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Aristotle Aristotle was born in 384 BC.; with him came the birth of Western realism. He was a student of Plato and a tutor to Alexander the Great (Founders, 1991). It is difficult to discuss the philosophies of Aristotle without bringing up those of his former tutor, Plato. Aristotle’s philosophies diverted from Plato’s, and led to Aristotle forming his own school, the Lyceum. After tutoring Alexander the Great for about five years, he founded the Lyceum in Athens, Greece (Wheelwright, 1983). The Lyceum was a philosophical school that dealt in matters such as metaphysics, logic, ethics, and natural sciences. When teaching at the Lyceum, Aristotle had a habit of walking about as he discoursed.

It was in connection with this that his followers became known in later years as the peripatetics, meaning “to walk about” (Owens, 1981). For the next thirteen years he devoted his energies to his teaching and composing his philosophical treatises. This paper will attempt to discuss Aristotle’s contributions and theories in metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology. However, his major contributions are in Metaphysics. Aristotle’s editors gave the name “Metaphysics” to his works on first philosophy, either because they went beyond or followed after his physical investigations (Adler, 1983). Metaphysics are the theories of the nature of reality.

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Aristotle broke down Plato’s dualism and replaced it with a hierarchy. He stated that both things and ideas are real, but ideas are better. Actually all things are a combination of matter and idea. For example: A chair may be wood, but it is more than just a block of wood. It is wood shaped by an idea.

By looking at the chair we can know something of the concept which gives it meaning. The physical chair is real, but the concept which gives it meaning is higher in the matter hierarchy. A more detailed look into this concept is discussed later in this paper. Aristotle also believed in mind-body dualism, like Plato, which asserts that the mind and body exist on separate planes. Realist metaphysics assumes the existence of objects independently of the human experience of those objects; cognition involves an interaction of the mind and the objective universe (Owens, 1981). The educational goals of realism are to develop human rationality through the study of organized bodies of knowledge and to encourage humans to define themselves by making rational decisions and exercising their potential.

For Aristotle, the subject of metaphysics deals with the first principles of scientific knowledge and the ultimate conditions of all existence. More specifically, it deals with existence in its most fundamental state, and the essential attributes of existence. This can be contrasted with mathematics, which deals with existence in terms of lines or angles, and not existence as it is in itself. Aristotle argues that there are a handful of universal truths. Against the followers of Heraclitus and Protagoras, Aristotle defends both the laws of contradiction, and that of the excluded middle.

He does this by showing that their denial is suicidal. Carried out to its logical consequences, the denial of these laws would lead to the sameness of all facts and all assertions. It would also result in an indifference in conduct. As the science of being as being, the leading question of Aristotle’s metaphysics is, “What is meant by the real or true substance,”(Founders, 1991). The development of potentiality to actuality is one of the most important aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy.

It was intended to solve the difficulties which earlier thinkers had raised with reference to the beginning of existence and the relations of the one and many. The actual vs. potential state of things is explained in terms of the causes which act on things. There are four causes: 1. Material cause, or the elements out of which an object is created; 1.

Efficient cause, or the means by which it is created; 2. Formal cause, or the expression of what it is; 3. Final cause, or the end for which it is (Adler, 1991). Take, for example, a brick house. Its material cause is the brick itself.

Its efficient cause is the builder, which he creates the house into shape. The formal cause is the idea of the completed house. The final cause is the idea of the house as it prompts the builder to act on the bricks. The final cause tends to be the same as the formal cause, and both of these can be assumed by the efficient cause. Of the four, it is the formal and final which is the most important, and which most truly gives the explanation of an object.

The final end of a thing is realized in the full perfection of the object itself, not in our conception of it. Final cause is thus internal to the nature of the object itself, and not something we subjectively impose on it. God to Aristotle is the first of all substances, the necessary first source of movement who is himself unmoved. God is a being with everlasting life, and perfect blessedness, engaged in never-ending contemplation. Epistemology are theories of or the study of the nature and grounds for knowledge with reference to its limits and validity (Wheelwright, 1983).

