Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 102

. 11.




. :1 .....'J/l.

. ,.


'. :",

.....~.\. ",.
- ...::: .


Man Through the Ages

In Ancient Greece there was 110 philosopher with a more encyclopedic scope than
Aristotle (384-322 BC). He was a man who
always looked first and foremost for the
meaning of reality and formulated the truths
he discovered as broadly and deeply as
In studying Aristotle's biography in detail, one cannot fail to be amazed at how consistently and naturally his philosophy coincided with his life.
The book deals with the basic facts of
Aristotle's biography and main points of his
philosophical system.

I '!.I" -

ISBN 5-01-001985-X

Progress Publishers

the Ages

Man Through

Alexel Losev
Aza Takho-Godi

Progress Publishers

Translated from the Russian by Allgelia Ora!

Designed by Vad;m No\,;kov


A.<I>. Jloces, A.A. Taxa-rOil"

l1a QllllIUUO::O.", SUb"'::!!


t\t. :hetic principle. Crit ique of abstract Platonism. Abstract
slyle, and life. Poetic and epistolary efforts. Polilical activity.
Theory and practice. Love for life and the tragedy of life




1'1 l'lATO'S .,\CADI-:;\.fY
(384/3)67/6 BC)
IS. Macedonia
16. Aristotle's Origins
21. Aristotle's Relatives
21. Appearance and Character
22. Major and Minor Points in the Biography
of the Young Aristotle
11. AT I'LATO'S ACADEMY (367/6.34817 BC)

.. jlcTCKall .~IITcpaT\'pa. t 1182

I'nglbh tr:H1SI:.l1on Progrcss 1'lIblisher.> 1990

27. Enroliment in Plato's Academy

28, Aristotle's Differences with Plato at the Academy
31. Marks of Respect for Plato
33, Some Doubts Concerning Aristotle's Departure from the

0301030000 148 35- 'Xl

0 14 (01)-90


38. The Dialogue and the Monologue Treatise
41. Early RhelOrical Conccrns
43. Aristotle'S f:arJic:st Dialogues
45. The Dialogue /;'mlClllll5, 01' Orl tht: Soul

48. Prorr~p/icu$,

Alexander's In51ruClion by Aristotle

110. The Question of Alexander's POisoning by ArislOlic
112. Concerning the Greeks and the Barbarians
114. The Killing of Calhslhcnes
117. Politics and \-forals
119. Aristotle's Nationalistic Inclinations
121. Aristotle's Altitude to Alc)(andcr
125. Greece and ~accdonia in the Second Hair of the Fourth
Century DC
130. Flight from Athens
13), T he POisoning of Alexander and Aristotle's Suicide
135. Aristotle's Will



V. Lye ,,: tJM (3 1S.322 11 C)


or rhorfOlion
55. The Dialogue On Philosophy


IV. I' RO\1 T il E AC AD EMY TO T il E LYCEU~i

( 34811-335


62. Departure from the Academy

63 Aristotle's Stay in Assus an d Mytl1cne
I nvitation to Ihe Macedonian Court


69. ArislOtle as T uto r of Alexander

71. Indications of Insurricic nt Reliab ility in the Ac(Ounts of


75. The Founding of the Lyce um

79. The Lyceum, I'enpat, and the Academy
82. Anstolle, and 1' lalO'5 Academy
84. Fudoxus of Cnidos
85. I ~udoxus as the Transition Iktween Plato and Ari_stOlle
86. Fudo\us' ' I"eory of a Sphe ncal Cosmos In Relation
10 Other Ancient Greek ScnseBao;ed Theories
of the COIomos
87. Mutual Innuence of Pla to and [ udoxus
88. Fudo\Us' Methoo of b haustion
90. Anstotle and Fudoxus
91. ' I"e Ge neral Allltu<Je T oward I' hllosophy at the Lyceu m
91. Careful I h~toncism and Systemallzed Scholarly
Researc h
92. PrJCIIC;11 Ac tIVity and Cont emplatio n
94. ErroneOUs ' I"cories of an ImmO--:lhle, Purely Intell ec tu al
C)5. Ariqotle's l'o\ltl"e r eac hmg on th e Identicalness
of Re;lson, 11:lppiness and Pleas ure
95. All Philosophy Is Beauty
9; Science Is a Pamsta kingly b ac t In vcstigalio n of Life
102. l\ris tC>lle"s Letters
102. btension of Aristotle's E nl)'Clopc di~m
to I hs l.itera ry

102. ' I"e I pistolary Genre

to!'. ,\ I ,cHe r to Aleu nder

IQ!'_ .\ l ,cller to Theophra~t~
106. Sense of EqualITy ..., th !\.tngs
lOt.. Rcah\lIc ApProac h to life

