Aristotle

Aristotle (sculpture)

Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs; 384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. Along with Plato, he is often considered to be one of the two most influential philosophers in Western thought. He wrote many books about physics, poetry, zoology, logic, government, and biology.

Introduction

The three most influential ancient Greek philosophers were Aristotle, Plato (a teacher of Aristotle) and Socrates (ca. 470 BC-399 BC), whose thinking deeply influenced Plato. Among them they transformed Presocratic Greek philosophy into the foundations of Western philosophy as we know it. Socrates did not leave any writings, possibly as a result of the reasons articulated against writing philosophy attributed to him in Plato's dialogue Phaedrus. His ideas are therefore known to us only indirectly, through Plato and a few other writers. The writings of Plato and Aristotle form the core of Ancient philosophy.

Their works, although connected in many fundamental ways, are very different in both style and substance. Plato mainly wrote philosophical dialogues, that is, arguments in the form of conversations, usually with Socrates as a participant. Though the early dialogues are concerned mainly with methods of acquiring knowledge and most of the last ones with justice and practical ethics, his most famous works expressed a synoptic view of ethics, metaphysics, reason, knowledge and human life. The fundamental idea of Plato is that knowledge gained through the senses is always confused and impure; true knowledge being acquired by the contemplative soul that turns away from the world. To attain such true knowledge, the philosopher must make use of the "royal science" of dialectic. One of the necessary obstacles of dialectic is dialogue itself which guides the interlocutors away from the paths to truth. The soul alone can have knowledge of the Forms, the real essences of things, of which the world we see is but an imperfect copy. Such knowledge has ethical as well as scientific importance. Plato can be called, with qualification, an idealist and a rationalist.

Aristotle, by contrast, placed much more value on knowledge gained from the senses and would correspondingly be better classed among modern empiricists (see materialism and empiricism). He also achieved a "grounding" of dialectic in the Topics by allowing interlocutors to begin from commonly held beliefs Endoxa; his goal being non-contradiction rather than Truth. He set the stage for what would eventually develop into the scientific method centuries later. Although he wrote dialogues early in his career, no more than fragments of these have survived. The works of Aristotle that still exist today are in treatise form and were, for the most part, unpublished texts. These were probably lecture notes or texts used by his students, and were almost certainly revised repeatedly over the course of years. As a result, these works tend to be eclectic, dense and difficult to read. Among the most important ones are Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics.

Aristotle is known for being one of the few figures in history who studied almost every subject possible at the time. In science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics,and zoology. In philosophy, Aristotle wrote on aesthetics, economics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, psychology, rhetoric and theology. He also dealt with education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His combined works practically comprise an encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.

History and influence of Aristotle's work

Aristotle (with the features of Bramante) depicted by Raphael holding his Ethics: detail from the Vatican fresco The School of Athens, 1510 – 1511

The history of Aristotle's works from the time of his death until the 1st century BC is obscure. Legend has it that Aristotle's personal library, including the manuscripts of his works, was left to his successor Theophrastus and was later hidden to avoid confiscation or destruction; finally, the manuscripts were rediscovered in 70 BC. Andronicus of Rhodes then edited and published the works. In the interim, however, the works could hardly have been forgotten, since Aristotle's school, the Lyceum, was in operation the whole time.

The majority of Aristotle's work has been lost, some since Classical times. There is a glimpse of what we have lost in the praise given by Cicero to the eloquence of Aristotle's dialogues. The surviving works are known and respected for a plain and unadorned (though not easy) style; not one is a dialogue. Some lost works of Aristotle may have survived in hard-to-restore carbonised form at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, currently under excavation.

In late antiquity Aristotle fell nearly out of sight. Early Christian writers such as Tertullian rejected philosophy altogether as a pagan study that was made obsolete by the Gospels. In the 5th century Saint Augustine used Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy in his theology, but had no use for Aristotle. At the end of the century, however, Boethius undertook to translate the works of Aristotle and other Greeks into Latin, as the teaching of Greek was being lost in the West; his translations and commentaries were nearly all that was known of Greek philosophy in the West for several centuries. In fact, his Consolation of Philosophy was the most widely published non-religious text during the ensuing decades, and its Aristotelian overtones had immense impact on Christendom.

