Concocting Primary and Secondary Teleology: Teleological Causation in Aristotle’s Meteorology 4
Emily Kress (Brown University)

June 30, 2021, 4:30pm - 6:00pm
The New England Symposium for Ancient Philosophy

Amherst Center
United States

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Aristotle understands the generation of an animal as an actualization of two sorts of capacities: the active capacities provided by the father, functioning as the efficient cause and the source of the form, and the passive capacities provided by the mother, who supplies the matter on which the efficient cause acts. Eventually, an animal comes to be, equipped with features—wings, a beak, a heart—that play a role in its life. The process is teleological: its efficient cause—initially in the father and later in the organism—acts for the sake of something. My focus is a debate about how much this efficient cause is responsible for and how. I offer a new argument in favour of Leunissen’s suggestion that animal generation involves two sorts of teleological causation: one “driven by” form and the other by matter. Drawing on Meteor. 4.2, I offer a new account of this distinction: it is a difference in the extent to which the matter functions as a determinant of the end achieved. This is a consequence of a further difference in the generality of the end at which the efficient cause aims. I thus have a second, broader aim: to show how examining Meteor. 4.2 not only deepens our understanding of teleological explanations in Aristotle’s biology, but does so by revealing important features of the capacities that get exercised in causal processes.  

Emily will give a short introduction to her paper at the beginning of the meeting, and then we will turn to discussion.   The discussion will presuppose that participants have read Emily's paper in advance of the session. The paper and Zoom link will be distributed to participants via email in a couple weeks prior to the event.  To allow yourself time to complete the readings, please register at least 48 hours prior to the event.  

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June 28, 2021, 9:00am EST

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