Philosophy Seminar Series: Aristotle on Interspecies Relations
Aristotle on Interspecies Relations
Jessica Gelber, University of Toronto | 3:30pm, 08 March, 2023
Scientific explanations of the relations that hold between kinds (what I am calling “relational facts”) is challenging (if not impossible) by the lights of Aristotelian science. However, Aristotle is aware that there are many such facts:
- In Historia Animalium, various ways that kinds of living organisms are related to other kinds of living organisms – being predators of one kind or prey for another, for example — appear to be treated as regularly occurring features of their lives, just as the shapes and sizes of their body parts or their manners of reproduction are.
- In his Politics, Aristotle even seems to claim that living kinds that humans use (for food and assistance) are naturally there to be used by us.
I argue that we ought to take these reports about relational facts at face value, rather than try to contextualize or dismiss them. I propose that Aristotle has a much richer conception of the natures or essences of living beings than is traditionally thought, and consequently he does have the resources to explain the relations between living kinds using the principles that his science countenances.
Philosophy Seminar Room (N494), the Quadrangle
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Image: Photo by Micha Frank