The Place of Human Beings in the Natural Environment - Aristotle’s Philosophy of Biology and the Dominant Anthropocentric Reading of Genesis


  • Giulia Mingucci University of Bologna



Anthropocentrism, Christian tradition, Genesis, Aristotle


In a seminal essay from 1967, historian Lynn White, Jr., argues that the profound cause of today’s environmental crisis is the anthropocentric perspective, embedded in the Christian “roots” of Western tradition, which assigns an intrinsic value to human beings solely. Though White’s thesis relies on a specific tradition – the so-called “dominant anthropocentric reading” of Genesis – the idea that anthropocentrism provides the ideological basis for the exploitation of nature has proven tenacious, and even today is the ground assumption of the historical and philosophical debate on environmental issues. This paper investigates the possible impact on this debate of a different kind of anthropocentrism: Aristotle’s philosophy of biology. The topic is controversial, since it involves opposing traditions of interpretations; for the purpose of the present paper, the dominant anthropocentric reading of Gen. 1.28 will be analyzed, and the relevant passages from Aristotle’s De Partibus Animalium, showing his commitment to a more sophisticated anthropocentric perspective, will be reviewed.


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How to Cite

Mingucci, G. (2021). The Place of Human Beings in the Natural Environment - Aristotle’s Philosophy of Biology and the Dominant Anthropocentric Reading of Genesis. Journal of Ancient Philosophy, 15(2), 210-225.