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

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199287956

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287956.001.0001

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Teleology and Embryogenesis in Aristotle's Generation of Animals II.6

Teleology and Embryogenesis in Aristotle's Generation of Animals II.6

Chapter:
(p.90) 4 Teleology and Embryogenesis in Aristotle's Generation of Animals II.6
Source:
Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology
Author(s):

Allan Gotthelf

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287956.003.0004

This chapter takes a close look at the account across Generation of Animals I–II of the efficient cause of animal generation. The aim is to understand better the relationship of material‐efficient causation to the teleological causation Aristotle insists is central to the coming to be of animals. Special attention is given to Aristotle's actual account of embryogenesis — the sequential development of the parts of the embryo — in GA II.6. This examination shows that there is no evidence that Aristotle thought material necessity by itself was causally sufficient for embryogenesis; rather material‐efficient causation does the bulk of its work as a ‘tool’ that the budding organism's formal nature — its ‘irreducible potential for form’ — makes use of in achieving its inherent ends. In the process the chapter provides significant insight into the essential flow of argument across GA I–II, for those unfamiliar with the treatise.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Generation of Animals, embryogenesis, formal natures, material necessity, irreducibility

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