Arisostle Essay, Research Paper
AISTOTLE Aristotle was born in 384 BC and lived until 322 BC. He was a Greek philosopher and scientist,who shares with Plato being considered the most famous of ancient philosophers. He was born atStagira, in Macedonia, the son of a physician to the royal court. When he was 17, he went to Athensto study at Plato’s Academy. He stayed for about 20 years, as a student and then as a teacher. When Plato died in 347 BC, Aristotle moved to Assos, a city in Asia Minor, where a friendof his named Hermias was the ruler. He counseled Hermias and married his niece and adopteddaughter, Pythias (wierd names, huh). After Hermias was captured and executed by the Persians,Aristotle went to Pella, Macedonia’s capital, and became the tutor of the king’s young sonAlexander, later known as Alexander the Great. In 335, when Alexander became king, Aristotlewent back to Athens and established his own school, the Lyceum.Since a lot of the lessonshappenned when teachers and students were walking, it was nicknamed the Peripatetic school(Peripatetic means walking). When Alexander died in 323 BC, strong anti-Macedonian feelingwas felt in Athens, and Aristotle went to a family estate in Euboea. He died there the followingyear.Aristotle, like Plato, used his dialogue in his beginning years at the Academy. Apart from afew fragments in the works of later writers, his dialogues have been wholly lost. Aristotle also wrotesome short technical writings, including a dictionary of philosophic terms and a summary of the”doctrines of Pythagoras” (the guy from the Pythagorean Theorem). Of these, only a few short pieceshave survived. Still in good shape, though, are Aristotle’s lecture notes for carefully outlined coursestreating almost every type of knowledge and art. The writings that made him famous are mostly these,which were collected by other editors. . Among the writings are short informative lectures on logic, called Organon(which means “instrument”), because “they provide the means by which positive knowledge is to be attained”(They’re not my words, I’m quoting him). His writing on natural science include Physics,which gives a huge amount of information on astronomy, meteorology, plants, and animals. Hiswritings on the nature, scope, and properties of being, (I know what one of them means!) whichAristotle called First Philosophy (to him it was “Prote philosophia”), were given the title Metaphysicsin the first published version of his works (around 60 BC), because in that edition they followedPhysics. His belief of the “Prime Mover”, or first cause, was pure intellect, perfect in unity,immutable,and, as he said, “the thought of thought,” is given in the Metaphysics. Other famous works include hisRhetoric, his Poetics (which we only have incomplete pieces of), and his Politics (also incomplete).Because of the influence of his father’s medical profession, Aristotle’s philosophy was mainly stressedon biology, the opposite of Plato’s emphasis on mathematics. Aristotle regarded the world as “madeup of individuals (substances) occurring in fixed natural kinds (species)” (more confusing quotes,yippey!). He said “each individual has its built-in specific pattern of development and grows toward
proper self-realization as a specimen of its type. Growth, purpose, and direction are thus built intonature.” Although science studies many things, according to Aristotle, “these things find their existencein particular individuals. Science and philosophy must therefore balance, not simply choose between,the claims of empiricism (observation and sense experience) and formalism (rational deduction).”One of the most famous of Aristotle’s contributions was a new notion of causality. “Each thing orevent,” he thought, “has more than one ‘reason’ that helps to explain what, why, and where it is.”Earlier Greek thinkers thought that only one sort of cause can explain itself; Aristotle said four. (Theword Aristotle uses, aition, “a responsible, explanatory factor” is not th same as the word cause now.)These four causes are the “material cause”, (the matter out of which a thing is made); the “efficientcause”, (the source of motion, generation, or change); the “formal cause”, (the species, kind, or type);and “the final cause”, (the goal, or full development, of an individual, or the intended function of aconstruction or invention.) Although I don’t know what these mean, they sound philosiphical.anexample he gave is “a young lion is made up of tissues and organs, its material cause; the efficientcause is its parents, who generated it; the formal cause is its species, lion; and its final cause is itsbuilt-in drive toward maturity.” Another example he gave is “the material cause of a statue is the marblefrom which it was carved; the efficient cause is the sculptor; the formal cause is the shape the sculptorrealized Hermes, perhaps; and the final cause is its function, to be a work of fine art.”In each wy, Aristotle says that something can be better understood when its causes can be said inspecific terms rather than in general terms. So it is more informative to know that a “sculptor” madethe statue than to know that an “artist” made it; and even more informative to know that “Polycleitus”chiseled it rather than simply that a “sculptor” did so. In astronomy, Aristotle proposed a finite, spherical universe, with the earth at its center. Thecenter is made up of four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. In Aristotle’s physics, all of thesefourelements has a right place, determined by its relative heaviness, its “specific gravity.” Each movesnaturally in a straight line. Earth goes down, fire up toward its proper place, where it will be at rest. SoEarth’s motion is always in a line and always comes to a halt. The heavens, though, move “naturallyand endlessly in a complex circular motion”. The heavens, according to, must be made of a fifth, anddifferent element, which he called “aither.” The strongest element, aither can’t change other thanchange of place in a circle movement. Aristotle’s theory that linear motion always takes place througha resisting medium is actually true for all planets that we can see motions.Honestly, to me it seems like Aristotle was crazy. Many of his theories were completely false,and I don’t really understand why he is so famous. If I started saying the things he says now, I’d bethrown into a mental hospital.