwin

Book.  464 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Aristotle's Conception of Final Causality in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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The Place of the Good in Aristotle's Natural Teleology in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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Understanding Aristotle's Teleology in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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Teleology and Embryogenesis in Aristotle's <i>Generation of Animals</i> II.6 in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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‘What's Teleology Got to Do with It?’ in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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Teleology and Spontaneous Generation in Aristotle in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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First Principles in Aristotle's <i>Parts of Animals</i> in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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The Elephant's Nose in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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Division and Explanation in Aristotle's <i>Parts of Animals</i> in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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Notes towards a Study of Substance and Essence in Aristotle's <i>Parts of Animals</i> II–IV in Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology

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