"The whole is more than the sum of its parts."
Aristotle was born in Chalkidiki (Macedonia, Greece) in the city of Stagira in 384 BC. We know that his father’s name was Nichomachus and he was court physician to Amyntas III of Macedonia (the father of Philip II of Macedon and grandfather of Alexander the Great). Aristotle was no doubt introduced to Greek medicine and biology at an early age. After his father’s death (in 367 BC), Aristotle was sent to Athens and became a pupil and later a teacher at Plato’s Academy. He remained there for 20 years, until Plato’s death in 347 BC, and gained a reputation in rhetoric.
What is Aristotle known for?
Aristotle is one of the most prolific philosophers of ancient Greece, along with Plato. He is one of the greatest thinkers in politics, psychology, and ethics and he is considered the “Father of Western Philosophy”.
Aristotle was also the teacher of Alexander the Great. He established a library in the Lyceum in Athens which aided in the production of many of his hundreds of books. After Plato’s death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism. Aristotle believed that all peoples’ concepts and all of their knowledge were ultimately based on perception. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.
The medieval scholarship was profoundly shaped by Aristotle’s views on physical science. Aristotle’s influence extended well into the Renaissance and was not replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such as classical mechanics. It’s important to note that some of Aristotle’s zoological observations were not confirmed or refuted until the 19th century. Aristotle was hugely important to philosophy and science as his works contain the earliest known formal study of logic, which was later incorporated – in the late 19th century – into modern formal logic.
In addition to his huge influence over western philosophy, Aristotelianism also profoundly influenced Judeo-Islamic philosophical and theological thought (with Aristotle’s metaphysics) 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 work on ethics even though it has been influential through ancient and medieval times it has gained renewed interest in our time. In fact, all aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy – not just his work on ethics – continue to be the object of active academic study to this day. Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues however only a third of his original works have survived to this day.