Essay Aristotle Is The Father Of The Biological Sciences?

Essay Aristotle Is The Father Of The Biological Sciences?

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It is said that Aristotle is the father of the biological sciences. Through his exploration of animals, Aristotle used systems of classification and ideas of the scientific method that are the precursors to similar concepts today. Extending this, many would say that Modern Biology stems directly from the ideas and methods of Aristotelian Biology. However, while Modern Biology does follow the basic principles of Aristotle’s scientific method and classification of animals, it extends them beyond Aristotle’s concepts and in doing so begins to depart from an Aristotelian conception of species and the process and purpose of their development into a new scientific schema distant from Aristotle’s original beliefs that is only comparable in its origins.
In attempting to describe the natural world, Aristotle spent a great deal of time thinking about the nature of scientific inquiry. In his Posterior Analytics, Aristotle discusses how scientific understanding is gained “by way of argument proceeding from pre-existent knowledge… The mathematical sciences and all other speculative disciplines are acquired in this way, and so are the two forms of dialectical reasoning, syllogistic and inductive; for each of these latter make use of old knowledge to impart new.” Old knowledge leading to new understanding is the process that underlies scientific inquiry. Aristotle continues in saying that conclusions are “related to [the premisses of demonstrated knowledge] as effect is to cause.” Prior knowledge is the direct antecedent to new knowledge by way of a syllogism or thesis. The path of inquiry is working from what we already know through a combination of knowledge into a new idea. For example starting with two points of prior knowledge: A is B, an...


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... world because the idea of genetic changes and evolution has led it to become accepted that species will develop and change over time, a distinct difference from the eternal eidos of Aristotle. Also, species are much more variable because there are a huge variety of species conceptions ranging from a sexual definition of organisms that can interbreed form a species to an ecological definition where organisms sharing the same niche and resources form a species to a phylogenetic definition where organisms that are the most closely genetically related form a species. There are over twenty different conceptions of what a species can be that is accepted by forms of modern biology. In the modern conception a species, while maintaining the basis of biochemical and physiological processes and organization, has become much more varied and transient than the Aristotelian eidos.

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