Aristotle (/ˈærɪˌstɒtəl/; Greek:
pronounced [aristotélɛːs]; 384–322 BC)[A] was a
philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder
of the Lyceum and the
Peripatetic school of philosophy and
Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered
the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects
– including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics,
aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics,
economics, politics and government.
Aristotle provided a complex
synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it
was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its
intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a
result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every
form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of
contemporary philosophical discussion.
Little is known about his life.
Aristotle was born in the city of
Stagira in Northern Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when
Aristotle was a child, and he was brought up by a guardian. At
seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined
Plato's Academy in
Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347
BC). Shortly after
at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great
beginning in 343 BC. He established a library in the Lyceum
which helped him to produce many of his hundreds of books on papyrus
Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues
for publication, only around a third of his original output has
survived, none of it intended for publication.
The fact that
Aristotle was a pupil of
Plato contributed to his former
views of Platonism, but, following Plato's death,
an increased interest in natural sciences and adopted the position of
immanent realism. Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly
shaped medieval scholarship. Their influence extended from Late
Antiquity and the
Early Middle Ages
Early Middle Ages into the Renaissance, and were not
replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as
classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle's zoological observations found
in his biology, such as on the hectocotyl (reproductive) arm of the
octopus, were disbelieved until the 19th century. His works contain
the earliest known formal study of logic, studied by medieval scholars
Peter Abelard and John Buridan. Aristotle's influence on logic
also continued well into the 19th century
He influenced Islamic thought during the Middle Ages, as well as
Christian theology, especially the
Neoplatonism of the Early Church
and the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church.
revered among medieval Muslim scholars as "The First Teacher" and
among medieval Christians like
Thomas Aquinas as simply "The
Philosopher". His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed
interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics, such as in the
Alasdair MacIntyre and Philippa Foot.
2 Speculative philosophy
2.1.1 Analytics and the Organon
2.3.1 Substance, potentiality and actuality
Universals and particulars
3 Natural philosophy
3.1.1 Five elements
3.1.3 Four causes
3.1.5 Chance and spontaneity
3.4.1 Empirical research
3.4.2 Scientific style
3.4.3 Classification of living things
4 Practical philosophy
4.1 Just war theory
Rhetoric and poetics
4.6 Views on women
5.1 On his successor, Theophrastus
5.2 On later Greek philosophers
5.3 On Hellenistic science
5.4 On Byzantine scholars
5.5 On the medieval Islamic world
5.6 On medieval Europe
Early Modern scientists
5.8 On 19th-century thinkers
5.9 Modern rejection and rehabilitation
6 Surviving works
6.1 Corpus Aristotelicum
6.2 Loss and preservation
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Aristotle in Mieza, Macedonia, Greece
In general, the details of Aristotle's life are not well-established.
The biographies written in ancient times are often speculative and
historians only agree on a few salient points.[B]
Aristotle, whose name means "the best purpose" in Ancient
Greek, was born in 384 BC in Stagira, Chalcidice,
about 55 km (34 miles) east of modern-day
Thessaloniki. His father Nicomachus was the
personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Both of Aristotle's
parents died when he was about thirteen, and Proxenus of Atarneus
became his guardian. Although little information about
Aristotle's childhood has survived, he probably spent some time within
the Macedonian palace, making his first connections with the
At the age of seventeen or eighteen,
Aristotle moved to
continue his education at Plato's Academy. He remained
there for nearly twenty years before leaving
Athens in 348/47 BC.
The traditional story about his departure records that he was
disappointed with the Academy's direction after control passed to
Plato's nephew Speusippus, although it is possible that he feared the
anti-Macedonian sentiments in
Athens at that time and left before
Aristotle then accompanied
Xenocrates to the
court of his friend
Hermias of Atarneus in Asia Minor. After the death
Aristotle travelled with his pupil
Theophrastus to the
island of Lesbos, where together they researched the botany and
zoology of the island and its sheltered lagoon. While in Lesbos,
Aristotle married Pythias, either Hermias's adoptive daughter or
niece. She bore him a daughter, whom they also named Pythias. In 343
Aristotle was invited by
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor
to his son Alexander.
Portrait bust of Aristotle; an Imperial Roman (1st or 2nd century
AD) copy of a lost bronze sculpture made by Lysippos
Aristotle was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon.
During Aristotle's time in the Macedonian court, he gave lessons not
only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings:
Aristotle encouraged Alexander toward eastern
conquest and Aristotle's own attitude towards
Persia was unabashedly
ethnocentric. In one famous example, he counsels Alexander to be "a
leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the
former as after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as
with beasts or plants". By 335 BC,
returned to Athens, establishing his own school there known as the
Aristotle conducted courses at the school for the next twelve
years. While in Athens, his wife
Pythias died and
Herpyllis of Stagira, who bore him a son whom he named
after his father, Nicomachus. According to the Suda, he also had an
Palaephatus of Abydus.
This period in Athens, between 335 and 323 BC, is when
believed to have composed many of his works. He wrote many
dialogues, of which only fragments have survived. Those works that
have survived are in treatise form and were not, for the most part,
intended for widespread publication; they are generally thought to be
lecture aids for his students. His most important treatises include
Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics,
On the Soul
On the Soul and
Aristotle studied and made significant contributions to
"logic, metaphysics, mathematics, physics, biology, botany, ethics,
politics, agriculture, medicine, dance and theatre."
Near the end of his life, Alexander and
Aristotle became estranged
over Alexander's relationship with
Persia and Persians. A widespread
tradition in antiquity suspected
Aristotle of playing a role in
Alexander's death, but the only evidence of this is an unlikely claim
made some six years after the death. Following Alexander's
death, anti-Macedonian sentiment in
Athens was rekindled. In
322 BC, Demophilus and
Eurymedon the Hierophant reportedly
Aristotle for impiety, prompting him to flee to
his mother's family estate in Chalcis, on Euboea, at which occasion
he was said to have stated: "I will not allow the Athenians to sin
twice against philosophy" – a
reference to Athens's trial and execution of Socrates. He died on
Euboea of natural causes later that same year, having named his
Antipater as his chief executor and leaving a will in which he
asked to be buried next to his wife.
Main article: Term logic
Further information: Non-Aristotelian logic
With the Prior Analytics,
Aristotle is credited with the earliest
study of formal logic, and his conception of it was the
dominant form of Western logic until 19th-century advances in
mathematical logic. Kant stated in the Critique of Pure
Reason that with
Aristotle logic reached its completion.
Analytics and the Organon
Main article: Organon
One of Aristotle's types of syllogism[C]
All men are mortal. All
Greeks are men.∴ All Greeks are mortal.
M a PS a MS a P
What we today call Aristotelian logic with its types of syllogism
(methods of logical argument),
Aristotle himself would
have labelled "analytics". The term "logic" he reserved to mean
dialectics. Most of Aristotle's work is probably not in its original
form, because it was most likely edited by students and later
lecturers. The logical works of
Aristotle were compiled into a set of
six books called the
Organon around 40 BC by
Andronicus of Rhodes or
others among his followers. The books are:
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. It goes from the basics, the analysis of simple terms in the
Categories, the analysis of propositions and their elementary
relations in On Interpretation, to the study of more complex forms,
namely, syllogisms (in the Analytics) and
dialectics (in the Topics and Sophistical Refutations). The first
three treatises form the core of the logical theory stricto sensu: the
grammar of the language of logic and the correct rules of reasoning.
Rhetoric is not conventionally included, but it states that it
relies on the Topics.
Plato (left) and
Aristotle in Raphael's 1509 fresco, The School of
Aristotle holds his Nicomachean
Ethics and gestures to the
earth, representing his view that knowledge comes from experience,
Plato gestures to the heavens, indicating his Theory of Forms,
and holds his Timaeus.
Like his teacher Plato, Aristotle's philosophy aims at the universal.
Aristotle's ontology places the universal (katholou) in particulars
(kath' hekaston), things in the world, whereas for
Plato the universal
is a separately existing form which actual things imitate. This means
that Aristotle's epistemology is based on the study of things that
exist or happen in the world, and rises to knowledge of the universal,
Plato epistemology begins with knowledge of universal
Forms (or ideas) and descends to knowledge of particular imitations of
these. For Aristotle, "form" is still what phenomena are
based on, but is "instantiated" in a particular substance.
Aristotle uses induction from examples alongside deduction, whereas
Plato relies on deduction from a priori principles.
In Aristotle's terminology, "natural philosophy" is a branch of
philosophy examining the phenomena of the natural world, and includes
fields that would be regarded today as physics, biology and other
natural sciences. Aristotle's work encompassed virtually all facets of
Aristotle makes philosophy in the broad sense
coextensive with reasoning, which he also would describe as "science".
Note, however, that his use of the term science carries a different
meaning than that covered by the term "scientific method". For
Aristotle, "all science (dianoia) is either practical, poetical or
Metaphysics 1025b25). His practical science includes
ethics and politics; his poetical science means the study of fine arts
including poetry; his theoretical science covers physics, mathematics
The word "metaphysics" appears to have been coined by the first
century AD editor who assembled various small selections of
Aristotle's works to the treatise we know by the name
Aristotle called it "first philosophy", and
distinguished it from mathematics and natural science (physics) as the
contemplative (theoretikē) philosophy which is "theological" and
studies the divine. He wrote in his
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there were no other independent things besides the composite natural
ones, the study of nature would be the primary kind of knowledge; but
if there is some motionless independent thing, the knowledge of this
precedes it and is first philosophy, and it is universal in just this
way, because it is first. And it belongs to this sort of philosophy to
study being as being, both what it is and what belongs to it just by
virtue of being.
Substance, potentiality and actuality
Hylomorphism and Potentiality and actuality
Aristotle examines the concepts of substance (ousia) and essence (to
ti ên einai, "the what it was to be") in his
Metaphysics (Book VII),
and he concludes that a particular substance is a combination of both
matter and form, a philosophical theory called hylomorphism. In Book
VIII, he distinguishes the matter of the substance as the substratum,
or the stuff of which it is composed. For example, the matter of a
house is the bricks, stones, timbers etc., or whatever constitutes the
potential house, while the form of the substance is the actual house,
namely 'covering for bodies and chattels' or any other differentia
that let us define something as a house. The formula that gives the
components is the account of the matter, and the formula that gives
the differentia is the account of the form.
With regard to the change (kinesis) and its causes now, as he defines
On Generation and Corruption
On Generation and Corruption 319b–320a, he
distinguishes the coming to be from:
growth and diminution, which is change in quantity;
locomotion, which is change in space; and
alteration, which is change in quality.
Aristotle argued that a capability like playing the flute could be
acquired – the potential made actual – by learning.
The coming to be is a change where nothing persists of which the
resultant is a property. In that particular change he introduces the
concept of potentiality (dynamis) and actuality (entelecheia) in
association with the matter and the form. Referring to potentiality,
this is what a thing is capable of doing, or being acted upon, if the
conditions are right and it is not prevented by something else. For
example, the seed of a plant in the soil is potentially (dynamei)
plant, and if it is not prevented by something, it will become a
plant. Potentially beings can either 'act' (poiein) or 'be acted upon'
(paschein), which can be either innate or learned. For example, the
eyes possess the potentiality of sight (innate – being acted upon),
while the capability of playing the flute can be possessed by learning
(exercise – acting). Actuality is the fulfilment of the end of the
potentiality. Because the end (telos) is the principle of every
change, and for the sake of the end exists potentiality, therefore
actuality is the end. Referring then to our previous example, we could
say that an actuality is when a plant does one of the activities that
For that for the sake of which (to hou heneka) a thing is, is its
principle, and the becoming is for the sake of the end; and the
actuality is the end, and it is for the sake of this that the
potentiality is acquired. For animals do not see in order that they
may have sight, but they have sight that they may see.
In summary, the matter used to make a house has potentiality to be a
house and both the activity of building and the form of the final
house are actualities, which is also a final cause or end. Then
Aristotle proceeds and concludes that the actuality is prior to
potentiality in formula, in time and in substantiality. With this
definition of the particular substance (i.e., matter and form),
Aristotle tries to solve the problem of the unity of the beings, for
example, "what is it that makes a man one"? Since, according to Plato
there are two Ideas: animal and biped, how then is man a unity?
However, according to Aristotle, the potential being (matter) and the
actual one (form) are one and the same.
Universals and particulars
Plato's forms exist as universals, like the ideal form of an apple.
For Aristotle, both matter and form belong to the individual thing
Main article: Aristotle's theory of universals
Plato argued that all things have a universal form, which could be
either a property or a relation to other things. When we look at an
apple, for example, we see an apple, and we can also analyse a form of
an apple. In this distinction, there is a particular apple and a
universal form of an apple. Moreover, we can place an apple next to a
book, so that we can speak of both the book and apple as being next to
Plato argued that there are some universal forms that are
not a part of particular things. For example, it is possible that
there is no particular good in existence, but "good" is still a proper
Aristotle disagreed with
Plato on this point, arguing
that all universals are instantiated at some period of time, and that
there are no universals that are unattached to existing things. In
Aristotle disagreed with
Plato about the location of
Plato spoke of the world of forms, a place where all
universal forms subsist,
Aristotle maintained that universals exist
within each thing on which each universal is predicated. So, according
to Aristotle, the form of apple exists within each apple, rather than
in the world of the forms.
Aristotle's "natural philosophy" spans a wide range of natural
phenomena including those now covered by physics, biology and other
The four classical elements (fire, air, water, earth) of Empedocles
Aristotle illustrated with a burning log. The log releases all
four elements as it is destroyed.
Main article: Aristotelian physics
Main article: Classical element
In his On Generation and Corruption,
Aristotle related each of the
four elements proposed earlier by Empedocles, Earth, Water, Air, and
Fire, to two of the four sensible qualities, hot, cold, wet, and dry.
In the Empedoclean scheme, all matter was made of the four elements,
in differing proportions. Aristotle's scheme added the heavenly
Aether, the divine substance of the heavenly spheres, stars and
Modern stateof matter
Further information: History of classical mechanics
Aristotle describes two kinds of motion: "violent" or "unnatural
motion", such as that of a thrown stone, in the
Physics (254b10), and
"natural motion", such as of a falling object, in On the Heavens
(300a20). In violent motion, as soon as the agent stops causing it,
the motion stops also; in other words, the natural state of an object
is to be at rest,[F] since
Aristotle does not
address friction. With this understanding, it can be
observed that, as
Aristotle stated, heavy objects (on the ground, say)
require more force to make them move; and objects pushed with greater
force move faster.[G] This would imply the
incorrect in modern physics.
Natural motion depends on the element concerned: the aether naturally
moves in a circle around the heavens,[H] while the 4
Empedoclean elements move vertically up (like fire, as is observed) or
down (like earth) towards their natural resting
Aristotle's laws of motion. In
Physics he states that objects fall
at a speed proportional to their weight and inversely proportional to
the density of the fluid they are immersed in. This is a
correct approximation for objects in Earth's gravitational field
moving in air or water.
Aristotle effectively states a quantitative
law, that the speed, v, of a falling body is proportional (say, with
constant c) to its weight, W, and inversely proportional to the
density,[J] ρ, of the fluid in which it is
displaystyle v=c frac W rho
Aristotle implies that in a vacuum the speed of fall would become
infinite, and concludes from this apparent absurdity that a vacuum is
not possible. Opinions have varied on whether
Aristotle intended to state quantitative laws. Henri Carteron held the
"extreme view" that Aristotle's concept of force was
basically qualitative, but other authors reject
Archimedes corrected Aristotle's theory that bodies move towards their
natural resting places; metal boats can float if they displace enough
water; floating depends in Archimedes' scheme on the mass and volume
of the object, not as
Aristotle thought its elementary
Aristotle's writings on motion remained influential until the Early
John Philoponus (in the Middle Ages) and Galileo are
said to have shown by experiment that Aristotle's claim that a heavier
object falls faster than a lighter object is incorrect. A
contrary opinion is given by Carlo Rovelli, who argues that
Aristotle's physics of motion is correct within its domain of
validity, that of objects in the Earth's gravitational field immersed
in a fluid such as air. In this system, heavy bodies in steady fall
indeed travel faster than light ones (whether friction is ignored, or
not), and they do fall more slowly in a denser
Newton's "forced" motion corresponds to Aristotle's "violent" motion
with its external agent, but Aristotle's assumption that the agent's
effect stops immediately it stops acting (e.g., the ball leaves the
thrower's hand) has awkward consequences: he has to suppose that
surrounding fluid helps to push the ball along to make it continue to
rise even though the hand is no longer acting on it, resulting in the
Medieval theory of impetus.
Main article: Four causes
Aristotle argued by analogy with woodwork that a thing takes its
form from four causes: in the case of a table, the wood used (material
cause), its design (formal cause), the tools and techniques used
(efficient cause), and its decorative or practical purpose (final
Aristotle suggested that the reason for anything coming about can be
attributed to four different types of simultaneously active factors.
His term aitia is traditionally translated as "cause", but it does not
always refer to temporal sequence; it might be better translated as
"explanation", but the traditional rendering will be employed
Material cause describes the material out of which something is
composed. Thus the material cause of a table is wood. It is not about
action. It does not mean that one domino knocks over another
The formal cause is its form, i.e., the arrangement of that matter. It
tells us what a thing is, that a thing is determined by the
definition, form, pattern, essence, whole, synthesis or archetype. It
embraces the account of causes in terms of fundamental principles or
general laws, as the whole (i.e., macrostructure) is the cause of its
parts, a relationship known as the whole-part causation. Plainly put,
the formal cause is the idea in the mind of the sculptor that brings
the sculpture into being. A simple example of the formal cause is the
mental image or idea that allows an artist, architect, or engineer to
create a drawing.
The efficient cause is "the primary source", or that from which the
change under consideration proceeds. It identifies 'what makes of what
is made and what causes change of what is changed' and so suggests all
sorts of agents, nonliving or living, acting as the sources of change
or movement or rest. Representing the current understanding of
causality as the relation of cause and effect, this covers the modern
definitions of "cause" as either the agent or agency or particular
events or states of affairs. In the case of two dominoes, when the
first is knocked over it causes the second also to fall
over. In the case of animals, this agency is a combination
of how it develops from the egg, and how its body
The final cause (telos) is its purpose, the reason why a thing exists
or is done, including both purposeful and instrumental actions and
activities. The final cause is the purpose or function that something
is supposed to serve. This covers modern ideas of motivating causes,
such as volition. In the case of living things, it implies
adaptation to a particular way of life.
Further information: History of optics
Aristotle describes experiments in optics using a camera obscura in
Problems, book 15. The apparatus consisted of a dark chamber with a
small aperture that let light in. With it, he saw that whatever shape
he made the hole, the sun's image always remained circular. He also
noted that increasing the distance between the aperture and the image
surface magnified the image.
Chance and spontaneity
Further information: Accident (philosophy)
According to Aristotle, spontaneity and chance are causes of some
things, distinguishable from other types of cause such as simple
necessity. Chance as an incidental cause lies in the realm of
accidental things, "from what is spontaneous". There is also more a
specific kind of chance, which
Aristotle names "luck", that only
applies to people's moral choices.
Further information: History of astronomy
Aristotle refuted Democritus's claim that the Milky Way
was made up of "those stars which are shaded by the earth from the
sun's rays," pointing out correctly that if "the size of the sun is
greater than that of the earth and the distance of the stars from the
earth many times greater than that of the sun, then... the sun shines
on all the stars and the earth screens none of them."
Aristotle noted that the ground level of the
Aeolian islands changed
before a volcanic eruption.
Further information: History of geology
Aristotle was one of the first people to record any geological
observations. He stated that geological change was too slow to be
observed in one person's lifetime.
Charles Lyell noted that
Aristotle described such
change, including "lakes that had dried up" and "deserts that had
become watered by rivers", giving as examples the growth of the Nile
delta since the time of Homer, and "the upheaving of one of the
Aeolian islands, previous to a volcanic eruption."'
Main article: Aristotle's biology
Among many pioneering zoological observations,
the reproductive hectocotyl arm of the octopus (bottom left).
Aristotle was the first person to study biology
systematically, and biology forms a large part of his
writings. He spent two years observing and describing the zoology of
Lesbos and the surrounding seas, including in particular the Pyrrha
lagoon in the centre of Lesbos. His data in
History of Animals, Generation of Animals, Movement of Animals, and
Parts of Animals
Parts of Animals are assembled from his own observations, statements
given by people with specialised knowledge such as beekeepers and
fishermen, and less accurate accounts provided by travellers from
overseas. His apparent emphasis on animals rather than
plants is a historical accident: his works on botany have been lost,
but two books on plants by his pupil
Aristotle reports on the sea-life visible from observation on Lesbos
and the catches of fishermen. He describes the catfish, electric ray,
and frogfish in detail, as well as cephalopods such as the octopus and
paper nautilus. His description of the hectocotyl arm of cephalopods,
used in sexual reproduction, was widely disbelieved until the 19th
century. He gives accurate descriptions of the
four-chambered fore-stomachs of ruminants, and of the
ovoviviparous embryological development of the hound
He notes that an animal's structure is well matched to function, so,
among birds, the heron, which lives in marshes with soft mud and lives
by catching fish, has a long neck and long legs, and a sharp
spear-like beak, whereas ducks that swim have short legs and webbed
feet. Darwin, too, noted these sorts of differences
between similar kinds of animal, but unlike
Aristotle used the data to
come to the theory of evolution. Aristotle's writings can
seem to modern readers close to implying evolution, but while
Aristotle was aware that new mutations or hybridisations could occur,
he saw these as rare accidents. For Aristotle, accidents, like heat
waves in winter, must be considered distinct from natural causes. He
was thus critical of Empedocles's materialist theory of a "survival of
the fittest" origin of living things and their organs, and ridiculed
the idea that accidents could lead to orderly results. To
put his views into modern terms, he nowhere says that different
species can have a common ancestor, or that one kind can change into
another, or that kinds can become extinct.
Aristotle inferred growth laws from his observations on animals,
including that brood size decreases with body mass, whereas gestation
period increases. He was correct in these predictions, at least for
mammals: data are shown for mouse and elephant.
Aristotle did not do experiments in the modern sense. He
used the ancient Greek term pepeiramenoi to mean observations, or at
most investigative procedures like dissection. In
Generation of Animals, he finds a fertilised hen's egg of a suitable
stage and opens it to see the embryo's heart beating
Instead, he practised a different style of science: systematically
gathering data, discovering patterns common to whole groups of
animals, and inferring possible causal explanations from
these. This style is common in modern biology
when large amounts of data become available in a new field, such as
genomics. It does not result in the same certainty as experimental
science, but it sets out testable hypotheses and constructs a
narrative explanation of what is observed. In this sense, Aristotle's
biology is scientific.
From the data he collected and documented,
Aristotle inferred quite a
number of rules relating the life-history features of the live-bearing
tetrapods (terrestrial placental mammals) that he studied. Among these
correct predictions are the following.
Brood size decreases with
(adult) body mass, so that an elephant has fewer young (usually just
one) per brood than a mouse. Lifespan increases with gestation period,
and also with body mass, so that elephants live longer than mice, have
a longer period of gestation, and are heavier. As a final example,
fecundity decreases with lifespan, so long-lived kinds like elephants
have fewer young in total than short-lived kinds like
Classification of living things
Further information: Scala naturae
Aristotle recorded that the embryo of a dogfish was attached by a
cord to a kind of placenta (the yolk sac), like a higher animal; this
formed an exception to the linear scale from highest to
Aristotle distinguished about 500 species of
animals, arranging these in the History of
Animals in a graded scale of perfection, a scala naturae, with man at
the top. His system had eleven grades of animal, from highest
potential to lowest, expressed in their form at birth: the highest
gave live birth to hot and wet creatures, the lowest laid cold, dry
mineral-like eggs. Animals came above plants, and these in turn were
above minerals. see also: He grouped what the
modern zoologist would call vertebrates as the hotter "animals with
blood", and below them the colder invertebrates as "animals without
blood". Those with blood were divided into the live-bearing (mammals),
and the egg-laying (birds, reptiles, fish). Those without blood were
insects, crustacea (non-shelled – cephalopods, and shelled) and the
hard-shelled molluscs (bivalves and gastropods). He recognised that
animals did not exactly fit into a linear scale, and noted various
exceptions, such as that sharks had a placenta like the tetrapods. To
a modern biologist, the explanation, not available to Aristotle, is
convergent evolution. He believed that purposive final
causes guided all natural processes; this teleological view justified
his observed data as an expression of formal design.
Scala naturae (highest to lowest)
Examples(given by Aristotle)
R, S, V
Hot, Wet, except Dry eggs
Cold, Wet except scales, eggs
Water snake, Ottoman viper
Cold, Wet except scales, eggs
Sea bass, parrotfish
Cold, Wet, including eggs
(Among the egg-laying fishes):placental selachians
Cold, Wet, but placenta like tetrapods
Cold, Wet except shell
Cockle, trumpet snail
Cold, Dry (mineral shell)
Cold, Wet or Dry, from earth
Further information: On the Soul
Aristotle proposed a three-part structure for souls of plants,
animals, and humans, making humans unique in having all three types of
Aristotle's psychology, given in his treatise
On the Soul
On the Soul (peri
psychēs), posits three kinds of soul ("psyches"): the vegetative
soul, the sensitive soul, and the rational soul. Humans have a
rational soul. The human soul incorporates the powers of the other
kinds: Like the vegetative soul it can grow and nourish itself; like
the sensitive soul it can experience sensations and move locally. The
unique part of the human, rational soul is its ability to receive
forms of other things and to compare them using the nous (intellect)
and logos (reason).
For Aristotle, the soul is the form of a living being. Because all
beings are composites of form and matter, the form of living beings is
that which endows them with what is specific to living beings, e.g.
the ability to initiate movement (or in the case of plants, growth and
chemical transformations, which
Aristotle considers types of
movement). In contrast to earlier philosophers, but in
accordance with the Egyptians, he placed the rational soul in the
heart, rather than the brain. Notable is Aristotle's
division of sensation and thought, which generally differed from the
concepts of previous philosophers, with the exception of
Aristotle in On the Soul, memory is the ability to hold a
perceived experience in the mind and to distinguish between the
internal "appearance" and an occurrence in the past. In
other words, a memory is a mental picture (phantasm) that can be
Aristotle believed an impression is left on a semi-fluid
bodily organ that undergoes several changes in order to make a memory.
A memory occurs when stimuli such as sights or sounds are so complex
that the nervous system cannot receive all the impressions at once.
These changes are the same as those involved in the operations of
sensation, Aristotelian 'common sense', and
Aristotle uses the term 'memory' for the actual retaining of an
experience in the impression that can develop from sensation, and for
the intellectual anxiety that comes with the impression because it is
formed at a particular time and processing specific contents. Memory
is of the past, prediction is of the future, and sensation is of the
present. Retrieval of impressions cannot be performed suddenly. A
transitional channel is needed and located in our past experiences,
both for our previous experience and present experience.
Aristotle believes people receive all kinds of sense
perceptions and perceive them as impressions, people are continually
weaving together new impressions of experiences. To search for these
impressions, people search the memory itself. Within the
memory, if one experience is offered instead of a specific memory,
that person will reject this experience until they find what they are
looking for. Recollection occurs when one retrieved experience
naturally follows another. If the chain of "images" is needed, one
memory will stimulate the next. When people recall experiences, they
stimulate certain previous experiences until they reach the one that
is needed. Recollection is thus the self-directed activity
of retrieving the information stored in a memory
impression. Only humans can remember impressions of
intellectual activity, such as numbers and words. Animals that have
perception of time can retrieve memories of their past observations.
Remembering involves only perception of the things remembered and of
the time passed.
Senses, perception, memory, dreams, action in Aristotle's
psychology. Impressions are stored in the seat of perception, linked
Laws of Association (similarity, contrast, and contiguity).
Aristotle believed the chain of thought, which ends in recollection of
certain impressions, was connected systematically in relationships
such as similarity, contrast, and contiguity, described in his Laws of
Aristotle believed that past experiences are hidden
within the mind. A force operates to awaken the hidden material to
bring up the actual experience. According to Aristotle, association is
the power innate in a mental state, which operates upon the
unexpressed remains of former experiences, allowing them to rise and
Further information: Dream § Classical history
Aristotle describes sleep in On Sleep and Wakefulness.
Sleep takes place as a result of overuse of the senses or
of digestion, so it is vital to the body.
While a person is asleep, the critical activities, which include
thinking, sensing, recalling and remembering, do not function as they
do during wakefulness. Since a person cannot sense during sleep they
can not have desire, which is the result of sensation. However, the
senses are able to work during sleep, albeit
differently, unless they are weary.
Dreams do not involve actually sensing a stimulus. In dreams,
sensation is still involved, but in an altered manner.
Aristotle explains that when a person stares at a moving stimulus such
as the waves in a body of water, and then look away, the next thing
they look at appears to have a wavelike motion. When a person
perceives a stimulus and the stimulus is no longer the focus of their
attention, it leaves an impression. When the body is awake
and the senses are functioning properly, a person constantly
encounters new stimuli to sense and so the impressions of previously
perceived stimuli are ignored. However, during sleep the
impressions made throughout the day are noticed as there are no new
distracting sensory experiences. So, dreams result from
these lasting impressions. Since impressions are all that are left and
not the exact stimuli, dreams do not resemble the actual waking
experience. During sleep, a person is in an altered state
Aristotle compares a sleeping person to a person who is
overtaken by strong feelings toward a stimulus. For example, a person
who has a strong infatuation with someone may begin to think they see
that person everywhere because they are so overtaken by their
feelings. Since a person sleeping is in a suggestible state and unable
to make judgements, they become easily deceived by what appears in
their dreams, like the infatuated person. This leads the
person to believe the dream is real, even when the dreams are absurd
One component of Aristotle's theory of dreams disagrees with
previously held beliefs. He claimed that dreams are not foretelling
and not sent by a divine being.
Aristotle reasoned naturalistically
that instances in which dreams do resemble future events are simply
Aristotle claimed that a dream is first
established by the fact that the person is asleep when they experience
it. If a person had an image appear for a moment after waking up or if
they see something in the dark it is not considered a dream because
they were awake when it occurred. Secondly, any sensory experience
that is perceived while a person is asleep does not qualify as part of
a dream. For example, if, while a person is sleeping, a door shuts and
in their dream they hear a door is shut, this sensory experience is
not part of the dream. Lastly, the images of dreams must be a result
of lasting impressions of waking sensory experiences.
Aristotle's practical philosophy covers areas such as ethics,
politics, economics, and rhetoric.
Virtues and their accompanying vices
Lack of purpose
Just war theory
Aristotelian just war theory is not well regarded in the present day,
especially his view that warfare was justified to enslave "natural
slaves". In Aristotelian philosophy, the abolition of what he
considers "natural slavery" would undermine civic freedom. The pusuit
of freedom is inseparable from pursuing mastery over "those who
deserve to be slaves". According to The Cambridge Companion to
Politics the targets of this aggressive warfare were
non-Greeks, noting Aristotle's view that "our poets say 'it is proper
for Greeks to rule non-Greeks'".
Aristotle generally has a favorable opinion of war, extolling it as a
chance for virtue and writing that "the leisure that accompanies
peace" tends to make people "arrogant". War to "avoid becoming
enslaved to others" is justified as self-defense. He writes that war
"compels people to be just and temperate", however, in order to be
just "war must be chosen for the sake of peace" (with the exception of
wars of aggression discussed above).
Main article: Aristotelian ethics
Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical
study, i.e., one aimed at becoming good and doing good rather than
knowing for its own sake. He wrote several treatises on ethics,
including most notably, the Nicomachean Ethics.
Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function
(ergon) of a thing. An eye is only a good eye in so much as it can
see, because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle
reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans, and that
this function must be an activity of the psuchē (soul) in accordance
with reason (logos).
Aristotle identified such an optimum activity
(the virtuous mean, between the accompanying vices of excess or
deficiency) of the soul as the aim of all human deliberate
action, eudaimonia, generally translated as "happiness" or sometimes
"well being". To have the potential of ever being happy in this way
necessarily requires a good character (ēthikē aretē), often
translated as moral or ethical virtue or excellence.
Aristotle taught that to achieve a virtuous and potentially happy
character requires a first stage of having the fortune to be
habituated not deliberately, but by teachers, and experience, leading
to a later stage in which one consciously chooses to do the best
things. When the best people come to live life this way their
practical wisdom (phronesis) and their intellect (nous) can develop
with each other towards the highest possible human virtue, the wisdom
of an accomplished theoretical or speculative thinker, or in other
words, a philosopher.
In addition to his works on ethics, which address the individual,
Aristotle addressed the city in his work titled Politics. Aristotle
considered the city to be a natural community. Moreover, he considered
the city to be prior in importance to the family which in turn is
prior to the individual, "for the whole must of necessity be prior to
the part". He also famously stated that "man is by nature
a political animal" and also arguing that humanity's defining factor
among others in the animal kingdom is its rationality.
Aristotle conceived of politics as being like an organism rather than
like a machine, and as a collection of parts none of which can exist
without the others. Aristotle's conception of the city is organic, and
he is considered one of the first to conceive of the city in this
Aristotle's classifications of political constitutions
The common modern understanding of a political community as a modern
state is quite different from Aristotle's understanding. Although he
was aware of the existence and potential of larger empires, the
natural community according to
Aristotle was the city (polis) which
functions as a political "community" or "partnership" (koinōnia). The
aim of the city is not just to avoid injustice or for economic
stability, but rather to allow at least some citizens the possibility
to live a good life, and to perform beautiful acts: "The political
partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of
noble actions, not for the sake of living together." This is
distinguished from modern approaches, beginning with social contract
theory, according to which individuals leave the state of nature
because of "fear of violent death" or its "inconveniences."[L]
In Protrepticus, the character 'Aristotle' states:
For we all agree that the most excellent man should rule, i.e., the
supreme by nature, and that the law rules and alone is authoritative;
but the law is a kind of intelligence, i.e. a discourse based on
intelligence. And again, what standard do we have, what criterion of
good things, that is more precise than the intelligent man? For all
that this man will choose, if the choice is based on his knowledge,
are good things and their contraries are bad. And since everybody
chooses most of all what conforms to their own proper dispositions (a
just man choosing to live justly, a man with bravery to live bravely,
likewise a self-controlled man to live with self-control), it is clear
that the intelligent man will choose most of all to be intelligent;
for this is the function of that capacity. Hence it's evident that,
according to the most authoritative judgment, intelligence is supreme
Aristotle made substantial contributions to economic thought,
especially to thought in the Middle Ages. In Politics,
Aristotle addresses the city, property, and trade. His response to
criticisms of private property, in Lionel Robbins's view, anticipated
later proponents of private property among philosophers and
economists, as it related to the overall utility of social
Aristotle believed that although communal
arrangements may seem beneficial to society, and that although private
property is often blamed for social strife, such evils in fact come
from human nature. In Politics,
Aristotle offers one of the earliest
accounts of the origin of money.
Money came into use
because people became dependent on one another, importing what they
needed and exporting the surplus. For the sake of convenience, people
then agreed to deal in something that is intrinsically useful and
easily applicable, such as iron or silver.
Aristotle's discussions on retail and interest was a major influence
on economic thought in the Middle Ages. He had a low opinion of
retail, believing that contrary to using money to procure things one
needs in managing the household, retail trade seeks to make a profit.
It thus uses goods as a means to an end, rather than as an end unto
itself. He believed that retail trade was in this way unnatural.
Aristotle considered making a profit through interest
unnatural, as it makes a gain out of the money itself, and not from
Aristotle gave a summary of the function of money that was perhaps
remarkably precocious for his time. He wrote that because it is
impossible to determine the value of every good through a count of the
number of other goods it is worth, the necessity arises of a single
universal standard of measurement.
Money thus allows for the
association of different goods and makes them
"commensurable". He goes to on state that money is also
useful for future exchange, making it a sort of security. That is, "if
we do not want a thing now, we shall be able to get it when we do want
Rhetoric and poetics
The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the Gods (1784) by
Bénigne Gagneraux. In his Poetics,
Aristotle uses the tragedy Oedipus
Sophocles as an example of how the perfect tragedy should
be structured, with a generally good protagonist who starts the play
prosperous, but loses everything through some hamartia
Rhetoric (Aristotle) and Poetics (Aristotle)
Rhetoric proposes that a speaker can use three basic kinds
of appeals to persuade his audience: ethos (an appeal to the speaker's
character), pathos (an appeal to the audience's emotion), and logos
(an appeal to logical reasoning). He also categorises
rhetoric into three genres: epideictic (ceremonial speeches dealing
with praise or blame), forensic (judicial speeches over guilt or
innocence), and deliberative (speeches calling on an audience to make
a decision on an issue).
Aristotle also outlines two
kinds of rhetorical proofs: enthymeme (proof by syllogism) and
paradeigma (proof by example).
Aristotle writes in his Poetics that epic poetry, tragedy, comedy,
dithyrambic poetry, painting, sculpture, music, and dance are all
fundamentally acts of mimesis ("imitation"), each varying in imitation
by medium, object, and manner. He applies
the term mimesis both as a property of a work of art and also as the
product of the artist's intention and contends that the
audience's realisation of the mimesis is vital to understanding the
Aristotle states that mimesis is a natural
instinct of humanity that separates humans from
animals and that all human artistry "follows
the pattern of nature". Because of this, Aristotle
believed that each of the mimetic arts possesses what Stephen
Halliwell calls "highly structured procedures for the achievement of
their purposes." For example, music imitates with the
media of rhythm and harmony, whereas dance imitates with rhythm alone,
and poetry with language. The forms also differ in their object of
imitation. Comedy, for instance, is a dramatic imitation of men worse
than average; whereas tragedy imitates men slightly better than
average. Lastly, the forms differ in their manner of imitation –
through narrative or character, through change or no change, and
through drama or no drama.
While it is believed that Aristotle's Poetics originally comprised two
books – one on comedy and one on tragedy – only the portion that
focuses on tragedy has survived.
Aristotle taught that tragedy is
composed of six elements: plot-structure, character, style, thought,
spectacle, and lyric poetry. The characters in a tragedy
are merely a means of driving the story; and the plot, not the
characters, is the chief focus of tragedy. Tragedy is the imitation of
action arousing pity and fear, and is meant to effect the catharsis of
those same emotions.
Aristotle concludes Poetics with a discussion on
which, if either, is superior: epic or tragic mimesis. He suggests
that because tragedy possesses all the attributes of an epic, possibly
possesses additional attributes such as spectacle and music, is more
unified, and achieves the aim of its mimesis in shorter scope, it can
be considered superior to epic.
Aristotle was a keen
systematic collector of riddles, folklore, and proverbs; he and his
school had a special interest in the riddles of the Delphic Oracle and
studied the fables of Aesop.
Views on women
Main article: Aristotle's views on women
Aristotle's biology § Inheritance
Aristotle's analysis of procreation describes an active, ensouling
masculine element bringing life to an inert, passive female element.
On this ground, proponents of feminist metaphysics have accused
Aristotle of misogyny and sexism. However,
Aristotle gave equal weight to women's happiness as he did to men's,
and commented in his
Rhetoric that the things that lead to happiness
need to be in women as well as men.[M]
Further information: List of writers influenced by Aristotle
More than 2300 years after his death,
Aristotle remains one of the
most influential people who ever lived. He
contributed to almost every field of human knowledge then in
existence, and he was the founder of many new fields. According to the
philosopher Bryan Magee, "it is doubtful whether any human being has
ever known as much as he did". Among countless other
Aristotle was the founder of formal logic,
pioneered the study of zoology, and left every future scientist and
philosopher in his debt through his contributions to the scientific
method. Taneli Kukkonen,
writing in The Classical Tradition, observes that his achievement in
founding two sciences is unmatched, and his reach in influencing
"every branch of intellectual enterprise" including Western ethical
and political theory, theology, rhetoric and literary analysis is
equally long. As a result, Kukkonen argues, any analysis of reality
today "will almost certainly carry Aristotelian overtones ... evidence
of an exceptionally forceful mind."
Jonathan Barnes wrote
that "an account of Aristotle's intellectual afterlife would be little
less than a history of European thought".
On his successor, Theophrastus
Theophrastus and Historia Plantarum (Theophrastus)
Frontispiece to a 1644 version of Theophrastus's Historia Plantarum,
originally written around 300 BC
Aristotle's pupil and successor, Theophrastus, wrote the History of
Plants, a pioneering work in botany. Some of his technical terms
remain in use, such as carpel from carpos, fruit, and pericarp, from
pericarpion, seed chamber.
Theophrastus was much less concerned with formal causes than Aristotle
was, instead pragmatically describing how plants
On later Greek philosophers
Further information: Peripatetic school
The immediate influence of Aristotle's work was felt as the Lyceum
grew into the Peripatetic school. Aristotle's notable students
included Aristoxenus, Dicaearchus, Demetrius of Phalerum, Eudemos of
Rhodes, Harpalus, Hephaestion, Mnason of Phocis, Nicomachus, and
Theophrastus. Aristotle's influence over
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great is seen
in the latter's bringing with him on his expedition a host of
zoologists, botanists, and researchers. He had also learned a great
deal about Persian customs and traditions from his teacher. Although
his respect for
Aristotle was diminished as his travels made it clear
that much of Aristotle's geography was clearly wrong, when the old
philosopher released his works to the public, Alexander complained
"Thou hast not done well to publish thy acroamatic doctrines; for in
what shall I surpass other men if those doctrines wherein I have been
trained are to be all men's common property?"
On Hellenistic science
Ancient Greek medicine
After Theophrastus, the Lyceum failed to produce any original work.
Though interest in Aristotle's ideas survived, they were generally
taken unquestioningly. It is not until the age of
Alexandria under the Ptolemies that advances in biology can be again
The first medical teacher at Alexandria, Herophilus of Chalcedon,
corrected Aristotle, placing intelligence in the brain, and connected
the nervous system to motion and sensation. Herophilus also
distinguished between veins and arteries, noting that the latter pulse
while the former do not. Though a few ancient atomists
Lucretius challenged the teleological viewpoint of
Aristotelian ideas about life, teleology (and after the rise of
Christianity, natural theology) would remain central to biological
thought essentially until the 18th and 19th centuries. Ernst Mayr
states that there was "nothing of any real consequence in biology
Galen until the Renaissance."
On Byzantine scholars
Commentaries on Aristotle and Byzantine Aristotelianism
Greek Christian scribes played a crucial role in the preservation of
Aristotle by copying all the extant
Greek language manuscripts of the
corpus. The first Greek Christians to comment extensively on Aristotle
were Philoponus, Elias, and David in the sixth century, and Stephen of
Alexandria in the early seventh century. John Philoponus
stands out for having attempted a fundamental critique of Aristotle's
views on the eternity of the world, movement, and other elements of
Aristotelian thought. Philoponus questioned Aristotle's
teaching of physics, noting its flaws and introducing the theory of
impetus to explain his observations.
After a hiatus of several centuries, formal commentary by Eustratius
Michael of Ephesus reappeared in the late eleventh and early
twelfth centuries, apparently sponsored by Anna Comnena.
On the medieval Islamic world
Islamic philosophy and Transmission of
the Greek Classics
Islamic portrayal of Aristotle, c. 1220
Aristotle was one of the most revered Western thinkers in early
Islamic theology. Most of the still extant works of
Aristotle, as well as a number of the original Greek
commentaries, were translated into Arabic and studied by Muslim
philosophers, scientists and scholars. Averroes,
Alpharabius, who wrote on
Aristotle in great depth, also influenced
Thomas Aquinas and other Western Christian scholastic philosophers.
Alkindus greatly admired Aristotle's philosophy, and
Averroes spoke of
Aristotle as the "exemplar" for all future
Medieval Muslim scholars regularly
Aristotle as the "First Teacher". The title
"teacher" was first given to
Aristotle by Muslim scholars, and was
later used by Western philosophers (as in the famous poem of Dante)
who were influenced by the tradition of Islamic
On medieval Europe
Aristotle ridden by Phyllis by Hans Baldung,
Syllogism § Medieval
With the loss of the study of ancient Greek in the early medieval
Aristotle was practically unknown there from c. AD 600 to
c. 1100 except through the Latin translation of the
Organon made by
Boethius. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, interest in
Aristotle revived and Latin Christians had translations made, both
from Arabic translations, such as those by Gerard of
Cremona, and from the original Greek, such as those by
James of Venice and William of Moerbeke. After the Scholastic Thomas
Aquinas wrote his Summa Theologica, working from Moerbeke's
translations and calling
Aristotle "The Philosopher", the
demand for Aristotle's writings grew, and the Greek manuscripts
returned to the West, stimulating a revival of
Europe that continued into the Renaissance. These
thinkers blended Aristotelian philosophy with Christianity, bringing
the thought of
Ancient Greece into the Middle Ages. Scholars such as
Boethius, Peter Abelard, and
John Buridan worked on Aristotelian
The medieval English poet Chaucer describes his student as being happy
at his beddes heed
Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,
Of aristotle and his philosophie,
A cautionary medieval tale held that
Aristotle advised his pupil
Alexander to avoid the king's seductive mistress, Phyllis, but was
himself captivated by her, and allowed her to ride him. Phyllis had
secretly told Alexander what to expect, and he witnessed Phyllis
proving that a woman's charms could overcome even the greatest
philosopher's male intellect. Artists such as
Hans Baldung produced a
series of illustrations of the popular
The Italian poet Dante says of
Aristotle in The Divine Comedy:
DanteL'Inferno, Canto IV. 131–135
vidi 'l maestro di color che sanno
seder tra filosofica famiglia.
Tutti lo miran, tutti onor li fanno:
quivi vid'ïo Socrate e Platone
che 'nnanzi a li altri più presso li stanno;
I saw the Master there of those who know,
Amid the philosophic family,
By all admired, and by all reverenced;
Plato too I saw, and Socrates,
Who stood beside him closer than the rest.
Early Modern scientists
William Harvey's De Motu Cordis, 1628, showed that the blood
circulated, contrary to classical era thinking.
Early Modern period, scientists such as
William Harvey in
Galileo Galilei in Italy reacted against the theories of
Aristotle and other classical era thinkers like Galen, establishing
new theories based to some degree on observation and experiment.
Harvey demonstrated the circulation of the blood, establishing that
the heart functioned as a pump rather than being the seat of the soul
and the controller of the body's heat, as Aristotle
thought. Galileo used more doubtful arguments to displace
Aristotle's physics, proposing that bodies all fall at the same speed
whatever their weight.
On 19th-century thinkers
The 19th-century German philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche has been said
to have taken nearly all of his political philosophy from
Aristotle rigidly separated action from
production, and argued for the deserved subservience of some people
("natural slaves"), and the natural superiority (virtue, arete) of
others. It was Martin Heidegger, not Nietzsche, who elaborated a new
interpretation of Aristotle, intended to warrant his deconstruction of
scholastic and philosophical tradition.
The English mathematician
George Boole fully accepted Aristotle's
logic, but decided "to go under, over, and beyond" it with his system
of algebraic logic in his 1854 book The Laws of Thought. This gives
logic a mathematical foundation with equations, enables it to solve
equations as well as check validity, and allows it to handle a wider
class of problems by expanding propositions of any number of terms,
not just two.
Modern rejection and rehabilitation
"That most enduring of romantic images,
Aristotle tutoring the
future conqueror Alexander". Illustration by Charles
Laplante [fr], 1866
During the 20th century, Aristotle's work was widely criticised. The
philosopher Bertrand Russell
argued that "almost every serious intellectual advance has had to
begin with an attack on some Aristotelian doctrine". Russell called
Aristotle's ethics "repulsive", and labelled his logic "as definitely
antiquated as Ptolemaic astronomy". Russell stated that these errors
made it difficult to do historical justice to Aristotle, until one
remembered what an advance he made upon all of his
The Dutch historian of science
Eduard Jan Dijksterhuis
Eduard Jan Dijksterhuis wrote that
Aristotle and his predecessors showed the difficulty of science by
"proceed[ing] so readily to frame a theory of such a general
character" on limited evidence from their senses. In
1985, the biologist
Peter Medawar could still state in "pure
seventeenth century" tones that
Aristotle had assembled
"a strange and generally speaking rather tiresome farrago of hearsay,
imperfect observation, wishful thinking and credulity amounting to
By the start of the 21st century, however,
Aristotle was taken more
seriously: Kukkonen noted that "In the best 20th-century scholarship
Aristotle comes alive as a thinker wrestling with the full weight of
the Greek philosophical tradition."
Ayn Rand accredited
Aristotle as "the greatest philosopher in history" and cited him as a
major influence on her thinking. More recently, Alasdair
MacIntyre has attempted to reform what he calls the Aristotelian
tradition in a way that is anti-elitist and capable of disputing the
claims of both liberals and Nietzscheans. Kukkonen
observed, too, that "that most enduring of romantic images, Aristotle
tutoring the future conqueror Alexander" remained current, as in the
2004 film Alexander, while the "firm rules" of Aristotle's theory of
drama have ensured a role for the Poetics in Hollywood.
Biologists continue to be interested in Aristotle's thinking. Armand
Marie Leroi has reconstructed Aristotle's biology, while
Niko Tinbergen's four questions, based on Aristotle's four causes, are
used to analyse animal behaviour; they examine function, phylogeny,
mechanism, and ontogeny.
Main article: Corpus Aristotelicum
First page of a 1566 edition of the Nicomachean
Ethics in Greek and
The works of
Aristotle that have survived from antiquity through
medieval manuscript transmission are collected in the Corpus
Aristotelicum. These texts, as opposed to Aristotle's lost works, are
technical philosophical treatises from within Aristotle's school.
Reference to them is made according to the organisation of Immanuel
Bekker's Royal Prussian Academy edition (Aristotelis Opera edidit
Academia Regia Borussica, Berlin, 1831–1870), which in turn is based
on ancient classifications of these works.
Loss and preservation
Further information: Recovery of Aristotle
Aristotle wrote his works on papyrus scrolls, the common writing
medium of that era.[N] His writings are divisible into two
groups: the "exoteric", intended for the public, and the "esoteric",
for use within the Lyceum school.[O]
Aristotle's "lost" works stray considerably in characterisation from
the surviving Aristotelian corpus. Whereas the lost works appear to
have been originally written with a view to subsequent publication,
the surviving works mostly resemble lecture notes not intended for
publication. Cicero's description of
Aristotle's literary style as "a river of gold" must have applied to
the published works, not the surviving notes.[P] A major
question in the history of Aristotle's works is how the exoteric
writings were all lost, and how the ones we now possess came to
us. The consensus is that
Andronicus of Rhodes collected
the esoteric works of Aristotle's school which existed in the form of
smaller, separate works, distinguished them from those of Theophrastus
and other Peripatetics, edited them, and finally compiled them into
the more cohesive, larger works as they are known
Aristotle has been depicted by major artists including Lucas Cranach
the Elder, Justus van Gent, Raphael, Paolo Veronese,
Jusepe de Ribera, Rembrandt, and Francesco
Hayez over the centuries. Among the best-known is Raphael's fresco The
School of Athens, in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, where the figures
Aristotle are central to the image, at the architectural
vanishing point, reflecting their importance. Rembrandt's
Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, too, is a celebrated work, showing the
knowing philosopher and the blind
Homer from an earlier age: as the
art critic Jonathan Jones writes, "this painting will remain one of
the greatest and most mysterious in the world, ensnaring us in its
musty, glowing, pitch-black, terrible knowledge of
Nuremberg Chronicle anachronistically shows
Aristotle in a medieval
scholar's clothing. Ink and watercolour on paper, 1493
Aristotle by Justus van Gent. Oil on panel, c. 1476
Aristotle by Lucas Cranach the Elder. Oil on panel, 1530
Aristotle by Paolo Veronese, Biblioteka Marciana. Oil on canvas, 1560s
Aristotle and Campaspe,[Q]
Alessandro Turchi (attrib.) Oil on
Aristotle by Jusepe de Ribera. Oil on canvas, 1637
Aristotle with a Bust of
Homer by Rembrandt. Oil on canvas, 1653
Aristotle by Johann Jakob Dorner the Elder. Oil on canvas, by 1813
Aristotle by Francesco Hayez. Oil on canvas, 1811
Aristotle Mountains in
Antarctica are named after Aristotle. He
was the first person known to conjecture, in his book Meteorology, the
existence of a landmass in the southern high-latitude region and
called it Antarctica. Aristoteles is a crater on the Moon
bearing the classical form of Aristotle's name.
^ That these dates (the first half of the Olympiad year 384/383 BC,
and in 322 shortly before the death of Demosthenes) are correct was
August Boeckh (Kleine Schriften VI 195); for further
Felix Jacoby on
FGrHist 244 F 38. Ingemar Düring,
Aristotle in the Ancient Biographical Tradition, Göteborg,
^ See(Shields 2012, pp. 3–16);(Düring 1957) covers ancient
biographies of Aristotle.
^ This type of syllogism, with all three terms in 'a', is known by the
traditional (medieval) mnemonic Barbara.
^ M is the Middle (here, Men), S is the Subject (Greeks), P is the
^ The first equation can be read as 'It is not true that there exists
an x such that x is a man and that x is not mortal.'
^ Rhett Allain notes that
Newton's First Law
Newton's First Law is "essentially a direct
reply to Aristotle, that the natural state is not to change
Leonard Susskind comments that
Aristotle had clearly never gone ice
skating or he would have seen that it takes force to stop an
^ For heavenly bodies like the Sun, Moon, and stars, the observed
motions are "to a very good approximation" circular around the Earth's
centre, (for example, the apparent rotation of the sky because of the
rotation of the Earth, and the rotation of the moon around the Earth)
^ Drabkin quotes numerous passages from
Physics and On the Heavens (De
Caelo) which state Aristotle's laws of motion.
^ Drabkin agrees that density is treated quantitatively in this
passage, but without a sharp definition of density as weight per unit
^ Philoponus and Galileo correctly objected that for the transient
phase (still increasing in speed) with heavy objects falling a short
distance, the law does not apply: Galileo used balls on a short
incline to show this. Rovelli notes that "Two heavy balls with the
same shape and different weight do fall at different speeds from an
aeroplane, confirming Aristotle's theory, not Galileo's."
^ For a different reading of social and economic processes in the
Politics see Polanyi, Karl (1957) "Aristotle
Discovers the Economy" in Primitive, Archaic and Modern Economies:
Essays of Karl Polanyi ed. G. Dalton, Boston 1971, 78–115
^ "Where, as among the Lacedaemonians, the state of women is bad,
almost half of human life is spoilt."
^ "When the Roman dictator Sulla invaded
Athens in 86 BC, he brought
back to Rome a fantastic prize – Aristotle's library. Books then
were papyrus rolls, from 10 to 20 feet long, and since Aristotle's
death in 322 BC, worms and damp had done their worst. The rolls needed
repairing, and the texts clarifying and copying on to new papyrus
(imported from Egypt – Moses' bulrushes). The man in Rome who put
Aristotle's library in order was a Greek scholar,
^ Aristotle: Nicomachean
Aristotle himself never
uses the term "esoteric" or "acroamatic". For other passages where
Aristotle speaks of exōterikoi logoi, see W.D. Ross, Aristotle's
Metaphysics (1953), vol. 2 pp= 408–10. Ross defends an
interpretation according to which the phrase, at least in Aristotle's
own works, usually refers generally to "discussions not peculiar to
the Peripatetic school", rather than to specific works of Aristotle's
^ "veniet flumen orationis aureum fundens Aristoteles", (Google
Aristotle will come pouring forth a golden stream of
^ Compare the medieval tale of Phyllis and Alexander above.
^ Kantor 1963, p. 116.
^ On the Soul.
^ Collins English Dictionary.
^ a b c d
Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.).
^ a b c d Russell 1972.
^ Barnes 1995, p. 9.
^ McLeisch 1999, p. 5.
^ Aristoteles-Park in Stagira.
^ Hall 2018, p. 14.
^ Anagnostopoulos 2013, p. 4.
^ Blits 1999, pp. 58–63.
Aristotle 1984, pp. Introduction.
^ a b Shields 2016.
^ a b Green 1991, pp. 58–59.
^ Smith 2007.
^ Green 1991, p. 460.
^ Filonik 2013, pp. 72–73.
^ Jones 1980, p. 216.
^ Gigon 2017, p. 41.
^ Düring 1957, p. T44a-e..
^ Haase 1992, p. 3862.
^ Degnan 1994, pp. 81–89.
^ Corcoran 2009, pp. 1–20.
^ Kant 1787, pp. Preface.
^ a b c Lagerlund 2016.
^ Predicate Logic.
^ Pickover 2009, p. 52.
^ Prior Analytics, pp. 24b18–20.
^ Bobzien 2015.
^ a b c Smith 2017.
^ School of Athens.
^ Stewart 2019.
^ a b c d e Cohen 2016.
^ a b c d Wildberg 2016.
^ Cohen 2000.
Aristotle 1999, p. 111.
^ Metaphysics, p. VIII 1043a 10–30.
^ Metaphysics, p. IX 1050a 5–10.
^ Metaphysics, p. VIII 1045a–b.
^ Lloyd 1968, pp. 43–47.
^ a b Lloyd 1968, pp. 133–39, 166–69.
^ a b Allain 2016.
^ a b c d e f g h i Drabkin 1938, pp. 60–84.
^ a b c d e Susskind 2011.
^ a b c d e f g h i Rovelli 2015, pp. 23–40.
^ Carteron 1923, pp. 1–32 and passim.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 88–90.
^ a b c d e Lloyd 1996, pp. 96–100, 106–07.
^ Hankinson 1998, p. 159.
^ a b Leroi 2015, pp. 91–92, 369–73.
^ Physics, p. 2.6.
^ Miller 1973, pp. 204–13.
^ Meteorology, p. 1. 8.
^ Moore 1956, p. 13.
^ Meteorology, p. Book 1, Part 14.
^ Lyell 1832, p. 17.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 7.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 14.
^ Thompson 1910, p. Prefatory Note.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 196, 248.
^ Day 2013, pp. 5805–16.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 66–74, 137.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 118–19.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 73.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 135–36.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 206.
^ Sedley 2007, p. 189.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 273.
^ Taylor 1922, p. 42.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 361–65.
^ Leroi 2011.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 197–200.
^ a b Leroi 2015, pp. 365–68.
^ Taylor 1922, p. 49.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 408.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 72–74.
^ Bergstrom & Dugatkin 2012, p. 35.
Rhodes 1974, p. 7.
^ Mayr 1982, pp. 201–02.
^ Lovejoy 1976.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 111–19.
^ Mason 1979, pp. 43–44.
^ Leroi 2015, pp. 156–63.
^ Mason 1979, p. 45.
^ Guthrie 2010, p. 348.
^ Bloch 2007, p. 12.
^ Bloch 2007, p. 61.
^ Carruthers 2007, p. 16.
^ Bloch 2007, p. 25.
^ Warren 1921, p. 30.
^ Warren 1921, p. 25.
^ Carruthers 2007, p. 19.
^ Warren 1921, p. 296.
^ Warren 1921, p. 259.
^ a b c d e f g Holowchak 1996, pp. 405–23.
^ a b c d e f Shute 1941, pp. 115–18.
^ a b Modrak 2009, pp. 169–81.
^ Webb 1990, pp. 174–84.
^ a b Deslauriers & Destrée 2013, pp. 157-162.
^ Kraut 2001.
^ Nicomachean Ethics Book I. See for example chapter 7.
^ Nicomachean Ethics, p. Book VI.
^ Politics, pp. 1253a19–24.
Aristotle 2009, pp. 320–21.
^ Ebenstein & Ebenstein 2002, p. 59.
^ a b Hutchinson & Johnson 2015, p. 22.
^ a b c Robbins 2000, pp. 20–24.
^ a b c d
Aristotle 1948, pp. 16–28.
^ Kaufmann 1968, pp. 56–60.
^ Garver 1994, pp. 109–10.
^ Rorty 1996, pp. 3–7.
^ Grimaldi 1998, p. 71.
^ a b c d e f Halliwell 2002, pp. 152–59.
^ Poetics, p. I 1447a.
^ Poetics, p. IV.
^ Poetics, p. III.
^ Poetics, p. VI.
^ Poetics, p. XXVI.
Aesop 1998, pp. Introduction, xi–xii.
^ Freeland 1998.
^ Morsink 1979, pp. 83–112.
^ Rhetoric, p. Book I, Chapter 5.
^ Leroi 2015, p. 8.
^ Aristotle's Influence 2018.
^ Magee 2010, p. 34.
^ Guthrie 1990, p. 156.
Aristotle (Greek philosopher).
^ Durant 2006, p. 92.
^ a b c d e Kukkonen 2010, pp. 70–77.
^ Barnes 1982, p. 86.
^ Hooker 1831, p. 219.
^ Mayr 1982, pp. 90–91.
^ Mason 1979, p. 46.
Plutarch 1919, p. Part 1, 7:7.
^ Annas 2001, p. 252.
^ Mason 1979, p. 56.
^ Mayr 1985, pp. 90–94.
^ Sorabji 1990, pp. 20, 28, 35–36.
^ Sorabji 1990, pp. 233–74.
^ Lindberg 1992, p. 162.
^ Sorabji 1990, pp. 20–21, 28–29, 393–406, 407–08.
^ a b Kennedy-Day 1998.
^ Staley 1989.
Averroes 1953, p. III, 2, 43.
^ Nasr 1996, pp. 59–60.
^ a b Phyllis and Aristotle.
^ Hasse 2014.
^ Aquinas 2013.
^ Kuhn 2018.
^ Allen & Fisher 2011, p. 17.
^ Aird 2011, pp. 118–29.
^ Machamer 2017.
^ Durant 2006, p. 86.
^ Sikka 1997, p. 265.
^ Boole 2003.
^ Dijksterhuis 1969, p. 72.
^ a b Leroi 2015, p. 353.
^ Medawar & Medawar 1984, p. 28.
^ Knight 2007, pp. passim.
^ Leroi 2015.
^ MacDougall-Shackleton 2011, pp. 2076–85.
^ Hladký & Havlíček 2013.
^ Aristotelis Opera.
^ When libraries were 2001.
^ a b Barnes 1995, p. 12.
^ House 1956, p. 35.
^ Irwin & Fine 1996, pp. xi–xii.
^ Barnes & Griffin 1999, pp. 1–69.
^ Anagnostopoulos 2013, p. 16.
^ Barnes 1995, pp. 10–15.
^ Lucas Cranach the Elder.
^ Lee & Robinson 2005.
Aristotle with Bust 2002.
^ Phelan 2002.
^ Held 1969.
^ Jones 2002.
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known, theorizes that humans must have concrete evidence to support
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Aristotle is vast. The following is only a
Ackrill, J. L. (1997). Essays on
Plato and Aristotle, Oxford
Ackrill, J.L. (1981).
Aristotle the Philosopher. Oxford University
Adler, Mortimer J. (1978).
Aristotle for Everybody. Macmillan.
Ammonius (1991). Cohen, S. Marc; Matthews, Gareth B (eds.). On
Aristotle's Categories. Cornell University Press.
Aristotle (1908–1952). The Works of
Aristotle Translated into
English Under the Editorship of W.D. Ross, 12 vols. Clarendon Press.
These translations are available in several places online; see
Bakalis, Nikolaos. (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales
to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments, Trafford
Bocheński, I. M. (1951). Ancient Formal Logic. North-Holland.
Bolotin, David (1998). An Approach to Aristotle's Physics: With
Particular Attention to the Role of His Manner of Writing. Albany:
SUNY Press. A contribution to our understanding of how to read
Aristotle's scientific works.
Burnyeat, Myles F. et al. (1979). Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotle's
Metaphysics. Oxford: Sub-faculty of Philosophy.
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Plato and Aristotle. Monuments of Western Thought. 1. Blaisdell.
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Mechanics in the 4th Century BC, Parmenides
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University of Minnesota Press.
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Gendlin, Eugene T. (2012). Line by Line Commentary on Aristotle's De
Anima, Volume 1: Books I & II; Volume 2: Book III. The Focusing
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Unity. Princeton University Press.
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Volume 1: Books Alpha – Delta, Parmenides
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Volume 2: The Central Books, Parmenides
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