Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science

Ed. by Wildberg, Christian / Morison, Benjamin

See all formats and pricing
More options …
Ahead of print


Aristotle on the Good of Reproduction

Myrna Gabbe
Published Online: 2019-06-08 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2018-0040


This paper discusses Aristotle’s theory of reproduction: specifically, the good that he thinks organisms attain by reproducing. The aim of this paper is to refute the widespread theory that Aristotle believes plants and animals reproduce for the sake of attenuated immortality. This interpretive claim plays an important role in supporting one leading interpretation of Aristotle’s teleology: the theory that Aristotelian nature is teleologically oriented with a view solely to what benefits individual organisms, and what benefits the organism is its survival and well–being. This paper challenges the theories that Aristotle takes plants and animals to reproduce for the sake of attenuated immortality, and that he believes survival to be the most basic of goods. It is argued that Aristotle believes reproduction is detrimental to organisms’ health and longevity but nonetheless is central to plant and animal flourishing. It is claimed that, to explain the fundamentality of the reproductive soul function, Aristotle appeals to the eternal and divine.

Keywords: final cause; reproduction; nutrition; survival; immortality


  • Balme, D. 1987. “Teleology and Necessity.” In Philosophical Issues in Aristotle’s Biology, edited by A. Gotthelf, and J. Lennox, 275–85. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Barnes, J., edited by. 1995. The Complete Works of Aristotle. The Revised Oxford Translation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Cooper, J. 1982. “Aristotle on Natural Teleology.” In Language and Logos, edited by M. Schofield, and M. Nussbaum, 197–222. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Furley, D. 1996. “What Kind of Cause Is Aristotle’s Final Cause.” In Rationality and Greek Thought, edited by M. Frede, and G. Striker, 59–79. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Henry, D. 2015. “Aristotle on the Cosmological Significance of Biological Generation.” In Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science, edited by D. Ebrey, 100–18. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Johansen, T. K. 2015. “The Two Kinds of Ends in Aristotle.” In Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science, edited by D. Ebrey, 119–36. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Johnson, M. R. 2005. Aristotle on Teleology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Kahn, C. H. 1985. “The Place of the Prime Mover in Aristotle’s Teleology.” In Aristotle on Nature and Living Things, edited by A. Gotthelf, 183–205. Pittsburgh: Mathesis Publications.Google Scholar

  • Kullmann, W. 1985. “Different Concepts of the Final Cause in Aristotle.” In Aristotle on Nature and Living Things, edited by A. Gotthelf, 169–75. Pittsburgh: Mathesis Publications.Google Scholar

  • Lear, G. R. 2004. Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

  • Polansky, R. 2007. Aristotle’s De Anima. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Quarantotto, D. 2015. “A Dynamic Ontology: On How Aristotle Arrived at the Conclusion that Eternal Change Accomplishes Ousia.” In Aristotle’s Physics: A Critical Guide, edited by M. Leunissen, 162–85. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Sedley, D. 1991. “Is Aristotle’s Teleology Anthropocentric. Phronesis 36 (2): 179–96.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Stavrianeas, S. 2018. “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Natural Teleology and Its Failures in Aristotle.” In Evil in Aristotle, edited by P. Kontos, 51–71. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Wilberding, J. 2015. “Plato’s Embryology.” Early Science and Medicine 20: 150–68.Web of SciencePubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2019-06-08

Citation Information: Apeiron, ISSN (Online) 2156-7093, ISSN (Print) 0003-6390, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/apeiron-2018-0040.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter Inc., Boston/Berlin.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in