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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

Chapter 9 - The Cosmological Significance of Substantial Generation


In Chapters 5 and 6 we saw that Aristotle treats male and female as ‘principles’ (archai) of generation both in the sense of starting points (animals come to be from the union of male and female) and in the sense of causes (the male as the efficient cause, the female as supplying the material cause). However, Aristotle does not treat male and female as causally basic principles in the sense of being causes of other things while nothing more fundamental is the cause of them (cf. GA 788a14–16). At the beginning of GA II 1 Aristotle tells us that the existence of males and females themselves can be traced to a higher principle (731b24–5: anôthen) namely, the divine. And so, they are not the most basic principles of animal generation since something more fundamental is the cause of them.