From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again A Journey in Final Causality, Species and Evolution

ISBN-10: 1586171690
ISBN-13: 9781586171698
Edition: N/A
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Description: Darwin's theory of evolution remains controversial, even though most scientists, philosophers, and even theologians accept it, in some form, as a well-attested explanation for the variety of organisms. The controversy erupts when the theory is used  More...

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Book details

List price: $16.95
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication date: 9/1/2009
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 250
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 1.078
Language: English

Darwin's theory of evolution remains controversial, even though most scientists, philosophers, and even theologians accept it, in some form, as a well-attested explanation for the variety of organisms. The controversy erupts when the theory is used to try to explain everything, including every aspect of human life, and to deny the role of a Creator or a purpose to life. It is then that philosophers and theologians cry, "Foul!". The overreaching of many scientists into fields beyond their competence is perhaps explained in part by the loss of an important idea in modern thinking-final causality or purpose. Scientists understandably bracket the idea out of their scientific thinking because they seek natural explanations and other kinds of causes. Yet many of them wrongly conclude from their selective study of the world that final causes do not exist at all and that they have no place in the rational study of life. Likewise, many erroneously assume that philosophy cannot draw upon scientific findings, in light of final causality, to better understand the world and man. The great philosopher and historian of philosophy Etienne Gilson sets out in this book to show that final causality or purposiveness is an inevitable idea for those who think hard and carefully about the world, including the world of biology. Gilson insists that a completely rational understanding of organisms and biological systems requires the philosophical notion of teleology, the idea that certain kinds of things exist and have ends or purposes the fulfillment of which is linked to their natures. In other words, final causes. His approach relies on philosophical reflection on the facts of science, not upon theology or an appeal to religious authorities such as the Church or the Bible.

Born in Paris, Etienne Gilson was educated at the University of Paris. He became professor of medieval philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1921, and in 1932 was appointed to the chair in medieval philosophy at the College de France. In 1929 he cooperated with the members of the Congregation of Priests of St. Basil, in Toronto, Canada, to found the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies in association with St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto. Gilson served as professor and director of studies at the institute. Like his fellow countryman Jacques Maritain, Etienne Gilson was a neo-Thomist for whom Christian revelation is an indispensable auxiliary to reason, and on faith he accepted Christian doctrine as advocated by the Roman Catholic church. At the same time, like St. Thomas Aquinas, he accorded reason a wide compass of operation, maintaining that it could demonstrate the existence of God and the necessity of revelation, with which he considered it compatible. Why anything exists is a question that science cannot answer and may even deem senseless. Gilson found the answer to be that "each and every particular existing thing depends for its existence on a pure Act of existence." God is the supreme Act of existing. An authority on the Christian philosophy of the Middle Ages, Gilson lectured widely on theology, art, the history of ideas, and the medieval world.

Foreword
Preface
Aristotelian Prologue
The Mechanist Objection
Finality and Evolution
Fixism
Transformism
Lamarck
Darwin without Evolution
Evolution without Darwin
Darwin and Malthus
Evolution and Teleology
Bergsonism and Teleology
The Limits of Mechanism
The Constants of Biophilosophy
Linnaeus: Observations on the Three Kingdoms of Nature
Darwin in Search of Species
Notes
Index

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