Thursday, January 23, 2020
The Effects of Aristotelian Teleological Thought on Darwins Mechanisti
The Effects of Aristotelian Teleological Thought on Darwin's Mechanistic Views of Evolution The need to understand organisms has been a much sought goal of science since its birth as biology. History shows Aristotle and Charles Darwin as two of the most powerful biologists of all time. Aristotle's teleological method was supported widely for over 2,000 years. One scientist remarks that the Aristotelian teleology "has been the ghost, the unexplained mystery which has haunted biology through its whole history" (Ayala, 10). If Aristotle's approach has frightened biology, then Darwin, who actually nicknamed himself the "Devils Chaplain," and his idea of natural selection has virtually dissected Aristotle's ghost. While Aristotle explained biology through a plan and a purpose, Darwin debated that randomness and chaos are responsible for the organic world as we know it. Guiseppe Montalenti, an Italian geneticist and philosopher of biology, wrote that Darwin's ideas were a rebellion against thought in the Aristotelian-scholastic way (Ayala, 4). In order to understand how Darwinism can be considered a revolt against Aristotle, we must first inspect Aristotle's ideas and thoughts about biology. Aristotle used teleology to explain the harmony and final results of the earth. Teleology is the study of the purpose of nature. Aristotle believed that scientists should follow the plan adopted by mathematicians in their demonstrations of astronomy, and after weighing the phenomena presented by animals, and their several parts, follow consequently to understand the causes and the end results. Using this method, Aristotle constructed causes for body parts and processes of the human body, such as sundry types of teeth. Aristotle elucidated on this topic: "When we have ascertained the thing's existence we inquire as to its natureÃ¢â¬ ¦when we know the fact we ask the reason" (Evans, 82). Despite Aristotle's frequent teleological explanations, he did warn against teleology leading to misinterpretations of facts. In a short writing on the reproduction of bees in Generation of Animals, Aristotle was troubled that there were insufficient observations on the subject, and warns that his theory is dependent on facts supporting the theory. One twentieth century biologist... ... to describe evolution teleologically. This proof, of course, is not possible, as evolution through natural selection cannot be described as goal-oriented since it happens due to previous events or transformations, not in anticipation of coming events. If we were goal-oriented, natural selection would not be supple enough to be useful in rapidly changing environments (Mayr, 43). References Aristotle. The Works of Aristotle, Encyclopedia Britannica. New York, 1952 Ayala, F.J. and Tobzharsky, T. Studies in the Philosophy of Biology. University of California Press. Berkeley and Los Angeles. 1974. Burrow, John. Editor introduction to Charles Darwin's Origin of the Species Penguin books. England, 1968. Evans, G. The Physical Philosophy of Aristotle. University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque, 1964. Kirk, G., Raven, J. and Schofield, M. The Presocratic Philosophers. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 1983. Mayr, Ernst. Toward a New Philosophy of Biology. Harvard University Press. 1988. Moore, Ruth. Evolution. Time-life books. Alexandria, Virginia. 1980. Simpson, George The Meaning of Evolution. Yale University Press. New Haven and London. 1949.