Cooking up the perfect insect: Aristotle's transformational idea about the complete metamorphosis of insects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Aristotle made important contributions to the study of developmental biology, including the complete metamorphosis of insects. One concept in particular, that of the perfect or complete state, underlies Aristotle’s ideas about metamorphosis, the necessity of fertilisation for embryonic development, and whether morphogenesis involves an autonomous process of self-assembly. Importantly, the philosopher erroneously views metamorphosis as a necessary developmental response to lack of previous fertilization of the female parent, a view that is intimately connected with his readiness to accept the idea of the spontaneous generation of life. Aristotle’s work underpins that of the major seventeenth century students of metamorphosis, Harvey, Redi, Malpighi and Swammerdam, all of whom make frequent reference to Aristotle in their writings. Although both Aristotle and Harvey are often credited with inspiring the later prolonged debate between proponents of epigenesis and preformation, neither actually held firm views on the subject. Aristotle’s idea of the perfect stage also underlies his proposal that the eggs of holometabolous insects hatch “before their time”, an idea that is the direct precursor of the much later proposals by Lubbock and Berlese that the larval stages of holometabolous insects are due to the "premature hatching" from the egg of an imperfect embryonic stage.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190074
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophical transactions B: Biological Sciences
Volume374
Issue number1783
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • Aristotle, William Harvey, spontaneous generation, fertilization, epigenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

@article{1e3046614f1b4b1bbe8c49b0539e0f08,
title = "Cooking up the perfect insect: Aristotle's transformational idea about the complete metamorphosis of insects",
abstract = "Aristotle made important contributions to the study of developmental biology, including the complete metamorphosis of insects. One concept in particular, that of the perfect or complete state, underlies Aristotle’s ideas about metamorphosis, the necessity of fertilisation for embryonic development, and whether morphogenesis involves an autonomous process of self-assembly. Importantly, the philosopher erroneously views metamorphosis as a necessary developmental response to lack of previous fertilization of the female parent, a view that is intimately connected with his readiness to accept the idea of the spontaneous generation of life. Aristotle’s work underpins that of the major seventeenth century students of metamorphosis, Harvey, Redi, Malpighi and Swammerdam, all of whom make frequent reference to Aristotle in their writings. Although both Aristotle and Harvey are often credited with inspiring the later prolonged debate between proponents of epigenesis and preformation, neither actually held firm views on the subject. Aristotle’s idea of the perfect stage also underlies his proposal that the eggs of holometabolous insects hatch “before their time”, an idea that is the direct precursor of the much later proposals by Lubbock and Berlese that the larval stages of holometabolous insects are due to the {"}premature hatching{"} from the egg of an imperfect embryonic stage.",
keywords = "Aristotle, William Harvey, spontaneous generation, fertilization, epigenesis",
author = "Stuart Reynolds",
year = "2019",
month = "8",
day = "26",
language = "English",
volume = "374",
journal = "Philosophical transactions B: Biological Sciences",
issn = "0962-8436",
publisher = "The Royal Society",
number = "1783",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Cooking up the perfect insect: Aristotle's transformational idea about the complete metamorphosis of insects

AU - Reynolds, Stuart

PY - 2019/8/26

Y1 - 2019/8/26

N2 - Aristotle made important contributions to the study of developmental biology, including the complete metamorphosis of insects. One concept in particular, that of the perfect or complete state, underlies Aristotle’s ideas about metamorphosis, the necessity of fertilisation for embryonic development, and whether morphogenesis involves an autonomous process of self-assembly. Importantly, the philosopher erroneously views metamorphosis as a necessary developmental response to lack of previous fertilization of the female parent, a view that is intimately connected with his readiness to accept the idea of the spontaneous generation of life. Aristotle’s work underpins that of the major seventeenth century students of metamorphosis, Harvey, Redi, Malpighi and Swammerdam, all of whom make frequent reference to Aristotle in their writings. Although both Aristotle and Harvey are often credited with inspiring the later prolonged debate between proponents of epigenesis and preformation, neither actually held firm views on the subject. Aristotle’s idea of the perfect stage also underlies his proposal that the eggs of holometabolous insects hatch “before their time”, an idea that is the direct precursor of the much later proposals by Lubbock and Berlese that the larval stages of holometabolous insects are due to the "premature hatching" from the egg of an imperfect embryonic stage.

AB - Aristotle made important contributions to the study of developmental biology, including the complete metamorphosis of insects. One concept in particular, that of the perfect or complete state, underlies Aristotle’s ideas about metamorphosis, the necessity of fertilisation for embryonic development, and whether morphogenesis involves an autonomous process of self-assembly. Importantly, the philosopher erroneously views metamorphosis as a necessary developmental response to lack of previous fertilization of the female parent, a view that is intimately connected with his readiness to accept the idea of the spontaneous generation of life. Aristotle’s work underpins that of the major seventeenth century students of metamorphosis, Harvey, Redi, Malpighi and Swammerdam, all of whom make frequent reference to Aristotle in their writings. Although both Aristotle and Harvey are often credited with inspiring the later prolonged debate between proponents of epigenesis and preformation, neither actually held firm views on the subject. Aristotle’s idea of the perfect stage also underlies his proposal that the eggs of holometabolous insects hatch “before their time”, an idea that is the direct precursor of the much later proposals by Lubbock and Berlese that the larval stages of holometabolous insects are due to the "premature hatching" from the egg of an imperfect embryonic stage.

KW - Aristotle, William Harvey, spontaneous generation, fertilization, epigenesis

M3 - Article

VL - 374

JO - Philosophical transactions B: Biological Sciences

JF - Philosophical transactions B: Biological Sciences

SN - 0962-8436

IS - 1783

M1 - 20190074

ER -