?? · Web viewARISTOTLE. THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA. Aristotle is perhaps the greatest of the Greek Philosophers, born 384 B.C. died 322 B.C. His father, Nicomachus, was court ...
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ARISTOTLETHE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIAAristotle is perhaps the greatest of the Greek Philosophers, born 384 B.C. died 322 B.C. His father, Nicomachus, was court physician to the King of Macedonia. This position, we have reason to believe, was held by Aristotle's ancestors, so that the profession of medicine was in a sense hereditary in the family. Whatever early training Aristotle received was probably influenced by this, therefore at the age of eighteen when he went to Athens, his mind was already determined in the direction which it afterwards took, the investigation of natural phenomena.From his eighteenth to his thirty-seventh year he remained at Athens as pupil of Plato and was, we are told, distinguished among those who gathered for instruction in the Academy, adjoining Plato's house. The relations between the renowned teacher and his illustrious pupil have formed the subject of various legends. No doubt there were differences of opinion between the master, who took his stand on sublime, idealistic principles, and the scholar, who, even at that time, showed a preference for the investigation of the facts and laws of the physical world. After the death of Plato (347 B.C.), Aristotle went, in company with Xenocrates, to the court of Hermias a ruler in Asia Minor. A few years later, he was summoned by King Philip of Macedon, to become the tutor of Alexander, who was then in his thirteenth year. Whether or not we believe Plutarch when he tells us that Aristotle not only imparted to the future world-conqueror a knowledge of ethics and politics, but also initiated him into the most profound secrets of philosophy, we have positive proof, on the one hand, that the royal pupil profited by contact with the philosopher, and, on the other hand, that the teacher made prudent and beneficial use of his influence over the mind of the young prince. It was due to this influence that Alexander placed at the disposal of his teacher ample means for the acquisition of books and the pursuit of his scientific investigation, and history is not wrong in tracing to the intercourse with Aristotle those singular gifts of mind and heart which almost up to the very last distinguished Alexander among the few who have known how to make moderate and intelligent use of victory. About the year 335 Alexander departed for his Asiatic campaign; thereupon Aristotle, who, since his pupil's accession to the throne of Macedonia had occupied the position of a more or less informal adviser, returned to Athens and there opened a school of philosophy. He may, as Gellius says, have conducted a school of rhetoric during his former residence in the city; but now, following the example of Plato, he gave regular instruction in philosophy choosing for that purpose a gymnasium dedicated to Apollo Lyceios, from which his school has come to be known as the Lyceum. It was also called the Peripatetic School because it was the master's custom to discuss problems of philosophy with his pupils while walking up and down (peripateo) the shaded walks (peripatoi) around the gymnasium.During the thirteen years (335-322) which he spent as teacher at the Lyceum, Aristotle composed the greater number of his writings. Imitating the example of his master, he placed in the hands of his pupils "Dialogues" in which his doctrines were expounded in somewhat popular language. Besides he composed the several treatises (of which mention will be made below) on physics, metaphysics, and so forth, in which the exposition is more didactic and the language more technical than in the "Dialogues". These writings show to what good use he put the means placed at his disposal by Alexander. They show in particular how he succeeded in bringing together the works of his predecessors in Greek philosophy, and how he spared neither pains nor expense in pursuing, either personally or through others, his investigations in the realm of natural Phenomena. PhilosophyAristotle defines philosophy in terms of essence, saying that philosophy is "the science of the universal essence of that which is actual". Plato had defined it as the "science of the idea", meaning by idea what we should call the unconditional basis of phenomena. Both pupil and master regard philosophy as concerned with the universal; the former however, finds the universal in particular things, and calls it the essence of things, while the latter finds that the universal exists apart from particular things, and is related to them as their prototype or exemplar. For Aristotle, therefore, philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of essences, while for Plato philosophic method means the descent from a knowledge of universal ideas to a contemplation of particular imitations of those ideas. In a certain sense, Aristotle's method is both inductive and deductive, while Plato's is essentially deductive. In other words, for Plato's tendency to idealize the world of reality in the light of intuition of a higher world, Aristotle substituted the scientific tendency to examine first the phenomena of the real world around us and thence to reason to a knowledge of the essences and laws which no intuition can reveal, but which science can prove to exist. In fact, Aristotle's notion of philosophy corresponds, generally speaking, to what was later understood to be science, as distinct from philosophy. In the larger sense of the word, he makes philosophy coextensive with science, or reasoning: "All science (dianoia) is either practical, poetical