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    Aristotle on generation and hereditary resemblance

    Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Aristotle on generation and hereditary resemblance. In: Connell, Sophia M. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Biology. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107197732. (In Press)

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    This chapter provides an overview of the theories of generation and hereditary resemblance found in Aristotle’s work On the Generation of Animals. This treatise completes the project of explaining the development of the perfected living being, which the epigenetic process of embryological development aims for. Aristotle’s explanation of how a new animal comes into being fits to his four-causal scheme, by adding in the more specific principles, male and female. The opponent, thinks Aristotle, is wrong to think that the generative contributions of the parents (seed, sperma) derive from all parts of the body. Instead, what male and female contribute is the most refined nourishment that their bodies produce which is ready to become all the parts of the body. Male and female roles are then differentiated: the female provides this blood-derived product to serve as that material body (material cause) while the male’s seed is further refined so as to initiate and direct that development as the efficient cause. Aristotle also explains how it is that particular animals end up as male or female and come to resemble their blood relatives. The chapter ends by reflecting on Aristotle’s sexism in his theory of generation.


    Item Type: Book Section
    School: School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Philosophy
    Depositing User: Sophia Connell
    Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2021 11:39
    Last Modified: 14 Jun 2021 10:21


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