"The whole is more than the sum of its parts."
Aristotle was born in Stagira in 384 BC, on the peninsula of Chalkidiki in Macedonia, Greece (hence his nickname “the Stagirite”). His father was Nichomachus, court physician to Amyntas III of Macedonia (the father of Philip II of Macedon and grandfather of Alexander the Great), and he was no doubt introduced to Greek medicine and biology at an early age. In 367 BC, after his father’s death, he was sent to Athens and became first a pupil then a teacher at Plato’s Academy. He remained there for 20 years, until Plato’s death in 347 BC, and gained a particular reputation in rhetoric.
What is Aristotle known for?
Aristotle is one of the greatest thinkers in politics, psychology, and ethics. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the “Father of Western Philosophy”.
Teaching Alexander the Great gave Aristotle many opportunities and an abundance of supplies. He established a library in the Lyceum which aided in the production of many of his hundreds of books. The fact that Aristotle 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. He believed all peoples’ concepts and all of their knowledge was ultimately based on perception. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.
Aristotle’s views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval scholarship. His influence extended into the Renaissance and was not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle’s zoological observations were not confirmed or refuted until the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into modern formal logic.
In metaphysics, Aristotelianism profoundly influenced Judeo-Islamic philosophical and theological thought during the Middle Ages and continues to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim intellectuals and revered as “The First Teacher”.
His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues – Cicero described his literary style as “a river of gold” – it is thought that only around a third of his original output has survived.