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Andrew Carnegie


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(384-322 B.C.)

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Aristotle, along with Plato and Socrates, is known as one of the great thinkers of the ancient world. He was born in 384 B.C. in the city of Stagira, in Macedonia. His father held the position of personal physician to the King of Macedonia. In 367 B.C. Aristotle left his home to attend Plato’s Academy, where he remained for almost twenty years, first as a student then as a teacher. Plato was apparently fond of Aristotle, once stating that he was the “intelligence of the school.” When Plato died in 347 B.C., Aristotle left the academy, saying he disagreed with the emphasis on mathematics in the curriculum, but more likely because he was angered that Plato appointed his nephew as his successor and ignored Aristotle. However, perhaps because of his father's medical profession, Aristotle's philosophy laid its principal stress on biology, in contrast to Plato's emphasis on mathematics.

Aristotle moved to Asia Minor where a friend of his, Hermias, ruled. He eventually married Hermias’s niece and adopted daughter, Pythias. He then traveled to Lesbos where he studied biology and natural history. There he met Theophrasus who became Aristotle’s collaborator. In 343 B.C. Aristotle was invited to tutor Alexander, the son of King Philip of Macedonia. Young Alexander would later become Alexander the Great. He taught the prince for at lest two years, but soon separated because of differences which impacted Alexander’s learning.

When Alexander the Great became King of Macedonia in 336 B.C., Aritstotle returned to Macedonia and opened up his own school, the Lyceum. Aristotle's lecture notes from the Lyceum and Plato’s Academy covered courses on almost every branch of knowledge and art. The texts on which Aristotle's reputation rests are largely based on these lecture notes, which were collected and arranged by later editors. His partner in science, Theophrasus, later succeeded him as the head of the Lyceum.

Alexander died in 323 B.C. while in the Far East. Anti-Macedonian feelings began to arise in Athens, and Aristotle retired to a family estate in Euboea. He no longer felt safe in Athens because of his closeness to Alexander. The anti-Macedonians saw Aristotle as anti-Greek, and charged him with “impiety,” the same charge that had led to the execution of Socrates years before. Aristotle died in 322 B.C. at the age of 63.

Aristotle's works were lost in the West after the decline of Rome. During the 9th century A.D., Arab scholars introduced Aristotle, in Arabic translation, to the Islamic world. Until the 20th century, logic meant Aristotle's logic. Until the Renaissance, and even later, astronomers and poets alike admired his concept of the geo-centric universe and construct of a physical world based on the four elements (earth, water, air, and fire). Zoology rested on Aristotle's ideas until British scientist Charles Darwin modified the doctrine of the changelessness of species in the 19th century. In the 20th century, a new appreciation has developed of Aristotle's method and its relevance to education, literary criticism, the analysis of human action, and political analysis.


Andrews University.
"Biography of Aristotle," available from
Internet; accessed 1 December 2004.

Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005
"Aristotle," available from
Internet; accessed 22 September 2005

Bust of Aristotle Aristotle's Chain of Being
Typical Greek Architecture  


"There was never a genius without a tincture of madness."

"Hope is a waking dream."

"Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love."


  1. General Introduction to Aristotle from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  2. Aristotle and Greek Mathematics from Stanford University
  3. Digital text of the Nicomachean Ethics from Columbia University

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