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Why Stars Have No Feet: Explanation And Teleology In Aristotle's Cosmology

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Chapter Summary

The most central feature of Aristotle's conception of natural science is his theory of natural teleology: everything that exists or comes to be "by nature" comes to be or changes, unless prevented, for a purpose and towards an end, and is present for the sake of that purpose or end. This chapter sheds light on the specific nature of the teleological explanations in Aristotle's cosmology and on the problems related to their application within this particular branch of the science of nature. In particular, it argues that the way in which Aristotle uses teleological principles to explain heavenly phenomena builds upon their very successful usage in biology, and is thus consistent with his treatment of cosmology as a natural science. It also says more about the scientific status of cosmology. Finally the chapter discusses two representative examples of teleological explanations from the second book of the De caelo.

Keywords: Aristotle's cosmology; De caelo; natural science; natural teleology; teleological principles

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