Animals in the World

Five Essays on Aristotle's Biology

By Pierre Pellegrin
Translated by Anthony Preus

Subjects: Aristotle, Ancient Greek Philosophy, History Of Science, Classics, Political Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438491479, 330 pages, January 2023
Paperback : 9781438491462, 330 pages, July 2023

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Table of contents


1. Is There an Aristotelian Biology?
Aristotle and Nineteenth-Century Biology
Aristotle and Cuvier
Some Remarks on Aristotle’s Biological Corpus
The Relationships between the History of Animals and the Parts of Animals
An Impossible Chronology

2. The New Horizon of Teleology
The Historical Background
Aristotle’s Solution and Its Consequences for His Teleology
“Many Things Happen because It Is Necessary”
Hypothetical Necessity
The Two Natures
Nature’s Excellence

3. A Philosophy of Life?
The Nutritive Soul
Sexual Generation and the Female Material
Spontaneous Generation
A General Theory of Homoiomeries?

4. Diversity
What the Word “Animal” Names
Continuity and Diversity, Perfection and Harmony
The Revenge of the Special on the General

5. Animal Nature and Human Nature
Animal Pleasure, Human Pleasure
Sheep and Men


Editions of Aristotle
Works and Articles

References to Aristotle’s Works

Five innovative essays demonstrating how Aristotle's biology is an integral part of Aristotle's understanding of the universe.


In Animals in the World, renowned Aristotle scholar Pierre Pellegrin attempts to demonstrate that Aristotle, by proposing an original version of natural perfection, opposes the whole of the Greek tradition. Nature is perfect, not only in its harmony of a complete and well-organized whole, but also because it brings together functionally perfect individuals.

Pierre Pellegrin is Director of Research at the National Center for Scientific Research in Paris, France. His books include Aristotle's Classification of Animals: Biology and the Conceptual Unity of the Aristotelian Corpus and Endangered Excellence: On the Political Philosophy of Aristotle, both translated by Anthony Preus. Anthony Preus is Distinguished Teaching Professor in Philosophy at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He is the author and editor of many books, including Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Philosophy.


"…a valuable addition to Aristotle's scholarship on the science of animals."— CHOICE

"In this collection of five essays on topics he considers crucial, Pellegrin presents the results of decades of work on Aristotle's understanding of living things and on Aristotle's place in the history of biological and medical thought from antiquity to the present. With the biological works making up a quarter to a third of the corpus, Pellegrin's interpretations of the language, concepts, and arguments in these works turn out to enlighten the whole. The items covered range from final cause and necessity, in living things and in the cosmos at large—where Pellegrin argues that Aristotle rejects both intentional teleology of the Timaeus variety and an exclusive Presocratic mechanism as instruments for explaining cosmic order—to the relation of the abilities and organs of living things to one another, which Pellegrin finds in Aristotle's treatment of animal and plant life. While keeping the Aristotelian text clearly in focus, the author engages at length with other major figures who have contributed to the biological turn. Preus's readable translation of the author's recent Des animaux dans le monde brings an original and challenging statement of Pellegrin's views to the English-speaking public and will be informative for scholars in the histories of philosophy and science alike." — John J. Mulhern, University of Pennsylvania