or theoretical." By practical science he understands ethics and politics; by poetical, he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts; while by theoretical philosophy he means physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. The last, philosophy in the stricter sense, he defines as "the knowledge of immaterial being," and calls it "first philosophy", "the theologic science" or of "being in the highest degree of abstraction." If logic, or, as Aristotle calls it, Analytic, be regarded as a study preliminary to philosophy, we have as divisions of Aristotelean philosophy (1) Logic; (2) Theoretical Philosophy, including Metaphysics, Physics, Mathematics, (3) Practical Philosophy; and (4) Poetical Philosophy.LogicAristotle's logical treatises, constituting what was later called the "Organon", contain the first systematic treatment of the laws of thought in relation to the acquisition of knowledge. They form, in fact, the first attempt to reduce logic to a science, and consequently entitle their writer to be considered the founder of logic. They are six in number and deal respectively with: Classification of Notions, Judgments and Propositions, the Syllogism, Demonstration, the Problematic Syllogism, and Fallacies.They thus cover practically the entire field of logical doctrine.In the first treatise, the "Categories", Aristotle gives a classification of all concepts, or notions, according to the classes into which the things represented by the concepts or notions, naturally fall. These classes are substance, quantity, relation, action, passion (not to be understood as meaning merely a mental or psychic condition), place, time, situation, and habit (in the sense of dress). They are carefully to be distinguished from the Predicables, namely, genus, species (definition), difference, property, and accident. The latter are, indeed, classes into which ideas fall, but only in so far as one idea is predicated of another. That is to say, while the Categories are primarily a classification of modes of being, and secondarily of notions which express modes of being, the Predicables are primarily a classification of modes of predication, and secondarily of notions or ideas, according to the different relation in which one idea, as predicate stands to another as subject. As was remarked above, Aristotle approaches the problems of philosophy in a scientific frame of mind. He makes experience to be the true source of all our knowledge, intellectual, as well as sensible. "There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the senses" is a fundamental principle with him, as it was later on with the Schoolmen. All knowledge begins with sense-experience, which of course has for its object the concrete, particular, changeable phenomenon. But though intellectual knowledge begins with sense-experience, it does not end there, for it has for its object the abstract, universal, immutable essence. This theory of cognition is, so far, summed up in the principles: Intellectual knowledge is essentially dependent on sense-knowledge, and intellectual knowledge is, nevertheless, superior to sense-knowledge. How, then, does the mind pass from the lower knowledge to the higher? How can the knowledge of the sense-perceived lead to a knowledge of the intelligible? Aristotle's answer is: The mind discovers the intelligible in the sense-perceived. The mind does not, as Plato imagined, bring out of a previous existence the recollection of certain ideas, of which it is reminded at sight of the phenomenon. It brings to bear on the phenomenon a power peculiar to the mind, by virtue of which it renders intelligible essences which are imperceptible to the senses, because hidden under the non-essential qualities. The fact is, the individual substance (first substance) of our sense experience--this book, this table, this house--has certain individuating qualities (its particular size, shape, color, etc.) which distinguish it from others of its species and which alone are perceived by the senses. But in the same substance, there is underlying the individuating qualities, its general nature (whereby it is a book, a table, a house); this is the second substance, the Essence, the Universal, the Intelligible. The Universal does not exist apart from the particular, as Plato taught, but in particular things; The Universal as such, in its full-blown intelligibility, is the work of the mind, and exists in the mind alone though it has a foundation in the potentially universal essence which exists independently of the mind and outside the mind.Theoretical philosophyMetaphysicsMetaphysics, or, more properly, First Philosophy, is the Science of Being as Being. That is to say, although all sciences are concerned with being, the other sciences are concerned only with part of reality, while this science contemplates all reality; the other sciences seek proximate and particular causes while this science seeks the ultimate and universal causes; the other sciences study being in its lower determinations (quantity, motion, etc.), while this science studies Being as such, that is, in its highest determinations (substance, cause, goodness, etc.). The mathematician claims that a certain object comes within the scope of his science if it is circular or square, or in any other way endowed with quantity. Similarly, the physicist claims for his science whatever is endowed with motion. For the metaphysician it is sufficient that the object in question is a being. Like the human soul or God, the object may be devoid of quantity, and of all physical motion; yet so long as it is a being, it comes within the scope of metaphysics. The principal question, then, in First Philosophy is: What are the ultimate principles of Being, or of reality as Being? Here