Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Aristotle on The Position of The Heart

Aristotle’s teleology is riddled with value judgements. He uses the concept of "honor" to explain why the heart is located in a certain region of the human body. Here’s an excerpt from Armand Marie Leroi’s The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science:
[Aristotle] says that the position of the heart in the middle of the body is dictated by its embryonic origins. But it is also located more above than below and more before than behind, ‘For nature when allocating places puts more honourable things in more honourable positions, unless something more important prevents this’ — the language suggests the seating plan at a dinner. One may wonder why, then, the human heart (actually its apex) is located on the inferior left, but Aristotle has inserted a caveat — ‘when nature does nothing…’ — and gives a patently ad hoc explanation that it’s needed there to ‘balance the cooling of things on the left’. He thinks, of course, that the right hand side of the body being more honourable, is hotter than the left, and that this is especially so in humans, and so the heart has to shift to compensate for the left’s relative coolness.
Leroi points out that Platonic influence is most obvious when Aristotle considers man. 

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