Aristotle Essay, Research Paper
Aristotle was born in Stagira, on the peninsula of Chalcidice in Macedon, N Greece (hence his nickname “the Stagirite”). His father was Nichomachus, court physician to Amyntas III of Macedonia (the father of Philip II of Macedon and grandfather of Alexander the Great), and he was no doubt introduced to Greek medicine and biology at an early age. In 367 BC, after his father’s death he was sent to Athens, and became first a pupil then a teacher at Plato’s Academy. He remained there for 20 years, until Plato’s death in 347 BC, and gained a particular reputation in rhetoric. Plato was succeeded as head of the Academy by his nephew Speusippus. Perhaps in pique, but more probably because of the rise of anti-Macedonian feeling in Athens, Aristotle left the city to travel for some 12 years with other colleagues and friends from the Academy, notably Theophrastus (his own pupil and eventual successor at the Lyceum). He went first to the new town of Assus in Asia Minor, where Hermeias of Atarneus had invited him to help set up a new school, and where he worked particularly on political theory. He there married Hermeias’ niece, Pythias, and after her early death either married Herpyllis or took her as his mistress. In addition to Pythias’ daughter (also called Pythias), he and Herpyllis had a son, Nicomachus (named after his father). He was an affectionate and faithful husband, and a caring parent. After three years at the Assus Academy, Aristotle then moved to join a new philosophical circle at Mytilene on Lesbos, where he developed his interest in and study of biology. In c.343 BC, he was invited by Philip II of Macedon to educate his son, the future Alexander the Great. He was tutor to Alexander for three years, but his influence seems to have been negligible. After a brief spell on his father’s property at Stagira, Aristotle returned to Athens in 335 BC to found his own school, the Lyceum (near the temple of Apollo Lyceius), where he taught for the next 12 years. His followers became known as peripatetics, supposedly from his practice of walking up and down the peripatos (covered walkway) of the gymnasium during his lectures. He made the Lyceum into a major research center, specializing in history, biology, and zoology, thus complementing the mathematical emphasis of the Platonists at the Academy. Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, and there was a strong anti-Macedonian reaction in Athens. Aristotle, of course, had long-standing Macedonian connections, and took refuge in Chalcis in Euboea, reportedly saying that he was saving the Athenians from sinning twice against philosophy (Socrates being their first victim). He died the following year. Aristotle had many views on government. He believed that a constitutional republic was the best attainable form of government, but in a country with large population, a democracy was more likely to occur. The best form of government is that which will allow the people to live in the happiest manner. To do this, the state should be the right size to retain self-sufficiency. Those engaged in trade or commerce should not take part in government. It should support the religious worship of all peoples. It should secure morality through early education, law, and training.
His views on currency started with bartering. Bartering across nations soon becomes difficult, so currency is invented. It starts with metal coinage, but eventually turns into a simple stamped document. But the system eventually is based only on the idea of supply and demand. If a certain product is wanted badly enough, the buyers will give more of their own goods. Currency merely represents the demand of the people. It is meant to secure fairness. Usury is an abnormal and culpable use of currency. He believed that the government should guide education in all areas, to widen the interests of all people, and make them true freemen. He thought there were four main branches of education: reading and writing, Gymnastics, music, and painting. All of these must be studied to create a liberal spirit. All education should be a training of our sympathies so we know how to correctly love and hate. Aristotle’s work represents an enormous encyclopedic output over virtually every field of knowledge: logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics, rhetoric, poetry, biology, zoology, physics, and psychology. Indeed, he established many of the areas of enquiry, which are today recognizable as separate subjects; and in several cases gave them their names and special terminology. Particular themes that run through his work are the emphasis on teleological explanations, and his analyses of such fundamental dichotomies as matter and form, potentiality and actuality, substance and accident, and particulars and universals. His popular published writings are all lost, and the bulk of the work that survives consists of unpublished material in the form of lecture notes or students’ textbooks which were edited and published by Andronicus of Rhodes in the middle of the first century BC, but even this incomplete corpus is extraordinary for its range, originality, systematization, and sophistication. It exerted an enormous influence on mediaeval philosophy (especially through Aquinas), on Islamic philosophy (especially through Averroes), and indeed on the whole Western intellectual and scientific tradition. During the Renaissance he was dubbed “the Master of those that know”, or simply “the Philosopher”. Aristotle’s most widely read books today include the Organon (treatises on logic), Metaphysics (the book written after Physics), Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Poetics, and De Anima.
Aristotle in Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy from Thales to Aristotle edited By S. Cohen, P. Curd, C.D.C. Reed. Hackett Publishing Company Inc. United States, 1995. Aristotle. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Internet: http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/a/aristotl.htm ——————————————————————————–