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A Runaway World? The Reith Lectures 1967 by Edmund. Leach

By Edmund. Leach

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17 In GA, Aristotle investigates the causes of this ordered formation of new living animals. e. e. e. e. 18 In generation, these factors must all be present and available, and they must interact in order for a new substance to come to be. 19 For Aristotle, the human child has its origins in the parents. They are the actualities who, as sexually complete, have available in themselves the potentials for the generation of the offspring. In this respect, Aristotle's explanation of generation bears some resemblance to preformationism, a view widely held in his time, according to which the adult parent, usually the male, bears the offspring within itself as a tiny, pre-formed homunculus.

Vii 111), among many other themes. What are we to make of these fascinating but disparate observations? 2 In fact, some of the statements sampled here are occasional remarks or digressions from other, major themes. Therefore we might wonder, first, whether Aristotle has much philosophical interest in children and, second, whether he has a comprehensive notion of children's nature that could integrate his various observations about and directions regarding children. The first question can be given an initial affirmative answer by noting Aristotle's reference in the Politics (1335b5) to his treatise on child-rearing, a work which is not extant.

Philosophers have devoted a great deal of attention to the indubitable, but they have paid far less heed to claims considered obvious because trivially true. The category of the "trivially true" contains reflections on human experience that the philosopher who places them there chooses not to criticize or even discuss. In John Stuart Mill's terms, the choice is to refuse "to question established opinions" (Spirit of the Age s. 1). Claims about children and childhood tend to be regarded as obvious in this "trivially true" sense.

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