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Greek philosopher

   Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, one of the greatest intellectual figures in Western history.

   Even after the intellectual revolutions of the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment, Aristotle’s concepts remained embedded in Western thought.

Aristotle’s intellectual range was vast, covering most sciences including biology, botany, chemistry, ethics, history, logic, metaphysics, rhetoric, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, physics, poetry, political theory, psychology, and many arts. She was , and Zoology. He was the founder of formal logic, devising a ready system for what was for centuries regarded as the sum of discipline; And he pioneered the study of zoology . But undoubtedly, he is most outstanding as a philosopher. His writings continue to be studied in ethics and political theory, as well as in metaphysics and the philosophy of science, and his work remains a powerful current in contemporary philosophical debate.


Aristotle Rhetoric

Early Life Academy

Aristotle was born in northern Greece in the Chalcidian Peninsula of Macedonia. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician to Amyntas III (reigned 393–c. 370 BC), king of Macedonia and the grandfather of Alexander the Great (reigned 336–323 BC). After the death of his father in 367, Aristotle moved to Athens, where he joined Plato’s Academy (c. 428–c. 348 BC). He spent 20 years there as a disciple and associate of Plato. Aristotle’s influence was seen in some of Plato’s later dialogues.

  Some of Aristotle’s works also belong to this period, although most of them survive only in fragments. Like his mentor, Aristotle initially wrote in dialogue form, and his early ideas show a strong Platonic influence. His dialogue Eudemus, for example, reflects the Platonic view of the soul that is imprisoned in the body and capable of a happy life when the body has been left behind. Aristotle believed that the dead are happier than the living. In his eyes, death is like returning to one’s own old depths.

    Aristotle claims that everyone should do philosophy, because even arguing against the practice of philosophy is a form of philosophy in itself. The best form of philosophy is the contemplation of the universe of nature; For this purpose God created man and gave him divine wisdom. Everything else – power, beauty, power and honor – is useless.

It is possible that Aristotle’s two surviving works on logic and argument, the subject and the refined refutation, belong to this early period. The former demonstrates how to formulate an argument for a position that one has already decided to take; The latter shows how to spot weaknesses in others’ arguments. Although neither work is equivalent to a systematic treatise on formal logic, Aristotle, at the end of the Sophistical refutation, can rightly say that he invented the discipline of logic – nothing existed when he began.

During Aristotle’s residence at the Academy, King Philip II of Macedonia (reigned 359–336 BC) waged war on several Greek city-states. The Athenians half-heartedly defended their independence, and after a series of humiliating concessions, they allowed Philip to become the lord of the Greek world until 338. It couldn’t have been an easy time being a Macedonian resident in Athens.

However, relations within the Academy remain cordial. Aristotle always acknowledged a great debt to Plato; He took a large part of his philosophical agenda from Plato, and his teaching is more often a revision than a refutation of Plato’s doctrines. Already, however, Aristotle was beginning to distance himself from Plato’s theory of forms, or ideas (Eidos; see Forms). (The word form, when Plato referred to form, is often capitalized in scholarly literature; when forms are referred to as Aristotle, it is less conventionally.) In addition to the things believed, there exists an infinitesimal field of forms, which are immutable and everlasting. This field, he maintained, makes particular things intelligible according to their general nature: a thing is a horse, for example, based on the fact that it shares or imitates the form of a “horse”. Is. In a lost work, On Ideas, Aristotle says that the arguments of Plato’s Central Dialogues establish only that, in addition to the special, there are some general objects of science. Even in his surviving works, Aristotle often deals with the theory of forms, sometimes politely and sometimes contemptuously. In his Metaphysics he argues that the theory fails to address the problems it had to address. It does not provide intelligibility on details, because immutable and everlasting forms cannot explain how details come into existence and undergo change. According to Aristotle, all theories introduce new entities equal to the number of entities to be interpreted – such that one can solve the problem by doubling it. (See form below.)


When Plato died in about 348, his nephew Spousipus became the head of the Academy, and Aristotle left Athens. He moved to Asus, a city on the northwest coast of Anatolia (in present-day Turkey), where Hermias, a graduate of the Academy, was the ruler. Aristotle became a close friend of Hermia and eventually married her ward Pythias. Aristotle helped Hermias forge an alliance with Macedonia, which angered the Persian king, who had Hermias treacherously arrested and put to death around 341. Aristotle saluted the memory of Hermias in “Ode to Virtue”, his only surviving poem.

Aristotle conducted extensive scientific research, particularly in zoology and marine biology, during the few years he lived in Asus and later in the city of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. This work was later summarized, confusingly, in a book known as The History of Animals, to which Aristotle added two smaller treatises, On the Parts of Animals and On the Generation of Animals. Although Aristotle did not claim to have founded the science of zoology, his detailed observations of a wide variety of organisms were without precedent. He—or one of his research assistants—must have been gifted with remarkably sharp eyesight, as accurate reports of certain characteristics of insects were not seen again until the invention of the microscope in the 17th century.

The scope of Aristotle’s scientific research is astonishing. Much of this is concerned with the classification of animals into genus and species; More than 500 species are mentioned in his texts, many of them are described in detail. Myriad objects of information about the anatomy, diet, habitat, modes of copulation and the reproductive systems of mammals, reptiles, fish and insects are the remains of subtle investigation and superstition. In some cases, his unlikely stories about a rare species of fish proved accurate several centuries later. Elsewhere, he clearly and objectively states a biological problem that took millennia to solve, such as the nature of embryonic development.

Despite the mix of the brilliant, Aristotle’s biological works should be regarded as a splendid achievement. His inquiries were made in a truly scientific spirit, and where the evidence was insufficient, he was always ready to admit ignorance. He insisted that whenever there is a conflict between theory and observation, observation should be relied upon, and theories should be relied upon only when their results are consistent with observed phenomena.

In 343 or 342 Aristotle was called by Philip II to the Macedonian capital at Pella to act as tutor to Philip’s 13-year-old son, the future Alexander the Great. Little is known about the content of Aristotle’s instruction; Although rhetoric for Alexander had been included in the Aristotelian corpus for centuries, it is now commonly regarded as forgery. By 326, Alexander had established himself as the master of an empire that stretched from the Danube to the Indus and included Libya and Egypt. Ancient sources report that during his campaigns Alexander arranged for biological samples from all parts of Greece and Asia Minor to be sent to his teacher.

Aristotle’s Lyceum

When Alexander was conquering Asia, Aristotle, now 50 years old, was in Athens. He established his school in a gymnasium called the Lyceum, just outside the city limits. He built up a substantial library and gathered around him a group of brilliant research students, called “peripatetics”, by the name of the monastery (peripetus), into which he would walk and discuss. The Lyceum was not a private club like the Academy; There many lectures were open to the general public and given free of charge.

With the exception of zoological texts, most of Aristotle’s surviving works probably relate to this second Athenian migration. There is no certainty about their chronological order, and indeed it is possible that the main treatises on physics, metaphysics, psychology, ethics and politics were constantly rewritten and updated. Every proposal of Aristotle is full of ideas and full of energy, although his prose is usually neither clear nor elegant.

Aristotle’s works, although not as polished as Plato’s, are arranged in a way that Plato never was. Plato’s dialogues change constantly from one subject to another, always (from a modern point of view) crossing the boundaries between different philosophical or scientific disciplines. Indeed, until Aristotle invented this notion during his Lyceum period, there was no such thing as an intellectual discipline.

Aristotle divided science into three types: productive, applied and theoretical. Productive science, naturally enough, are those who have a product. The applied sciences, especially ethics and politics, are those that guide behavior. Theoretical sciences—physics, mathematics, and theology—are those that have no product and no practical goal, but seek information and understanding for themselves.

During Aristotle’s years at the Lyceum, his relationship with his former disciple Alexander apparently cooled. Alexander became more and more sinful, eventually declaring himself divine and demanding that the Greeks prostrate themselves before him in worship. Opposition to this demand was led by Aristotle’s nephew Calisthenes (c. 360–327 BC), who was appointed historian of Alexander’s Asian campaign on the recommendation of Aristotle. For his heroism, Calisthenes was implicated in a conspiracy and executed.

When Alexander died in 323, democratic Athens became uncomfortable for the Macedonians, even those who were anti-imperialist. Saying that he did not wish the city that Socrates had killed “for having sinned twice against philosophy”, Aristotle fled to Chalcis, where he died the following year. His will, which survives, makes thoughtful provisions for a large number of friends and dependents. Theophrastus (c. 372–c. 287 BC), his successor as head of the Lyceum, left his library, including his own writings, which were vast. Aristotle’s surviving works contain about a million words, although they probably represent only one-fifth of his total output.


Aristotle’s writings fall into two groups: those that were published by him but are now almost completely lost, and those that were not intended for publication but were collected and preserved by others. The first group consists mainly of popular works; The second group includes the texts that Aristotle used in his teaching.
lost work

Lost works include poetry, letters and essays as well as dialogue in a Platonic manner. To judge based on surviving passages, their content often differs widely from the tenets of surviving texts. However, most contemporary scholars believe that popular writings reflect the early stages of his intellectual development, not Aristotle’s public ideas.

Current work

The works retrieved from the manuscripts left by Aristotle upon his death have been preserved. According to ancient tradition – passed down by Plutarch (46–c. 119 CE) and Strabo (c. 64 BC–23? CE) – the writings of Aristotle and Theophrastus were entrusted to Naleus of Sepsis, whose successors kept them in a cellar. I used to hide To prevent them they are being confiscated for the library of the kings of Pergamum (in present-day Turkey). Later, according to this tradition, the books were bought by a collector and taken to Athens, where they were commanded by the Roman commander Sulla when he conquered the city in 86 BC. Taken to Rome, they were edited and published in about 60 BC by Andronicus of Rhodes, the last head of the Lyceum.

Principles, Argument by logic

Aristotle’s claim to be the founder of logic rests mainly on categories, De Interpretation and Prior Analytics, which deal with terms, propositions, and negation, respectively. These works, along with themes, sophisticated refutations, and a treatise on the scientific method, Posterior Analytics, were grouped together in a collection known as the Organon, or “Instruments” of thought.

The former is devoted to the theory of analytics jurisprudence, a central method of inference that can be illustrated by familiar examples such as the following:

    Every Greek is human. Every human being is mortal. Therefore, every Greek is mortal.

Aristotle discusses the various forms that impotence can take and identifies which forms constitute reliable inferences. The indicative mood in the example above has three propositions, which Aristotle calls “propositions”. (Roughly speaking, a proposition is a proposition that is considered solely with respect to its logical features.) The third proposition, which begins with “therefore”, is what Aristotle calls the conclusion of a jurisprudence. The other two propositions may be called premises, although Aristotle does not consistently use any particular technical term to distinguish them.

In the example above the prepositions each begin with the word; Aristotle calls such propositions “universal”. (In English, universal propositions can be expressed using all instead of each; thus, every Greek is human, all Greeks are human.) Universal propositions can be positive, as in this example, or negative. , as no Greek is a horse. Universal propositions differ from “special” propositions, such that some Greeks are bearded (a particular positive) and some Greeks are not bearded (a particular negative). In the Middle Ages, it became customary to call the difference between universal and particular propositions the difference of “quantity” and the difference between positive and negative propositions as “quality”.

All these kinds of propositions, says Aristotle, are based on something else. The things that enter into the prophecy are what Aristotle called “conditions”. It is a feature of words, hypothesized by Aristotle, that they can be judged either as predicates or as subjects of prediction. This means that they can play three different roles in a jurisprudence. The word that is the predicate of the conclusion is the word “leading”; The word whose conclusion predates the major word is the “minor” word, and the word that appears in each compound is the “middle” word.

In addition to inventing this technical terminology, Aristotle began the practice of using schematic letters to identify particular patterns of logic, a tool essential to the systematic study of inference and which is ubiquitous in modern mathematical logic. Thus, the pattern of reasoning demonstrated in the example above can be represented in a schematic proposition:

    If A is related to every B, and B is related to every C, A is related to every C.

Because propositions can vary in quantity and quality, and because the middle term can occupy many different places on campus, many different patterns of juridical inference are possible. The following are additional examples:

    Every Greek is human. No human is immortal. Therefore, no Greek is immortal.

    Some animals are dogs. Some dog is white. That’s why every animal is white.

From late antiquity, these different types of triads were called “moods” of jurisprudence. The two moods shown above demonstrate an important difference: the first is a valid argument, and the second is an invalid argument, with true premises and a false conclusion. An argument is valid only when its form is such that it never leads from a true premise to a false conclusion. Aristotle sought to determine which forms result in invalid conclusions. He laid down a number of rules giving the necessary conditions for the validity of a jurisprudence, such as the following:

  • At least one basis must be universal.
  • At least one of the grounds must be positive.
  • If any of the premise is negative, then the conclusion must be negative.

Aristotle’s jurisprudence is a remarkable achievement: it is a systematic formulation of an important part of logic. From roughly the Renaissance to the beginning of the 19th century, it was widely believed that jurisprudence was all logic. But really, it’s only a piece. It is not, for example, concerned with inferences that rely on words such as and, or, and if …

Offers and Categories

Aristotle’s writings show that even he realized that there is more to logic than just jurisprudence. De Interpretation, like Prior Analytics, deals primarily with general propositions beginning with each, no, or few. But its main concern is not to relate these propositions to each other in jurisprudence, but to find out the relationship of compatibility and incompatibility between them. Every swan is white and no swan is white Clearly both cannot be true; Aristotle calls such pair propositions “opposites”. However, they can both be false if—as is the case—some swans are white and some are not. Every swan is white and some swans are not white, like the former pair, both cannot be true, but on the assumption that there are such things as swans- they cannot both be false either. If one of them is true, the other is false; And if one of them is false, the other is true. Aristotle called the propositions of such pairs “paradoxical”.

The propositions that enter jurisprudence are all general propositions, whether universal or specific; That is to say, none of them is a proposition about a person having a proper name, such as the proposition Socrates is wise. To find a systematic treatment of singular propositions, one must turn to categories. The treatise begins by dividing “things that are said” (expressions of speech) into simple and complex. Examples of complex proverbs are a man running, a woman talking, and a bull drinking; Simple words are those special words that enter such complexes: man, runs, woman, speaks, and so on. Only complex things can be statements, true or false; Simple things are neither true nor false. The categories identify 10 different ways in which simple expressions can represent; These are the categories that give this text its name. To introduce categories, Aristotle used nouns (eg, substance), verbs (eg, wearing), and interrogatives (eg, where? Until the Middle Ages, it was customary to refer to each category by a more or less abstract noun. had become: matter, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, currency, clothing, activity and inaction.

Categories are intended both as a classification of the types of expression that can serve as a predicate in a proposition, and as such expressions may indicate the type of an additional linguistic unit. For example, one might say of Socrates that he was human (matter), that he was five feet tall (quantity), that he was intelligent (quality), that he was greater than Plato (relationship), and that Lived in Athens (place) in the 5th century BC (time). On a particular occasion, his friends may have said of him that he was sitting (asana), wearing a cloak (dress), cutting a piece of cloth (activity), or being heated by the sun (inaction).

If one follows Aristotle’s lead, one will easily be able to classify the predicate into propositions such that Socrates is potbellied and Socrates is more intelligent than Melatus. But what is human about the word Socrates in propositions like Socrates? To which category does it belong? 

    Aristotle provides an answer to the question by clarifying the difference between “first substance” and “second matter”.
Socrates is human,
Socrates refers to the first substance – a person – and the second the substance human – a species or type.
Thus, the proposition predates the human of an individual species, Socrates.

The structure of a proposition and the nature of its parts are two different concepts in Aristotle’s logical writings. One concept can trace its lineage to Plato’s dialogue with the Sophists. In that work Plato introduces the distinction between a noun and a verb, with a verb indicating a verb and a noun indicating the agent of a verb. He claims that a preposition must contain at least one noun and at least one verb; Two nouns in succession or two verbs in succession – such as lion stag and walks – will never form a preposition. The simplest kind of proposition is something like a man learns or theatrics flies, and with such a structure only something can be right or wrong. It is this conception of a proposition composed of two quite contrasting elements that is encountered in categories and de interpretation, and is also paramount in modern logic.

In the jurisprudence of prior analytics, by contrast, proposition is conceived quite differently. The basic elements from which it is constructed are words, which are not contrasting like nouns and verbs, but can be indifferent as subject or predicate, without change of meaning. A flaw in the theory of words is that it promotes confusion between signs and their meanings. Is every human in the proposition mortal, for example, is mortal a prophecy of humans or of humans? It is important to distinguish between usage and mention – between the use of a word to talk about what it denotes and the word referring to a word to talk about. This distinction was not always easy to distinguish in Ancient Greek, as the language lacked quotation marks. There is no doubt that Aristotle sometimes gets confused between usage and mention; Surprisingly, given his useless theory of terms, he did this more often than not.

Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics

Aristotle divided the theoretical sciences into three groups: physics, mathematics and theology. Physics as he understood it was now equivalent to “natural philosophy” or the study of nature (physis); In this sense, it covers not only the modern fields of physics but also biology, chemistry, geology, psychology, and even meteorology. However, metaphysics is notably absent from Aristotle’s classification; In fact, he never uses the term, which first appears in his posthumous catalog of writings as the name of works listed after physics. However, he does recognize the branch of philosophy now called metaphysics: he calls it “the first philosophy” and defines it as the discipline that studies “the form of existence”.

Aristotle’s contribution to physics is no less impressive than his research in the life sciences. In works such as On Generation and Corruption and On the Heavens, he presented a world picture that included many of the features inherited from his pre-Socratic predecessors. From Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC) he adopted the idea that the universe is ultimately composed of various combinations of the four fundamental elements of earth, water, air, and fire. 

 . Every element in an orderly universe has a natural place, and each has an innate tendency to move towards this natural space. Thus, the soil solids naturally fall while the fire rises unless stopped.

