From Aristotle to contemporary biological classification : what kind of category is "Sex"?

Sandford, Stella (2019) From Aristotle to contemporary biological classification : what kind of category is "Sex"? Redescriptions, 22(1), pp. 4-17. ISSN (online) 2308-0914

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Abstract

This paper examines the nature of the categories of ‘male’ and ‘female’ as classificatory groupings, via an examination of this question in Aristotle’s zoology and metaphysics. Tracing the use of Aristotle’s logical categories of ‘genus’ and ‘species’ in his zoological works and contrasting this with the use of the terms in contemporary taxonomy, the paper shows that ‘male’ and ‘female’ are, in a significant sense, unclassifiable categories. Although Aristotle has no generic concept of ‘sex’ at his disposal, the paper shows how many English translations of his works introduce ‘sex’ as if in answer to the question of the nature of the categories of male and female. The paper then argues that the generic concept of sex covers over the problem of the classification of male and female in both Aristotle and contemporary biology (including botany, mycology and bacteriology), by introducing a classificatory genus (‘sex’) that does not in fact explain anything but rather (precisely in its trans-specific generality) needs explaining.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This work was supported by the Leverhulme Trust [grant number MRF 2017-006].
Uncontrolled Keywords: sex; male/female; Aristotle; biology; taxonomy; classification
Research Area: Philosophy
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Kingston School of Art
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP)
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stella Sandford
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2019 15:04
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2019 08:26
DOI: https://doi.org/10.33134/rds.314
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/44324

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