Aristotle on Natural Selection


The fact that Charles Darwin originated the concept of natural selection is a popluar notion. However, evolutionary concepts long predated The Origin of Species. In the Historical Sketch section of the sixth edition, even Darwin discusses the contributions of forty-four authors that had previously written on the subject of evolution, including Aristotle.

Darwin recognized that Aristotle’s concepts were compatible with natural selection. On the evolution of teeth, in The Origin of Species, Darwin wrote,

“We here see the principle of natural selection shadowed forth, but how little Aristotle fully comprehended the principle, is shown by his remarks on the formation of the teeth.”

Even though Darwin did not think Aristotle “fully comprehended” natural selection, what can be “fully comprehended” today is that the concept of natural selection pre-dated Darwin.

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