04 April 2005

Riddled with a Question

A philosophical riddle:

He gave a paper that he did not give, and I wanted to discuss the paper he both gave and did not, even more than the paper he merely gave.
After Thursday night's lecture, Fran O'Rourke gave me an offprint of his "Aristotle and the Metaphysics of Evolution", from the Review of Metaphysics, September 2004. It's thesis? Sometimes the relatively weak claim of consistency:
I propose that in the light of his basic metaphysical principles, with minimal modification to his philosophy of nature, Aristotle might readily accommodate an evolution of species (38).
Sometimes too the strong claim of corroboration:
The notion of Aristotelian form thus continues to perform an indispensable role within contemporary biology, a timeless revenant defying all attempts to have it banished (47).
And sometimes also the intermediate idea, of partial confirmation:
[Aristotle's] metaphysics provides...a deeper dimension and perspective within which to understand and evaluate the undercurrents which inwardly sustain living things in their operations (57).
(One wonders: Shouldn't the editors of the Review of Metaphysics have insured that this appearance of indecision not perdure through to publication?--But the three views are consistent; someone might wish to hold all three.--Yes, but the article begins by asking merely, "Does Aristotle's philosophy rule out evolution?" and ends by affirming that we 'can' continue to accept Aristotle's philosophy, as if only consistency were at issue. It certainly looks as though the article sneaks through stronger claims under cover of defending a relatively weak one.)

I had questions about all three theses, which maybe I'll raise in later posts.