Aristotle's works were read during the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, however, and the Islamic philosopher Averroes commented extensively on it and attempted to fuse it with Islamic theology. Maimonides also tried this with Judaism. By the 12th century there was a great revival of interest in Aristotle in Christian Europe, and the great translator William of Moerbeke worked from both Greek and Arabic manuscripts to produce Latin translations. Aristotle's works were commented on by Thomas Aquinas and became the standard philosophical approach of the high and later Middle Ages. Aristotle's works were held in such esteem that he was known as The Philosopher. Dante calls Aristotle the “master knower” and places him in Limbo with the Good Pagans such as Socrates and Plato in the Divine Comedy (Canto IV).

Indeed, the views of Aristotle became the dogma of scholastic philosophy. It was this dogma that was rejected by the philosophers of the early modern period, such as Galileo and Descartes.

Aristotle's theories about drama, in particular the idea of the dramatic unities, also influenced later playwrights, especially in France. He claimed to be describing the Greek theatre, but his work was taken as prescriptive. In more recent times there has been a new revival of interest in Aristotle. His ethical views in particular remain influential.

See also: Aristotle's theory of universals, accidental properties

The article Aristotelian logic discusses the influence of Aristotle's Organon. See also the article Term Logic that outlines the system of traditional logic based on the Organon, that survived until the twentieth century.

Aristotle's moral philosophy was specifically singled out by Alasdair MacIntyre in his book entitled After Virtue as being an exemplar of older forms of moral discourse which he deemed as being in better shape.

Biography

Early life and studies at the Academy

A bust of Aristotle is a nearly ubiquitous ornament in places of high culture in the West.

Aristotle was born at Stageira, a colony of Andros on the Macedonian peninsula of Chalcidice in 384 BC. His father, Nicomachus, was court physician to King Amyntas III of Macedon. It is believed that Aristotle's ancestors held this position under various kings of Macedonia. As such, Aristotle's early education would probably have consisted of instruction in medicine and biology from his father. About his mother, Phaestis, little is known. It is known that she died early in Aristotle's life. When Nicomachus also died, in Aristotle's tenth year, he was left an orphan and placed under the guardianship of his uncle, Proxenus of Atarneus. He taught Aristotle Greek, rhetoric, and poetry (O'Connor et al., 2004). Aristotle was probably influenced by his father's medical knowledge; when he went to Athens at the age of 18, he was likely already trained in the investigation of natural phenomena.

From the ages of 18 to 37 Aristotle remained in Athens as a pupil of Plato and distinguished himself at the Academy. The relations between Plato and Aristotle have formed the subject of various legends, many of which depict Aristotle unfavourably. No doubt there were divergences of opinion between Plato, who took his stand on sublime, idealistic principles, and Aristotle, who even at that time showed a preference for the investigation of the facts and laws of the physical world. It is also probable that Plato suggested that Aristotle needed restraining rather than encouragement, but not that there was an open breach of friendship. In fact, Aristotle's conduct after the death of Plato, his continued association with Xenocrates and other Platonists, and his allusions in his writings to Plato's doctrines prove that while there were conflicts of opinion between Plato and Aristotle, there was no lack of cordial appreciation or mutual forbearance. Besides this, the legends that reflect Aristotle unfavourably are traceable to the Epicureans, who were known as slanderers. If such legends were circulated widely by patristic writers such as Justin Martyr and Gregory Nazianzen, the reason lies in the exaggerated esteem Aristotle was held in by the early Christian heretics, not in any well-grounded historical tradition.

Aristotle as philosopher and tutor

After the death of Plato (347 BC), Aristotle was considered as the next head of the Academy, a post that was eventually awarded to Plato's nephew. Aristotle then went with Xenocrates to the court of Hermias, ruler of Atarneus in Asia Minor, and married his niece and adopted daughter, Pythia. In 344 BC, Hermias was murdered in a rebellion, and Aristotle went with his family to Mytilene. It is also reported that he stopped on Lesbos and briefly conducted biological research. Then, one or two years later, he was summoned to Pella, the Macedonian capital, by King Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor of Alexander the Great, who was then 13.

Plutarch wrote that Aristotle not only imparted to Alexander a knowledge of ethics and politics, but also of the most profound secrets of philosophy. We have much proof that Alexander profited by contact with the philosopher, and that Aristotle made prudent and beneficial use of his influence over the young prince (although Bertrand Russell disputes this). Due to this influence, Alexander provided Aristotle with ample means for the acquisition of books and the pursuit of his scientific investigation.

It is possible that Aristotle also participated in the education of Alexander's boyhood friends, which may have included for example Hephaestion and Harpalus. Aristotle maintained a long correspondence with Hephaestion, eventually collected into a book, unfortunately now lost.

According to sources such as Plutarch and Diogenes, Philip had Aristotle's hometown of Stageira burned during the 340s BC, and Aristotle successfully requested that Alexander rebuild it. During his tutorship of Alexander, Aristotle was reportedly considered a second time for leadership of the Academy; his companion Xenocrates was selected instead.

Founder and master of the Lyceum

In about 335 BC, Alexander departed for his Asiatic campaign, and Aristotle, who had served as an informal adviser (more or less) since Alexander ascended the Macedonian throne, returned to Athens and opened his own school of philosophy. He may, as Aulus Gellius says, have conducted a school of rhetoric during his former residence in Athens; but now, following Plato's example, he gave regular instruction in philosophy in a gymnasium dedicated to Apollo Lyceios, from which his school has come to be known as the Lyceum. (It was also called the Peripatetic School because Aristotle preferred to discuss problems of philosophy with his pupils while walking up and down -- peripateo -- the shaded walks -- peripatoi -- around the gymnasium).

During the thirteen years (335 BC–322 BC) which he spent as teacher of the Lyceum, Aristotle composed most of his writings. Imitating Plato, he wrote Dialogues in which his doctrines were expounded in somewhat popular language. He also composed the several treatises (which will be mentioned below) on physics, metaphysics, and so forth, in which the exposition is more didactic and the language more technical than in the Dialogues. These writings show to what good use he put the resources Alexander had provided for him. They show particularly how he succeeded in bringing together the works of his predecessors in Greek philosophy, and how he pursued, either personally or through others, his investigations in the realm of natural phenomena. Pliny claimed that Alexander placed under Aristotle's orders all the hunters, fishermen, and fowlers of the royal kingdom and all the overseers of the royal forests, lakes, ponds and cattle-ranges, and Aristotle's works on zoology make this statement more believable. Aristotle was fully informed about the doctrines of his predecessors, and Strabo asserted that he was the first to accumulate a great library.

During the last years of Aristotle's life the relations between him and Alexander became very strained, owing to the disgrace and punishment of Callisthenes, whom Aristotle had recommended to Alexander. Nevertheless, Aristotle continued to be regarded at Athens as a friend of Alexander and a representative of Macedonia. Consequently, when Alexander's death became known in Athens, and the outbreak occurred which led to the Lamian war, Aristotle shared in the general unpopularity of the Macedonians. The charge of impiety, which had been brought against Anaxagoras and Socrates, was now, with even less reason, brought against Aristotle. He left the city, saying (according to many ancient authorities) that he would not give the Athenians a chance to sin a third time against philosophy. He took up residence at his country house at Chalcis, in Euboea, and there he died the following year, 322 BC. His death was due to a disease, reportedly 'of the stomach', from which he had long suffered. The story that his death was due to hemlock poisoning, as well as the legend that he threw himself into the sea "because he could not explain the tides," is without historical foundation.

