The Ancient Library

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aristotle's biology

constituents and processes of the world. It was pursued by men whom we have been taught to call philosophers; and in fact only gradually did philosophy, more properly speaking, dif­ferentiate itself from physics, that is, from the elemental attempt to observe and know the physical world. Greek philosophy was to con­sist of logical and metaphysical conceptions; Greek physical, or let us say specifically bio­logical, science was to continue as observation and induction. Yet it did not part company from philosophy, and occasionally employed the same processes of logic and even meta­physics. The same men might still be both scientists and philosophers — or metaphysi­cians. The greatest of Greek biologists was very nearly the greatest of Greek philosophers; and Aristotle the biologist did not abjure the logical and metaphysical reasonings of Aris­totle the philosopher.21

But modern biology, if we fix our eyes upon its most fecund inceptions and vigorous growth, was departmental or special from the begin­ning, and alien from those sweeping explana­tions and ultimate accountings which seemed to constitute philosophy. In this sense, neither Leonardo nor Vesalius nor Harvey was a phi-

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