Aristotle Biography

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist born in 384BC in the city of Stagira, Chalkidiki, Greece.

His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child. Later his guardian brought him up.

At seventeen or eighteen years of age, he joined Plato’s Academy in Athens. He remained there until the age of thirty-seven (347 BC).

His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government.

This constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy.

Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request of Philip II of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Great beginning in 343 BC.

Teaching Alexander gave Aristotle many opportunities. Later he established a library in the Lyceum which helped him to produce many of his hundreds of books, which were papyrus scrolls.

As plato’s pupil Aristotle contributed to his views of Platonism. Following Plato’s death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism.

He believed all concepts and knowledge were ultimately based on perception. Later Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.

Near the end of his life, Alexander and Aristotle became estranged over Alexander’s relationship with Persia and Persians.

He died on Euboea of natural causes later that same year. Aristotle named his student Antipater as his chief executor. He asked him to be buried next to his wife.

Aristotle Quotes

Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.

A friend to all is a friend to none.

A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.


Aristotle Poetics

Aristotle’s Poetics is the earliest surviving work of dramatic theory. First extant philosophical treatise to focus on literary theory in the West.

This has been the traditional view for centuries.

However, recent work is now challenging whether Aristotle focuses on literary theory per se (given that not one poem exists in the treatise) or whether he focuses instead on dramatic musical theory that only has language as one of the elements

In examining its “first principles”, Aristotle finds two: 1) imitation and 2) genres. His other concepts by which that of truth is applied/revealed in the poesis.

His analysis of tragedy constitutes the core of the discussion. Although historian universally acknowledged Aristotle’s Poetics view in the Western critical tradition.

Aristotle Books

He established a library in the Lyceum which helped him to produce many of his hundreds of books, which were papyrus scrolls.

He believed all concepts and knowledge were ultimately based on perception. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.

Aristotle 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”. He 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 Theory

He was a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, but, following Plato’s death. Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism.

The English term empirical derives from the Ancient Greek word empeiria (in test). A central concept in science and the scientific method is that it must be empirically based on the evidence of the senses.

Both natural and social sciences use working hypotheses that are testable by observation and experiment.

Philosophical empiricists hold no knowledge to be properly inferred or deduced unless it is derived from one’s sense-based experience.

His view is commonly contrasted with rationalism. Rationalism states that knowledge may be derived from reason independently of the senses.

Aristotle Definition of Tragedy

Tragedy is the imitation of action arousing pity and fear. This is meant to effect the catharsis of those same emotions.

His taught that tragedy has 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.

Aristotle uses the Sophocles tragedy Oedipus Tyrannus as an example for the correct structure of perfect tragedy.

With a generally good protagonist who starts the play prosperous, but loses everything through some hamartia (fault).

Aristotle Philosophy

People are reading Aristotle’s writings continuously since ancient times. His ethical treatises in particular continue to influence philosophers working today.

He emphasized the importance of developing excellence (virtue) of character. As the way to achieve what is finally more important, excellent conduct.

As Aristotle argues in Book II of the Nicomachean Ethics, the man who possesses character excellence does the right thing, at the right time, and in the right way.

Bravery, and the correct regulation of one’s bodily appetites, are examples of character excellence or virtue.

Aristotle emphasized that virtue is practical, and that the purpose of ethics is to become good, not merely to know.

Soon Aristotle also claims that the right course of action depends upon the details of a particular situation, rather than applying a law.

The type of wisdom required for this is called “prudence” or “practical wisdom”. He opposed the wisdom of a theoretical philosopher (Greek sophia).

But despite the importance of practical decision making, in the final analysis the original Aristotelian and Socratic answer to the question of how best to live, at least for the best types of human, was to live the life of philosophy.

Aristotle Rhetoric

Historian credited Aristotle with developing the basics of the system of rhetoric that “thereafter served as its touchstone”. He influenced the development of rhetorical theory from ancient through modern times.

Aristotle’s 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 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.

He reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans. This function must be an activity of the psuchē (soul) in accordance with reason (logos).

He 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. Later 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.

1 thought on “Aristotle – Greek Philosopher during the Classical Period in Ancient Greece

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