Very little is known about Aristotle's personal appearance except from hostile sources. The statues and busts of Aristotle, possibly from the first years of the Peripatetic School, represent him as sharp and keen of countenance, and somewhat below the average height. His character—as revealed by his writings, his will (which is undoubtedly genuine), fragments of his letters and the allusions of his unprejudiced contemporaries—was that of a high-minded, kind-hearted man, devoted to his family and his friends, kind to his slaves, fair to his enemies and rivals, grateful towards his benefactors. When Platonism ceased to dominate the world of Christian speculation, and the works of Aristotle began to be studied without fear and prejudice, the personality of Aristotle appeared to the Christian writers of the 13th century, as it had to the unprejudiced pagan writers of his own day, as calm, majestic, untroubled by passion, and undimmed by any great moral defects, "the master of those who know".

Methodology

Aristotle defines philosophy in terms of essence, saying that philosophy is "the science of the universal essence of that which is actual". Plato had defined it as the "science of the idea", meaning by idea what we should call the unconditional basis of phenomena. Both pupil and master regard philosophy as concerned with the universal; Aristotle, however, finds the universal in particular things, and called it the essence of things, while Plato finds that the universal exists apart from particular things, and is related to them as their prototype or exemplar. For Aristotle, therefore, philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences, while for Plato philosophic method means the descent from a knowledge of universal ideas to a contemplation of particular imitations of those ideas. In a certain sense, Aristotle's method is both inductive and deductive, while Plato's is essentially deductive.

In Aristotle's terminology, the term natural philosophy corresponds to the phenomena of the natural world, which include: motion, light, and the laws of physics. Many centuries later these subjects would later become the basis of modern science, as studied through the scientific method. The term philosophy is distinct from metaphysics, which is what moderns term philosophy.

In the larger sense of the word, he makes philosophy coextensive with reasoning, which he also called "science". Note, however, that his use of the term science carries a different meaning than that which is covered by the scientific method. "All science (dianoia) is either practical, poetical or theoretical." By practical science he understands ethics and politics; by poetical, he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts; while by theoretical philosophy he means physics, mathematics, and metaphysics.

The last, philosophy in the stricter sense, he defines as "the knowledge of immaterial being," and calls it "first philosophy", "the theologic science" or of "being in the highest degree of abstraction." If logic, or, as Aristotle calls it, Analytic, be regarded as a study preliminary to philosophy, we have as divisions of Aristotelian philosophy (1) Logic; (2) Theoretical Philosophy, including Metaphysics, Physics, Mathematics, (3) Practical Philosophy; and (4) Poetical Philosophy.

Aristotle's logic

Main article: Aristotelian logic

History

Aristotle "says that 'on the subject of reasoning' he 'had nothing else on an earlier date to speak about'" (Bocheński, 1951). However, Plato reports that syntax was thought of before him, by Prodikos of Keos, who was concerned by the right use of words. Logic seems to have emerged from dialectics, the earlier philosophers used concepts like reductio ad absurdum as a rule when discussing, but never understood its logical implications. Even Plato had difficulties with logic. Although he had the idea of constructing a system for deduction, he was never able to construct one. Instead, he relied on his dialectic, which was a confusion between different sciences and methods (Bocheński, 1951). Plato thought that deduction would simply follow from premises, so he focused on having good premises so that the conclusion would follow. Later on, Plato realised that a method for obtaining the conclusion would be beneficial. Plato never obtained such a method, but his best attempt was published in his book Sophist, where he introduced his division method (Rose, 1968).

Analytics and the Organon

What we call today Aristotelian logic, Aristotle himself would have labelled analytics. The term logic he reserved to mean dialectics. Most of Aristotle's work is probably not authentic, since it was most likely edited by students and later lecturers. The logical works of Aristotle were compiled into six books at about the time of Christ:

  1. Categories
  2. On Interpretation
  3. Prior Analytics
  4. Posterior Analytics
  5. Topics
  6. On Sophistical Refutations

The order of the books (or the teachings from which they are composed) is not certain, but this list was derived from analysis of Aristotle's writings. There is one volume of Aristotle's concerning logic not found in the Organon, namely the fourth book of Metaphysics. (Bocheński, 1951).

Modal logic

Aristotle is also the creator of syllogisms with modalities (modal logic). The word modal refers to the word 'modes', explaining the fact that modal logic deals with the modes of truth. Aristotle introduced the qualification of 'necessary' and 'possible' premises. He constructed a logic which helped in the evaluation of truth but which was very difficult to interpret. (Rose, 1968).


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(Rose, 1968). In addition, he also converted his 24th consecutive save, breaking the club record held by Mel Rojas. He constructed a logic which helped in the evaluation of truth but which was very difficult to interpret. He shares the record with Lee Smith and John Wetteland. Aristotle introduced the qualification of 'necessary' and 'possible' premises. In June 2005, Chad tied the major league record for saves in a month with 15. The word modal refers to the word 'modes', explaining the fact that modal logic deals with the modes of truth. Chad Cordero (born March 18, 1982 in Upland, California) is a current right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who plays for the Washington Nationals.

Aristotle is also the creator of syllogisms with modalities (modal logic). There is one volume of Aristotle's concerning logic not found in the Organon, namely the fourth book of Metaphysics. (Bocheński, 1951). The order of the books (or the teachings from which they are composed) is not certain, but this list was derived from analysis of Aristotle's writings. The logical works of Aristotle were compiled into six books at about the time of Christ:.

Most of Aristotle's work is probably not authentic, since it was most likely edited by students and later lecturers. The term logic he reserved to mean dialectics. What we call today Aristotelian logic, Aristotle himself would have labelled analytics. Plato never obtained such a method, but his best attempt was published in his book Sophist, where he introduced his division method (Rose, 1968).

Later on, Plato realised that a method for obtaining the conclusion would be beneficial. Plato thought that deduction would simply follow from premises, so he focused on having good premises so that the conclusion would follow. Instead, he relied on his dialectic, which was a confusion between different sciences and methods (Bocheński, 1951). Although he had the idea of constructing a system for deduction, he was never able to construct one.

Even Plato had difficulties with logic. Logic seems to have emerged from dialectics, the earlier philosophers used concepts like reductio ad absurdum as a rule when discussing, but never understood its logical implications. However, Plato reports that syntax was thought of before him, by Prodikos of Keos, who was concerned by the right use of words. Aristotle "says that 'on the subject of reasoning' he 'had nothing else on an earlier date to speak about'" (Bocheński, 1951).

Main article: Aristotelian logic. The last, philosophy in the stricter sense, he defines as "the knowledge of immaterial being," and calls it "first philosophy", "the theologic science" or of "being in the highest degree of abstraction." If logic, or, as Aristotle calls it, Analytic, be regarded as a study preliminary to philosophy, we have as divisions of Aristotelian philosophy (1) Logic; (2) Theoretical Philosophy, including Metaphysics, Physics, Mathematics, (3) Practical Philosophy; and (4) Poetical Philosophy. "All science (dianoia) is either practical, poetical or theoretical." By practical science he understands ethics and politics; by poetical, he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts; while by theoretical philosophy he means physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. Note, however, that his use of the term science carries a different meaning than that which is covered by the scientific method.

In the larger sense of the word, he makes philosophy coextensive with reasoning, which he also called "science". The term philosophy is distinct from metaphysics, which is what moderns term philosophy. Many centuries later these subjects would later become the basis of modern science, as studied through the scientific method. In Aristotle's terminology, the term natural philosophy corresponds to the phenomena of the natural world, which include: motion, light, and the laws of physics.

In a certain sense, Aristotle's method is both inductive and deductive, while Plato's is essentially deductive. For Aristotle, therefore, philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences, while for Plato philosophic method means the descent from a knowledge of universal ideas to a contemplation of particular imitations of those ideas. Both pupil and master regard philosophy as concerned with the universal; Aristotle, however, finds the universal in particular things, and called it the essence of things, while Plato finds that the universal exists apart from particular things, and is related to them as their prototype or exemplar. Plato had defined it as the "science of the idea", meaning by idea what we should call the unconditional basis of phenomena.

