Patricia Fara

Collecting Cuttlefish on Lesbos

The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science

By

Bloomsbury 512pp £25 order from our bookshop

Aristotle and Plato – their names conjure up thoughts of stone busts showing serene elderly men with long curly beards. Perhaps these revered Greek philosophers really did look like that at some stage in their lives, but according to the evolutionary biologist Armand Marie Leroi, Plato was so irascible that he once threw his favourite dog down a well and his student Aristotle was an overdressed dandy who compensated for his small eyes and thin legs by sporting plenty of jewellery and an elaborate hairstyle. Leroi also sets out to challenge traditional impressions of their intellectual activities. He makes little mention of the usual philosophical sound bites – shadows on the walls of a cave or syllogistic puzzles about the mortality of men. Instead, in Leroi’s revisionist version of the Academy in Athens, Plato emerges as an anti-scientific mythmaker mindlessly obsessed with numbers, while Aristotle is cast as the world’s first scientist and the founding father of biology.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,