Biography (Encyclopedia of the Ancient World)
Aristotle was the son of Nicomachus, the court physician for the royal Macedonian household of King Amyntas II. He originally studied medicine, but at the age of seventeen, he went to Athens and entered Plato’s Academy. At the time, Plato’s Academy was a place for extensive study of all knowledge. This broad education is reflected in the eclectic nature of Aristotle’s writing. Aristotle remained at the Academy until Plato’s death in 347 b.c.e. He then went to Asia Minor to the court of King Hermias of Assos. There Aristotle most likely gave lectures to former disciples of Plato.
In 338 b.c.e., he returned to Macedonia and tutored the son of King Philip II, Alexander the Great. After leaving Macedonia, Aristotle returned to his native town of Stagirus and pursued scientific research. In 334 b.c.e., Aristotle returned to Athens and founded his own school, the Lyceum. For the next eleven years Aristotle taught two distinct groups of people. In the mornings, he conducted technical and advanced discourse on logic, philosophy, and science with his students. In the afternoons, he held sessions for the general public on rhetoric, politics, and ethics and discussed popular issues. Aristotle also created a library with an extensive collection of manuscripts, maps, and museum objects, which he used in his teaching. This library became the model for later state libraries at Alexandria and Pergamum.
Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 b.c.e., Athens became the center of anti-Macedonian feelings, and Aristotle’s connections to Macedonia made him suspect. Aristotle was charged with impiety, the same charge that had been brought against Socrates. This charge was based on a hymn Aristotle had written on Hermias. Unlike Socrates, however, Aristotle left Athens, saying he would not let the Athenians sin twice against philosophy. He went to Chalcis (Khalkís), on Euboea, a stronghold of Macedonian influence, where he died in 322 b.c.e.
Aristotle’s writings covered almost every field of knowledge. He wrote six treatises on logic. He also wrote on natural science, zoology, psychology, basic philosophy, ethics, political science, oratory, and poetry. Aristotle developed a systematic and pluralistic concept about the nature of science. He believed that there was not a single unified science; rather, the totality of knowledge was divided into independent disciplines. He identified theology, mathematics, and the natural...
(The entire section is 1081 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
IntroductionAlong with Socrates and Plato, Aristotle laid the foundations of Western philosophy. Although he studied under Plato and admired his teacher’s search for eternal “forms” (or universal truths), Aristotle ultimately focused his attention on the particulars of human life, gaining knowledge by observation and experience. He turned his mind to all areas of study—ethics, politics, logic, government, physics, biology, rhetoric, metaphysics, poetry, drama, and music. The wide nature of Aristotle’s thought helped him to develop a comprehensive system of philosophy that still influences Western culture today. Aristotelian philosophy has even had a profound influence on both Christian and Islamic religious thought.
Biography (Great Lives from History: The Ancient World, Prehistory-476)
Article abstract: Building on Plato’s dialogical approach, Aristotle developed what is known as the scientific method. In addition, he founded the Lyceum, which housed the first research library.
Aristotle (ar-uhs-TAHT-uhl) was born in the town of Stagirus, located on the northeast coast of the Chalcidice Peninsula in Greece, most likely in 384 b.c.e. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician and a member of the clan, or guild, of the Asclepiadae, as had been his ancestors. The family probably had migrated from Messenia in the eighth or seventh century b.c.e. Aristotle’s mother was from Chalcis, the place where he sought refuge during the last year of his life. Both his parents died while Aristotle was very young.
Aristotle was adopted and raised by Proxenus, court physician to Amyntas II of Macedonia (an occasional source suggests that Nicomachus also held this position, but others disagree). It is likely, therefore, that young Aristotle lived part of his youth at Pella, the royal seat. He may even have learned and practiced surgery during this time.
Aristotle’s early environmental influences helped determine his outlook: his detached, objective way of looking at a subject, his interest in biological science, and his universality. In his early life, Aristotle was surrounded by physicians and princes, not philosophers. When he was eighteen, he was sent to Athens for training in the best school available, Plato’s Academy, where he would spend the next twenty years. Thus ended the first of the four phases of Aristotle’s life.
Aristotle’s career divides itself naturally into three periods: the twenty (some say nineteen) years at Plato’s Academy, from 368 to 348; the thirteen years of travel, from 348 to 335; and the return to Athens, or the years in the Lyceum, from 335 to 323.
When young Aristotle arrived at the Academy, Plato was away on a second journey to Syracuse. When the master returned the following year, however, Aristotle became his prize student and ardent friend. Although most of Aristotle’s earlier works have been preserved only in fragments, usually in quotations within works by later scholars of the Peripatetic School, several are attributed to this period and the one that followed.
