Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived between 384 B.C. – 322 B.C. He was a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. While Aristotle is primarily known as a philosopher he wrote on many different subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology. Yet Aristotle is probably best known as the earliest philosopher to devise the scientific method which even today remains the basis of any scientific exploration.
Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. at Stageira, Chalcidice Greece. His father was a prominent member of society and the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Aristotle was trained and educated as a member of the aristocracy and as such lived a privileged life that few knew. At about the age of eighteen, he left his home and went to Athens to continue his education at Plato’s Academy. Aristotle remained at the academy for nearly twenty years, and did not leave until after Plato’s death in 347 BC. He then set on an epic journey traveling with Xenocrates to the court of Hermias of Atarneus in Asia Minor. While in Asia, Aristotle traveled extensively researching the botany and zoology throughout Asia. Aristotle married Hermias’ daughter (though some records indicate she was the king’s niece) Pythias. She bore him only one child, a daughter, whom they named Pythias. Soon after Hermias’ death, Aristotle was invited by Philip of Macedon to leave the court and become tutor to Alexander the Great.
Aristotle returned to Athens after spending several years tutoring the young Alexander. In 335 BC, he established his own school there, which was known as the Lyceum. Aristotle conducted courses at the school for the next twelve years in the tradition of his mentor Plato. While he was in Athens, his wife Pythias died, and Aristotle became involved with Herpyllis of Stageira, who bore him a son whom he named after his father, Nicomachus.
It is during this period while he was in Athens that Aristotle is believed to have composed many of his works. Aristotle wrote many dialogues, many of which only fragments have survived. The works that have survived are in treatise form and were not, for the most part, intended for widespread publication. It is believed that these works were intended to be lecture aids for his students. His most important writings include Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Poetics. These works, while connected in many fundamental ways, vary significantly in both style and substance.
After Alexander’s death, anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens once again was aroused. Aristotle fled the city to his mother’s family estate in Chalcis, frustrated with the current political and social climate within his home. While he vowed to change things sadly he died in Euboea of natural causes within the year (sometime in 323 BC). Aristotle left a will and named for his chief executor his student Antipater, in which he asked to be buried next to his wife. The logical works of Aristotle were compiled into six books in about the early 1st century AD:
It is assumed that Aristotle would be unaware of the profound effect his life and writings would continue to have throughout the centuries. Aristotle’s conception of logic was the dominant form of logic until 19th century advances were made in mathematical logic. Today what we would call Aristotelian logic, Aristotle himself would have labeled “analytics” yet its impact remains. While historical experts have shown that most of Aristotle’s work is probably not in its original form, since it was most likely edited by students and later lecturers its reasoning and deductions are astounding for a man who lived centuries ago.