I have been reading some of Aristotle's explanations of physical phenomena and I

Read another response by Nickolas Pappas
Read another response about Philosophers
I have been reading some of Aristotle's explanations of physical phenomena and I'm left wondering, "Did he get anything right?" Did he?

I don't know how broadly or how narrowly you're using the word "physical," but if your "physical phenomena" include everything that takes place in the physical world, i.e. everything biological, then the answer is clearly Yes. As an observer of animals, the parts of animals, and their internal anatomy, both Aristotle's methodology and his actual statements are impressive. This is not to say he's right all the time, or even most of the time. Sometimes he can look right at an organ, like a heart, and misdescribe it. (This is not to mention his failure to understand how the blood circulates.)

I imagine you'd rather hear the assessment from a modern biologist than from a philosopher, and so I recommend the recent book THE LAGOON by Armand Marie Leroi. Leroi is a biologist who makes clear what Aristotle observed correctly, what he missed, and where (as in his thinking about natural selection) his presuppositions prevented him from drawing better conclusions from his observations. The book is written for a general audience, and if you're really interested it's a fine place to start.

If you already know something about biology, it might be more fun to jump right into Aristotle's observations, as in his HISTORY OF ANIMALS.

Related Terms