Being all deep and stuff: How would Aristotle incorporate the Evolutionary Perspective?

posted by Dr. James G. Hood
Friday, May 28, 2010

            In response to Joseph League’s conundrum about the firmest principle based on the fact that Aristotle says: “it is impossible for the same thing to both belong and not belong at the same time to the same thing in the same respect” it seems Aristotle would explain this with the idea of unqualified change. The object in question would not be the same thing in the same respect because its essence (meaning the compilation of material, formal, efficient, and final causes) has changed. In this way, Aristotle allows for change without contradiction because (be definition) the object is something entirely new.

            Aristotle’s discussion of science brought up an interesting question of my own. For Aristotle, science must involve a discussion of substances and their causes as substances. The way to explore this phenomenon is through a science that takes into account both unity and plurality. A science studies being-ness of objects insofar as it studies substances and their attributes. The question is: when do we know and to what extent do we know to delve into the four causation questions? By this, I am wondering whether a working theory can be sufficiently be proven or disproven by the causation questions provided by Aristotle. In science, final cause is often ignored in order to explore more mechanical functions. Specifically, I’m thinking about the evolutionary perspective which seems to ignore the final cause issue. Or is there a final cause? In this instance, the final cause is species improvement. Such an idea seems to be similar to Aristotle’s idea of that each person strives to make the best of himself or herself; however, Aristotle’s idea is individual based while the evolutionary perspective is group based. I guess the point that can be gleaned from my unorganized presentation is that evolutionary science does not incorporate a final cause or at least one that is exactly like Aristotle’s; therefore, the question is: how would Aristotle incorporate the evolutionary perspective?



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