In J. Rocca (ed.), Teleology in the Ancient World: philosophical and medical approaches. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 125-150 (2017)

Authors
Monte Johnson
University of California, San Diego
Abstract
In some influential histories of ancient philosophy, teleological explanation and mechanistic explanation are assumed to be directly opposed and mutually exclusive alternatives. I contend that this assumption is deeply flawed, and distorts our understanding both of teleological and mechanistic explanation, and of the history of mechanistic philosophy. To prove this point, I shall provide an overview of the first systematic treatise on mechanics, the short and neglected work Mechanical Problems, written either by Aristotle or by a very early member of his school. I will argue that the work is thoroughly Aristotelian in methodology, and that taking it seriously can deepen our understanding of Aristotle’s discussion of animal and human self-motion in the Physics and On the Movement of Animals.
Keywords aristotle  mechanistic  explanation  teleology
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