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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)

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

Allan Gotthelf

Oxford University Press

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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