Aristotle

Aristotle (Α᾿ριστοτέλης), one of the greatest philosophers of ancient times, whose philosophical system has exercised for a long time a controlling influence on the development of Christian philosophy and on Christian literature in general. Aristotle was born in B.C. 384, at Stagira, in Macedonia, whence he received his surname, The Stagirite. He was first instructed by his father, Nicomachos, the private physician of King Augustus III of Macedonia; afterward by Proxenos in Atarneus. At the age of 17 years he went to Athens, where he enjoyed for 20 years the instruction of, and intercourse with, Plato. In B.C. 343 he was appointed by Philip of Macedonia teacher of his son Alexander. About 335 he returned to Athens, where he established a new school of philosophy in the "Lyceum" (Λύκειον, so called from an epithet of Apollo), a gymnasium near the city. There he instructed in the mornings a select circle of disciples (Acroatoe, Esoterics), while in the afternoons he gave popular lectures to all kinds of readers (Esoterics). After having taught for 13 years he was accused of impiety, and conpelled to leave Athens. He went to Chalcis, and died soon after (B.C. 322). At Stagira an annual festival, called the "Aristotelea," was celebrated in his honor. According to a Jewish legend, he is paid to have turned Jew in consequence of a conversation held with a Jew at Athens. He is said to have composed about 800 works, lists of which are given by Diogenes Laertius and others. Many of his works are lost; while, on the other hand, several that bear his name are undoubtedly spurious. The oldest complete edition of his works was published by Aldus Manutius (Venice, 1495-98, 5 vols. fol.); the latest and best by Imman. Bekker (Berlin, 1831 sq. 4 vols.). — Smith's Dict. of Class. Biog. s.v.

The influence of the philosophic system of Aristotle on the intellectual development of the human race has been more extensive and more lasting than that of any other philosopher except Plato. This supremacy is to be ascribed (1) to his method, which not only restricted the range of human observation and thought, but, also fixed the laws of their operation, so far as the field of the outer world is concerned, on principles fundamental to the human mind; (2) to his logic, which grew out of his method and also complemented it; (3) to the practical character of his intellect, and the practical tendency of his speculations, even the: most subtle; and (4) to the comparative clearness and simplicity of his system, which arises partly from the really luminous clearness of his own intellect, and partly from the fact that the most profound problems of philosophy do not come within the range of his method when confined to its legitimate application. His method is the so-called empirical one, viz., to begin with the observation of phenomena, and to reason upon them. "'Art commences when, from a great number of experiences, one general conception is formed, which will embrace all similar cases; experience is the knowledge of individual things; art is that of universals' (Metaphys. 1, 1). What Aristotle here calls 'art' is plainly what we now call 'induction;' and had he adhered throughout to the method here indicated, he would have been, in reality, what Bacon is called, the father of the inductive philosophy. The distinction between Aristotle and Plato is, that while both held that science could only be formed from universals, τὰ καθόλου, Aristotle contended that such universals had purely a subjective existence, i.e. that they were nothing more than the inductions derived from particular facts. He therefore made experience the basis of all science, and reason the architect. Plato made reason the basis. The tendency of the one was to direct man to the observation and interrogation of nature, that of the other was to direct man to the contemplation of ideas" (Lewes, Hist. of Philosophy, 2, 114). In passing from Plato to Aristotle, the thoughtful student observes that he comes into a different if not a lower atmosphere. The end of all Plato's teaching is to show, in opposition to the Sophists, that the mind of man is not its own standard; the tendency of Aristotle's teaching is to show that it is. It has been the fashion, since Hegel's exposition of Aristotle, to deny that his doctrine is substantially realism, in the empirical sense, as opposed to Plato's idealism. To illustrate: Both Plato and Aristotle could say that "dialectics is that science which discovers the difference between the false and the true. But the false in Plato is the semblance which any object presents to the sensualized mind; the true the very substance and meaning of that object. The false in Aristotle is a wrong affirmation concerning any matter whereof the mind takes cognizance; the true a right affirmation concerning the same matter. Hence the dialectic of the one treats of the way whereby we obtain to a clear and vital perception of things; the dialectic of the other treats of the way in which we discourse of things. Words to the one are the means whereby we descend to an apprehension of realities of which there are no sensible exponents. Words to the other are the formulas wherein we set forth our notions and judgments. The one desires to ascertain of what hidden meaning the word is an index; the other desires to prevent the word from transgressing certain boundaries which he has fixed for it. Hence it happened that the sense and leading maxim of Plato's philosophy became not only more distasteful, but positively more unintelligible to his wisest disciple than to many who had not studied in the Academy, or who had set themselves in direct opposition to it. When Aristotle had matured his system of dialectics, there was something in it so perfect and satisfactory that he could not even dream of any thing lying outside of its circle, and incapable of being brought under its rules. He felt that he had discovered all the forms under which it is possible to set down any proposition in words; and what there could be besides this, what opening there could be for another region entirely out of the government of these forms, he had no conception. At any rate, if there were such a one, it must be a vague, uninhabited world. To suppose it peopled with other, and those more real and distinct forms, was the extravagance of philosophical delirium. Accordingly, when he speaks of the doctrine of substantial ideas of ideas, that is to say, which are the grounds of all our forms of thought, and consequently cannot be subject to them, he is reduced to the strange, and, for so consummate a logician, most disagreeable necessity of begging the whole question; of arguing that, since these ideas ought to be included under some of the ascertained conditions of logic, and by the hypothesis are not included under any, they must be fictitious" (Maurice, Moral and Metaph. Philosophy, ch. 6, div. 3, § 2).