As Plato’s method was dialogue, Aristotle, like other students at the Academy, began writing in dialogue. Aristotle was influenced by Plato about the time the master altered his own form, moving toward dialogues other than those with Socrates as questioner and main speaker. Aristotle, in turn, made himself the main speaker in his own dialogues.
Some scholars consider De anima the best of Aristotle’s works from this period. Translated as On the Soul, this work treats the soul and immortality, and it is imitative of Plato’s Phaedōn, which was written c. 388-366 b.c.e. (Critic Werner Jaeger believes that each of Aristotle’s early dialogues was influenced by a particular Platonic dialogue, that the student was still dependent on the master as far as metaphysics was concerned but independent in the areas of methodology and logic.) Aristotle’s Protrepticus (Protreptics) is named for a term designating a letter written in defense of philosophy; the method employed in this work (questions and answers by teacher and student) is from Plato, but the protreptic form is borrowed from the philosopher Isocrates, who was also at Athens during this time. In the year 348 (or 347), two events influenced Aristotle’s future: the death of Plato (and possibly the choice of a new leader of the Academy), which caused Aristotle to leave Athens, and Philip II’s destruction of Stagirus, which caused the philosopher to look elsewhere for a new home.
With a fellow Academic, Xenocrates, Aristotle left Athens for Mysia (modern Turkey), accepting the invitation of Hermeias, a former fellow student at the Academy who had risen from slavery to become ruler of Atarneus and Assos. Aristotle presided over his host’s small Platonic circle, making of it a school modeled after the Academy. He married Pythias, niece and adopted daughter of Hermeias, after the ruler’s death; they had a daughter, also named Pythias. His wife lived until late in Aristotle’s so-called second Athenian period. After three years came another move, this time...
(The entire section is 1791 words.)
Biography (Censorship (Ready Reference series))
Aristotle was the most comprehensive and systematic philosopher of Western antiquity. Combining empirical observation and logical analysis, he took the natural world as a starting point to inquire into the causes of various observed phenomena. Beyond the separate sciences that he helped to create, Aristotle speculated on the existence and cause of nature itself. His writings on the nature of a supreme being and the eternity of the world later caused medieval Church authorities to suppress some of his works.
(The entire section is 1753 words.)
Biography (Ethics (Ready Reference series))
Aristotle, an individual with encyclopedic knowledge, wrote on numerous topics, including physics, metaphysics, logic, ethics, politics, poetics, and rhetoric. In the area of ethics, his major works are the Nicomachean Ethics, the Eudemian Ethics, and the Politics. He claims that the purpose of the state is to provide for the intellectual and moral development of its citizens. The Nicomachean Ethics is considered to contain Aristotle’s mature moral theory.
Aristotle begins the...
(The entire section is 1407 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Aristotle (ar-uh-STAWT-uhl) was born in 384 b.c.e. in Stagirus, a small colonial town on the northern coast of the Aegean Sea, in Chalcidice, Greece. His father, Nicomachus, was a physician to the court of the Macedonian king Amyntas II. There is some speculation that being born into a physician’s family led to Aristotle’s later interest in biology, but that is at best only a partial account; both his parents died when he was quite young, and he was reared by an official in the Macedonian court.
At eighteen, Aristotle traveled south to Athens, where he became a member of Plato’s Academy,...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Aristotle’s philosophy is not flawless. Even his most vigorous contemporary defenders are quick to point out his errors—for example, his belief that some people are slaves by nature and that women are naturally inferior to men. Many people today would argue that such pronouncements, made with complete confidence at the time, prove that what is true for one person may not be true for someone else. Rather than being patronized by those who would excuse his errors by relativizing truth, however, Aristotle would much prefer simply to be refuted with good arguments and careful observations. These are much more central to his philosophy than any particular conclusions that he reached on any particular topic.
(The entire section is 116 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Aristotle (ar-uh-STAWT-uhl), one of the greatest philosophers, was born in Stagirus, a little town on the peninsula of Chalcidice. He was the son of Nicomachus, a physician, and Phaestis. The family was middle class, of moderate means. While Aristotle was yet a child his father became court physician to Amyntas II of Macedon, the grandfather of Alexander the Great. From birth Aristotle, as the son of a physician, was a member of the Asclepiadae guild. His interest in science and particularly in biology was only natural, for his family had a long tradition in medicine. He was soon without parents, however, because they died when he was a boy. He became a ward of a friend and relative of the family, Proxenus.
(The entire section is 848 words.)