Aristotle defines philosophy in terms of essence, saying that philosophy is "the science of the universal essence of that which is actual". When Platonism ceased to dominate the world of Christian speculation, and the works of Aristotle began to be studied without fear and prejudice, the personality of Aristotle appeared to the Christian writers of the 13th century, as it had to the unprejudiced pagan writers of his own day, as calm, majestic, untroubled by passion, and undimmed by any great moral defects, "the master of those who know". His character—as revealed by his writings, his will (which is undoubtedly genuine), fragments of his letters and the allusions of his unprejudiced contemporaries—was that of a high-minded, kind-hearted man, devoted to his family and his friends, kind to his slaves, fair to his enemies and rivals, grateful towards his benefactors. The statues and busts of Aristotle, possibly from the first years of the Peripatetic School, represent him as sharp and keen of countenance, and somewhat below the average height.

Very little is known about Aristotle's personal appearance except from hostile sources. The story that his death was due to hemlock poisoning, as well as the legend that he threw himself into the sea "because he could not explain the tides," is without historical foundation. His death was due to a disease, reportedly 'of the stomach', from which he had long suffered. He took up residence at his country house at Chalcis, in Euboea, and there he died the following year, 322 BC.

He left the city, saying (according to many ancient authorities) that he would not give the Athenians a chance to sin a third time against philosophy. The charge of impiety, which had been brought against Anaxagoras and Socrates, was now, with even less reason, brought against Aristotle. Consequently, when Alexander's death became known in Athens, and the outbreak occurred which led to the Lamian war, Aristotle shared in the general unpopularity of the Macedonians. Nevertheless, Aristotle continued to be regarded at Athens as a friend of Alexander and a representative of Macedonia.

During the last years of Aristotle's life the relations between him and Alexander became very strained, owing to the disgrace and punishment of Callisthenes, whom Aristotle had recommended to Alexander. Aristotle was fully informed about the doctrines of his predecessors, and Strabo asserted that he was the first to accumulate a great library. Pliny claimed that Alexander placed under Aristotle's orders all the hunters, fishermen, and fowlers of the royal kingdom and all the overseers of the royal forests, lakes, ponds and cattle-ranges, and Aristotle's works on zoology make this statement more believable. They show particularly how he succeeded in bringing together the works of his predecessors in Greek philosophy, and how he pursued, either personally or through others, his investigations in the realm of natural phenomena.

These writings show to what good use he put the resources Alexander had provided for him. He also composed the several treatises (which will be mentioned below) on physics, metaphysics, and so forth, in which the exposition is more didactic and the language more technical than in the Dialogues. Imitating Plato, he wrote Dialogues in which his doctrines were expounded in somewhat popular language. During the thirteen years (335 BC–322 BC) which he spent as teacher of the Lyceum, Aristotle composed most of his writings.

(It was also called the Peripatetic School because Aristotle preferred to discuss problems of philosophy with his pupils while walking up and down -- peripateo -- the shaded walks -- peripatoi -- around the gymnasium). He may, as Aulus Gellius says, have conducted a school of rhetoric during his former residence in Athens; but now, following Plato's example, he gave regular instruction in philosophy in a gymnasium dedicated to Apollo Lyceios, from which his school has come to be known as the Lyceum. In about 335 BC, Alexander departed for his Asiatic campaign, and Aristotle, who had served as an informal adviser (more or less) since Alexander ascended the Macedonian throne, returned to Athens and opened his own school of philosophy. During his tutorship of Alexander, Aristotle was reportedly considered a second time for leadership of the Academy; his companion Xenocrates was selected instead.

According to sources such as Plutarch and Diogenes, Philip had Aristotle's hometown of Stageira burned during the 340s BC, and Aristotle successfully requested that Alexander rebuild it. Aristotle maintained a long correspondence with Hephaestion, eventually collected into a book, unfortunately now lost. It is possible that Aristotle also participated in the education of Alexander's boyhood friends, which may have included for example Hephaestion and Harpalus. Due to this influence, Alexander provided Aristotle with ample means for the acquisition of books and the pursuit of his scientific investigation.

We have much proof that Alexander profited by contact with the philosopher, and that Aristotle made prudent and beneficial use of his influence over the young prince (although Bertrand Russell disputes this). Plutarch wrote that Aristotle not only imparted to Alexander a knowledge of ethics and politics, but also of the most profound secrets of philosophy. Then, one or two years later, he was summoned to Pella, the Macedonian capital, by King Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor of Alexander the Great, who was then 13. It is also reported that he stopped on Lesbos and briefly conducted biological research.

In 344 BC, Hermias was murdered in a rebellion, and Aristotle went with his family to Mytilene. Aristotle then went with Xenocrates to the court of Hermias, ruler of Atarneus in Asia Minor, and married his niece and adopted daughter, Pythia. After the death of Plato (347 BC), Aristotle was considered as the next head of the Academy, a post that was eventually awarded to Plato's nephew. If such legends were circulated widely by patristic writers such as Justin Martyr and Gregory Nazianzen, the reason lies in the exaggerated esteem Aristotle was held in by the early Christian heretics, not in any well-grounded historical tradition.

Besides this, the legends that reflect Aristotle unfavourably are traceable to the Epicureans, who were known as slanderers. In fact, Aristotle's conduct after the death of Plato, his continued association with Xenocrates and other Platonists, and his allusions in his writings to Plato's doctrines prove that while there were conflicts of opinion between Plato and Aristotle, there was no lack of cordial appreciation or mutual forbearance. It is also probable that Plato suggested that Aristotle needed restraining rather than encouragement, but not that there was an open breach of friendship. No doubt there were divergences of opinion between Plato, who took his stand on sublime, idealistic principles, and Aristotle, who even at that time showed a preference for the investigation of the facts and laws of the physical world.

The relations between Plato and Aristotle have formed the subject of various legends, many of which depict Aristotle unfavourably. From the ages of 18 to 37 Aristotle remained in Athens as a pupil of Plato and distinguished himself at the Academy. Aristotle was probably influenced by his father's medical knowledge; when he went to Athens at the age of 18, he was likely already trained in the investigation of natural phenomena. He taught Aristotle Greek, rhetoric, and poetry (O'Connor et al., 2004).

When Nicomachus also died, in Aristotle's tenth year, he was left an orphan and placed under the guardianship of his uncle, Proxenus of Atarneus. It is known that she died early in Aristotle's life. About his mother, Phaestis, little is known. As such, Aristotle's early education would probably have consisted of instruction in medicine and biology from his father.

It is believed that Aristotle's ancestors held this position under various kings of Macedonia. His father, Nicomachus, was court physician to King Amyntas III of Macedon. Aristotle was born at Stageira, a colony of Andros on the Macedonian peninsula of Chalcidice in 384 BC. Aristotle's moral philosophy was specifically singled out by Alasdair MacIntyre in his book entitled After Virtue as being an exemplar of older forms of moral discourse which he deemed as being in better shape.

See also the article Term Logic that outlines the system of traditional logic based on the Organon, that survived until the twentieth century. The article Aristotelian logic discusses the influence of Aristotle's Organon. See also: Aristotle's theory of universals, accidental properties. His ethical views in particular remain influential.

In more recent times there has been a new revival of interest in Aristotle. He claimed to be describing the Greek theatre, but his work was taken as prescriptive. Aristotle's theories about drama, in particular the idea of the dramatic unities, also influenced later playwrights, especially in France. It was this dogma that was rejected by the philosophers of the early modern period, such as Galileo and Descartes.

Indeed, the views of Aristotle became the dogma of scholastic philosophy. Aristotle's works were held in such esteem that he was known as The Philosopher. Dante calls Aristotle the “master knower” and places him in Limbo with the Good Pagans such as Socrates and Plato in the Divine Comedy (Canto IV). Aristotle's works were commented on by Thomas Aquinas and became the standard philosophical approach of the high and later Middle Ages. By the 12th century there was a great revival of interest in Aristotle in Christian Europe, and the great translator William of Moerbeke worked from both Greek and Arabic manuscripts to produce Latin translations.

