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Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

PHYSICS AS THE BASIS OF ARISTOTELIAN BIOLOGY

 

“Nature” is one of Aristotle’s most basic concepts. As the source of all becoming, it includes both biology and physics. It is the ground of becoming, and becoming is the process whereby the matter-form compound passes from potentiality to actuality. Life science, under the heading of “biology” today, thus constitutes a special subdiscipline of the natural sciences in Aristotle’s classification of sciences, falling under the science of “physics.” Physics explains entities that carry within themselves the principle of motion or change, with reference to the “four-causes” theory and the “potential-actual” doctrine. The four-causes theory, used to analyze the becoming processes of entities, is often reduced to the “hylomorphic matter-form” explanation. The matter-form axis deals with entities from a static point of view, while the potential-actual axis deals with them from a dynamic point of view, in terms of their being in a process of becoming. The four-causes theory, hylomorphic matter-form explanation, and potential-actual doctrine are complete and coherent sources of both physical and biological explanations of nature. Aristotle’s nature is situated on a teleological physics based on “in itself” and “spontaneous” motion. Every entity moves tending toward its own final cause in teleological nature. In this article, it is claimed that Aristotle’s biology and physics are based on the same natural principles, because Aristotle examines living things from the perspective of the four causes, hylomorphism, and the potential-actual doctrine, which are explanatory models of physics. In this respect, it appears that biology is included in—even based on—the field of physics in Aristotle’s classification.

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