biographical name


Aristotle, marble bust with a restored nose, Roman copy of a Greek original, last quarter of the …—Courtesy of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

(born 384, Stagira—died 322 BC, Chalcis) Greek philosopher and scientist whose thought determined the course of Western intellectual history for two millenia. He was the son of the court physician to Amyntas III, grandfather of Alexander the Great. In 367 he became a student at the Academy of Plato in Athens; he remained there for 20 years. After Plato's death in 348/347, he returned to Macedonia, where he became tutor to the young Alexander. In 335 he founded his own school in Athens, the Lyceum. His intellectual range was vast, covering most of the sciences and many of the arts. He worked in physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, and botany; in psychology, political theory, and ethics; in logic and metaphysics; and in history, literary theory, and rhetoric. He invented the study of formal logic, devising for it a finished system, known as syllogistic, that was considered the sum of the discipline until the 19th century; his work in zoology, both observational and theoretical, also was not surpassed until the 19th century. His ethical and political theory, especially his conception of the ethical virtues and of human flourishing (“happiness”), continue to exert great influence in philosophical debate. He wrote prolifically; his major surviving works include the Organon, De Anima (“On the Soul”), Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Eudemian Ethics, Magna Moralia, Politics, Rhetoric, and Poetics, as well as other works on natural history and science. See also teleology.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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