Clinical Gynecology and Aristotle's Biology

23 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2007


Although Aristotle was an avid researcher into the processes of sexual reproduction many of his statements show that he had limited access to the bodies of women. But the gathering of professional opinions and empirical observations before proceeding with his own theorizing on any subject was central to Aristotle's methodology and it is inconceivable that he would have failed to do this on the topic of women too. In this paper I wish to argue that the Aristotelian corpus as it has been transmitted to us contains a treatise, On Failure to Reproduce, authored by a doctor, whom I shall call Ps.-Aristotle, and that Aristotle's reproductive theories were developed in part as a reaction to this text.

Keywords: Aristotle, Hippocratics, ancient biology, ancient medicine, endoxa, Historia Animalium, gynecology, ancient reproductive theories

Suggested Citation

Dean-Jones, Lesley, Clinical Gynecology and Aristotle's Biology. Available at SSRN: or

Lesley Dean-Jones (Contact Author)

The University of Texas at Austin ( email )

1 University Station, C3400
Austin, TX 78712
United States

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