Article ID: CBB109022079

Καθάπερ ἄνθρωπος φρόνιμος: Prudence in Aristotle’s Ethics and Biology (2021)


It is a well-known feature of Aristotle’s biology that he resorts to the analogy with human art to explain the concept of final causality operative in living things. In this Aristotle’s theory of biology is explicitly anti-Empedoclean: whereas for Empedocles a randomly generated animal part is preserved if it happens to suit an expedient function, for Aristotle the formal nature produces an animal part with a useful function in view. In this article, by contrast, I focus on those cases in Aristotle’s biology in which nature adapts an apparently purposeless part to some useful function (for example, the omentum). I argue that such cases not only indicate a partial return of Empedocles’ logic of generation but are also thought by Aristotle by analogy with human prudence (as opposed to human art). To consider Aristotle’s account of nature as prudent is not only to disclose a hitherto underappreciated aspect of his biology but also to gain a more comprehensive understanding of prudence in his ethics.

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Authors & Contributors
Lennox, James G.
Zucker, Arnaud
Sedley, David N.
Depew, David J.
Müller, Jörn
Modell, Stephen
Apeiron: Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science
Medicina nei secoli
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bochumer Philosophisches Jahrbuch fur Antike und Mittelalter
European Legacy
University of California Press
Oxford University Press
Classification in biology
Empedocles of Agrigentum
Anaxagoras of Clazomenae
Darwin, Charles Robert
20th century, early
19th century
Early modern

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