Aristotle, 384-322 B.C.
Born at Stagira, a Greek colony on the peninsula of Chalcidice, Aristotle was the son of Nicomachus, the friend and physician of Amyntas II, king of Macedon, father of Philip, and grandfather of Alexander the Great. At 18 years of age, Aristotle left Stagira for Athens and three years later, he became a pupil at Plato's Academy. During his twenty years in Athens he established a school of rhetoric. To this period belong some of his dialogues, including the Eudemus (and its Platonic influence). Upon Plato's death in 347, Aristotle left Athens. He spent three years with an old friend, the despot of Lesbos, at Atarneus in Asia Minor, and married his niece. In 342, Aristotle was invited by Philip of Macedon to educate his son, Alexander. The two parted when Alexander set out on his expedition into Asia in 334. Aristotle returned to Athens in 335 and set up a school called the Lyceum, so named from its proximity to the temple of Apollo Lyceius. His followers were called Peripetetics. After the death of Alexander, the anti-Macedonian party accused Aristotle of impiety. With the example of Socrates behind him, Aristotle escaped (322) to Chalcis in Euboea, where he died in the same year.
Trained as a physician, Aristotle brought to his philosophy a respect for fact, which he based on his doctrines. Plato, on the other hand, created a philosophic system grounded in the theory of forms. Aristotle, it is said, brought Plato down to earth. He was the first to work out a theory of reasoning which, with modifications over time, has survived to our own day as deductive logic. His Organon was the name given to his treatises on logic, of which the most notable are the Categories, Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics. The Metaphysics (after physics) was given to Aristotle's discussions on "first philosophy," because they were placed by his editors after his books about nature.
A true polymath, Aristotle devoted his life to a variety of topics including physics, zoology, biology, poetry and drama, metaphysics, politics, logic, psychology, theology and ethics. About the only field of intellectual endeavor that Aristotle did not discuss was mathematics. Although Aristotle wrote his treatises, what usually passes for Aristotle's works today are lecture notes maintained by his students.
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