Aristotle passes in review the opinions of all his predecessors in Greek Philosophy from Thales to Plato, showing that each successive answer to the question just quoted was somehow defective. He devotes special attention to the Platonic theory, according to which ideas are the ultimate principles of Being. That theory, he contends was introduced to explain how things are, and how things are known; in both respects, it is inadequate. To postulate the existence of ideas apart from things is merely to complicate the problem; for, unless the ideas have some definite contact with things, they cannot explain how things came to be, or how they came to be known by us. Plato does not maintain in a definite, scientific way a contact between ideas and phenomena he merely takes refuge in expressions, such as participation, imitation, which, if they are anything more than empty metaphors, imply a contradiction. In a word, Aristotle believes that Plato, by constituting ideas in a world separate from the world of phenomena, precluded the possibility of solving by means of ideas the problem of the ultimate nature of reality. What, then, are, according to Aristotle, the principles of Being? In the metaphysical order, the highest determinations of Being are Actuality (entelecheia) and Potentiality (dynamis). The former is perfection, realization, fullness of Being; the latter imperfection, incompleteness, perfectibility. The former is the determining, the latter the determinable principle. Actuality and potentiality are above all the Categories; they are found in all beings, with the exception of the Supreme Cause, in Whom there is no imperfection, and, therefore, no potentiality. He is all actuality, Actus Purus. All other beings are composed of actuality and potentiality, a dualism which is a general metaphysical formula for the dualism of matter and form, body and soul, substance and accident, the soul and its faculties, passive and active intellect. In the physical order, potentiality and actuality become Matter and Form. To these are to be added the Agent (Efficient Cause) and the End (Final Cause); but as the efficiency and finality are to be reduced, in ultimate analysis, to Form, we have in the physical order two ultimate principles of Being, namely, Matter and Form. The four generic causes--Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final--are seen in the case, for instance, of a statue:-The Material Cause, that out of which the statue is made, is the marble or bronze.-The Formal Cause, that according to which the statue is made, is the idea existing in the first place as exemplar in the mind of the sculptor, and in the second place as intrinsic, determining cause, embodied in the matter.-The Efficient Cause, or Agent, is the sculptor.-The Final Cause is that for the sake of which (as, for instance, the price paid the sculptor, the desire to please a patron, etc.) the statue is made.All these are true causes in so far as the effect depends on them either for its existence or for the mode of its existence. Pre-Aristotelean philosophy either failed to discriminate between the different kinds of causes, confounding the material with the efficient principle, or insisted on formal causes alone as the true principles of Being, or, recognizing that there is a principle of finality, hesitated to apply that principle to the details of the cosmic Process. Aristotelean philosophy, by discriminating between the different generic causes and retaining at the same time, all the different kinds of causes which played a part in previous systems, marks a true development in metaphysical speculation, and shows itself a true synthesis of Ionian, Eleatic, Socratic, Pythagorean, and Platonic philosophy. A point which should be emphasized in the exposition of this portion of Aristotle's philosophy is the doctrine that all action consists in bringing into actuality what was somehow potentially contained in the material on which the agent works. This is true not only in the world of living things, in which, for example, the oak is potentially contained in the acorn, but also in the inanimate world in which heat, for instance, is potentially contained in water, and needs but the agency of fire to be brought out into actuality. Ex nihilo nihil fit. This is the principle of development in Aristotle's philosophy which is so much commented on in relation to the modern notion of evolution. Mere potentiality without any actuality or realization--what is called materia prima--nowhere exists by itself, though it enters into the composition of all things except the Supreme Cause. It is at one pole of reality, He is at the other. Both are real. Materia prima possesses what may be called the most attenuated reality, since it is pure indeterminateness, God possesses the highest and most complete reality, since He is in the highest grade of determinateness. To prove that there is a Supreme Cause is one of the tasks of metaphysics the Theologic Science. And this Aristotle undertakes to do in several portions of his work on First Philosophy. In the "Physics" he adopts and improves on Socrates's teleological argument, the major premise of which is, "Whatever exists for a useful purpose must be the work of an intelligence". In the same treatise, he argues that, although motion is eternal, there cannot be an infinite series of movers and of things moved, that, therefore, there must be one, the first in the series, which is unmoved, to proton kinoun akineton--primum movens immobile. In the "Metaphysics" he takes the stand that the actual is of its nature antecedent to the potential, that consequently, before all matter, and all composition of matter and form, of potentiality and actuality, there must have existed a Being Who is pure actuality, and