Aristotle (Estagira, Chalkidiki, Greece, 382 BC – Calcis, Euboea, 322 BC). Greek philosopher and scientist, whose ideas laid the foundations of Western thought for more than two millennia. Together with Socrates and Plato he is recognized as one of the three great classical philosophers of ancient Greece.
The Father of Modern Reason
His studies covered the natural sciences, soul study, human relationships, thought and even the arts.
It is thought that he was a pioneer of Zoology, his theories and descriptions dominated Science until the nineteenth century, although his greatest contributions went to Philosophy, being considered the father of Logic and generating a system of concepts, which have governed thought Western since the Middle Ages, which is why he is listed as one of the most influential men in history.
He was born in Estáriga, Greece, in 384 BC. His father Nicómaco was a doctor of the king of Macadonia, Amintas II, grandfather of Alexander the Great. When Aristotle was still a child, Nicomachus died. From his mother, Phaestis, very little is known, so it is believed that he also died. She went into the care of Atarne, her older sister’s husband, until she came of age.
At the age of 17, he was sent to Greece, where he began his studies at the Plato Academy, where he would remain for twenty years, being one of his most valuable disciples and closest to Plato. However, when the creator of the Academy died in 348 BC, his address was assumed by Espeusipo. Aristotle traveled to Assus, where he met and befriended King Hermias, with whose niece, Pitia, he married and had a daughter.
In 338 BC, he tutored, in Macedonia, to philip II’s son Alexander the Great, who was 13 years old. In 335 BC, after Alexander succeeded his father and conquered Greece, Aristotle returned to Athens.
With his permission he founded his Lyceum, a center of knowledge, thus baptized to be located in a place consecrated to the god Apollolicio. His students were called the “peripatetics” (people who travel around) because of the Aristotelian practice of walking while the lessons were unfolding.
His wife Pitia died the same year the Lyceum opened. Some time later, he began a relationship with Herpyllis, who according to some historians believe it could be his slave, whom he would have released to marry her. They had two sons, one of them christened Nicómaco, to whom Aristotle dedicated one of his Ethics.
Aristotle’s discoveries in the field of Zoology are extensive. It went on to describe up to 500 types of animals, of which it detailed habitat, food and reproductive modes.
He created an animal classification, according to their similar characteristics, separating them into two large groups: those of red blood and those who do not, which he called cephalopods, scheme that dominated Science for centuries.
He also studied marine fauna. He dissected and examined hundreds of insect species, managing to identify structures, which were not observed again until the invention of the microscope in the seventeenth century, so some historians attribute a very sharp view.
He was equally interested in the study of Earth and astrological phenomena. He managed to identify the water cycle. He built an image of the world imbued with the heritage of his predecessors.
Based on Empédocles, he concluded that everything on Earth is composed of different combinations of four unique elements: earth, air, fire and water. Influenced by Plato, he defined the Earth as the center of the universe, around which all the planets rotate. He put in place a truly scientific method, based on contemplation and observation of the object of study.
One of his main contributions to thought is the concept of Logic. His intention was to devise a system of reasoning that would allow man to understand his environment, through observation, deduction and inference.
One of the great results of Aristotelian Logic is syllogism, a logical deduction that is inferred from two propositions. He also took care to establish a moral code under which the conduct of the individual was governed: Ethics, whose ultimate purpose is the pursuit of happiness, which for Aristotle lies in intellectual exercise.
Aristotle wrote more than 200 treatises, of which 31 of them are preserved. They are classified as “exoteric”, for those not initiated in Philosophy, and the “esoteric”, intended for students of the Lyceum. The latter were protected by Neleo, being preserved to this day. According to Andronicus of Rhodes, the Aristotelian corpus would consist of four large groups.
- Treaties on Logic, called The Organ: From Categories, Peri Hermeneia, First Analytical, Analytical Seconds, Topics and SophisticRetals.
- Treaties on Physics (studies of nature): Physics, From heaven, from generation and corruption, Meteorological, Animal History, Animal Movement, Animal March, Soul, Sensation and Sensitive, From Memory and Memory.
- Writings on Metaphysics, consisting of fourteen writings, named by Andronicus, for being arranged after the writings of Physics.
- Works concerning behavior, relations and art: Ethics to Eudemus, Ethics to Nicomachus, Ethics Major, Politics, Poetics, Rhetoric and the Constitution of Athens.
After the death of Alexander the Great in 321 BC, Aristotle had to flee to Calcis, where he contracted an intestinal disease that blinded his life in 322 BC. Its philosophical system and scientific concepts were assumed and instilled as paradigms of the world from the Middle Ages by both Christians and Muslims.
Even after centuries and several intellectual revolutions, its philosophical precepts continue to make up much of Western thought.
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July 27, 2019