Aristotle’s vision of the universe also owes much to Plato’s dialogue Timaeus. As in that work, Earth is at the center of the universe, and the Moon, Sun, and other planets revolve around it in a sequence of concentric crystalline spheres. The heavenly bodies are not compounds of the four terrestrial elements, but are composed of a superior fifth element, or “superiority”. In addition, the heavenly bodies contain spirits, or supernatural intelligence, that guide them in their journey through the universe.

Even the best scientific works of Aristotle now have only a historical interest. The enduring value of texts such as Physics is not in their specific scientific assertions, but in their philosophical analyzes of certain concepts that pervaded physics of different eras—such as space, time, causality, and determinism.


Every body seems to be in some place, and every body can (at least in theory) move from place to place. The same space may be occupied by different bodies at different times, as the flask may contain first alcohol and then air. So a space cannot be the same as the body that occupies it. So what is the place? According to Aristotle, the location of an object is the first immovable boundary of the object in which it is contained. Thus, the location of a pint of wine is the inner surface of the flask in which it is held—provided the flask is stationary. But suppose the flask is in motion, perhaps on a punt floating down the river. Then the wine will also move from place to place, and its location should be given by specifying its position relative to the still river banks.

As is clear from this example, for Aristotle an object is not only in a space defined by its immediate container, but also in that container. Thus, all human beings are not only on earth but also in the universe; The universe is the place that is common to everything. But the universe itself is not a place, because there is no container outside it. Thus, it is clear that the space described by Aristotle is quite different from the space as envisioned by Isaac Newton (1643–1727) – an infinite expanse or cosmic grid (see cosmos). Whether or not the physical universe was created, Newtonian space would exist. For Aristotle, if there were no bodies, there would be no place. Aristotle, however, allows the existence of a vacuum, or “void”, but only if it is actually contained by existing bodies.


Spatial expansion, motion, and time are often thought of as continuums—as made up of a series of smaller parts. Aristotle developed a nuanced analysis of the nature of such continuous quantities. Two entities are continuous, they say, when there is only one common boundary between them. Based on this definition, he wants to show that a continuum cannot be composed of indivisible atoms. For example, a line cannot be made up of points that lack magnitude. Since a point has no part, it cannot have a boundary different from itself; Therefore, two points cannot be either adjacent or continuous. Between any two points on a continuous line there will always be other points on the same line.

Similar logic, says Aristotle, applies to time and motion. Time cannot be made of indivisible moments, because there is always time between any two moments. Similarly, the atom of motion must actually be the atom of rest. Indivisible moments or points will lack magnitude, and zero magnitude, although often repeated, may never add up to any magnitude.

So, any magnitude is infinitely divisible. But it means “infinitely divisible,” not “infinitely divisible into many parts.” Although often a magnitude has been divided, it can always be further divided. It is infinitely divisible in the sense that there is no end to its divisibility. The continuum does not have an infinite number of parts; In fact, Aristotle actually considered the idea of ​​infinite numbers to be inconsistent. They say that infinity has only one “possible” existence.



Motion (kinesis) was a broad term for Aristotle, encompassing changes in many different categories. One paradigm of his theory of motion, which appeals to the dominant notions of reality and potential, is local motion, or motion from one place to another. If a body X has to go from point A to point B, it must be able to do so: when it is at A it is only possible at B. When this potential is realized, X is at B. But it is again at rest and not in motion. So the motion from A to B is simply not the realization of a potential on A to happen at B. Is it a partial realization of that potential? It also won’t, because a body stationary at the midpoint between A and B can be said to partially realize that potential. It must be said that momentum is a realization of a potential that is still being realized. Aristotle in physics accordingly defines motion as “the reality of whatever is in the potential, so far as it is in the potential.”

Motion is a continuum: a series of positions between A and B is not a motion from A to B. If X is to go from A to B, however, it must pass through any intermediate point between A and B. But passing a point is not the same as being located at that point. Aristotle argues that whatever is in motion is already in motion. If X, traveling from A to B, passes through an intermediate point K, then it must have already passed through an earlier point J, the intermediate point between A and K, but between A and J. No matter how small the distance, it is also divisible, and so on ad infinity. Any point at which X is moving will, therefore, be a prior point at which it was already moving. It follows that there is no such thing as the first moment of motion.


For Aristotle, expansion, motion and time are three fundamental continuities in close and orderly relationship with each other. Local motion derives its continuum from the continuum of expansion, and time derives its continuum from the continuum of motion. According to Aristotle, time is the number of motions before and after. Where there is no speed, there is no time. This does not mean that time is the same as motion: motion is the motion of particular things, and different kinds of change are different kinds of motion, but time is universal and uniform. speed, again, maybe faster or slower; Not such a time. Indeed, the speed of movement is set by the time they take. Nonetheless, says Aristotle, “we see motion and time together.” By looking at the process of a change, it is known how much time has passed. Specifically, for Aristotle, days, months and years are measured by observing the Sun, Moon and stars on their celestial journey.

The part of the journey that is near its starting point comes before the part which is near its end. The spatial relationship of near and far underlies the relationship between before and after in motion, and the relationship between before and after in motion underlies the relationship between before and after time. Thus, on Aristotle’s view, the temporal order is ultimately derived from the spatial order of the dispersion of motion.


For Aristotle, change can occur in many different categories. Local speed, as mentioned above, is a change in the range of location. A change in the range of quantity is growth (or shrinkage), and a change in the range of quality (eg, of colour) is what Aristotle called “change”. Changes in the class of matter, however—the change of one kind of thing into another—are very special. When a substance undergoes a change in quantity or quality, the same substance remains the same throughout. But does anything persist when one kind of thing turns into another? Aristotle’s answer is yes: matter. He says,

    By matter I mean that which in itself is neither of any kind nor of any shape nor can be described by any category. For it is a thing about which all these things are predetermined, and therefore its essence is different from all predicate.

An entity that is not of any kind, shape or size and about which nothing can be said may seem overly mysterious, but it is not in Aristotle’s mind. Their final matter (they sometimes refer to it as “prime matter”) is not of any kind in itself. It is not of any particular size in itself, as it can grow or shrink; It is not water or steam in itself, as the two are interchangeable. But that does not mean that there is a time when it is not of some shape or that there is a time at which there is neither water nor steam nor anything else.

Ordinary life provides many examples of the transformation of pieces of matter from one type to another. After mixing, one can get a bottle with a pint of cream, which does not contain cream but butter. What comes out of the bottle is what went into it; Nothing is added and nothing is taken away. But what comes out is different from what went in. It is from such cases that Aristotle’s notion of matter is derived.


Although Aristotle’s system makes room for forms, they differ greatly from the forms Plato envisioned them. For Aristotle, the form of a particular thing is not separate (corista) from that thing – any form is the form of something. In Aristotle’s physics, form is always associated with matter, and paradigmatic examples of forms are those of physical matter.

Aristotle distinguishes between “substantial” and “contingent” forms. A substantial form is a second substance (species or type) that is considered universal; The predicate human, for example, is universal as well as sufficient. Thus, Socrates is human can be described as predicting a second substance of the first substance (Socrates) or of predicting a substantial form of the first substance. Whereas substantive forms correspond to a category of matter, incidental forms correspond to categories other than matter; They are non-sufficient categories that are considered universal. Socrates is intelligent, for example, can be described as first predicting the quality of matter (intelligent) or first predicting the emergent form of matter. Aristotle calls such forms “accidental” because they can undergo change, or be gained or lost, thus without first turning matter into something else or ending its existence. Substantial forms, in contrast, cannot be gained or lost without changing the nature of the substance they are predicated on. In the above propositions, intelligent is an emergent form and human is an important form; Socrates could avoid the loss of the former but not the loss of the latter.

When an object comes into existence, neither its substance nor its form is created. When one makes a bronze sphere, for example, what comes into being is not bronze or a circular shape, but a bronze in shape. Similarly in the case of the human Socrates. But the fact that the forms of things are not created does not mean that they must exist independently, outside of space and time, as Plato put it. The shape of a bronze sphere is derived not from an ideal sphere but from its creator, who in the process of his work introduces the form into the appropriate substance. Similarly, Socrates’ humanity does not arise from an ideal human but from his parents, who, upon conceiving him, introduce the form into the appropriate substance.

Thus, Aristotle reversed the question posed by Plato: “What is it that two men have in common that makes them both human?” He asks instead, “What makes two humans two humans instead of one?”


In many places Aristotle distinguishes four types of causes, or explanations. The first, he says, is an object from which and from which something is made, such as the brass of an idol. This is called a physical cause. second, something has a form or pattern, which can be expressed in its definition; Aristotle’s example is the ratio of the lengths of two strings in a song, which is the formal reason for one note to be an octave of another. The third type of cause is the root of a change in something or a state of rest; This is often called “efficient reason”. Aristotle gives as examples a man arriving at a decision, a father giving birth to a child, a sculptor carving a statue and a doctor healing a patient. The fourth and final type of causation is the end or goal of something – for which something is done. This is known as the “ultimate cause”.

Although Aristotle gives mathematical examples of formal causes, the forms he is most interested in are the substantial forms of living beings. In these cases the structure or organization of existence as a whole as well as its various parts is the essence; It is the structure that explains the life cycle and characteristic activities of the creature. In these cases, in fact, the formal and final causes coincide, the mature realization of the natural form is the end to which the activities of the organism take place. The growth and development of different parts of a living being, such as the root of a tree or the heart of a sheep, can only be understood as the actualization of a certain structure intended to perform a certain biological function.

Is happening

For Aristotle, “to be” is whatever it is. Whenever Aristotle gives the meaning of being, he does so by explaining the meaning of the Greek verb to be. Being whatever the item may be can be the subject of true prepositions containing the word, whether it is followed by a predicate or not. Thus, both Socrates is and Socrates is intelligent, say something about being. Every creature in any category other than matter is a property or modification of matter. That is why Aristotle says that the study of matter is the only way to understand the nature of existence. The books of metaphysics in which he examines this, from VII to IX, are the most difficult of his writings.

Aristotle first gives two superficially conflicting accounts of the subject matter of philosophy. According to one account, it is the discipline “that which is the doctrine about having merit, and that which is being taken in itself”; Unlike the special sciences, it deals with the most general characteristics of beings, so far as they are beings. On the other hand, the first philosophy is concerned with a particular kind of existence, that is, divine, free and immutable matter; For this reason he sometimes calls the discipline “theology”.

It is important to note that these accounts are not two separate descriptions of “qualifying”. In fact, there is no such thing as having merit; There are only different ways to study existence. When one studies human physiology, for example, one studies animals for humans—that is, one studies the structures and functions that humans perform in common with animals. But of course there is no such entity as “human aptitude animal”. Similarly, to study something as a being is to study it on the basis of its commonality with all other things. To study the universe as an existence means to study it as a single comprehensive system, taking into account all the reasons for things to exist and to exist.

Immovable mover

The way Aristotle attempts to show that the universe is a single causal system is through an examination of the notion of motion, which finds its culmination in Book XI of Metaphysics. As noted above, motion, for Aristotle, refers to a change in any one of several different categories. Aristotle’s basic principle is that everything that is in motion is driven by something else, and he offers several (disjointed) arguments to this effect. Then he argues that there cannot be an infinite series of movers. If it is true that when A is in motion there must be some B that moves A, then if B itself is in motion then some C must be in motion B, and so on. This chain cannot go on forever, and so it must stop at some X which is a cause of motion but does not move itself – an unstable mover.

Aristotle is ready to call the immovable mover “God”. He says that the life of God should be like the best life of human life. The bliss that man enjoys in the sublime moments of philosophical contemplation is an eternal state in God. Aristotle asks, does God think? He must think about something – otherwise, he is no better than a sleeping person – and whatever he is thinking, he must think forever. Either he thinks of himself, or he thinks of something else. But the value of an idea depends on the value of its thought, therefore, if God was thinking of something other than Himself, He would have somehow degraded. So he must be thinking of himself, the Supreme Being, and his life is thinking of thinking (shor noise).

There has been much debate over this conclusion. Some have taken this to be a sublime truth; Others consider it a piece of perfect crap. Some of those who have taken the latter view have considered it the supreme absurdity of Aristotle’s system, and others have considered it a reductio ad absordum by Aristotle himself. Whatever the truth about the object of the immovable mover’s thought, it seems clear that it does not include the incidental cases of individual human beings.

Thus, the heavenly movers stand, moved and unmoving, at the highest point of the hierarchy because of Aristotle, who are the ultimate cause of all generation and corruption. And this is why metaphysics can be called by such two different names. When Aristotle says that the first philosophy studies the whole of existence, he is describing it by indicating the area he is to explain; When they say that this is the science of the divine, they are describing it by indicating the ultimate principles of its interpretation. Thus, the first philosophy is the science of being both merit and theology.

Philosophy of science

In his Posterior Analytics, Aristotle applied the principles of jurisprudence to the scientific and epistemological ends. Scientific knowledge, he insists, must be produced by demonstrations. A performance is a special type of jurisprudence, the premises of which can be traced back to principles that are true, necessary, universal, and immediately intuitive. These first, self-evident axioms are related to the conclusions of science as axioms are related to theorems: axioms both require and explain the truths that constitute a science. The most important axioms, Aristotle thought, would be those that define the proper subject of a science (thus, one of the axioms of geometry would be the definition of a triangle). For this reason, much of the second book of Posterior Analytics is devoted to the definition.

The accounting of science in posterior analytics is impressive, but it is not the same as any of Aristotle’s own scientific work. Generations of scholars have tried in vain to find a single example of a demonstrative jurisprudence in his writings. Furthermore, there has been no perfect example of performance science throughout the history of scientific endeavor.

Aristotle’s philosophy of mind

Aristotle considered psychology to be a part of natural philosophy, and he wrote much about the philosophy of mind. This material appears in his ethical writings, in a systematic treatise on the nature of the soul (de anima), and in several short monographs on topics such as sense-perception, memory, sleep, and dreams.

For Aristotle, the biologist, the soul is not—as in some of Plato’s writings—exile from a better world that is sick in a base body. The essence of the soul is defined by its relation to a biological structure. Not only humans but also animals and plants have souls, the inner principles of animal and vegetable life. A soul, says Aristotle, is “the reality of a body that has life,” where life means the capacity for self-sufficiency, growth and reproduction. If one considers living matter to be a composite of matter and form, then soul is the form of a natural – or, as Aristotle sometimes calls, organic – body. An organic body is a body that contains organs—that is, parts that have specific functions, such as the mouths of mammals and the roots of trees.

The souls of living beings are ordered by Aristotle into a hierarchy. Plants have a vegetative or nutritive spirit, which has the powers of growth, nutrition and reproduction. Animals, moreover, have powers of perception and locomotion – they have a sensitive soul, and every animal has at least one sense-faculty, touch being the most universal. Anyone who can feel can feel bliss; Therefore, animals that have senses also have desires. In addition, man has the power of reason and thought (logismos kai dinoia), which can be called a rational spirit. The way Aristotle structured the soul and its capacities influenced not only philosophy but also science for nearly two millennia.

Aristotle’s theoretical concept of the soul differs from that of Plato before him and then by René Descartes (1596–1650). For him the soul is not an inner immaterial agent acting on the body. Soul and body are not much different from each other, as the effect of a seal is different from the wax on which it is affected. In addition, there are parts of the soul, the faculties, which are distinguished from each other by their functions and their objects. The power of enhancement is different from the power of sensation because moving and feeling are two separate activities, and the sense of sight is different from the sense of hearing, not because the eyes are different from the ears, but because colors are different from sounds.

There are two types of sense objects: those that are suitable for particular senses, such as colour, sound, taste, and smell, and those that are perceptible by more than one sense, such as motion, number, shape, and size. For example, one can tell that something is moving by either looking at it or feeling it and therefore motion is a “normal sense”. Although there is no specific organ for the detection of general knowledge, there is a faculty that Aristotle calls “central knowledge”. For example, when one encounters a horse, one can see, hear, feel and smell it; It is the central sense that integrates these sensations into the perceptions of an object (although the knowledge that this object is a horse is, for Aristotle, a function of the intellect rather than the senses).

In addition to the five senses and the central senses, Aristotle also identifies other faculties that were later grouped together as the “inner senses”, notably imagination and memory. However, even on a purely philosophical level, Aristotle’s account of the inner senses is invaluable.

At the same level within the hierarchy as the senses, which are the cognitive faculties, there is also an affective faculty, which is the locus of instinctual emotion. It is a part of the soul that is basically irrational but capable of being controlled by reason. It is the abode of desire and passion; When brought under the influence of reason, it is the place of moral virtues such as courage and restraint. At the highest level of the soul is the mind or reason, the place of thought and understanding. Thought is distinct from sense-perception and, on earth, is the prerogative of human beings. Thought, like sensation, is a matter of decision-making; But sensation belongs to the particular, whereas intellectual knowledge is universal. Logic can be practical or theoretical, and, accordingly, Aristotle distinguishes between a deductive and a speculative faculty.

In a notoriously difficult passage of De Anima, Aristotle introduces another distinction between two types of mind: a passive, which can “become all things,” and an active, which can “create all things.” The active mind, he says, is “detachable, unreachable and mixed”. In Antiquity and the Middle Ages, this passage was the subject of sharply differing interpretations. Some – in particular Arab commentators – identified the detachable active agent with God or with some other superhuman intelligence. Others – notably among Latin commentators – took Aristotle to identify two distinct faculties within the human mind: an active intelligence, which produced concepts, and a passive intelligence, which was the storehouse of ideas and beliefs. .

If the second interpretation is correct, then Aristotle is identifying here a part of the human soul that is separate and immortal from the body. Here and elsewhere in Aristotle, in addition to his standard biological notion of the soul, remains of a Platonic view according to which the intellect is a separate entity separate from the body. No one in Aristotle’s view has made a completely satisfactory reconciliation between biological and transcendental strains.


