Why Do We Breathe? Aristotle on the Hunt for Final Causes


Location: Malloy Hall, Room 220

James Lennox, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

As Aristotle details in the first seven chapters of On Respiration, a number of his predecessors had presented theories about breathing—and all of them, in Aristotle’s view, had gone seriously astray. In this talk, Lennox will not, except incidentally, focus on what he thinks they got wrong. Rather, he will focus on what Aristotle has to say about why they went wrong, and what they ought to have done to keep their inquiries on track. Lennox will use this topic as a vehicle for exploring the norms Aristotle defends for inquiry into organic processes, and more generally his views about norms of scientific inquiry. In the process, he challenges a number of misconceptions about Aristotle’s philosophy of science and his scientific practice.

Co-sponsored by the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values; the History and Philosophy of Science Program, and the Department of Philosophy