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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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Aristotle as Scientist : A Proper Verdict

Aristotle as Scientist : A Proper Verdict

(with emphasis on his biological works)

Chapter:
(p.371) Coda Aristotle as Scientist: A Proper Verdict
Source:
Teleology, First Principles, and Scientific Method in Aristotle's Biology
Author(s):

Allan Gotthelf

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199287956.003.0016

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

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