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

By: Allan Gotthelf

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Feb 2012 | #195712 | ISBN-13: 9780199287956
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NHBS Price: £55.00 $67/€62 approx

About this book

This volume presents an interconnected set of sixteen essays, four of which are previously unpublished, by Allan Gotthelf--one of the leading experts in the study of Aristotle's biological writings. Gotthelf addresses three main topics across Aristotle's three main biological treatises.

Starting with his own ground-breaking study of Aristotle's natural teleology and its illuminating relationship with the "Generation of Animals", Gotthelf proceeds to the axiomatic structure of biological explanation (and the first principles such explanation proceeds from) in the "Parts of Animals". After an exploration of the implications of these two treatises for our understanding of Aristotle's metaphysics, Gotthelf examines important aspects of the method by which Aristotle organizes his data in the "History of Animals" to make possible such a systematic, explanatory study of animals, offering a new view of the place of classification in that enterprise.

In a concluding section on 'Aristotle as Theoretical Biologist', Gotthelf explores the basis of Charles Darwin's great praise of Aristotle and, in the first printing of a lecture delivered worldwide, provides an overview of Aristotle as a philosophically-oriented scientist, and 'a proper verdict' on his greatness as scientist.



PART I: Teleology, Irreducibility, and the Generation of Animals (GA)
1: Aristotle's Conception of Final Causality
2: The Place of the Good in Aristotle's Natural Teleology
3: Understanding Aristotle's Teleology
4: Teleology and Embryogenesis in Aristotle's Generation of Animals II.6
5: co-authored with Mariska Leunissen: 'What's Teleology Got to Do with It?'--A Reinterpretation of Aristotle's Generation of Animals V
6: Teleology and Spontaneous Generation in Aristotle: A Discussion

PART II: First Principles and Explanatory Structure in the Parts of Animals (PA)
7: First Principles in Aristotle's Parts of Animals
8: The Elephant's Nose: Further Reflections on the Axiomatic Structure of Biological Explanation in Aristotle
9: Division and Explanation in Aristotle's Parts of Animals

PART III: Metaphysical Themes in PA and GA
10: Notes towards a Study of Substance and Essence in Aristotle's Parts of Animals II-IV
11: A Biological Provenance: Reflections on Montgomery Furth's Substance, Form, and Psyche: An Aristotelean Metaphysics

PART IV: Starting a Science: Theoretical Aims of the History of Animals (HA)
12: Data-Organization, Classification, and Kinds: The Place of the History of Animals in Aristotle's Biological Enterprise
13: HA I.6 490b7-491a6: Aristotle's megista gen#
14: Historiae I: Plantarum et Animalium

PART V: Aristotle as Theoretical Biologist
15: Darwin on Aristotle
Coda: Aristotle as Scientist: A Proper Verdict

Index Locorum
General Index

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Allan Gotthelf is Emeritus Professor of philosophy at the College of New Jersey. He has been a Visiting Professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Pittsburgh since 2003. He was a junior fellow at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies in 1979-80 and a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, in 2001. Since 1985 he has been life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. He has published widely on Aristotle's biological works, and his work on Aristotle has recently been celebrated by some of the foremost scholars of Aristotle's in "Being, Nature, and Life in Aristotle: Essays in Honour of Allan Gotthelf" (2010).

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