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Saif Chowdhury Frank Meola HUSS 1023w 03-20-12

Aristotles Parts of Animals is a composition of Aristotles conclusions on various different parts of animals and the way in which these parts coincide to create a system that works for this animal. Aristotles conclusions all seem to be based off of proof which cannot be denied, that is empirical evidence and these proofs are the things he saw. In the times of Aristotle the only proof that existed was word of mouth and empirical evidence. Aristotle is a philosopher and his thoughts where based off of what he observed in the physical world, the actions that both humans and animals take are the observations which lead to his conclusions. In Parts of Animals Aristotle the level of detail when describing the orientation of different organs in different parts of the body demonstrates that observations had to have been made for such accurate details.
Thus much then as to the reason why some animals have an epiglottis while others have none, and thus much also as to its use. It is a contrivance of nature to remedy the vicious position of the windpipe in front of the esophagus. That position is the result of necessity. For it is in the front and centre of the body that the heart is situated, in which we say is the principle of life and the source of all motion and sensation. (For sensation and motion are exercised in the direction which we term forwards, and it is on this very relation that the distinction of before and behind is founded.) But where the heart is, there and surrounding it is the lung. Now inspiration, which occurs for the sake of the lung and for the sake of the principle which has its seat in the heart, is effected through the windpipe. (Aristotle, Part3)

In this section, Aristotle goes into description of the inner workings of the neck, the esophagus and the windpipe and what they lead to, the lungs. Aristotle takes each section of the anatomy and describes it vividly part by part, system by system. Aristotle thinking in systems makes this realization that organs work in systems and although he may not have been a biologist, his observations, which werent preconceived started thought about anatomy of

animals. The notion that his ideas where conforming to preconceived ideas is almost non-existent because if you look at the works of earlier philosophers, their works dont lean towards the anatomy of the beasts that humans coincide with, but rather methods of thought. These observations/thoughts about animals and biology are seen much latter in different eras like with Charles Darwin and his works which were seminal to thoughts on evolution. The idea of conclusions forming from preconceived ideas and thoughts from the past is something that is seen throughout history. When one receives a preconceived idea, they tend to build from it to make the idea better, preconceived ideas stem newer and more brilliant findings. Aristotles ideas in Parts of Animals are interesting in the sense that he thought in ways that engineers think. He thought of the anatomy in a system setting, he ventured through the body in a one direction pattern, which the anatomies tend to work, one entrance and one exit. These findings show that observations/ research must have been done extensively because Aristotle talks not about a single species, but actually about many species. Continuous with this stomach is what is called the gut. These parts are present in all animals, for reasons that are self-evident (Aristotle, Part 14). Again Aristotle talks about one part of the body leading to the other, if one were to think about it, many dissections probably were made to bring out all this information. The details that are in this piece seem to go beyond just simple observations, but they are detailed to the point where studies upon studies must have gone on. Aristotles observations also came with his theories about the animals and why systems worked the way they did. This is its invariable form in such animals as are saw-toothed. For seeing that their mode of warfare consists in biting, it is advantageous to them that their mouth shall have a wide opening; for the wider it opens, the greater will be the extent of the bite, and

the more numerous will be the teeth called into play(Aristotle, Part1). Early on there is talk about the mouth and teeth, this mentioning of the teeth and how different teeth are advantageous to an animal is interesting to say the least. Darwin centuries later talks about comparative advantage and survival of the fittest, whilst Aristotle is talking about the same thing, but without a huge sample size of creatures to article and put into a collection and study. It is interesting how small accurate observations from one time can directly lead to the same conclusion of huge expansive conclusions of another. This just goes to show Aristotles conclusions where based off of observations made in his time, rather than preconceived thoughts by scientist before him. Aristotles Parts of Animals is truly an intriguing piece, in that Aristotles use of detail to explain the anatomy of an Animal gives the reader a broader insight on how the parts of the body work together. The details and analogies make it easier to understand how the body works in a system and this is all due to Aristotles observations which lead to such solid conclusions.