Huwebes, Agosto 30, 2012

The Philosopher


Aristotle produced a large number of writings, but few have survived. His earliest writings, consisting for the most part of dialogues (writings in the form of conversation), were produced under the influence of Plato and the Academy. Most of these are lost, although the titles are known from the writings of Diogenes Laertius and from others. Among these important works are Rhetoric, Eudemus (On the Soul), On Philosophy, Alexander, Sophistes, On Justice, Wealth, On Prayer, and On Education. They were a wide variety of works written for the public, and they dealt with popular philosophical themes. The dialogues of Plato were undoubtedly the inspiration for some of them, although the fall out between Plato and Aristotle reveals itself to a certain extent in these works, too.

Aristotle's work was often misunderstood in later times. The scientific and philosophical systems set forth in his writings are not conclusions that must be taken as the final answer, but rather experimental positions arrived at through careful observation and analysis. During the slow intellectual climate of the Roman Empire, which ruled over much of Europe for hundreds of years after Aristotle died, and the totally unscientific Christian Middle Ages (476–1453), Aristotle's views on nature and science were taken as a complete system. As a result, his influence was enormous but not for any reason that would have pleased him.

Aristotle shares with his master, Plato, the role of stimulating human thought. Plato had a more direct influence on the development of that great spiritual movement in late antiquity (years before the Middle Ages), and Aristotle had a greater effect on science. Antiquity produced no greater minds than those of Plato and Aristotle. The intellectual history of the West would be extremely different without them.

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