In order to classify facts, and to arrive at the universal from the particular, we must reason; and the theory of reasoning is logic, which, according to Aristotle, is the organon or instrument of all science, quoad formam. In this field the pre-eminence of Aristotle is indisputable; he may, indeed, be said to have invented logic as the formal part of reasoning, and it remains to this day substantially what he made it. Grote observes that "what was begun by Socrates, and improved by Plato, was embodied as a part of a comprehensive system of formal logic by the genius of Aristotle; a system which was not only of extraordinary value in reference to the processes and controversies of its time, but which also, having become insensibly worked into the minds of instructed men, has contributed much to form what is correct in the habits of modern thinking. Though it has now been enlarged and recast by some modern authors (especially by Mr. John Stuart Mill in his admirable System of Logic) into a structure commensurate with the vast increase of knowledge and extension of positive method belonging to the present day, we must recollect that the distance between the best modern logic and that of Aristotle is hardly so great as that between Aristotle and those who preceded him by a century Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and the Pythagoreans; and that the movement in advance of these latter commences with Socrates" (History of Greece, pt. 2, ch. 48).

In Psychology Aristotle anticipated a great deal of what is called "mental philosophy" at present. The soul, he says, is an entity; not the product of matter or of organization, but distinct from the body, though not separable from it as to its form (De Anima, 2, 1). In this principle he agrees with Plato, and it saves his doctrine from becoming wholly materialistic, a tendency natural to the empirical method. "The faculties (δυνάμεις) of the soul are production and nutrition (De Anim. 2, 2, 4; De Gener. Anim. 2, 3), sensation (Ibid. 2, 5, 6, 12; 3, 12), thought (τὸ διανοητικόν), and will or impulse. His remarks are particularly interesting on the manifestations of the cognitive powers (De Anim. 2, 6; 3, 12 sq.; De Sensu et Sensibili), i.e. on the senses; on common sense (κοινὴ αἴσθησις); the first attempt toward a clearer indication of consciousness (Ibid. 3, 1 sq.), on imagination, reminiscence, and memory (Ibid. 3, 3, et De Memoria). The act of intuition and perception is a reception of the forms of objects; and thought is a reception of the forms presupposed by feeling and imagination (Ibid. 3, 4). Hence a passive (παθητικός, intellectus patiens) and an active understanding (ποιητικὸς νοῦς. intellectus agens). The first implies receptivity for those forms, therefore it has the closest relation with the faculty of feeling, and hence with the body; to the latter, which elaborates those forms into judging (ὑπολαμβάνειν) and inferring (λογίζεσθαι), and which moreover itself thinks, appertains indestructibility (immortality without consciousness or memory) (De Anim. 2, 1-6; 3, 2 sq. 5). Thought itself is a power separate from the body, coming from without into man (De Gener. Anim. 2, 3), similar to the element of the stars (Cic. Acad. Quaest. 