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Aristotle Biography

Aristotle and Plato have been the most influential philosophers of the Western tradition.
Aristotle, designed from Copy of Lysipps Atistotle, Roma
An Aristotle (384–322 BCE)

An impertinent chatterbox who was entertaining Aristotle with a tedious discourse, noticed that the philosopher did not regard him much. So the man made an apology that he was afraid he had interrupted him.

"Not really," replied the thinker, "I did not mind one word you said."

Aristotle was born, lived and died. "Don't accept everything you hear as truth. Be critical and evaluate what you believe in," Aristotle told. So much for his biography . . . In his biology, observations is before theory. Thus, he wrote in On the Generation of Animals:

The facts have not yet been sufficiently established. If ever they are, then credit must be given to observation rather than to theories . . .

Between 343/2 and 340 Aristotle acted as the tutor to the young Alexander the Great, who gave his teacher a large sum of money to set up a school in Athens.

In later years Aristotle renounced some of Plato's theories. "Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth," he said, and also that "truth is noble and worthy of praise." He died in 322 from a stomach illness.

"To know yourself . . . you must not be afraid to be alone," taught Aristotle. His work remains a powerful current even in contemporary philosophical debate. "Talk like the simple people do," said Aristotle . . . Some of his concepts and ideas have remained embedded in Western thinking "all the time". For one thing, he designed a system of logic, and pioneered the study of zoology. His writings in philosophy, ethical and political theory, metaphysics and the philosophy of science are still widely taught for various reasons.

Aristotle, who was writing about two centuries after the death of the thinker Thales of Miletus, presents Thales as an entrepreneur.

People often taunted Thales, saying that all his wisdom had failed to make him rich. Thales responded by buying up all the olive presses in Miletus in a year when his knowledge of meteorology made him predict a bumper crop of olives. By charging monopolistic prices for the use of his newly acquired presses, he became extremely wealthy in one season. Having proved his point, Thales then sold all the presses again and returned to philosophy.

The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion since wealth is not the good we are seeking and is merely useful for the sake of something else. - Aristotle

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. - Aristotle


Aristotle Works

The works known in his lifetime include dialogues modelled on those of Plato - these are now lost. He accumulated a large collection of natural and historical observations while he headed the Lyceum, but these too are mainly lost.

What is left, was preserved through the edition of Andronicus of Rhodes that was made in the first century BCE. Important works are:

On logic
On Interpretation
Prior Analytics
Posterior Analytics
Sophistical Refutations

On physics
On The Heavens
On Generation and Corruption

On psychology and natural history
On The Soul
On The Parts Of Animals
On The Motion Of Animals
On The History Of Animals
On The Gait Of Animals
On The Generation Of Animals

On ethics
Nicomachean Ethics
Eudemian Ethics
Magna Moralia

General investigation of the things

Other works
On Dreams
On Longevity and Shortness Of Life
On Memory and Reminiscence
On Prophesying by Dreams
On Sense and The Sensible
On Sleep and Sleeplessness
On Youth and Old Age, On Life And Death, On Breathing
The Athenian Constitution


From On Dreams

We can best obtain a scientific view of the nature of the dream and the manner in which it originates by regarding it in the light of the circumstances attending sleep. [Aristotle, On Dreams 2]

Some persons . . . return answers to questions put to them in sleep. [Aristotle, On Dreams 3] - That was the way of Edgar Cayce too.

It is not surprising that, as age advances, a dream should at length appear. [Aristotle, On Dreams 3]

The dream is a sort of presentation, and, more particularly, one which occurs in sleep. [Aristotle, On Dreams 3] (3)

It is plain . . . that . . . 'dreaming', is no mere exercise of opinion . . . [Aristotle, On Dreams I]

We must . . . investigate the subject of the dream. [Aristotle, On Dreams I] (5)

HENCE: It is fit to investigate how to make dreams come up with answers to problems. Edgar Cayce has some advice on that too. C. G. Jung too. Yet another dream page is here.


Aristotle literature

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