Maimonides also tried this with Judaism. Aristotle's works were read during the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, however, and the Islamic philosopher Averroes commented extensively on it and attempted to fuse it with Islamic theology. In fact, his Consolation of Philosophy was the most widely published non-religious text during the ensuing decades, and its Aristotelian overtones had immense impact on Christendom. At the end of the century, however, Boethius undertook to translate the works of Aristotle and other Greeks into Latin, as the teaching of Greek was being lost in the West; his translations and commentaries were nearly all that was known of Greek philosophy in the West for several centuries.

In the 5th century Saint Augustine used Platonic and Neo-Platonic philosophy in his theology, but had no use for Aristotle. Early Christian writers such as Tertullian rejected philosophy altogether as a pagan study that was made obsolete by the Gospels. In late antiquity Aristotle fell nearly out of sight. Some lost works of Aristotle may have survived in hard-to-restore carbonised form at the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, currently under excavation.

The surviving works are known and respected for a plain and unadorned (though not easy) style; not one is a dialogue. There is a glimpse of what we have lost in the praise given by Cicero to the eloquence of Aristotle's dialogues. The majority of Aristotle's work has been lost, some since Classical times. In the interim, however, the works could hardly have been forgotten, since Aristotle's school, the Lyceum, was in operation the whole time.

Andronicus of Rhodes then edited and published the works. Legend has it that Aristotle's personal library, including the manuscripts of his works, was left to his successor Theophrastus and was later hidden to avoid confiscation or destruction; finally, the manuscripts were rediscovered in 70 BC. The history of Aristotle's works from the time of his death until the 1st century BC is obscure. His combined works practically comprise an encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.

He also dealt with education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. In philosophy, Aristotle wrote on aesthetics, economics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, psychology, rhetoric and theology. In science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics,and zoology. Aristotle is known for being one of the few figures in history who studied almost every subject possible at the time.

Among the most important ones are Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics. As a result, these works tend to be eclectic, dense and difficult to read. These were probably lecture notes or texts used by his students, and were almost certainly revised repeatedly over the course of years. The works of Aristotle that still exist today are in treatise form and were, for the most part, unpublished texts.

Although he wrote dialogues early in his career, no more than fragments of these have survived. He set the stage for what would eventually develop into the scientific method centuries later. He also achieved a "grounding" of dialectic in the Topics by allowing interlocutors to begin from commonly held beliefs Endoxa; his goal being non-contradiction rather than Truth. Aristotle, by contrast, placed much more value on knowledge gained from the senses and would correspondingly be better classed among modern empiricists (see materialism and empiricism).

Plato can be called, with qualification, an idealist and a rationalist. Such knowledge has ethical as well as scientific importance. The soul alone can have knowledge of the Forms, the real essences of things, of which the world we see is but an imperfect copy. One of the necessary obstacles of dialectic is dialogue itself which guides the interlocutors away from the paths to truth.

To attain such true knowledge, the philosopher must make use of the "royal science" of dialectic. The fundamental idea of Plato is that knowledge gained through the senses is always confused and impure; true knowledge being acquired by the contemplative soul that turns away from the world. Though the early dialogues are concerned mainly with methods of acquiring knowledge and most of the last ones with justice and practical ethics, his most famous works expressed a synoptic view of ethics, metaphysics, reason, knowledge and human life. Plato mainly wrote philosophical dialogues, that is, arguments in the form of conversations, usually with Socrates as a participant.

Their works, although connected in many fundamental ways, are very different in both style and substance. The writings of Plato and Aristotle form the core of Ancient philosophy. His ideas are therefore known to us only indirectly, through Plato and a few other writers. Socrates did not leave any writings, possibly as a result of the reasons articulated against writing philosophy attributed to him in Plato's dialogue Phaedrus.

Among them they transformed Presocratic Greek philosophy into the foundations of Western philosophy as we know it. 470 BC-399 BC), whose thinking deeply influenced Plato. The three most influential ancient Greek philosophers were Aristotle, Plato (a teacher of Aristotle) and Socrates (ca. .

He wrote many books about physics, poetry, zoology, logic, government, and biology. Along with Plato, he is often considered to be one of the two most influential philosophers in Western thought. Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs; 384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. On Sophistical Refutations.

Topics. Posterior Analytics. Prior Analytics. On Interpretation.

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