Classical Quarterly 43 (1):168 (1993)

In Physics 2.8 Aristotle argues for his natural teleology by arguing for the goal-directed character of nature. The argument that he develops with the most care is directed against those natural philosophers, like Empedocles, who maintain that the results of natural processes which benefit organisms, such as teeth, come to be through chance. Aristotle counters by arguing that because the beneficial results of natural processes occur regularly, ‘always or for the most part’, they cannot be the outcome of chance, which would yield beneficial results only irregularly. Thus such results must come to be only for the sake of some end. This argument against chance has received the most attention from scholars, but Physics 2.8 contains another argument for the goal-directed character of nature, which has received relatively little attention because it does not seem to offer much argument for natural teleology. The argument depends upon an analogy between action and nature, and it simply maintains that since human action and nature are analogous, and since action is goal-directed, so too is nature. The argument is of interest, despite its neglect, because it seems to prove nothing to us and yet Aristotle puts it forward confidently as advancing his view about the goal-directed character of nature. The argument from analogy should claim our attention because it provides important evidence for the basic spring behind Aristotle 's natural teleology. The fact that Aristotle takes for granted the strength of the analogy with human action in his argument for the goal-directedness of nature suggests that he holds human-like goal-directedness to be a condition of intelligibility that must be met by any intelligible process of coming to be, whether human or natural
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s0009838800044244
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,226
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Physics 199a8-12.Sean Kelsey - 2011 - Apeiron 44 (1):1-12.
Method and Metaphor in Aristotle's Science of Nature.Sean Coughlin - 2013 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
Il duplice significato dell'essere.Gaetano Licata - forthcoming - Studium Philosophicum 10 (10):1-20.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Harvey, Aristotle and the Weather Cycle.Andrew Gregory - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 32 (1):153-168.
Aristotle's Ethics: Issues and Interpretations.James Jerome Walsh - 1967 - Belmont, Calif., Wadsworth Pub. Co..
Praktische Syllogismen bei Aristoteles.Klaus Corcilius - 2008 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 90 (3):247-297.
Analogy and the Concept of Behaviour.Thomas Wheaton Bestor - 1978 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):3-20.
Unintentional Collective Action.Sara Rachel Chant - 2007 - Philosophical Explorations 10 (3):245 – 256.
Desire in Action : Aristotle's Move.David Charles - 2011 - In Michael Pakaluk & Giles Pearson (eds.), Moral Psychology and Human Action in Aristotle. Oxford University Press.


Added to PP index

Total views
27 ( #420,979 of 2,499,732 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,066 of 2,499,732 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes