Aristotle was born in northern Greece in the village of Stagira. He became the most accomplished product of Plato’s educational system, spending twenty years of his life at Plato’s academy. Upon the death of his own teacher, Aristotle travelled to Macedonia where he played a role in the teaching of the young Alexander the Great. With Alexander’s approval he returned to Athens in 335 BC, where he set up his own school in the Lyceum. It was here that he lived out his days, writing, teaching, and researching.
The surviving works of this great man are perhaps only a small number of his total output. They include his opinions and thoughts on a wide variety of subjects; these include philosophy, logic, ethics, biology, physics, politics, psychology, as well as rhetoric. The style of his compositions points to the fact that he was thinking and developing his ideas constantly as he wrote. Because of this, it is often said that his work is not easy to read due to the lack of flow and consistency, nevertheless it is still an impressive body of knowledge that has played an important role in the development of modern society.
His logical treatises (referred to as the Organon) had the aim of developing a universal method of reasoning to understand all that is possible about the meaning of reality. For example, in the “Categories” treatise, Aristotle put forward a concept that would describe matter in terms of state, activity, and property.
Another famous work is the text “On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, and Posterior Analytics”, in which he examines the real nature of deduction and inference, outlining a system that eventually became known as categorical logic.
Aristotle had a stronger fascination for science then either Plato or Socrates perhaps because of the fact that his own father was a reputed doctor. He integrated the logical methods taught by Socrates to develop an understanding of the way in which the physical world worked.
It is often said that he is the father of modern science. He had a special interest in biology, and actually worked on classifying hundreds of plant and animal species in a way that could be easily understood. In fact, when Alexander the great was travelling extensively through west Asia, he ordered his messengers to carry plants back to his teacher for his study.
Making order out of what initially appeared as chaos was one of the tenets of ancient Greek philosophy. Aristotle played an important role in the development of government. The system he created is still in use today, as is apparent when we analyze modern democracies, tyrannies, republics, monarchies, and oligarchs.
Upon the death of Alexander in 323 BC, Athens revolted against the Macedonians in a bloody slaughter. Anger was turned towards Aristotle due to his heritage and connections. He left his beloved school and fled Athens with a small retinue of followers. The last years of his life where spent in the north of the country close to where he had been born.
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