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Aristotle, summary

Aristotle was born in Stagira, an Athenian colony in the Chalkidiki peninsula, in 384-3 BC; he attended the Academy at the age of 17 and stayed there for another 20, until Plato’s death. There has been talk of the pupil’s ingratitude, but this long stay, the Platonic influence in some works and the elegy of the altar prove the opposite.
The same critique of the theory of ideas in Nicomachean Ethics is preceded by the confession of the difficulty in doing so with regard to the doctrine of a friend although this obstacle must be overcome for the sake of truth. Probably also due to the fact of not being Athenian and not being able to govern in a colony that has become Macedonian, it is likely that Aristotle was more interested in scientific subjects than in political-ethical ones. After leaving school not sharing Speusippo’s address, he went with Xenocrates to the community of Asso where he taught. Neleo, son of Coriscus, was his disciple and Aristotle’s works seem to have been found in his house. Later he stayed in Mytilene where perhaps he founded a school. In this phase of his life there was a detachment from the theory of ideas-numbers, as evidenced by On Philosophy. In 342 Aristotle was called by the Macedonian king Philip to educate Alexander; the future Alexander the Great probably absorbed the master’s idea of ​​the superiority of Greek culture, a superiority that would become global if accompanied by political unity. The disagreement with the disciple came only when he wanted to unite the oriental peoples and assume the oriental forms of sovereignty. As soon as Alexander ascended the throne, Aristotle returned to Athens (335-334) where he founded a school in the gymnasium, the Liceo (so called because it was built near the temple of Apollo Liceo), a building including a garden and promenade (peripatetic, from which a peripatetic school) in which philosophy lessons were held in the morning and rhetoric and dialectic lessons to a wider audience in the afternoon, according to a rigorous order and a style of community life. Teachers were also the pupils Theophrastus and Eudemus. However, it was organized as a thiaso. In 323 Alexander died: despite the fact that relations with the master had already cooled down (for example, Alexander had sent to death a disciple of Aristotle, Callisthenes, who followed him to write his exploits), Alexander’s adversaries continued to see Aristotle as an enemy like this. they accused him of impiety and forced him to take refuge in Chalcis in Euboea where he had inherited a piece of land from his mother. He justified this flight by saying that he did not want to allow the Athenians to sin a second time against philosophy. He died in 322-321.

The criticism of Plato

Aristotle, a pupil of Plato, despite having been his pupil for twenty years, supports his own philosophical line, also called Aristotelian philosophy, which will lead him to criticize the teacher, and this attitude is expressed in the phrase “Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas” , which reaffirmed the interest of the Stagyrite above all for the truth, and not to assume as such the word of Plato. First of all, Aristotle criticizes the research carried out by Plato, who sought the true being in a supersensible world, trying to explain in this way the real world, which appeared changeable and elusive because it was subject to becoming (Plato said that the physical world could not be object of a true but likely discourse, given the impossibility of determining with mathematical certainty what was perceived with the senses and not with the logoi, such as the hyperuranium world). Aristotle argues that the world of ideas is unable to explain the physical world, as Plato believed, since there is a split between the two realities (chorismos). On the contrary, becoming, which for the divine constituted an obstacle whose presence prevented one from knowing the real world scientifically and considering it as true being, for Aristotle is a phenomenon on which to concentrate research efforts because only by managing to explain changing becoming can one may be able to understand the real world. Furthermore, the stagirite criticizes his teacher, expressing reasoning of this type with respect to the theory of ideas: if there are ideas for everything that is in the physical world, there are also ideas for negations; but this is contradictory, because the idea of ​​a negation is associated with everything except the concept that it negates. That is, an idea would be associated with a multiplicity of different things in the physical world. Aristotle therefore denies the existence of the world of ideas. He argues, in fact, that they are in the mind of those who think them and therefore have no ontological consistency, unlike physical objects, which for the Stagyrity are really existent, and are not a “bad copy” of the idea ( for Patone physical objects were imperfect copies of ideal models: ideas). For Aristotle, therefore, a scientific study of nature and becoming is possible (unlike Plato for whom becoming was an impediment to the scientific knowledge of nature). Furthermore, Aristotle criticizes the master regarding ethical intellectualism, using the same metaphor of Plato, namely that of the winged chariot. In fact, if it is the volitional part of the soul that decides whether to follow the rational or concupiscible part of the same, it can decide whether to do good or to do evil, even if the rational part knows good. This conception will be taken up by St. Augustine, who will affirm that sin comes from a defect of will of men. The works that remain to us by Aristotle (many have been lost after the death of his direct pupils) were organized by a Greek scholar of the first century. BC, Andronicus of Rhodes, according to the subdivision of the Aristotelian sciences.

