Aristotle on Monsters and the Generation of Kinds

In this paper I present an interpretation of a phrase used throughout Aristotle’s Metaphysics: “man begets man.” Basing my interpretation on Aristotle’s account of the generation of animals in general and of monsters (terata) in particular, I argue that the universal genus and the universal species have causal roles to play in the generation of animals. Because the movements in the male sperm of the universal species and the universal genus (though the species and genus do not exist separately) are real, and are actual, not potential, movements, I maintain that the roles of these universals normally precede the further particularization of the developing embryo by the movements in the sperm of the particular father. I show that the roles of the movements of the genus and species are most clear in the case of the generation of monsters. I believe that the often neglected topic of the generation of monsters has important implications for Aristotle’s view of metaphysics and scientific demonstration
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DOI 10.5840/acpq20037711
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