Aristotle

Article

January 21, 2022

Aristotle (384-322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher and polymath. He is with Plato, whose disciple he was at the Academy, one of the most influential thinkers that the Western world has known. He is also one of the few to have approached almost all areas of knowledge of his time: biology, physics, metaphysics, logic, poetics, politics, rhetoric, ethics and occasionally economics. In Aristotle, philosophy, originally "love of wisdom", is understood in a broader sense as the search for knowledge for itself, questioning the world and science of sciences. For him, science comprises three main areas: theoretical science, practical science and productive or poietic (applied) science. Theoretical science is the best use man can make of his free time. It is made up of “first philosophy” or metaphysics, mathematics and physics, also called natural philosophy. Practical action-oriented science (praxis) is the domain of politics and ethics. Productive science covers the field of technique and the production of something external to man. Agriculture enters its field, but also poetry, rhetoric and, in general, everything that is made by man. Logic, on the other hand, is not considered by Aristotle as a science, but as the instrument that allows science to progress. Exhibited in a book entitled Organon, it is based on two central concepts: the syllogism, which will strongly mark scholasticism, and the categories. Nature (Physis) holds an important place in Aristotle's philosophy. According to him, natural materials possess in themselves a principle of movement (en telos echeïn). Consequently, physics is devoted to the study of the natural movements caused by the proper principles of matter. Beyond that, for his metaphysics, the god of the philosophers is the prime mover, the one who sets the world in motion without himself being moved. Likewise, all living things have a soul, but it has various functions. Plants only have a soul animated by a vegetative function, that of animals has both a vegetative and sensory function, that of men is endowed in addition with an intellectual function. Ethical virtue, according to Aristotle, is balanced between two excesses. Thus, a brave man must be neither reckless nor cowardly. It follows that Aristotelian ethics is very marked by the notions of measure and phronesis (in French wisdom). Its ethics, just like its politics and its economy, is turned towards the search for the Good. Aristotle, in this field, profoundly influenced the thinkers of the following generations. In connection with his naturalism, the Stagirite considers the city as a natural entity which cannot endure without justice and friendship (philia). At his death, his thought knows several centuries of oblivion. It is necessary to await the end of Antiquity so that it returns to the forefront. From the end of the Roman Empire until its rediscovery in the 12th century, the West, unlike the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim world, had only limited access to his work. From his rediscovery, the thought of Aristotle strongly influenced the philosophy and theology of the West during the following four to five centuries, not without creating tensions with the thought of Augustine of Hippo. Associated with the development of the universities, which began in the 12th century, it profoundly marked scholasticism and, through the work of Thomas Aquinas, Catholic Christianity. In the 17th century, the breakthrough of scientific astronomy with Galileo and then Newton discredited geocentrism. There follows a profound retreat of thought a

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