1, 7). Further, the understanding is theoretical or practical; it is the latter, inasmuch as it proposes ends and aims. The will (ὄρεξις) is an impulse directed toward matters of practice — that is to say, toward good; which is real or apparent, according as it procures a durable or a transient enjoyment (De An. 3, 9-11; Eth. 3, 6): ὄρεξις is subdivided into βούλησις and ἐπιθυμία — the will, properly so called, and desire. Pleasure is the result of the perfect exertion of a power — an exertion by which the power again is perfected. The noblest pleasures spring from reason (Ethic. 10, 4, 5, 8)." — Tennemann, § 145.

From Psychology we proceed to Metaphysics, or "the first philosophy," as Aristotle called it, i.e. the attempt to solve the problem of being. Had Aristotle adhered strictly to his own empirical method, he would have confined himself to the relative, and not sought the absolute at all. His prima philosophia deals with the unchangeable, while physical science deals with change or movement. "Matter," he said, "exists in a threefold form. It is,

I. Substance, perceptible by the senses, which is finite and perishable. This substance is either the abstract substance, or the substance connected with form (εϊvδος).

II. The higher substance, which, though perceived by the senses, is imperishable, such as are the heavenly bodies. Here the active principle (ἐνέργεια) steps in, which, in so far as it contains that which is to be produced, is understanding (νοῦς). That which it contains is the purpose (τὸ οὑ ἕνεκα), which purpose is realized in the act. Here we have the two extremes of potentiality and agency, matter and thought. The often- mentioned entelechic is the relation between these two extremes. It is the point of transition between δύναμις and ἐνέργεια, and is accordingly the cause of motion, or efficient cause, and represents the soul.

III. The third form of substance is that in which the three forms of power, efficient cause and effect, are united the absolute substance, eternal unmoved, God himself" (Lewes, Hist. of Philosophy, 2, 126). As to the relative place of the idea of God in the systems of Plato and of Aristotle, Maurice well remarks that "it cannot be denied that the recognition of an absolute being, of an absolute good, was that which gave life to the whole doctrine of Plato, and without which it is unmeaning; that, on the contrary, it is merely the crowning result, or, at least, the necessary postulate of Aristotle's philosophy. In strict consistency with this difference, it was a being to satisfy the wants of man which Plato sighed for; it was a first cause of things to which Aristotle did homage. The first would part with no indication or symbol of the truth that God has held intercourse with men, has made himself known to them; the second was content with seeking in nature and logic for demonstrations of his attributes and his unity. When we use personal language to describe the God of whom Plato speaks, we feel that we are using that which suits best with his feelings and his principles even when, through reverence or ignorance, he forbears to use it himself. When we use personal language to describe the deity of Aristotle, we feel that it is improper and unsuitable, even if, through deference to ordinary notions, or the difficulty of inventing any other, he resorts to it himself" (Maurice, Moral and Metaph. Philosophy, ch. 6, div. 3, § 5).

