Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 58$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Victor Caston

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198858997

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198858997.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 June 2021

Aristotle on Spontaneous Generation, Spontaneity, and Natural Processes

Aristotle on Spontaneous Generation, Spontaneity, and Natural Processes

(p.157) Aristotle on Spontaneous Generation, Spontaneity, and Natural Processes
Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Volume 58

Emily Kress

Oxford University Press

Aristotle contrasts standard animal generation with ‘spontaneous generation’, which happens when some material putrefies and gives rise to a new organism. This paper addresses two interrelated puzzles about spontaneous generation. First, is it of the same ‘fundamental kind’ of causal process as standard generation? Second, is it ‘spontaneous’, as understood in Physics 2.4–6: rare, accidentally caused, and among things that are for the sake of something? I argue that both puzzles turn on the same questions about the process types involved. I show that the type putrefaction plays a more important role in spontaneous generation than has been recognized so far. Because putrefaction does not play this role in standard generation, the two processes are of different ‘fundamental’ kinds. Moreover, spontaneous generation happens rarely in that it is rare for processes of putrefaction to happen in such a way that they can also be described in terms of concoction.

Keywords:   Aristotle, spontaneous generation, spontaneity, generation, chance, teleology, testacea, nature, causation, processes

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .