A Brief Overview of Aristotle’s Philosophy
Aristotle essay is a common topic for college students. He is famous due to his politics, poetry, as well as a theory of tragedy. Take a look at our essay example below, the introduction of which can be a short description of his biography.
Aristotle was born in the city of Stagira, which was located in the Greek colony of Thrace. Because of the name of his native city, Aristotle was often called Stagirsky. He came from a dynasty of healers. His father Nikomah was a court physician of the Macedonian king Aminta III, and his mother Festida was of noble birth.
Aristotle’s philosophy is influenced by his twenty years studying with Plato in the Academy. In particular, both of Aristotle’s two main philosophical projects, first, the clarification of the nature, scope and results of logical reasoning, or, more simply, dialectic, and second, setting out a coherent science of the universe, including especially life on earth, can both be seen as resulting from being a student of Plato in the Academy.Order now
More particularly, the latter project was heavily influenced by Aristotle wanting to provide an answer to the Parmenidean strictures against the possibility of change, motion and plurality, as well as what he regarded as other Presocratic mistakes, misconceptions, and limitations in their accounts of nature and how it works. Aristotle’s account of nature and how it works leaned quite heavily, to put it mildly, on the concepts and principles he would have encountered studying at Plato’s knee.
Aristotle on the structure of the sciences
Aristotle is famous due to his virtue theory and studying in metaphysics. One of the most important distinctions for understanding Aristotle’s philosophy is his tripartite division of the sciences. We do science, according to Aristotle, for one reason, knowledge. But what we wish to know takes 3 basic forms: to know for its own sake, to know for the sake of conduct and to know how to make useful or beautiful objects. Thus, Aristotle divided the sciences accordingly into the theoretical, the practical and the productive. It is also important to appreciate that Aristotle inherited from Plato the idea that nature and our knowledge of it is a series of hierarchical arrangements and relations.
Plato and Aristotle connections
There are many similarities in the studying of Plato and Aristotle:
- The unity of the sciences. Like Plato, Aristotle believed that all human knowledge was a unity. Science, in order to be science, had to be systematically done. Whatever facts one gathers must be placed into a single, systematic whole. Otherwise, it couldn’t be regarded as knowledge. Aristotle was concerned to gather the information and evidence that would allow humans to create this systematic science.
- Logic. Plato’s pioneering work as a logician (classification and dialectic were key components of the curriculum of Plato’s Academy) and his influence on Aristotle helped to make Aristotle the founder of logic, as it existed for 2000 years or so.
- Plato had a deep and abiding interest in questions of ontology. Plato’s ontology centers on the Forms. Although Aristotle rejected the view that the Forms have an independent existence, he too posited Forms as key aspects of reality, albeit, the world as we encounter it in the sublunary world.
- Plato regarded knowledge, scientific knowledge in particular, as a search for the causes or explanations of phenomena including happiness. Aristotle inherited this concern and saw scientific activity as consisting of the search for an explanation, rather than that of merely compiling facts and observations.
Aristotle on Dialectic
Dialectic was a key notion for Plato. After all, he regards it as the “coping stone” study for his philosopher-rulers in the Republic. However, Plato does not go into much detail regarding the nature of dialectic. We know that it is the means for reasoning about the Forms, i.e., “intelligible objects” and that it seems to be tied to principles of classification.
We can also say that dialectic is Plato’s way of extending Socratic elenchus. Both dialectic and elenchus serve to critically examine our thoughts and ideas concerning single concepts (the more abstract, the better, it seems), that is, both techniques concern themselves with trying to provide adequate answers to “What is X?” questions. For Aristotle, it was clear that the activities of elenchus and dialectic were intimately connected to the notion of definition, and so his logical works begin with an attempt to clarify the concept of definition.
Aristotle’s World View
Perhaps the most important distinction Aristotle makes is that between the universe “below the moon” (sublunary) and the universe “above the moon.” The sublunary world is a world of Heraclitean flux whereas the world above the moon is a world of the indestructible, the stable, the perfectly orderly, the rational. This distinction shows that Aristotle too recognized the distinction that Plato and his predecessors had drawn between Being and Becoming.
For Aristotle, the sublunary world contained four basic material constituents, fire, air, earth and water. Each element has a pair of the four primary powers of nature, wet, dry, cold, hot. Fire is dry and hot; the air is cold and dry, water is wet and cold, while earth is dry and cold. Each of the four elements has a “natural movement” and a “natural place.”
Fire’s natural movement is up, and its natural place is the highest part of the universe; the earth has opposite movement, namely, down but Aristotle puts the earth at the center of the universe. (Not sure what blocks it from reaching the bottom?). Air and water are between these two. These four elements can and do act upon and change into each other.
Aristotle’s conclusion that the Earth is the center of the universe and that the heavenly bodies rotate around us is really not his own doing but is simply an echoing of respected astronomers of his day, including Eudoxus and Callippus. Aristotle also believed that the universe is spatially finite but temporally infinite, that is, without beginning and without end.