Journal of the History of Biology 51 (2):355-386 (2018)

Karen R. Zwier
Iowa State University
Aristotle’s theory of spontaneous generation offers many puzzles to those who wish to understand his theory both within the context of his biology and within the context of his more general philosophy of nature. In this paper, I approach the difficult and vague elements of Aristotle’s account of spontaneous generation not as weaknesses, but as opportunities for an interesting glimpse into the thought of an early scientist struggling to reconcile evidence and theory. The paper has two goals: to give as charitable and full an account as possible of what Aristotle’s theory of spontaneous generation was, and to examine some of its consequences; and to reflect on Aristotle as a scientist, and what his comments reveal about how he approached a difficult problem. In particular, I propose that the well-recognized problem of the incompatibility between Aristotle’s concept of spontaneity and his theory of spontaneous generation presents an opportunity for insight into his scientific methodology when approaching ill-understood phenomena.
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-017-9494-7
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References found in this work BETA

Aristotle's Posterior Analytics.Jonathan Barnes - 1978 - Mind 87 (345):128-129.
Aristotle's Posterior Analytics.Jonathan Barnes - 1977 - Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 31 (2):316-320.

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