Aristotle accepts the idea of universal, knowable Truth. He believes that, since both ideas and things are real, knowledge can be attained by both reason and sense experience – actually reason applied to sense experience. Science and philosophy are both legitimate ways of knowing, but philosophy is superior. Axiology is the science of value. The word “axiology”, derived from two Greek roots “axios” (worth or value) and “logos” (logic or theory), means the theory of value (Adler, 1991). The development of the science makes possible the objective measurement of value as accurately as a thermometer measures temperature.

Aristotle is philosophically an absolutist. Certain values, like rationality, apply universally. In day to day decision-making, his “Golden Mean” concept seems relativistic (Founders, 1991). Important concepts include intrinsic and extrinsic values. In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle established his ideals of moderation, balance, and harmony as the core of his axiological system or value theory (Owens, 1981).

Unlike Plato whose philosophy was based on abstraction, Aristotle’s methods were based on empirical observation and research, thus the basis for realism. Similar to Plato’s forms, Aristotle believed in essence, which refers to the attributes necessary for an object to be what it is. As mentioned earlier, this paper summarizes Aristotle’s theories in metaphysics, epistemology, and axiology, and does not discuss his other philosophies. To really understand Aristotle’s philosophy, one has to read all of his theories and beliefs. There is no fine line between his different theories, and attempting to separate them into sections, or to summarize them in a four page paper, strips them of their true global perspective in relation to his other theories. However, regardless of the latter fact, Aristotle’s philosophies still astound scholars and people of all walks of life today, two thousand three hundred and twenty two years later. Bibliography References Adler, M.

(1991). Aristotle For Everybody. New York, NY:MacMillan Publishing Company. Founders of thought. (1991). Philosophy. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Owens, J. (1981). Aristotle:The collected Papers of Joseph Owens. Albany, New York. State University of New York.

Wheelwright, Philip. (1983). Five Philosophers. New York, NY: The Odyssey Press, Inc.


Aristotle Aristotle Aristotle was a Greek philosopher, educator, and scientist. He was one of the greatest and most influential thinkers in Western culture. He familiarized himself with the entire development of Greek thought preceding him. In his own writings, Aristotle considered, summarized, criticized, and further developed all the intellectual tradition that he had inherited from his teacher, Plato. Aristotle was the first philosopher to analyze the process whereby certain propositions can be logically inferred to be true from the fact that certain other propositions are true. He believed that this processor logical inference was based on a form of argument he called the syllogism.

In a syllogism, a proposition is argued or logically inferred to be true from the fact that two other propositions are true. Aristotle also believed in a Philosophy of nature. In this he believed the most striking aspect of nature was change. He even defined the philosophy of nature in his book Physics, as the study of things that change. Aristotle argued that to understand change, a distinction must be made between the form and matter of a thing.

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He is even the man given credit for the idea of matter and form. Aristotle’s philosophy of nature includes psychology and biology. In On the Soul, he investigated the various function of the soul and the relationship between the soul and the body. Aristotle was the world’s first great biologist. He gathered vast amounts of information about the variety, structure, and behavior of animals and plants. Aristotle died in 400 BC leaving many great works and ideas behind him. From about 500 AD to 1100 AD knowledge of Aristotle’s philosophy was almost completely lost in the West.

During this period, it was preserved by Arabic and Syrian scholars who reintroduced it to the Christian culture of Western Europe in the 1100’s and 1200’s. Aristotle enjoyed tremendous prestige during this time. To some of the leading Christian and Arabic scholars of the Middle Ages, Aristotle writings seemed to contain the sum total of human knowledge. Aristotle’s authority has declined since the Middle Ages, but many philosophers of the modern period owe much to him. The extent of Aristotle’s influence is difficult to judge, because many of his ideas have been absorbed into the language of science and philosophy. Biographies.