whose life is self-contemplative thought (noesis noeseos). The Supreme Being imparted movement to the universe by moving the First Heaven, the movement, however, emanated from the First Cause as desirable; in other words, the First Heaven, attracted by the desirability of the Supreme Being "as the soul is attracted by beauty", was set in motion, and imparted its motion to the lower spheres and thus, ultimately, to our terrestrial world. According to this theory God never leaves the eternal repose in which His blessedness consists. Will and intellect are incompatible with the eternal unchangeableness of His being. Since matter, motion, and time are eternal, the world is eternal. Yet, it is caused. The manner in which the world originated is not defined in Aristotle's philosophy. It seems hazardous to say that he taught the doctrine of Creation. This much, however, may safely be said: He lays down principles which, if carried to their logical conclusion, would lead to the doctrine that the world was made out of nothing.PhysicsPhysics has for its object the study of "being intrinsically endowed with motion", in other words, the study of nature. For nature differs from art in this: that nature is essentially self-determinant from within, while art remains exterior to the products of art. In its self-determination, that is to say in its processes, nature follows an intelligent and intelligible form. "Nature is always striving for the best". Movement is a mode of being, namely, the condition of a potential being actualizing itself. There are three kinds of movement: quantitative (increase and decrease), qualitative (alteration) and spatial (locomotion). Space is neither matter nor form, but the "first and unmoved limit of the containing, as against the contained". Time is the measure of the succession of motion. In his treatment of the notions of motion, space, and time, Aristotle refutes the Eleatic doctrine that real motion, real space, and real succession imply contradictions. Following Empedocles Aristotle, also, teaches that all terrestrial bodies are composed of four elements or radical principles, namely: fire, air, earth, and water. These elements determine not only the natural warmth or moisture of bodies, but also their natural motion, upward or downward, according to the preponderance of air or earth. Celestial bodies are not constituted by the four elements but by ether, the natural motion of which is circular. The Earth is the centre of the cosmic system; it is a spherical, stationary body, and around it revolve the spheres in which are fixed the planets. The First Heaven, which plays so important a part in Aristotle's general cosmogonic system, is the heaven of the fixed stars. It surrounds all the other spheres and, being endowed with intelligence, it turned toward the Deity, drawn, as it were, by His Desirability, and it thus imparted to all the other heavenly bodies the circular motion which is natural to them. These doctrines, as well as the general concept of nature as dominated by design or purpose, came to be taken for granted in every philosophy of nature down to the time of Newton and Galileo, and the birth of modern physical science.WritingsIt is customary to distinguish, on the authority of Gellius, two classes of Aristotelean writings: the exoteric, which were intended for the general Public, and the acroatic, which were intended merely for the limited circle of those who were well versed in the phraseology and modes of thought of the School. To the former class belonged the "Dialogues", of which the best known were the "Eudemus", three books on "Philosophy", four books "On Justice", also the treatises (not in dialogue form) "On the Good", and "On Ideas", all of which are unfortunately lost. Under this head mention should be made also of the "Poems", "Letters", "Orations", "Apology", etc., which were at one time ascribed to Aristotle, though there can be little doubt of their spuriousness. To the class of acroatic writings belong all the extant works and also the lost treatises, anatomai (containing anatomical charts) peri phytonand the politeiai (a collection of the different political constitutions of the Greek States; a portion, giving the Constitution of Athens was discovered in an Egyptian papyrus and published in 1891). The extant works may be arranged in the following classes, with the Latin titles by which they are generally cited:Logical treatisesThese were known to the Byzantine writers as the "Organon", including (1) "Categoriae"; (2) "De Interpretatione"; (3) "Analytica Priora"; (4) "Analytica Posteriora"; (5) "Topica"; (6) "De Sophisticis Elenchis".Metaphysical treatisesThe work commonly cited as "Metaphysica" or "Metaphysics" was (or, at least, a portion of it was) entitled by Aristotle "First Philosophy" (prote philosophia). The title meta ta physika was first given it by Andronicus of Rhodes in whose collection, or edition, of Aristotle's works it was placed after the physical treatises.Physical treatises(1) "Physica", or "Physica Auscultatio", commonly called Physics; (2) "De Clo"; (3) "Meteorologica".Biological and zoological treatises(1) "Historiae Animalium"; (2) "De Generatione et Corruptione"; (3) "De Generatione Animalium"; (4) "De Partibus Animalium".Psychological and anthropological treatises(1) "De Anima"; (2) "De Sensu et Sensibili"; (3) "De Memoria et Reminiscentia", (4) "De Vita et Morte"; (5) "De Longitudine et Brevitate vitae".Ethical and political treatises(1) "Ethica Nicomachea"; (2) "Politica". The "Eudemian Ethics" and the "Magna moralia" are not of directly Aristotelean authorship. Poetical and rhetorical treatises(1) "De Poetic"; (2) "De Rhetoric"; both of these are genuine only in parts.
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