The most synthetic thinker in the history of thought, tutor of king of kings Alexander the great,the master who gave science to mankind is Aristotle.
He was born in 384 B.C. in the town of stagira, in north east of Greece. Aristotle’s father was a wealthy man of his time as he was the physician and friend of Macedonian king and Alexanders grandfather Amyntas. Aristotle spend most of money to buy manuscripts and he turned his house into a library.Hence Plato called Aristotle’s house “the house of the reader”. In 367 B.C. Aristotle moved south to Athens and this movement of Aristotle towards Athens was just because of the Plato.There he joined the circle of Philosophers, Mathematicians and Politicians under Plato’s leadership. And established him self as an industrious student,a vigorous polemicist ans an independent thinker.
In 343 B.C. king of Macedonia and Alexanders father Philip called Aristotle to tutor his son and this was the moment when this great teacher met with his great student. When Aristotle met Alexander he was a wild youth of thirteen and passionate,epileptic,almost alcoholic. Aristotle taught him the art of living. In a letter to Aristotle,Alexander said,”Foe my part i had rather excel in the knowledge of what is good than in the extent of my power and dominion”.
After tutoring Alexander Aristotle returned to his native place Stagira. In 335 B.C. he went south again to Athens ,where he set up his own school at the Lyceum. And there he explored and taught the entire field of human knowledge logic, metaphysics, ethics,theology, politics, history, aesthetics, psychology, zoology, botany, anatomy astronomy, meteorology and ancient equivalents of physics and chemistry.
Teaching Alexander the Great gave Aristotle many opportunities and an abundance of supplies. He established a library in the Lyceum which aided in the production of many of his hundreds of books. The fact that Aristotle was a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, but, following Plato’s death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted from Platonism to empiricism. He believed all peoples’ concepts and all of their knowledge was ultimately based on perception. Aristotle’s views on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.
The data gathered by Aristotle and his assistants in the academy became the groundwork of progress of science.We can say it the text book of knowledge for thousand years and this was nothing less than a miracle. Some ancient authors credit him with hundreds of volumes some with thousands.But what remains is just a part of that great work but still it is a library in itself.This work of Aristotle and his assistants contains almost every field of study.But the philosophical work is the most famous which contains ethics,politics and metaphysics.This great work contains many great errors too.
Unlike his tutor Plato, Aristotle given us many scientific words instead of philosophic words few of them are energy,end ,principle,form,maxim,faculty,mean,category,actuality,motive.
In his meta physics Aristotle says-every thing in the world is moved by an inner urge to become something greater than it is.Everything is both the form or reality which has grown out of something which was its matter or raw material,and it may in turn be the matter out of which still higher forms will grow.So the the man is the form of which the child was the matter,the child is the form and its embryo the matter ,the embryo the form ,the ovum the matter,and so back till we reach in a vague way the conception of matter with out form at all.But such a formless matter would be nothing,for every thing has a form.
Matter in its widest sense is the possibility of form,form is the actuality,the finished reality of matter.Matter obstructs,form constructs.Form is not merely the shape but the shaping force.,an inner necessity and impulse which moulds mere material to a specific figure and purpose,it is the realization of a potential capacity of matter ,it is the sum of powers residing in anything to do,to be ,or to become.Nature is the conquest of matter by form,the constant progression and victory of life.
Like the metaphysics Aristotle had wrote in many other fields like biology,ethics etc. and every work of Aristotle is a triumph and by referring these works by Aristotle and his assistants the science started growing.However every part of the earth had his own philosophers of whom individual works are also useful in development of science but most of the works of those other great men are lost hence they are not highlighted as other philosophers.
In 323 B.C. Alexander died and Athens went wild with joy the Macedonian party was over thrown and Athenian independence was proclaimed.Aristotle felt him self unsafe in Athens and he left Athens saying that he would not give Athens a chance to sin a second time against philosophy.Few months after leaving Athens in 322 B.C. our lonely philosopher died.But his legacy is still with us.
His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many elegant treatises and dialogues – Cicero described his literary style as “a river of gold”– it is thought that only around a third of his original output has survived.
More than 2300 years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived. He contributed to almost every field of human knowledge then in existence, and he was the founder of many new fields.
The Italian poet Dante says of Aristotle in the first circles of hell,
I saw the Master there of those who know,
Amid the philosophic family,
By all admired, and by all reverenced;
There Plato too I saw, and Socrates,
Who stood beside him closer than the rest.