Final cause as the unity of sensible ousia
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My project aims to show how metaphysical assumptions can be present in natural science without hindering the empirical aspect of natural science. Aristotle’s conception of zoology lends well to this project being empirical and assuming that animals are ousiai or primary substances. For Aristotle, science depends on grasping a definition of a thing and demonstrating what attributes belong to that thing. But Aristotle is not consistent in how he defines an animal. In the Metaphysics Aristotle claims that an animal, a sensible ousia, is defined by one, final differentia. In Parts of Animals he claims that an animal is defined by many differentiae. Many contemporary scholars prioritize the latter answer. I argue that the two are compatible. First, Aristotle distinguishes between the way metaphysics studies a thing and the way physics studies the same thing. Metaphysics studies primary ousia, which Aristotle concludes is essence. Essence is one in the same ways sensible ousia is one. Physics studies how a thing comes to be, which presupposes the essence is one. Zoology, a branch of physics for Aristotle, studies how all the parts belong to any kind of animal. Second, I show that the metaphysical definition is of the form by itself; the physical definition is of the composite, form and material. This is not yet sufficient to show compatibility, for the form could still be defined by many differentiae. Third, science for Aristotle is primarily inquiry that seeks a definition and zoology seeks the definition of the form through the many differentiae. The many differentiae are the various material parts which we can grasp through empirical inquiry. Whatever unites these differentiae in one thing is the form and essence of the animal. This interpretation of Aristotle’s zoology conforms to the way Posterior Analytics II argues how a scientist can seek the middle term of a demonstration through established facts. The middle term is also the essence. I conclude by showing how various explanations found in Aristotle’s practice of zoology conform to my interpretation of Aristotle’s conception of definition and science as inquiry.