Aristotle was born in 384; he was a Greek philosopher, logician, and scientist. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is generally regarded as one of the most Influential ancient thinkers in a number of philosophical fields, including political theory. Aristotle’s’ writing reflects his time, background and beliefs. Aristotle was born at Stagira, in Macedonia. His father, Nichomacus, was the personal physician to the King of Macedonia, Amyntas. At the age of seventeen, Aristotle left for Athens to study at Plato’s Academy. He studied at the Academy for about twenty years, up until Plato’s death. Plato’s death sent Aristotle to a city in Asia Minor, called Assos, where his friend, Hermias was the ruler. It was in Assos where Aristotle met, Pythias, who is described as either a niece or daughter of Hermias, who Aristotle married after the murder of Hermias, by the Persians. Aristotle then went to Pella; the capitol of Macedonia, where he became the tutor for the king’s son, Alexander, who later became Alexander the Great. When Alexander became King, Aristotle went to Athens where he began to lecture at the Lyceum. He lectured while walking about in one of its covered walk ways, earning him the nickname Peripatetic”, which means walking about. Aristotle lectured and directed the Lyceum for twelve years, producing during this time the lecture notes which now form his works. Only a small amount of Aristotle’s works has survived. The writings which did survive like “Metaphysics,” which were his writings on the nature, scope, and properties of being; and “Physics,” his writing on astronomy, meteorology, plants, and animals, these writings have changed the way we think and live. Aristotle’s works encompassed all the major areas of thought: logic, science, metaphysics, ethics, and politics. He developed a new, non-Platonic theory of form, created a system of deductive reasoning for universal and existential statements, produced a theory of the cosmos, matter, life, and mind, and theorized about the relationship between ethics and politics and the nature of the good life. His system rivals Plato’s for the next 2000 years. Aristotle was a firm believer that philosophy came from wonder, and that knowledge came from experience. He had a wealth of knowledge, from much experience; if he were correct about philosophy coming from wonder, he would have had to wonder quite a bit. Aristotle was a genius; this is evident in his writings, because the ideas and concepts he proposed in his writing were ahead of his time. Aristotle learned from the best and taught the best so his ideas and thoughts were always being challenged, which made him thrive for knowledge. Aristotle is consider to be the one of best if not the best philosophers ever, his ideas reflect the title.

Aristotle’s system of philosophy was never as influential in ancient times as Plato’s. Indeed, Aristotle’s works may not have been published for some centuries after his death. After the fall of Rome, his work was largely lost to Europe, while Plato’s were saved, Aristotle’s works still played a vital role in our society’s evolution. Aristotle’s writing was so ahead of his time, they made people question his sanity. Though, during that period of time he could have been labeled as a nut he is now labeled as one of the most influential philosophers of all time.

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Art is defined by Aristotle as the realization in external form of a true idea, and is traced back to that natural love ofimitation which characterizes humans, and to the pleasure, which we feel in recognizing likenesses. Art however is not limited to mere copying. It idealizes nature and completes its deficiencies: it seeks to grasp the universal type in the individual phenomenon. The distinction therefore between poetic art and history is not that the one use meter, and the other does not. The distinction is that while history is limited to what has actually happened, poetry depicts things in their universal character. And, therefore, “poetry is more philosophical and more elevated than history.” Such imitation may represent people either as better or as worse than people usually are, or it may neither go beyond nor fall below the average standard. Comedy is the imitation of the worse examples of humanity, understood however not in the sense of absolute badness, but only in so far as what is low and ignoble enters into what is laughable and comic.
Tragedy, on the other hand, is the representation of a serious or meaningful, rounded or finished, and more or less extended or far-reaching action – a representation that is effected by action and not mere narration. It is fitted by portraying events, which excite fear and pity in the mind of the observer to purify or purge these feelings and extend and regulate their sympathy. It is thus a homeopathic curing of the passions. Insofar as art in general universalizes particular events, tragedy, in depicting passionate and critical situations, takes the observer outside the selfish and individual standpoint, and views them in connection with the general lot of human beings. This is similar to Aristotle’s explanation of the use of orgiastic music in the worship of Bacchas and other deities: it affords an outlet for religious fervor and thus steadies one’s religious sentiments.

Work Sited
Encarta Encyclopedia. 1999 edition. CD-ROM.


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