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Explanation and Teleology in Aristotle's Science of Nature

$35.99 (C)

  • Date Published: July 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107538856

$ 35.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In Aristotle's teleological view of the world, natural things come to be and are present for the sake of some function or end (for example, wings are present in birds for the sake of flying). Whereas much of recent scholarship has focused on uncovering the (meta-)physical underpinnings of Aristotle's teleology and its contrasts with his notions of chance and necessity, this book examines Aristotle's use of the theory of natural teleology in producing explanations of natural phenomena. Close analyses of Aristotle's natural treatises and his Posterior Analytics show what methods are used for the discovery of functions or ends that figure in teleological explanations, how these explanations are structured, and how well they work in making sense of phenomena. The book will be valuable for all who are interested in Aristotle's natural science, his philosophy of science, and his biology.

    • Provides translations and detailed interpretations of core passages in Aristotle's natural science
    • Comprehensive bibliography for easy referencing
    • Deals with the different types of teleological causation, giving a clear indication of those that build on teleological principles, providing a thorough basis for analysis
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "....the account of the syllogistic structure of teleological explanations presented in the sixth chapter is one to be reckoned with. The preceding chapters can be recommended unconditionally. They offer a clear and wonderfully helpful schematic presentation of the explanatory and methodological structure of the various teleological explanations offered in the physical treatises; future readers of these treatises would be well advised to make ample use of them."
    --Owen Goldin, Marquette University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "....a rich account of how Aristotle thinks teleological causation operates in nature and how final causes are to be integrated into a more comprehensive picture of explanation in natural science. Explanation and Teleology in Aristotle's Science of Nature is an important contribution to scholarship on Aristotle's teleology.... her book has added significantly to the debate and must be engaged with by anyone wishing to tackle the subject from this point forward.... this book will be of interest to a much broader audience. While the reader is assumed to have some familiarity with Aristotle's philosophy of nature, Leunissen's discussion is quite accessible. Most technical concepts are explained and illustrated with examples, and she offers an abundance of textual evidence in support of her claims.... there is certainly no shortage of philosophically engaging ideas in her book."
    --Devin Henry, University of Western Ontario, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

    "... this book provides an important contribution to the studies of Aristotle's science of nature and present a set of ideas in a very clear manner. This will be the point book for all research on the teleology in Aristotle's science of nature."
    --Andrea Falcon, University of Concordia, Montreal, Phoenix

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107538856
    • length: 266 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus. 6 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of tables and figures
    1. Aristotle's defense of natural teleology: setting the stage for teleological explanations in the Physica
    2. Aristotle's bio-functional account of the soul: establishing the starting points of teleological explanation in the De Anima
    3. Introducing biology as a demonstrative science: the theory of teleological explanation in the De Partibus Animalium I
    4. Explaining parts of animals: the practice of teleological explanation in the De Partibus Animalium II-IV
    5. Making sense of the heavens: the limits of teleological explanation in the De Caelo
    6. Aristotle's model of science: formalizing teleological explanations in the Analytica Posteriora
    7. Conclusion
    Index of texts
    Index of names and subjects.

  • Author

    Mariska Leunissen, Washington University, St Louis
    Mariska Leunissen is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St Louis.

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