Why does Aristotle think bees are divine? Proportion, triplicity and order in the natural world
Lehoux, Daryn R
MetadataShow full item record
Concluding his discussion of bee reproduction in Book 3 of Generation of Animals, Aristotle makes a famous methodological pronouncement about the relationship between sense perception and theory in natural history. In the very next sentence, he casually remarks that the unique method of reproduction that he finds in bees should not be surprising, since bees have something ‘divine’ about them. Although the methodological pronouncement gets a fair bit of scholarly attention, and although Aristotle's theological commitments in cosmology and metaphysics are well known, scholars have almost universally passed over the comment about bees and divinity in silence. This paper aims to show why that comment is no mere throwaway, and offers an exploration and elaboration of the ways in which divinity operates even at fairly mundane levels in his natural philosophy, as an important Aristotelian explanation for order, proportion and rationality, even in the lowest of animals.