17 Facts About Aristotle's biology


Aristotle's biology is the theory of biology, grounded in systematic observation and collection of data, mainly zoological, embodied in Aristotle's books on the science.

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Aristotle's biology's theory is based on his concept of form, which derives from but is markedly unlike Plato's theory of Forms.

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Aristotle's biology did not perform experiments in the modern sense, but made observations of living animals and carried out dissections.

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Aristotle's biology describes the internal anatomy of over a hundred animals, and dissected around 35 of these.

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The main Aristotle's biology texts were the History of Animals, Generation of Animals, Movement of Animals, Progression of Animals, Parts of Animals, and On the Soul, as well as the lost drawings of The Anatomies which accompanied the History.

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Aristotle's biology has found better acceptance among zoologists, and some of his long-derided observations in marine biology have been found in modern times to be true.

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Aristotle's biology returned to Athens and founded his own school, the Lycaeum, where he taught for the last dozen years of his life.

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Aristotle's biology is constructed on the basis of his theory of form, which is derived from Plato's theory of Forms, but significantly different from it.

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Aristotle's biology theory has some symmetry, as semen movements carry maleness while the menses carry femaleness.

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Aristotle's biology's explanations are in turn made cryptic by his complicated system of causes.

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Aristotle's biology's systematic gathering of data, too, is obscured by the lack of modern methods of presentation, such as tables of data: for example, the whole of History of Animals Book VI is taken up with a list of observations of the life histories of birds that "would now be summarized in a single table in Nature – and in the Online Supplementary Information at that".

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Aristotle's biology used the ancient Greek term pepeiramenoi to mean observations, or at most investigative procedures, such as finding a fertilised hen's egg of a suitable stage and opening it so as to be able to see the embryo's heart inside.

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Aristotle's biology spent two years observing and describing the zoology of Lesbos and the surrounding seas, including in particular the Pyrrha lagoon in the centre of Lesbos.

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Aristotle's biology's data are assembled from his own observations, statements given by people with specialised knowledge such as beekeepers and fishermen, and less accurate accounts provided by travellers from overseas.

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Aristotle's biology separated the aquatic mammals from fish, and knew that sharks and rays were part of the group he called Selache.

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Aristotle's biology's system had eleven grades, arranged according to the potentiality of each being, expressed in their form at birth.

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Edward Wotton similarly helped to found modern zoology by arranging the animals according to Aristotle's biology theories, separating out folklore from his 1552 De differentiis animalium.

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