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Revista chilena de historia natural

Print version ISSN 0716-078X


CECCHI, MARÍA CLAUDIA; GUERRERO-BOSAGNA, CARLOS  and  MPODOZIS, JORGE. Aristotle's crime?. Rev. chil. hist. nat. [online]. 2001, vol.74, n.3, pp.507-514. ISSN 0716-078X.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle is recognized as one of the earliest naturalists of the Western world. His thorough and precise knowledge of zoology is contained in various writings dedicated to the study of animals. It is surprising that, in spite of his extensive knowledge of biology, it never occurred to him that organisms might be able to transform themselves or be connected through relations of origin, notions which support the theory of organic evolution. We suggest three major factors of Aristotelian biology that would explain this lack of vision: (1) the idea of reproduction as an eternalizing agent, which does not provide for the possibility of transformation of genera through reproduction; (2) the premise that natural phenomena have a purpose (final cause) that determines their existence, which may result in rejection of the notions of connections in origin amongst distinct genera (in the Aristotelian sense); and (3) as a consequence of the former, the classification of living beings according to functional-analogous criteria would obscure the existence of structural relations and similarities of origin among organisms. This analysis brings us to examine the importance of the advent of a hierarchical-type biological classification, similar to that formulated by Linné and developed over the basis of structural correspondences and similarities of origin amongst organisms, by the great naturalists of the XVIII and XIX centuries

Keywords : Aristotle; organic evolution; natural system; functionalism; homology.

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