Aristotle’s surviving works include three treatises on moral philosophy: the Nicomachean Ethics in 10 books, the Eudemian Ethics in 7 books, and Magna Moralia (Latin: “Great Ethics”). Nicomachean ethics is generally considered the most important of the three; It consists of a series of smaller texts, probably brought together by Nicomachus, Aristotle’s son. In the 19th century, Eudemian ethics was often suspected of being the work of Eudemus, a disciple of Aristotle, Rhodes, but there is no good reason to doubt its authenticity. Interestingly, the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudaimian Ethics have three books in common: Books V, VI and VII of the former are similar to Books IV, V and VI of the latter.


Aristotle’s approach to ethics is teleological. He argues that if life is to be worth living, it must be for something that is an end in itself—that is, desirable to oneself. If there is one thing that is the highest human good, it must be desirable to himself, and all other things must be desirable to him. A popular concept of the highest human good is pleasure—the pleasures of food, drink, and sex, along with aesthetic and intellectual pleasures. Others prefer a life of virtuous deeds in the political arena. The third possible candidate for the highest human good is scientific or philosophical thought. Thus Aristotle reduced the answer to the question “What is a good life?” For a short list of three: philosophical life, political life and voluntary life. This triad provides the key to his moral inquiry.

“Happiness”, the word that Aristotle used to designate the highest human good, is a generic translation of the Greek eudaimonia. Although it is impossible to abandon the English term at this stage of history, it should be noted that what Aristotle meant by eudaimonia is something more like welfare or flourishing than any sense of contentment. Aristotle argues, in fact, pleasure is the activity of the rational soul according to virtue. Humans must have a function, as certain types of human beings (eg, sculptors) do, as do different human parts and organs. This function must be unique to humans; Thus, it cannot include growth and nutrition, as it is shared by plants, or the life of the senses, as it is shared by animals. Therefore it must specifically include the human capacity for reasoning. The highest human good is tantamount to good human action, and good human action is tantamount to the good exercise of the faculty of reason—that is, the activity of the rational soul according to virtue. There are two types of virtues: moral and intellectual. Moral virtues are examples of courage, moderation and generosity; The key intellectual qualities are knowledge, which governs moral behavior and understanding, which is expressed in scientific effort and thought.

Moral qualities

People’s qualities are a subset of their good qualities. They are not innate like vision, but are acquired by practice and lost by use. They are permanent states, and thus they are different from momentary impulses such as anger and pity. Virtues are states of character that find expression in both purpose and action. Moral virtues are expressed in good purpose—that is, in the prescription of action according to a good plan of life. This is also expressed in actions that avoid both excesses and vices. For example, an abstinent person avoids eating or drinking too much, but he also avoids eating or drinking too little. Virtue chooses the middle, or middle path, between excess and defect. Besides purpose and action, virtue is also related to emotion. For example, a person may be overly concerned about sex or have insufficient interest in it; The temperate person will take a fair amount of interest and will be neither lustful nor cold.

While all moral virtues are instruments of karma and lust, it is not the case that every kind of action and passion is capable of a virtuous instrument. There are some tasks that do not have an exact amount, because any amount of them is too high; Aristotle gives examples of murder and adultery. Virtue, in addition to being related to the means of action and the rajas, are themselves means in the sense that they occupy a middle ground between two opposite doshas. Thus, the virtue of courage is foolishness on the one hand and cowardice on the other.

Aristotle’s account of virtue as a mean is no truism. It is a distinct moral principle that stands in contrast to a variety of other influential systems. This contrasts, on the one hand, with religious systems, which give a central role to the concept of moral law, focusing on the prohibitive aspects of morality. It is also different from ethical systems such as utilitarianism which judge the rightness and wrongness of actions in terms of their consequences. In contrast to the utilitarian, Aristotle believes that there are certain types of functions that are theoretically wrong.

The mean, which is a mark of moral virtue, is determined by the intellectual quality of knowledge. Wisdom is particularly expressed in the formulation of prescriptions for action—”practical impotence”, as Aristotle calls them. A practical jurisprudence consists of a general recipe for a good life, followed by an accurate description of the agent’s actual circumstances and concluded with a judgment about appropriate course of action.

Wisdom, the intellectual quality that is justified by practical reason, is inseparably linked with the moral qualities of the affective part of the soul. Only if the agent possesses moral qualities will he endorse a suitable recipe for a good life. Only if he has been gifted with intelligence, will he make an accurate assessment of the circumstances in which his decision is to be made. It is impossible, says Aristotle, to be really good without knowledge or to be truly intelligent without moral qualities. When right reasoning and right will come together, only then does the virtuous result in the true sense.

Therefore, virtuous deeds are always the result of successful practical reasoning. But practical reasoning can be flawed in a variety of ways. One can work through the ill effects of the lifestyle; For example, a gourmet may plan his life always around a project of maximizing present pleasure. Aristotle calls such a person “incontinent”. Even those who do not support such a hedonistic premise can sometimes overreact. This failure to implement on a particular occasion is usually a good plan for life which Aristotle calls “incontinence”.

Action and thought

The pleasures that are areas of moderation, incontinence, and incontinence are the familiar physical pleasures of food, drink, and sex. However, in treating pleasure, Aristotle explores a much wider area. There are two classes of aesthetic pleasures: pleasures of the lower senses of touch and taste, and pleasures of the superior senses of sight, hearing and smell. Finally, at the top of the scale, are the pleasures of the mind.

Plato posed the question whether the best life was in the pursuit of happiness or in the use of intellectual qualities. Aristotle’s answer is that the two are not in competition with each other, properly understood. The practice of the highest form of virtue is the same thing as the truest form of bliss; Each is equal and with pleasure to each other. The highest virtues are intellectual, and among them, Aristotle distinguished between knowledge and understanding. On the question of whether happiness is to be identified with the joy of knowledge or the joy of understanding, Aristotle gives different answers in his main moral treatises. Absolute happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics, although it assumes moral qualities, is entirely constituted by the activity of philosophical thought, while in the Eudaimian Ethics it consists in the harmonious exercise of all virtues, intellectual and moral.

