ARISTOTLE - ARISTOTLE: THE GREAT NATURALIST Born in...

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ARISTOTLE: THE GREAT NATURALIST Born in Stageirus, a Greek colony on the northwestern shore of the Aegean Sea, Aristotle (384- 322 B.C.) was the son of a physician and learned some anatomy from his father. He studied under Plato for twenty years and raised a monument to him after his death. After Plato died in 307, Aristotle went to the court of his friend Hermeias who had studied with him at the Academy and raised himself from slavery to become dictator of Atarneus and Assus in upper Asia Minor. Hermeias' daughter Pythias became his wife. After Hermeias was assassinated by the Persians, the couple fled to Lesbos, where Aristotle studied the natural history of the island and Pythias gave birth to a daughter, then died. In 343 Philip of Macedon asked him to tutor Alexander, then thirteen; he was the future emperor's teacher for four years. By 338, Philip's armies had subjugated Greece. Aristotle directed the restoration of Stageirus which had been destroyed in the war of Olynthus, and drew up laws for the city. During his years as a naturalist, city planner, builder and lawmaker, he lived a down-to-earth life which colored his inquiries and his philosophy. After Philip's death in 336, Alexander became ruler of the Macedonian Empire and held power until he perished in an ill-starred military campaign in 323. In 335 Aristotle returned to Athens and founded a school of philosophy and rhetoric, the Lyceum. Alexander probably supplied the money, since Aristotle chose an elegant group of buildings dedicated to Apollo Lyceus, surrounded with shady gardens and covered walks. He established a zoo, a library, and a museum of natural history. The school was called the Lyceum, and his group and its philosophy were named Peripatetic ("those who walk around") after the peripatoi, or covered walks where Aristotle and his students strolled as they talked. (The word is from "peri" meaning "around", and "pateoo" meaning to tread or step, related to our word "patio.") In sharp contrast to Plato, Aristotle emphasized careful observation and did not trust purely rational methods. While Plato believed that forms existed independent of nature, Aristotle held that essences existed but could only be discovered by studying nature. Like Socrates, he believed that if we study enough examples of a principle or phenomenon, we will finally be able to puzzle out the essence that underlies them. In this he turned Plato's approach upside down. For Plato a real thing or event could illustrate a principle that reason could grasp directly, while Aristotle countered that we discover the principle through observation of particulars. His method was to observe, classify, deduce the implications, and then use the deductions as the basis for a new round of observation. As we will see below, the term "empirical" was not coined until two centuries later, but it describes a central part of Aristotle's point of view. The revival of this method in the 16th Century was an important part of the rise of science after a millennium-and-a-
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ARISTOTLE - ARISTOTLE: THE GREAT NATURALIST Born in...

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