Aristotle as Scientist: A Proper Verdict

Allan Gotthelf

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

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199287956
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191738296 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

Aristotle as Scientist: A Proper Verdict

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Aristotle was not (as is often said) an ‘armchair theorist’ who ‘held back the course of science for two thousand years’. And though he was a brilliant and careful observer, some of whose findings were not rediscovered until the nineteenth century, his greatness as a scientist does not lie in that. His greatness lies rather in the systematic and explanatory character of his work — in, broadly speaking, the methodology he practiced. It lies, specifically, in: the range of data he collected, and the care with which he collected it; the systematic way he organized that range of data; the way he explained (largely teleologically, in biology) the data he collected and organized; and the way he organized his explanations into a comprehensive body of scientific understanding, which was empirically based and revisable as new knowledge was discovered.

Keywords: Aristotle; biology; science; explanation; teleology; empirical

Chapter.  13366 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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