The Eudaimian ideal of happiness, given the role provided for contemplation, moral virtue and pleasure, may claim to combine the characteristics of the traditional three life-philosophers, the life of the statesman and the life of the statesman. Pleasure seeker. The happy person will value contemplation above all, but part of his happy life will consist in the application of moral virtues in the political sphere and in the enjoyment of the natural human pleasures of the body as well as the soul. But even in Eudemian ethics, it is “service and contemplation of God” that sets the standard for the proper exercise of moral virtues, and in Nicomachean ethics, this contemplation is described as the supernatural activity of a divine part of human beings. Is. Nature. Aristotle’s final word on morality is that, in spite of being mortal, man should strive to make himself immortal as far as possible.

Aristotle’s Political Theory

 His sequel, Turning From the Texts of Morality to Politics, brings the reader down to earth. “Man is a political animal,” observes Aristotle; Human beings are creatures of flesh and blood, who walk side by side with each other in cities and communities.  He and his students documented the constitutions of 158 states—one of which, the Constitution of Athens, survives on papyrus. According to Aristotle, the purpose of politics is to examine on the basis of collected constitutions what makes good government and what makes bad government and to identify factors favorable or unfavorable for the preservation of the constitution.

Aristotle claims that all communities aim for something good. The state (polis), by which he refers to a city-state such as Athens, is the highest type of community, aimed at the highest goods. Families together form a village, and several villages together form a state, which is the first self-sufficient community. The state is no less natural than the family; This is evidenced by the fact that man has the power to speak, whose purpose is to “disclose the righteous and the unjust, and so also the righteous and the unjust.” The foundation of the state was the greatest favor because only within a state can man fulfill his potential.

Government, says Aristotle, must be in the hands of the one, of the few, or of the many; And governments can govern for the common good or the good of the rulers. Government by one person for the common good is called a “monarchy”; For personal gain, “torture.” Government by a minority is “elite” if it aims in the best interest of the state and “oligarchy” if it benefits only the ruling minority. Popular government calls Aristotle “politics” in the common interest; He reserves the word “democracy” for chaotic mob rule.

    But such a case is very rare, and the risk of abortion is enormous, because the monarchy corrupts tyranny, which is the worst constitution. Aristotle, in theory, has the next best constitution after the monarchy (since the ruling minority would be most qualified to rule), but in practice, Aristotle preferred a kind of constitutional democracy, which he called “politics”, a is the state. In which the rich and the poor respect each other’s rights and the most eligible citizens govern with the consent of all.

Two elements of Aristotle’s teaching influenced European political institutions for many centuries: their justification of slavery and their condemnation of usury. Some people, says Aristotle, think that the master’s rule over the slave is contrary to nature and therefore unjust. But they are absolutely wrong: a slave is one who is by nature not his own property but someone else’s. Aristotle agrees, however, that in practice too much slavery is unjust, and he speculates that, if inanimate machines could be made to perform small tasks, there would be no need for slaves as living tools. Still, some people are so inferior and cruel that it is better for them to be controlled by a master than to be left to their own devices.

Although not an aristocrat himself, Aristotle had an aristocratic disdain for commerce. They say that our property has two uses, fair and unfair. There is also fair and unfair use of money; Its fair use is to be made for goods and services, not to be lent on interest. Of all the ways to make money, “breeding out of barren metal” is the most unnatural.

Rhetoric and poetry

Rhetoric, for Aristotle, is a subject-neutral discipline that studies possible means of persuasion. In advising speakers on how to exploit the moods of his listeners, Aristotle makes a systematic and often practical treatment of human emotion, dealing in turn with anger, hatred, fear, shame, pity, resentment, envy and jealousy— In each case offer a definition of the spirit and a list of its objects and reasons.

Poetry is much better known than rhetoric, although only the first book of the former, epic and tragic poetry, survives. Among other things, the book aims to answer Plato’s criticisms of representative art. According to the theory of forms, material objects are original, real, imperfect copies of forms; Therefore, artistic representations of material objects are merely copies of things at variance with reality. Furthermore, the play has a particularly corrupting effect, as it provokes unworthy feelings in its audience. In response, Aristotle insisted that imitation, far from being the abusive activity described by Plato, is something natural to humans from infancy and is one of the characteristics that make humans superior.

 To answer Plato’s complaint that playwrights are merely imitators of everyday life, which is itself an imitation of the real world of forms, Aristotle makes a distinction between poetry and history. The poet’s job is not to describe something that has actually happened, but rather something that may well happen – that is, something that is possible because it is necessary or probable. For this reason poetry is more philosophical and important than history, because poetry speaks of the universal, only the history of the particular. Everything that happens to people in everyday life is a case of sheer accident; It is only in the imagination that can a character and action see its own natural consequences.

Far from reducing emotions, as Plato thought, drama has a beneficial effect on them. Tragedy, Aristotle says, must be episodes of pity and fear in order to achieve “purification” of these feelings. No one is quite sure what Aristotle meant by catharsis, or purification. But perhaps he meant that looking at tragedy helps people put their sorrows and worries into perspective, because in it they see how disaster can overtake those who are largely their seniors.

     Plato is idealistic, utopian, supernatural; Aristotle is realist, utilitarian, generalist. (This approach is reflected in Raphael’s famous illustration of Plato and Aristotle in the Vatican fresco The School of Athens.) However, in reality, the doctrines of Plato and Aristotle are more important than the doctrines that divide them. Many post-Renaissance historians have been less perceptive than commentators of late antiquity, who saw it as their duty to forge a harmonious agreement between the two greatest philosophers of the known world.

By any measure, Aristotle’s intellectual achievement is astounding. He was the first true scientist in history. He was the first author whose surviving works include detailed and comprehensive observations of natural phenomena, and he was the first philosopher to gain a sound understanding of the relationship between observation and theory in the scientific method. He identified various scientific disciplines and explored their relationship with each other. He was the first professor to organize his lectures into courses and place them in the curriculum. His Lyceum was the first research institute in which many scholars and investigators joined in collaborative inquiry and documentation. Lastly, and not least important, he was the first person in history to build a research library, a systematic collection of works used by his colleagues and passed on to posterity.

Millennia later, Plato and Aristotle still have a strong claim to be the greatest philosophers to have ever lived. But if his contribution to philosophy is equal, it was Aristotle who made the greatest contribution to the intellectual heritage of the world. Not only every philosopher, but every scientist is also in his debt. He deserves the title given by Dante: “the master of those who know.”

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