Practical philosophy, according to Aristotle, includes ethics, the laws of the individual moral life; oeconomics, those of the family; and politics, those of man in the state. His "inquiry starts from the conception of a sovereign good and final end. The final end (τέλος) is happiness (εὐδαιμονία, εὐπραξία), which is the result of the energies of the soul (ἐν βίῳ τελείῳ) in a perfect life (Eth. Nic. 1, 1-7; 10:5, 6); to it appertains true dignity, as being the highest thing. This perfect exercise of reason is virtue, and virtue is the perfection of speculative and practical reason; hence the: subdivision of intellectual virtue (διανοητικὴ ἀρετή) and moral (ἠθική, Eth. Nic. 1, 13; 2:1). The first belongs, in its entire plenitude, to God alone, and confers the hibhest felicity, or absolute beatitude; the second, which he also styles the human, is the constant perfecting of the reasonable will (ἕξις, habitus), the effect of a deliberate resolve, and consequently of liberty (προαιρετική), of which Aristotle was the first to display its psychological character, and of which the subjective form consists in always taking the mean between two extremes (τὸ μέσον, μεσότης). Aristotle may be said to have been the first to analyze προαίρεσις, or deliberate free choice (Eth. Nic. 2, 6). Ethical virtue presents itself under six principal characters, having reference to the different objects of desire and avoidance (the cardinal virtues), namely, courage (ἀνδρία), temperance (σωφροσύνη), generosity (ἐλευθεριότης), delicacy (μεγαλοπρέπεια), magnanimity and a proper love of glory (Eth. Nic. 5, 1, 6 sq.), (μεγαλοψυχία), gentleness and moderation. To these are added the accessory virtues, such as politeness of manners (εὐτραπελία), amiability, the faculty of loving and being beloved (φιλία), and, lastly, justice (δίκαιοσύνη), which comprises and completes all the others, and on that account is called perfect virtue (τελεία). Under the head of justice Aristotle comprehends right also. Justice he regards as the special virtue (applied to the notion of equality, τὸ ἵσον) of giving every man his due; and its operation may be explained by applying to it the arithmetical and geometrical proportions conformably to the two species, the distributive and corrective, into which he subdivided the virtue. To these must be added equity, which has for its end the rectification of the defects of law. Under the head of right (δίκαιον) he distinguishes that appertaining to a family (οἰκονομικόν) from that of a city (πολιτικόν), dividing the latter into the natural (φυσικόν) and the positive (νομικόν). A perfect unity of plan prevails throughout his ethics, his politics, and his economics. Both the latter have for their end to show how the object of man's existence defined in the ethics, viz. virtue combined with happiness, may be attained in the civil and domestic relations through a good constitution of the state and household. The state (πολίς) is a complete association of a certain number of smaller societies sufficient to satisfy in common all the wants of life (Pol. 1, 2). Mental power alone should preponderate. The science of politics is the investigation of means tending to the final end proposed by the state. Its principle is expediency, and its perfection the suitableness of means to the end. By this principle Aristotle would prove the lawfulness of slavery. (W. T. Krug, De Aristotele Servitutis Defensore (Lips. 1813, 4to); C. G. Gottling, Commentatio di Notione Servitutis apud Aristotelem (Jen. 1821, 4to); Wallon, Hist. de Esclavuge d ans P Antiquite (Paris, 1847, 3 vols. 8vo); Tenneman in, Manual Hist. Phil. (§ 147, 148). Professor Shedd (History of Doctrines, bk. 1, ch. 1) adopt, perhaps too closely, Ritter's reconciliation of Plato and Aristotle, going so far as to say that "Platonism and Aristotelianism differ only in form, not in substance." While we cannot agree to this broad statement, there is yet, as to the points named, reason for what he says, viz. that, in reference to the principal questions of philosophy, "both are found upon the same side of the line that divides all philosophies into the material, the spiritual, the pantheistic, and the theistic. There is a substantial agreement between Plato and his pupil Aristotle respecting the rationality and immortality of the mind as mind in distinction from matter, respecting the nature and origin of ideas, respecting the relative position and importance of the senses, and of knowledge by the senses. But these are subjects which immediately reveal the general spirit of a philosophic system. Let any one read the ethical treatises of Plato and Aristotle, and he will see that both held the same general idea of the Deity as a moral governor, of moral law, and of the immutable reality of right and wrong." But the fundamental difference of the two systems still remains, viz. that Plato regards the "ideas" or eternal archetypes of things as forming the true substance of the latter, and as having their existence in themselves, independent of the material things, their soulless shadows; while Aristotle was of opinion that the individual thing contained the true substance, which forms whatever is permanent in the flux of outward appearances.

