Aristotle - Brief Summary

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Reply Wed 27 Sep, 2006 02:27 pm
384-322 , Greek philosopher, b. Stagira. He is sometimes called the Stagirite.

Aristotle's father, Nicomachus, was a noted physician. Aristotle studied (367-347 ) under Plato at the Academy and there wrote many dialogues that were praised for their eloquence. Only fragments of these dialogues are extant. He tutored (342-c.339 ) Alexander the Great at the Macedonian court, left to live in Stagira, and then returned to Athens. In 335 he opened a school in the Lyceum; some distinguished members of the Academy followed him. His practice of lecturing in the Lyceum's portico, or covered walking place (peripatos), gave his school the name Peripatetic. During the anti-Macedonian agitation after Alexander's death, Aristotle fled in 323 to Chalcis, where he died.

Aristotle's extant writings consist largely of his written versions of his lectures; some passages appear to be interpolations of notes made by his students; the texts were edited and given their present form by Andronicus of Rhodes in the 1st cent. Chief among them are the Organum, consisting of six treatises on logic; Physics; Metaphysics; De Anima [on the soul]; Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics; De Poetica [poetics]; Rhetoric; and a series of works on biology and physics. In the late 19th cent. his Constitution of Athens, an account of Athenian government, was found.

PhilosophyLogic and Metaphysics
was the sequence that all logical thought follows. He introduced the notion of category into logic and taught that reality could be classified according to several categories-substance (the primary category), quality, quantity, relation, determination in time and space, action, passion or passivity, position, and condition.Aristotle also taught that knowledge of a thing, beyond its classification and description, requires an explanation of Aristotle placed great emphasis in his school on direct observation of nature, and in science he taught that theory must follow fact. He considered philosophy to be the discerning of the self-evident, changeless first principles that form the basis of all knowledge. Logic was for Aristotle the necessary tool of any inquiry, and the syllogism causality, or why it is. He posited four causes or principles of explanation: the material cause (the substance of which the thing is made); the formal cause (its design); the efficient cause (its maker or builder); and the final cause (its purpose or function). In modern thought the efficient cause is generally considered the central explanation of a thing, but for Aristotle the final cause had primacy.He used this account of causes to examine the relation of form to matter, and in his conclusions differed sharply from those of his teacher, Plato. Aristotle believed that a form, with the exception of the Prime Mover, or God, had no separate existence, but rather was immanent in matter. Thus, in the Aristotelian system, form and matter together constitute concrete individual realities; the Platonic system holds that a concrete reality partakes of a form (the ideal) but does not embody it. Aristotle believed that form caused matter to move and defined motion as the process by which the potentiality of matter (the thing itself) became the actuality of form (motion itself). He held that the Prime Mover alone was pure form and as the "unmoved mover" and final cause was the goal of all motion.

Ethics and Other Aspects
Aristotle's ethical theory reflects his metaphysics. Following Plato, he argued that the goodness or virtue of a thing lay in the realization of its specific nature. The highest good for humans is the complete and habitual exercise of the specifically human function-rationality. Rationality is exercised through the practice of two kinds of virtue, moral and intellectual. Aristotle emphasized the traditional Greek notion of moral virtue as the mean between extremes. Well-being (eudaemonia) is the pursuit not of pleasure (hedonism) but rather of the Good, a composite ideal, consisting of contemplation (the intellectual life) and, subordinate to that, engagement in politics (the moral life). In the Politics, Aristotle holds that, by nature, humans form political associations, and he explores the best forms these may take. For Aristotle's aesthetic views, which are set forth in the Poetics, see tragedy.


After the decline of Rome, Aristotle's work was lost in the West. However, in the 9th cent., Arab scholars introduced Aristotle to Islam, and Muslim theology, philosophy, and natural science all took on an Aristotelian cast. It was largely through Arab and Jewish scholars that Aristotelian thought was reintroduced in the West. His works became the basis of medieval scholasticism; much of Roman Catholic theology shows, through St. Thomas Aquinas, Aristotelian influence. There has also been a revival of Aristotelian influence on philosophy in the 20th cent. His teleological approach has continued to be central to biology, but it was banished from physics by the scientific revolution of the 17th cent. His work in astronomy, later elaborated by Ptolemy, was controverted by the investigations of Copernicus and Galileo.

BibliographySee edition of his works by R. P. McKeon (1941); J. H. Randall, Aristotle (1960); G. E. R. Lloyd, Aristotle (1968); J. Barnes, Aristotle (1982); J. D. Evans, Aristotle (1987); J. Lear, Aristotle (1988); T. Irwin, Aristotle's First Principles (1989).
Reply Mon 21 May, 2007 12:21 pm
I would apprecite hearing the members thoughts regarding Aristotle's encorporation of First Principles, deliberation, use of intelligence as such as described in Book VI to arrive at a virtuous state. I realize this is a tremendously broad subject/question, but I think it will suffice for a starting point....
Reply Tue 26 Jun, 2007 03:27 pm
I think his spoken word was probably more enhancing than his written word, since much of his thought process was probably stalled while writing.

I wasn't there personally, but you know what I mean.

If you could narrow down the field, perhaps it would yield better's an interesting topic to discuss.
Reply Wed 22 Aug, 2007 01:02 am
Hi Aristoddler;

Reply Fri 28 Jul, 2017 09:18 pm
Thank you, nice work
alethes sophia
Reply Fri 11 Aug, 2017 07:42 pm
Me thinks you -- and Aristotle -- are totally mistaken about what "forms" are.

Aristotle is a plagiarist, a slanderer, a hypocrite, a panderer, and a bad philosopher (eg, he sets up "straw-men" and then argues them down).

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