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Philosopher Aristotle

Updated on December 25, 2010

384 – 322 BC

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist who lived four hundred years before the birth of Christ. Aristotle was one of the most important men of ancient Greece and one of the greatest philosophers who ever lived. His father was court physician to the king of Macedon. From his father, Aristotle received a good education in natural science.

When he was seventeen years old, Aristotle went to Athens, where he studied philosophy with Plato for twenty years. When Plato died, Aristotle began to develop his own method of teaching. He returned to Macedon to become the tutor of Alexander the Great. Through Aristotle, Alexander learned to love and respect the Greek language and the Greek way of life.

When Alexander became king, in 336 B.C., Aristotle returned to Athens as a teacher. Unlike his own teacher, Plato, Aristotle did not believe that beyond the real world which man experiences with his senses there is an ideal world which man can experience only with his mind. He believed that man must learn from what he can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. He taught his students to examine the world around them in detail. Aristotle's thinking was far more systematic than Plato's.

He was interested in practically every problem that man faced. How does the mind work? How can we learn what is true and what is false? What is the best form of government?

Aristotle tried to find answers by observing the world around him and gathering facts. He believed that every event had a logical explanation, and he was one of the first men to form conclusions from investigation and observation.

Aristotle opened his own school, called the Lyceum. He urged each man to seek his own place in the world by learning how to live a good and useful life. He believed in the "golden mean", or living the middle way between two extremes.

Aristotle's writings span every area of human learning known at the time he lived. Aristotle is said to have written about four hundred books on astronomy, physics, poetry, zoology, oratory, biology, logic, politics, government, and ethics. His ideas have been an important influence in the development of philosophy, political thought, psychology, natural science, and the criticism of drama.

Aristotle's books have been studied by people all over the world for hundreds of years. No other man has influenced the thinking of so many people for so long.

Modern scientists have found that many of the observations he made more than two thousand years ago are true today. He showed us that every statement should be supported by evidence, and that the basis for knowledge is fact.

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