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A brilliant study of Aristotle as biologist
The philosophical classics of Aristotle loom large over the history of Western thought, but the subject he most loved was biology. He wrote vast volumes about animals. He described them, classified them, told us where and how they live and how they develop in the womb or in the egg. He founded a science. It can even be said that he founded science itself.
In The Lagoon, acclaimed biologist Armand Marie Leroi recovers Aristotle’s science. He revisits Aristotle’s writings and the places where he worked. He goes to the eastern Aegean island of Lesbos to see the creatures that Aristotle saw, where he saw them. He explores Aristotle’s observations, his deep ideas, his inspired guessesand the things he got wildly wrong. He shows how Aristotle’s science is deeply intertwined with his philosophical system and reveals that he was not only the first biologist, but also one of the greatest.
The Lagoon is both a travelogue and a study of the origins of science. And it shows how a philosopher who lived almost two millennia ago still has so much to teach us today.
Armand Marie Leroi is Professor of Evolutionary Development Biology at Imperial College London. He is the author of Mutants: On the Form, Variety and Errors of the Human Body, which has been published in eleven languages and won The Guardian’s First Book Award in 2003. He is one of the UK’s most prominent science media figures.