The private parts of animals: Aristotle on the teleology of sexual difference

Phronesis 53 (s 4-5):373-405 (2008)
In this paper I examine Aristotle's account of sexual difference in Generation of Animals, arguing that Aristotle conceives of the production of males as the result of a successful teleological process, while he sees the production of females as due to material forces that defeat the norms of nature. My suggestion is that Aristotle endorses what I call the "degrees of perfection" model. I challenge Devin Henry's attempt to argue that Aristotle explains sex determination exclusively with reference to material necessity (in particular, levels of "vital heat" in the male semen), for Aristotle's notion of "sufficient" or "deficient" vital heat is itself teleological. If, as Aristotle is aware, male and female embryos appear with approximately equal frequency in most species, how, in light of Physics II, can he conceive of the former as in accordance with nature, and the latter as somehow contrary to nature? My proposal is that Aristotle's notion of what happens usually (ως επì τò πoλυ) is bifurcated: the usual need not be more frequent.
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/156852808X338337
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

58 ( #58,900 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #289,836 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.