Aristotle (384BC – 322BC) Greek philosopher, natural scientist and polymath – who made extensive studies into the world around us. Aristotle’s investigations and studies developed the foundations for Western intellectual studies. His writings formed the basis for much knowledge of the first Millennium.
“Time crumbles things; everything grows old under the power of Time and is forgotten through the lapse of Time.”
– Aristotle (Physics)
Aristotle was one of the great polymaths of his time. He studied under Plato and therefore learnt much about the great philosophic traditions of Socrates. But, Aristotle was more than just a good student; he had an independent mind and was able to question many different things and sought to resolve difficult questions and previously unsolvable problems. He made studies in botany, physics, philosophy, logic, and was well known for being a powerful lecturer and debater. He was also regarded as a kindly man, compassionate to others.
In the field of physics, Aristotle’s ideas influenced much of the medieval period and lasted into the European Renaissance. His ideas were later replaced by the physics of Isaac Newton.
Aristotle believed in the power of reason to illuminate the problems of man. He believed that man had the capacity for enlightenment through self-inquiry and study. He believed that human goodness derived from rational thought. Aristotle was also a playwright and he described how the weakness of man – pride, anger, jealousy, could lead to his downfall.
“Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.”
– Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics)
Aristotle was also the teacher of the future Macedonian King – Alexander the Great. Aristotle taught the future king, political philosophy, history and ethics. Alexander the Great was to ignore much of Aristotle’s teachings such as the desirability of oligarchic leadership, but, his education by Aristotle must have left an abiding impression on the young prince.
“If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.”
– Aristotle (Politics)
Aristotle’s work Politics is an attempt at a practical philosophy to allow justice and freedom. He also saw politics as a method of ensuring man had the capacity to live harmoniously and allow him to pursue noble ideas.
“The political partnership must be regarded, therefore, as being for the sake of noble actions, not for the sake of living together.”
In addition to the above interests, Aristotle pioneered the study of zoology, logic and helped in the development of medicine, optics, and ethics.
“One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy. ”
– Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics)
Aristotle was one of the few classical philosophers who strongly influenced later Christian writers such as Thomas Aquinas.
The Basic Works of Aristotle
Great Thinkers – Influential and insightful thinkers, who have made significant contributions in fields of science, philosophy, literature and the humanities.
Philosophers – Some of the world’s greatest philosophers, including Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Kant, Spinoza and David Hume.
Ancient Greeks (8th Century BCE to 1 CE) Famous people of the classical Greek period. Poets, statesmen and the fore-runners of democracy. Includes Plato, Aristotle, Socrates and Hippocrates.