For a long time the Aristotelian philosophy remained in Greece a rival of the Platonic, but at last the latter gained the ascendency. In Rome Aristotle found but few adherents. The fathers of the ancient Church were, on the whole, not favorable to Aristotelianism, but it was cultivated with great zeal by several sects, especially those which were inclined toward a kind of rationalism. (Comp. Lecky, History of Rationalism 1, 417.) Thus the Artemonites were reproached with occupying themselves more with the study of Aristotle than with that of the Scriptures. The Anomceans of the school of Eunomius were called by the fathers "young Aristotelians" (see, on the opinions of the Greek fathers respecting this point, Launoy, De varia Aristotelis in Acad. Par. fortuna, in his Opera omnia, 4:175 sq. Colossians 1732; Kuhn, Katholische Dogmatikc, 2, 369). Nevertheless, the influence of Aristotle commenced to spread in Christian philosophy during the 4th and 5th centuries, especially in the West. Previously the Neo- Platonic philosophy, which tried to reconcile Aristotle with Plato, had given a new impulse to the study of Aristotle, and called forth a number of commentaries, of which that of Porphyry is the most celebrated. Among the Christian Aristotelians of those times was Nemesius, bishop of Emesa, A.D. 400, whose work on "the Nature of the Soul" is based on the Aristotelian anthropology, and remained long in use and influence in Christian philosophy. Eneus of Gaza, toward the end of the 5th century, and Zacharius Scholasticus (first half of 6th century), opposed Aristotle, especially with regard to the world, and approached nearer the doctrine of Plato. Of greater significance was Johannes Philoponus, who called himself "Grammaticus," and is supposed by modern writers to have lived in the first half of the 6th century. He combated the Platonic philosophy, and followed Aristotle so closely as even to deviate from the commonly received doctrines of Christianity. Thus, applying the Aristotelian doctrine that individual things are substances, he changed the doctrine of the Trinity into a kind of Tritheism. John Damascenus, the chief theologian of the Greek Church, knew and used the dialectics of Aristotle, but made no attempt to thoroughly blend it with the doctrines of Christianity. A new era in the history of the Aristotelian philosophy within the Christian Church begins after the Christianization of the Germanic tribes, for the treatment of which SEE SCHOLASTICISM.

A very full account of Aristotle's writings and of his system (from the Hegelian point of view), by Prof. Stahr, is given in Smith, Dict. of Gr. and Roman Biog. etc., vol. 1. For an excellent sketch of the Life of Aristotle, by Prof. Park, see Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 1. The literature of the subject is copiously given in Stahr's article above referred to. See also Maurice, Moral and Metoph. Philosophy, ch. 6, div. 3; Haureau, Philosophie Scholastique, vol. 1; Gioberti, Introd. a Il'etude de la Philosophie, 1, 98; Kitter, History of Philosophy, vol. 3; North Brit. Rev. Nov. 1858; Ama. Bibl. Repos. July, 1842; Meth. Quart. Rev. July, 1853, p. 342 sq.; Biese, Philos. des Aristoteles (Berlin, 1835, 2 vols. 8vo); St. Hilaire, Logique d'Aristote (Par. 1838, 2 vols. 8vo); Ravaisson, La Metaphysique d'Aristote (Paris,. 1840, 2 vols. 8vo); Vacherot, Thorie des prem. principes selon Aristote (Par. 1836, 8vo); Simon, Du Dieu d'Aristote (Par. 1840, 8vo).; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, 1:412. For references as to the influence of Aristotle on Christian theology, SEE SCHOLASTICISM.

 
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