ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Empiricism - Aristotle , the First Empiricist

Updated on August 11, 2010

Empiricism - Aristotle , The First Empiricist

It's difficult to say who is the first empiricist in history, but Aristotle is a good candidate(384-22 BCE). Aristotle and his teacher, Plato(384-22 BCE), was two of the greatest philosophers of antiquity. Plato was a rationalist, not an empiricist. He thought the visible world, the world which is reported by the senses, is not completely real and therefor not an object of knowledge at all.

First of all, this is because material things are in constant flux, they never stay the same. A river always looks the same, but there is always new water flowing through it. Second, material things are subject to different perspectives and perceptions. I may find seafood delicious, while someone else may find it repulsive. Finally, visible things are never perfect. Forms drawn in the sand are not perfect geometrical shapes. Plato argued that in these cases, the only genuine knowledge we have is not something visible , but something intelligible , something we know not by looking but by thinking . What we call ideas or forms are purely intelligible objects. They are nonperspectival, rational, fully real, and outside of space and time. Plato thus concluded that true knowledge is knowledge of forms, not of visible things.

Aristotle did not reject this theory of intelligible forms outright, but he insisted that they were not separately existing, timeless entities. Instead, he argued, they were an offshoot of material things, which can be known through sensory experience. He said that we gain knowledge by being affected by what he called the sensible form of things. For Aristotle this meant that our soul takes on formal aspects of these things itself. Some understood this as meaning that when you look at a green field, your soul literally turns green. Others thought that it means there is just some correspondence between your soul and the object, and that your soul doesn't actually come to resemble it. Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed that what the senses reported was(more or less) the ultimate test of reality and that the visible world is the real world.

To sum up - According to Plato, knowledge is not based on sense experience, but on rational apprehension of invisible forms. Aristotle rejected Plato's theory, insisting that knowledge is based on sensory experience.

Perception: Old woman or young girl?

Source: The Bedside Baccalaureate

Leave Me a Comment About Empiricism - Aristotle , the First Empiricist

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      robert page 

      8 years ago

      Hey do you suppose i could get some bibliographical info so i can cite this properly in my paper? Thank you

    • Your Knowledge profile imageAUTHOR

      Your Knowledge 

      10 years ago

      Thanks Nick. Im more with Plato's thinking, but i think they were both extraordinary thinkers. Ill look into the idealism ;)

    • nick247 profile image


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Nice, simple explanation. I wrote my dissertation on Aristotle, he still amazes me with how forward-thinking he was at the time. Following on from this, perhaps a hub on idealism might be in order?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)