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    Hybrids in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals

    Connell, Sophia (2022) Hybrids in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals. In: Follinger, S. (ed.) Aristotle's Generation of Animals: A Comprehensive Approach. Philosophie der Antike 43. Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter, pp. 181-208. ISBN 9783110761436.

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    Abstract

    In the last section of Book 2 of the Generation of Animals, Aristotle discusses hybrid animals. Two conclusions, representing opposing viewpoints, have been drawn from this material. The first is that Aristotle’s acceptance of this phenomena means that he is not committed to species fixity; that is, fertile hybrids allow for the advent of new kinds of animal. The second denies this and posits that since in an instance of hybrid generation form is lost, it is a contamination of form by matter. These two alternatives clash in their understanding of Aristotle’s theory of the roles of the sexes in generation. Those who think that hybridization can result in the creation of a new form must believe that half of the form comes from the female parent. The contamination view, in contrast, has it that the female animal contributes nothing but recalcitrant materials. This paper will argue that when the key passages on hybrids in the GA are analysed, although neither view is entirely correct, the second one is closer to the mark. Here, as is also evident more generally in the Aristotelian corpus, it is clear that hybrids are monstrosities without any forms. Thus, it is not the case that they show any softening on species fixity. However, this doesn’t mean that hybrids represent a situation in which ‘only the raw feminine matter remains’. Indeed, the phenomenon displays that shaping powers come from both sides, which is detailed in Aristotle’s account of hereditary resemblance later on in the GA. However, it is correct to view hybridization as a loss of form. The paper will show how this ‘theory of hybrids’ illuminates two aspects of Aristotle’s broader theory in the GA. First of all, it makes clear the connection between his theory of generation and his metaphysical commitment to the eternity of forms. It also shows how his account of the way in which individual animals contribute to hereditary resemblance is gendered, with the female exerting more influence on external bodily appearances than the male.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Book Section
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sophia Connell
    Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2022 13:17
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:12
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/46069

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