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Aristotle was the original Renaissance Man - long before the Renaissance.
He wrote about biology, ethics, logic, physics, rhetoric, politics, and countless other subjects.
In sum, Aristotle’s work comprised the first SYSTEMATIC form of Western Philosophy.
Aristotle is also considered the first genuine scientist in history.
Aristotle was born in Stagira, in northern Greece, around 384 BC.
His father was Nicomachus, the court physician in Macedonia under King Amyntas III.
Aristotle’s parents died when he was young. He was cared for by his older sister and her husband.
Not much is known about Aristotle’s early education, although it is thought he studied medicine like his father.
In 367 BC, when Aristotle was 17, he was sent to Athens to pursue higher education.
Athens at this time was the best place in the world to be educated.
Aristotle enrolled in The Academy, the school founded by Plato.
He was a star pupil at the Academy, and stayed on at the school as an instructor. He remained at the Academy for 20 years.
Although Aristotle was a valued member of the Academy, he was not seen as Plato’s successor.
This was because of some fundamental differences between their philosophies.
Plato believed that true knowledge could only be achieved through Reason, while Aristotle favored experimentation with real objects.
When Plato died, Aristotle did not take over the Academy as some imagined he might, but instead went back to Macedonia.
Aristotle was welcomed back into the Royal fold in Macedonia.
He became a tutor to King Philip II’s teenage son, Alexander (whom we know as Alexander The Great).
At the age of 20, Alexander succeeded to his father’s throne.
He unified the Greek city-states, and began a military campaign of conquest.
Before long he was known as “King of Babylon, King of Asia, King of the Four Quarters of the World.”
Meanwhile, Aristotle returned to Athens (which was now under Macedonian rule),
and in 335 BC founded his own school, called the Lyceum.
Aristotle taught while strolling the grounds, his students following him on these walks.
They came to be known as “The Peripatetics” from the Greek for “walking around.”
During his time at the Lyceum, Aristotle studied almost every topic.
He was one of the early pioneers in the field of Biology.
His notes are full of observations about various life forms, including the embryology of the chick and the chambered stomach of ruminants.
Aristotle is thought to have dissected marine animals including the octopus and other invertebrates, since his observations were so accurate.
He attempted a classification of animals based on shared characteristics,
including where they lived: in the air, in the water, or on land;
and whether they had red blood or not (which is not too different from our distinction between vertebrates and invertebrates).
Aristotle’s system of classification continued to be used for over a thousand years.
Aristotle was also very interested in Earth Science.
In his work “Meteorology,” he described the water cycle:
“Now the sun, moving as it does, sets up processes of change and becoming and decay,
and by its agency the finest and sweetest water is every day carried up and is dissolved into vapor and rises to the upper region,
where it is condensed again by the cold and so returns to the earth.”
Aristotle’s writings include discussions of all sorts of natural phenomena: thunder, lightning, rainbows, meteors, and comets.
He described the wind and earthquakes, which he thought were caused by winds trapped underground.
He had a remarkable sense for the geologic time scale.
He wrote: “...the whole vital process of the earth takes place so gradually
and in periods of time which are so immense compared with the length of our life, that these changes are not observed,
and before their course can be recorded from beginning to end whole nations perish and are destroyed.”
Although Aristotle was clearly a dedicated scientist, he is probably best known for his philosophical treatises.
These included discussions on rhetoric and the importance of logic, metaphysics including the distinction between matter and form,
and Ethics, including a code of conduct for “good living.”
Aristotle’s tenure at the Lyceum came abruptly to an end when Alexander the Great died in 323 BC.
The government was overthrown, and Aristotle (seen as a Macedonian sympathizer) was charged with impiety.
Fearing he would come to the same end as Socrates (who had been sentenced to death on similarly trumped-up charges),
Aristotle fled to Chalcis on the island of Euboea, where he died soon after in 322 BC.
He was 62 years old.
Aristotle is thought to have written about 200 documents during his lifetime, but only 31 still exist.
Reportedly these writings were kept safe by Aristotle’s student Theophrastus, who took over from Aristotle at the Lyceum.
Although many of Aristotle’s ideas were considered controversial during his lifetime,
they were rediscovered and championed during the Middle Ages.
In an odd turn of events, the medieval devotees of Aristotle were so taken with his work
that it became the official philosophy of the Roman Catholic Church.
This meant trouble for any scientific discoveries that contradicted Aristotle’s writings, such as Copernicus’s and Galileo’s heliocentric model of the Solar System.
It’s a sad irony that Aristotle’s work, considered the first work of an observational scientist,
would one day impede the acceptance of new scientific discoveries.
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偉大思想家的介紹:亞里斯多德 (Aristotle: Biography of a Great Thinker)

2597 分類 收藏
朱安強 發佈於 2015 年 8 月 8 日    Jacky Avocado Tao 翻譯    Szu-wei Chen 審核
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