« Aristobulus Aristotle Arius »


ARISTOTLE, ar´is-tɵt-l: Greek philosopher; b. at Stagira, in Thrace, 384 B.C.; d. at Chalcis, on the island of Eubœa, 322 B.C. At the age of seventeen he became a scholar of Plato in Athens and remained with him twenty years; after Plato’s death (347 B.C.) he went to the court of Hermias, at Atarneus in Mysia; in 343 B.C. he was summoned by King Philip of Macedon to become teacher of his son Alexander. After the latter became king, Aristotle opened a school in Athens (probably in 334 B.C.) near the temple of Apollo Lykeios (whence it was called the Lyceum, while from his habit of giving instruction while walking back and forth the school has been called peripatetic, from Gk.284 peripateo). After Alexander’s death the anti-Macedonian party in Athena forced him to retire to Chalcis.

The philosophy of Aristotle is a strongly pronounced dualism; matter and form, God and the world, are distinct though inseparable existences. The harmony of this duality is an equally pronounced pantheism; God is an act rather than a will, a process and not a person. But the dualism of Aristotle is not materialistic; the form, God, is the principal constituent, and his pantheism is absolutely monotheistic, directly opposed to every form of polytheism. Therefore it may be inferred that he would win sympathy in the Christian Church; and while some of the Fathers attack him vehemently (as Irenæus) and others (as Justin Martyr) pass him by in silence, there are those among them (as Clement of Alexandria) who consider him a precursor of Christ, holding the truth in so far as it could be held before Christ came. Then, when the dialectical elaboration of the Christian dogmas began, his great labors on logic were by no means neglected. The heretics used them in the fourth and fifth centuries, and the catholics followed the example in the sixth and seventh.

In the Latin Church Aristotle was introduced by Boëthius and Cassiodorus. His study received a powerful impulse from the Jewish and Arabic doctors, who translated his works into Syriac and Arabic; and the anxiety which the Roman Church felt with respect to his metaphysical works, and which led to their condemnation and exclusion from the universities, disappeared after the time of Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. The Renaissance, which brought the works of Aristotle to the West in the original Greek text, developed an Aristotelian and a Platonic school; but when the Renaissance grew into the Reformation, and the splendid edifice which had been built up on Plato and Aristotle—the medieval scholasticism tumbled down, Aristotle lost at once his influence on Christian theology (see Scholasticism; also Albertus Magnus; Thomas Aquinas). At present, however, he is an increasing force in theology. His “Metaphysics” is the inspiration of all who seek for the ultimate meaning of reality—matter, form, efficient cause, final cause or end, and God. His “Ethics” and “Politics’ remain the most original and stimulating source for the study of those personal and social virtues which Christianity has to train. His principle of attention to the individual and the concrete, his minute and unwearied investigation of phenomena, his analytic insight to which these disclose their secret, profoundly affect the spirit and method of ethical and religious thinkers who study his works.

Bibliography: Aristotle’s works were very numerous and are imperfectly preserved. The standard complete edition is by Immanuel Bekker, 5 vols., Berlin, 1831-71; single works have been published by many editors. There is an English translation by different hands in Bohn’s “Classical Library,” 7 vols.; of English books devoted to separate works the following may be mentioned: The Constitution of Athens, by T. J. Dynes, London, 1891; F. G. Kenyon, London, 1891; E. Poste, London, 1891-92; J. E. Sandys, London, 1893. The Psychology, by E. Wallace, London, 1882; W. A. Hammond, London, 1902. The Ethics, by F. H. Peters, London, 1881; A. Grant, London, 1885; I. Bywater, Oxford, 1892; J. E. C. Welldon, London, 1892; F. Harvey, Oxford, 1897; and St. J. Stock, Oxford, 1897. The Poetics, by S. H. Butcher, London, 1903, and H. Morley, London, 1901. The Politics, by W. E. Bolland, with introductory essays by Andrew Lang, London, 1877; B. Jowett, Oxford, 1885; J. E. C. Welldon, London, 1888; J. E. Sandys, London, 1893; W. L. Newman, 1902. The Rhetoric, by J. E. Sandys, Cambridge, 1877. Youth and Old Age, Life and Death, by W. Ogle, London, 1897. The Posterior Analytics by E. Poste, Oxford, 1850; E. S. Bouchier, London, 1901. The Parts of Animals, by W. Ogle, London, 1882. On the general subject, valuable works are: G. H. Lewes, Aristotle, London, 1864; G. Grote, Aristotle, 2 vols., London, 1879. An edition of the ancient commentators is in course of publication by the Berlin Academy (1882 sqq.). For bibliography, consult M. Schwab, Bibliographie d’Aristote, Paris, 1896; J. M. Baldwin, Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, vol. iii., part 1, pp. 75-99 (indispensable); for special lexicon, M. Kappes, Aristoteles Lexikon, Erklärung der philosophischen termini technici des Aristoteles, Paderborn, 1894; the histories of philosophy should be consulted for the system and influence of Aristotle.

« Aristobulus Aristotle Arius »


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