Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Aristotle's Ladder, Darwin's TreeThe Evolution of Visual Metaphors for Biological Order$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

J. Archibald

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164122

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164122.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Blaming Aristotle

Blaming Aristotle

(p.1) Chapter One Blaming Aristotle
Aristotle's Ladder, Darwin's Tree

J. David Archibald

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines how Aristotle influenced both our perceptions and misperceptions of the history of life on Earth and the presumption that humans are the highest of animals. Aristotle's views come to us in his ten books titled Researches About Animals, more commonly known from the Latin translation Historia Animalium (The History of Animals). His classification of life accorded with the then accepted views of the four basic elements of nature (air, fire, water, earth). Aristotle also used scales and ladders that form a continuum to explain the succession without gaps from inanimate objects through plants and then to animals, thus natura non facit saltus (nature makes no leaps). The French anatomist and paleontologist Georges Cuvier rejected the idea of the existence of a scala naturae possessing gaps, and that evolution occurred. This chapter considers how the ramifying view of life and its representation took root throughout the nineteenth century under the aegis of both evolution and creationism within the expanding fields of biological sciences.

Keywords:   history of life, Aristotle, nature, scales, ladders, Georges Cuvier, scala naturae, evolution, creationism, biological sciences

Columbia Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .