Teleology across natures

István Bodnár
Eotvos Lorand University of Sciences
Aristotelian natures – internal principles of motion and rest – provide a rich account of the goal-directed behaviour of natural entities. What such natures cannot account for, on their own, are cases of teleology across natures, where an entity, due to its nature, furthers the goals of another entity. Nevertheless, Aristotle admits such teleological configurations among natures: most notably Politics I.8 1256b15-20 claims that plants are for the sake of animals and animals are for the sake of humans. The paper first scrutinizes two recent attempts– by Mohan Matthen and David Sedley – at an explanation of such teleology across natures. The fundamental move these proposals make is that they claim that the universe has a nature of its own. Accordingly, teleology across natures could be explained as the operation of this single cosmic nature. But the introduction of a cosmic nature contravenes fundamental strictures of Aristotelian natural philosophy. Hence the third section of the paper formulates an alternative proposal, that the teleological interaction across different natures is underpinned by the self-benefittingactivityofindividualnaturalentities,whichareable to use the natural processes of their environment to their own advantage
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Aristotle on Causality.Andrea Falcon - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Aristotle on Natural Slavery.Malcolm Heath - 2008 - Phronesis 53 (3):243-270.
Aristotle on Essence and Habitat.Jessica Gelber - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 48:267-293.

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