Aristotle was a famous ancient Greek philosopher who studied under Plato.
He is considered to be a founding father of Western philosophy along with Socrates and Plato.
Born in 384 B.C.E. in the tiny town of Stagira in northern Greece, Aristotle’s parents both practiced medicine. His father Nicomachus once was the court doctor for King Amyntus II of Macedonia.
Unfortunately for Aristotle his parents died when he was young.
He was raised in his family’s home in Stagira by other family members and received a basic Greek education of music, literature, grammar and gymnastics.
When Aristotle turned 17 years old, he was sent to study in Athens at Plato’s Academy. After arriving at the Academy, Aristotle spent more than 20 years at the school.
His first years with Plato, were spent as a student learning the ways of former great Greek philosophers including Socrates.
He would later go on to become a teacher at the Academy for many years. Plato referred to Aristotle as the Mind.
Plato died in 347 B.C.E. and left the Academy to his nephew Speusippus. Soon after, Aristotle left the Academy and Athens altogether.
Life after the Academy
Aristotle traveled the next five years along the coastline of Asia Minor.
He spent time in Assos as well as Lesbos while living with former classmates. While visiting the coastal area, Aristotle began his work on marine biology.
He also married his wife Pythias and they had only one daughter.
Still having ties in Macedonia, he was asked by King Phillip II of Macedonia in 342 B.C.E. to teach the king’s son, Alexander.
For seven years, Aristotle tutored Alexander teaching the future king everything from philosophy to mathematics to drama to marine biology.
His return to Athens
Aristotle returned to Athens in 335 B.C.E. where he opened his own school. Since he was not a citizen of Athens he rented an old wresting school on the outskirt of town.
He named his school the Lyceum. Aristotle’s school attracted students from around Greece just like the Academy. He taught classes at Lyceum while continuing to learn more about the world and an assortment of subjects that interested him.
The Lyceum was an intriguing learning place. His students earned the nickname of Peripatetics meaning People Who Travel About.
Historians believe the school contained the world’s first great library including nearly 200 books written by Aristotle himself.
Writings of Aristotle
The library at Lyceum contained all of Aristotle’s books which were written on papyrus scrolls. His books covered a vast number of subjects.
The subjects ranged from physics to biology to logic to ethics to economics as well as zoology, music, theater, politics and poetry.
Unfortunately, of the 200 books Aristotle had written, only 31 currently survive today. Researchers think the books are actually his lecture notes from teaching. The writing is dense and sometimes disorganized.
Philosophy and ideas of Aristotle
Aristotle’s work in natural sciences and reasoning was amazing. He pioneered the field of marine biology. He played a role in biology by starting an early classification system based.
He determined the Earth to be round. But he also thought the Earth was the center of the Universe.
Aristotle reasoned that things that occurred in daily life could be explained by four causes which were-material cause, formal cause, efficient cause and final cause.
Syllogism reasoning created by Aristotle was quite complex. He assumed if you had three categories like A, B and C and if all As were Bs and all Bs were Cs, then As were Cs.
Aristotle also believed in the Golden Mean. By living a moral life, people could realize their Golden Mean or ultimate goal.
In 323 B.C.E. Aristotle fled Athens before being prosecuted on charges of impiety. Aristotle died of a digestive disease in 322 B.C.E.
Facts about Aristotle
- Aristotle’s parents died at a young age.
- At 17 years of age Aristotle enrolled at the Academy, Plato’s school in Athens.
- He studied and taught at the Academy for 20 years.
- Plato referred to Aristotle as the Mind.
- Aristotle traveled for several years developing theories in biology and marine biology.
- He was commissioned by King Phillip II of Macedonia to tutor his son, Alexander the Great.
- Aristotle opened his own school in Athens named the Lyceum.
- He composed more than 200 books on a variety subjects and had one the most important libraries in the world at Lyceum.
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