Aristotle’s New Clothes: Mechanistic Readings of the Master Teleologist

Apeiron 55 (4):537-555 (2022)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Aristotle has traditionally been cast as the arch-enemy of all things mechanistic. Given the dichotomy long thought to exist between mechanistic and teleological schools of thought, there is a satisfying irony in discovering veins of apparently ‘mechanistic’ thought within the work of the definitive teleologist. Several waves of scholarship in the past century have argued, from different angles, for mechanistic interpretations of Aristotle’s natural philosophy. The present generation is no exception: in the last decade, Jean De Groot, Monte Johnson, and Tiberiu Popa have variously argued that a mechanistic vein can be found in Aristotle’s work, despite his undeniable teleological credentials. This paper explores the assumptions—some of them open to question—that accompany such advocacy. It will urge some terminological refinements, and turn a skeptical lens on some aspects of these projects. Nonetheless, it will stress that they open promising lines of inquiry, avoiding some of the limitations of earlier ventures into this territory.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,122

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Aristotle on the Sources of the Ethical Life.Sylvia Berryman - 2019 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Aristotelian Mechanistic Explanation.Monte Johnson - 2017 - In J. Rocca (ed.), Teleology in the Ancient World: philosophical and medical approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 125-150.
Is Natural Slavery Beneficial?Thornton Lockwood - 2007 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (2):207-221.
Aristotle's Ethics: issues and interpretations.James Jerome Walsh - 1967 - Belmont, Calif.,: Wadsworth Pub. Co.. Edited by Henry L. Shapiro.
Teleology Without Tears.Sylvia Berryman - 2007 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):351-369.
Did Aristotle Understand Plato?D. K. House - 1999 - Dionysius 17:7-25.
Time and Necessity. [REVIEW]S. L. - 1975 - Review of Metaphysics 29 (2):343-344.
Not Slavery, but Salvation.Adriel M. Trott - 2017 - Polis 34 (1):115-135.
Natural Subordination, Aristotle on.Michael Levin - 1997 - Philosophy 72 (280):241 - 257.


Added to PP

18 (#747,034)

6 months
5 (#366,001)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Sylvia Berryman
University of British Columbia

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Aristotle's De motu animalium.Martha Craven Nussbaum - 1978 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 43 (2):378-378.
Aristotle's De Motu Animalium.Martha Craven Nussbaum - 1978 - Journal of the History of Biology 13 (2):351-356.

View all 18 references / Add more references