ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf


32. Life and Works. -- ARISTOTLE was born at Stagira (whence the name, Stagirite) in the year 384 B.C. Coming to Athens, he studied philosophy for twenty years under Plato. From that time he conceived the plan of his own system while continuing to profess a sincere respect for his master's teaching. After the death of the latter, Aristotle went to Atarneus and Mitylene; but the second important event in his life is his sojourn at the Macedonian court, whither he was called in 342 to direct the education of Alexander. About the year 335 he opened the peripatetic school in Athens. After the death of Alexander he was obliged to fly the city; he died in Chalcis in the year 322.

His literary activity was prodigious. Apart from apocryphal and less important works we may classify his scientific writings under the following main headings

I. Works on Logic, collected later on under the title of the Organon: (1) The Categories (katêgoriai) or classes of concepts; (2) the treatise On Interpretation (p. hermêneias) or on judgments and propositions -- authenticity sometimes questioned; (3) the Two Analytics (analutika protera and hustera), the one on reasoning, the other on demonstration; (4) the Topics (topika) which deal with "probable" or "dialectical" arguments, and to which he attaches his work on Rhetoric; (5) the Sophistical Reasonings (peri sophistikôn elegchôn), forming the ninth book of the Topics and dealing with sophisms in reasoning.

II. Works on Natural Philosophy and the natural sciences: (1) The Physics (phusikê akroasis), comprising eight books, of which the seventh is apparently spurious; the Book on the Heavens (peri ouranou) ; the Book on Generation and Corruption (p. geneseos kai phthoras ); and the Meteorology (meteôrologika): all of which treat of the general principles of the corporeal world. (2) The History of Animals (p. ta zôa historiai), comprising ten books, of which three are not authentic; the Anatomic Descriptions (anatomai); the Treatise on the Soul (peri psuchês), and various minor treatises called the Parva Naturalia dealing with the soul; the Parts of Animals (p. zôôn moriôn), the Generation of Animals (p. zôôn geneseôs), and the Motion of Animals (p. zôôn poreias): all bearing on the study of living things. Of all Aristotle's works, the Treatise on the Soul is the best written and most methodical.

III. Works on Metaphysics: the Metaphysics (ta meta ta phusika). The word, Metaphysics, probably comes from Andronicus of Rhodes, who placed this portion of Aristotle's work after his writings on physics, ta (biblia) meta ta phusika.

IV. Works on Moral Philosophy: (1) the Nicomachean Ethics (êthika Nikomacheia); (2) the Politics (politika) and the Athenian Constitntion (politeia Athênaiôn). The Greater Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics are probably the work of pupils.

V. Works on Poetry: the Poetics (7. poiêtikês).

Aristotle's works were edited by Andronicus of Rhodes, towards the middle of the first century B.C. Among modern editions we may mention those of Didot (5 vols., Paris, 1848-1870), and the Berlin Academy 5 vols., 1831-1870).

On Aristotle, see ZELLER, op. cit., ii., 2; BOUTROUX, Etudes d'histoire de philosophie. Aristote (Paris, 1901) ; PIAT, Aristote (Paris, 1903).

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