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Monstrosity and PhilosophyRadical Otherness in Greek and Latin Culture$
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Filippo Del Lucchese

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474456203

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474456203.001.0001

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(p.93) 4 Aristotle
Monstrosity and Philosophy

Filippo Del Lucchese

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that Aristotle’s enquiry on the nature and meaning of monstrosity is rooted in his positive attitude toward the knowledge of lower nature, which enjoy the same status of the science of higher beings. Heavens and earth are thus connected through the divine principle that is active throughout the whole nature. Gods thus become author of, but also responsible for, what happens in nature, and Aristotle’s argument provides the ground for every future theodicy. Monstrosity plays a major role in this philosophical approach. Aristotle develops the opposition between the normal and the abnormal development, through the concept of accidental necessity, namely the necessity that is at stake in natural processes that not always happen in the same way. Monsters are of pivotal importance in this ontological picture, because of their paradoxical ambiguity. On the one hand, they are the sign and symptom or a resistant nature, which opposes itself to Aristotle’s major ontological invention, namely the form and the final cause. On the other hand, without this hyatus between formal perfection and actual reality, nature would not exist in the way we experience it: there would be no diversity, no better and worse, no normal and monstrous. Monstrosity is necessary for Aristotle to explain nature and its ontological structure based on the substitition of dynamic forms and ends to both the static ideas of Plato and the exclusively material reality of atomists.

Keywords:   Aristotelianism, Aristotle, Epictemology, Theodicy, Teleology, Necessity, Chance, Form

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