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Philosophy of Science

Philosophic Exchange

2017

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Aristotle And Darwin: Antagonists Or Kindred Spirits?, James G. Lennox Jan 2017

Aristotle And Darwin: Antagonists Or Kindred Spirits?, James G. Lennox

Philosophic Exchange

In the decades following the forging of the so-called Neo-Darwinian Synthesis in the 1940s, a number of its philosophical defenders created a myth about what Charles Darwin was up against, a viewpoint called “typological essentialism” often attributed to Aristotle. In this paper I first sketch the history of how this myth was created. I then establish that it is a myth by providing an account of Aristotle’s essentialism as it is actually displayed in his philosophy of biology and in his biological practice. It has nothing to do with the ‘mythic’ version. We then turn to what Darwin was ...