Study Questions for De Partibus Animalium I.1, I.5

See Aristotle Selections

eds. Irwin and Fine
(Hackett Publishing Company, 1995), pp. 206-218.

Study questions by Dr. Jan Garrett

Revised on February 10, 2007


1. What two kinds of competence does A. distinguish? What two types of education? (639a1-12)

2. What standards does A. refer to at 639a13? What sorts of issues do these address in natural inquiry? (a16ff)

3. You need to understand A's terms:

a. appearances; (639b9); see Glossary p. 567.
b. what is for something; (639b13) = a goal-directed process (Gloss., p. 582)
c. what something is for (b20) = the goal of such a process; (Gloss., p. 582)
d. source of principle of motion (b14) = moving cause;
e. unqualified necessity (639b24, 642a34-b2);
f. conditional necessity (639b26ff., 642a7ff);
4. What should our starting point be in dealing with coming-to-be? (640a10ff)

5. Which is for the sake of which--being or coming to be? (640a18-20)

6. Why was Empedocles wrong (radically incomplete?) in his explanation of the backbone? (640a20-25)

7. How does craft (techne) relate to products of craft? (640a30-33)

8. In A's view, what types of cause were important to those . . . first to philosophize about nature? (640b6-11)

9. Is it enough to say of living things what constituents are? (640b23) What else should we speak of? (640b27-29)

uniform parts = parts of organisms composed of qualitatively similar parts (no matter how far subdivided?). (Blood, muscle, boney matter, and the like seem uniform.)
10. What difference is there between A's view of human nature and the view A attributes to Democritus? (Is the "eye of a dead man" an eye?) (640b29-641a18)

11. What must the student of nature study when concerned with animals (or plants)? (a18-32)

12. In what two ways is nature spoke of? Why is A. making efficient and final cause coincide? (641a28) Why are these linked to form or being? (a28-30)

13. Where is the ordered and defined more apparent--in celestial bodies or in the mortal things around us? (641b18-22)

14. Why did previous natural philosophers not arrive at the approach A. adopted (according to him)? (642a25ff)


1. What two groups of natural substances does A. distinguish (644b23-24)

2. What disadvantage does the study of "divine" things have as compared to study of plants and animals? (b25-31)

Note: "Divine things" here does not refer to the Olympian gods (and perhaps not to the unmoved mover, which cannot be perceived by the senses at all), but to the (partially) visible heavens.)

3. What advantage does philosophy about divine things have? (b33-36)

4. What sort of person can take delight in the study of animals unattractive to the sense? (645a7-10)

5. What childish complaints does A. warn against? (a15)

6. What is the point of the little story about Heraclitus? (a16-26)

7. How is A's praise of biology linked to his theory of teleological explanation advocated in Partibus Animalium I.1? (a30-35)