The doctrine of the syllogism and science

Aristotle studies the theory of syllogism, generically defining it as a mechanism thanks to which, starting from certain premises, one arrives at a conclusion. A typical syllogism has the following structure: Premises: * All men are mortal * All philosophers are men Conclusion: * All philosophers are mortal The nominal part of the conclusion is called the major term and its subject minor term; the premises in which they appear are called the major and minor premise respectively. The term that appears in both premises is called the average term. In our case the greater term is mortals, the lesser term is philosophers, the middle term men; the minor premise is 2, the major is 1. It is important to note that a syllogism is valid, that is, it leads to a true conclusion, only when both premises are true. If the 1 of the above case had been false, for example “All men are immortal”, the syllogism would have led to a false conclusion, namely “All philosophers are immortal.”

Aristotle takes up the being of Parmenides

For Aristotle the real world has an ontological consistency, but it cannot fall within the rigid distinction of being and not being as Parmenides argued, considered by the Stagyrite to be too summary. In fact, there are different categories of being: for example, we can say that both a man and a color exist, but their “existence” is different. Therefore Aristotle is convinced that being is what “It is said in many ways” and therefore needs a classification. The philosopher indicates 10 categories: substance, quality, quantity, relationship, where, when, to lie, have, act, suffer. Among these the most important is the substance, which is a substratum (hypokèimenon), because it is an entity that has an autonomous capacity for subsistence (man, for example, exists independently of other categories of entities). Therefore all the other categories of entities are defined accidentes (in the Latin style), that is, things that happen to the entity. Therefore the complexion of a man, which is an entity that falls into the category of quality, is not a substratum because it is in strict dependence on the man of which it constitutes the complexion, on the contrary man, being a substratum, exists independently of that complexion.

Aristotle and becoming

In this paragraph we will briefly examine the four causes, which Aristotle indicates as the cause of becoming and the concepts of act and power, which are fundamental in explaining becoming. Later we will resume them to have a more global vision of Aristotle’s philosophy. The four causes are: * Material cause: the matter of which the thing itself is composed * Formal cause: the morphological and functional characteristics that make an object precisely that object and distinguish it from another. A house is such only if it has the shape of a house, it would not be so if the same materials it is made of were arranged in another way (for example if they were used to make a hospital). * Motive cause: what determines the beginning of the change; * Final cause: the end in view of which the change operates. For Aristotle the four causes are relative: in fact a brick can be the material cause of a house and at the same time the formal cause of the clay of which it is made. Everything is in fact a synolon (all one) between form and matter, and this union is inseparable. Aristotle is the first to introduce the term hyle, that is matter, into philosophical language. Closely related to the four causes is the theory of act and potency. The power or dynamis is the possibility, the potentiality that something has to effect a change; the act instead represents two concepts: enèrgheia and entelècheia. Entelècheia indicates the condition of something that has already implemented its potential; enèrgheia indicates the process by which entelècheia is reached or the actualization of the functions proper to an object already in progress. These concepts, too, like those of the four causes, are relative: a child, for example, is simultaneously a seed in progress and an adult man in potentiality. Finally, it is necessary to point out the priority of the act with respect to potency. To carry on the example of the child, in fact, for a child to be born (a man in potential) another man in act is needed.

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