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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: May 2019

Chapter 7 - Aristotle on the Anthropological Difference and Animal Minds

from Part II - Human Nature in the Light of Aristotle’s Biology


Aristotle did not deal with anthropological topics under that name. Small wonder, since that label was only coined in the sixteenth century. Nor did he devote a specific treatise to what we would nowadays call philosophical anthropology. But the impact of his writings on biology and the philosophy of mind have been second to none. At a methodological level, Aristotle’s essentialist metaphysics and the ensuing doctrines of definition and taxonomy (‘Porphyrian tree’) have provided the most important paradigm for anthropology’s endeavour to determine the nature of human beings. This quest immediately leads on to the two central problems of anthropology down the ages. On the one hand, there is the question of