Saturday, 17 March 2007

Aristotle;student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great

With Islamic and multi-faith lunacy floating, some thinkers are looking beyond even Christianity to get a new wave of thought. Much of Aristotle's work was mixed with the ethics of Christianity however.

Aristotle (born 384BC-322BC) along with Socrates ad Plato was one of the most influential of the ancient Greek and made foundations into Western philosophy as we know it.

Aristotle defined philosophy as "the knowledge of being." Educated as a member of the aristocracy,he furthered his education at Plato's Academy. He left after Plato's deathin 347BC and travelled to Asia Minor where he carried out research on the island of Lesbos on botany and zoology.

Aristotle returned to Ahtnes in 335BC and established his own school, the Lyceum. During this time he composed many of his works, for the most in text and lecture notes to be used by his students. Among the most important are Physics, Metaphysics(or Ontology), Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima(on the soul) and Poetics. Although connected in many basic ways, these works differed in style and substance.

Aristotle studied almost every subject possible and made significant contributions to most of them.

Aristotle was likely to be the last person to know everything there was to be known in his time.

Upon Alexander's death in 323BC, anti-Macedonian feelings in Athens again flared with Eurymedon the hierophant denouncing Aristotle claiming he did not hold the gods in honor. Aristotle fled the city to his family's estate in Chalcis, explaining,"I will not allow the Athenians to sin twice against philosophy." However, he died there of natural causes within the year. He asked to be buried next to his wife.

Aristotle defines his philosophy in terms of essence, stating "the science of the universal essence of that which is actual". Pllato had defined it as the "science of the idea", meaning by idea what is called the unconditional basis of phemomena.

In Arisotle's terminology, the natural philosophy of the natural world corresponds to motion, light, and the laws of physics. These subjects became the basisi of modern science many centuries later when studied through a scientific mehtod. Lately, the term philosophy has come tho mean metaphysics. In Aristotle's time ,philosophy was taken to encompass all facets of intellectual inquiry.

Aristotle makes philosophy coextensive with reasoning , which he also called "science". "All science(dianoia) is either practical, poetica or theoretical". By practical science he meant ethics and politics, by poetical science he meant the study of poetry and the other fine arts, by theoretical science he menat physics, mathematics and metaphysics.

He defines metaphysics and philosophy as "the knowledge of immaterial being" and calls it "first philosophy". Logic was regarded as a preliminary study to philosophy.

Aristotle's conception of logic was the dominant form of logic until the advances of mathematical logic in the 19th century. In the Critique of Pure Reason Aristotle's theory of logic was a core of deductive inference. Logic seems to have emerged from dialectics, the earliet philosophers used concepts like reductio ad absurdum in discussion but never understood their logical implications. Plato had difficulties with logic, he had an idea for constructin a system for deduction but was never able to construct one.

Aristotle called laoic "analytics", logic he explained was dialectics. Most of Aristotle's work is probably not in t's original form but edited by students and later lecturers.

Aristotle's Metaphysics contains observatons on the nature of numbers but made no original contributions to Mathmatics.

His writings on science are largely qualitiative not quantitative. From the beginning of the sixteenth century, scientists began applying mathematics to the physical sciences and here Aristotle's work was inadequate. He lacked concepts like mass, velocity, force and temperature. He had a notion of what speed and termperature was but no quantitative understanding of them, partly due to not having basic experimental apparatus llike a clock or thermometer.

"The laws of the universe" reach from simple observation to over-stretched reason. Today the validity of hypothesis requires more rigourous experimentation. He couldn't see the relationship of maths to physics. In the 3rd century the dominant view was that the Earth was the centre of the universe(geocentrism). This view has later been repudiated.

His advances were that he founded logic as a formal science and created foundations to biology that were not superseded (in the West) for two milennia. He also introduced the fundamental notion that nature is composed of things that change and studyng changes can provide useful knowledge.

The Material Cause is that which comes into existence from its parts,constituents, substratum or materials, forming the whole(system, structure, compound, complex, composite or combination).

Chance and Spontaneity

Chance is the incidental cause of accidental things. Chance can only apply to human beings, it is the sphere of moral actions.

Aristotle concludes that a particular substance is a combination of matter and form.

Five Elements

#fire, which is hot and dry

#earth, which is cold and dry

#air, which is hot and wet

#water, whichis cold and wet

#ether, which is the divine substance that makes up the heavenly spheres and heavenly bodies (stars and planets).

The four earthly elements have their natural place, when they are out of place they ave natural motion, requiring no external cause. The heavenly element has perpetual circular motion.

It may be doubted if any other thinker has contributed so much to the enlightenment of the world. He founded the sciences of Logic, Biology and Psychology. He anticipated the coming of the Industrial revolution a full two thousand years in advance by writing in his Politics, "If every instrument could accompllish its own work, obeying or anticipating the will of others,if the shuttle would weave, or the plectrum touch the lyre, without a hand to guide them, then chief workmen would not need assistants, nor masters slaves."

Aristotle is referred to as "The Philosopher" by Scholastic thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas. These types of thinkers blended Aristotelian philosophy with Christianity, bringing the thought of Ancient Greece into the Middle Ages. It required a repudiation of some Aristotelian principles for the sciences and the arts to free themselves for the discovery of modern scientific laws and empirical methods.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche has taken nearly all his political philosophy from Aristotle.

After the Roman period, Aristotle's works were by and large lost to the West for a second time. After much various raiding during Islamic "Jihad",Muslim scholars got hold of some of the Greek philosophers manuscripts making many commentaries on his work. They never attributed their findings to its author and claimed the ideas as their own, much as they did after Mohammed's men had raided the Hindus and stolen their manuscripts on the zero and algebrae.

The demand for Aristotle's works grew and translations were made into Latin, and the Greek manuscripts were returned to the West, stimulating a revival of Aristotelianism in Europe.