6 Things Aristotle Got Wrong

October 2, 2014 3:56 PM

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6 Things Aristotle Got Wrong

Everyone knows that Aristotle was a great thinker. He invented logic, he wrote the Politics, Poetics and Metaphysics -- philosophers read them still. But fewer people know that he was also a great scientist -- and the first one. He was the first person to understand that theories about how the natural world works have to be tested by the evidence of our senses: by empirical reality. He wrote about physics, cosmology and chemistry but, above all, he loved biology. He collected thousands of facts about animals and plants and then, in a dozen books, explained them. It's the greatest scientific system ever erected by one man. But even Aristotle's greatest fans -- and I count myself among them -- have to concede that he got some things wrong.

Aristotle says that women have fewer teeth than men. It's unclear why he thinks this. Maybe he counted his young wife's teeth and found she didn't have her wisdoms. But teeth are the least of Aristotle's problems with women. Compared to men, he says, they are "immature," "deficient," "deformed"; the...

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