138. If things really exi~t, then the ideas of things necessarily

exist, so thilt v.ithoul an idea the thing does not exist
or the thing remains uncogni7able
1<10. Aristotle crltici/es the detachment of the idea of the thing
from the thing itself
141. The idea of the thing, according to Aristotle. is located
lI,ithin the thing itself
1~2. The idea of the thing, tleing something individual, like the
thing itself. is at the Silme tinle also a generaltation of all of the
parts of the thing, that is, a certain sum tOlal
1.. 4 . The totality of the thing necessarily exists in each individual
pa rt of the thing, and e\ists in a different ....'lIy each time: but this
meilns that the tOtality of the thing comprises all its separate
p.,1rtS and is therefore the integrity of the thing
145. T he terms "idea", "eidos", "form", and '"thing"
146. Th e in tegri ty of the thing, where the whole thing perishes
with t he removal of one of its parts, is the organism of the thing,
in con trast to the mechanism of the thing, where the thing
re mil ins integral despit e the removal of individual parts of it and
their replacement by other parts
148. The four principles of the structure of any thing as an
organism. Form and malleT
150. MalleT and chance. The causal and purposive principles
157. The doctrine of measure
158. Gene ral form u lation of the fou rprinciple structu re, a nd its
aesthetic and creative foundation
164. The aesthetic and creatIVe principle in connection ...-ith
Aristotle's theory of the asc:ending levels, or hierarchical
structure. of life and being
168. The aesthetic and creati,'e principle in its culmination

\71 Aristotle's three concepts of Mind a~ prime mover

173. Th e nature of ,\ ristotle's rehgloMty

The Problem of the Living Aristotle

180. Complete unily of reason and life

As aulhors of this book we face the complicated task of

introducing the reader to the life and philosophy of the
great Aristotle. However, we cannot wait for a final settlement of all problems. Scholarship never stands still. There
may be a great many answers to the que!)tions we have
raised. But this, 100, should nol hinder our bringing forward the problems which we the authors consider timely
and even essential given the contemporary state of scholarship. On the contrary, all these difficulties should only
inspire us to overcome them. There will in any case never
be a fina l resolution of all the difficulties connected with
the study of Aristotle insofar as Aristotle himself is an
endless topic for scholarly study.
The fact is that despite Aristotle's world-wide significance, the vital tendency of his philosophy and of his social
and political activity was all too ortcn underestimated in
the past, and his philosophy was examined on an extremely
abst ract level without taking into account the living and
palpitat ing sides of his thought. Even now many people
fi nd Aristot le's way of thinking and writing overly rational
and completely forget the vital richness of his thought and
activities. For our part we feel that the time has come 10
see the living Aristotle, and we shall try to depiet the great
philosophe r in all the dynamism of his individual life path.
The opposition of life and of meaning, and in particular
of life and the meaning of life, is very characteristic of
everyday thinking, when people reason that life exislsper se
and its meani ng also exists per se, can be compared with il
and explain it. Such a position is diametrically opposed to
both a ll ancient philosophy and, in particular, Aristotle. In
Aristot le's view there is no life that is not permeated with
mea ning to its ut most depth, and no meaning wh i ~h could
be imagined separate from life. Later wc shall sce With what
very deep meaning Aristotle's life w?s filled and how m~ny
riddles arc hidden in this life, which only to poorly Info rmed people appears simple or matter-of-course.


Til E UNA.... SWEREll, HUT MOST 1\ 1I'O RTA.'iT Ql"~"'IO~

NA.\t E l ~ I) EX


Wc shall a lso try to ou tline the basic principle of Ari~

totle's philosophy. It can be called a gClfcraf aesthc/lc
p rinciple.

When wc exam ine a painting or lislen to music wc im mediately. without any scientific an~lysis, apprehend all
the colors and sounds which the arllst or composer has
used, feeling an amazing closeness between the work of ~rt
and our thoughts and feclings .. For art ?OCS not conSist
merely in eoloTs and tones or life perceived thr?ugh th.c
senses. Art is also in onc way or another always.ldcol~gl
cal in other words it is an index of some kind o f mn~r. hfe,
be 'i t personal or sacio-political or s~irilual! but unraill~gly
of the inner life of a person and the lOner hfe of the object
portrayed in the art.
Close acquaintance with Aristotle WIll show Lh~ r.cad~r
that everyt hing that exists, in this philoso~hcr>s opmlon, IS
nothing but a work of art. All of nature IS also a work of
art for Aristotle, and man himself is ~ work of art, and all
the world with its sky and firmam ent IS a work of art, too.
lt is no accident that the Greeks called the world the cosmos fo r cosmos in G reek means harmony, co n cord~ order,
ord~rliness and even bea uty. In this respect Aristotle is a
true ancien't Greek. And none of his purely academic a nd
abstract reasonings ever preve nted him from seeing and
feeling beauty as a principle .of life's organization as .a
whole whatever this life was ILke, good or bad. And thiS
principle permeates all of life, from its very first steps to its
Of course there we re many thinkers who saw life and
existence as based o n the primacy of the aesthetic principle. But Aristotle did so in his own, highly original and
diverse ways. And there is no point in undertaking the exposition and exploration of Aristotle'S philosophy without
the inte ntion of understanding this primary aesthetic prin ciple and appreciating its originality.
~n route toward an ae.sthetic i~lerpretatjon of reality
Anstotle encountered a (hstorted mterprctation of Plat o'
which at the. time was ~idespread among Greek philosophe rs and which Pl~~? hImself would s~metimes promote by
ext remely emphaSIZIng and exa{Joeratmg certain as
, r
pec s 0
h"IS Ph"'I osop h"Ica I system, specifically
his doctrine of th
world of Ideas and the material world as a r ", n "c
am re ectlon
" I

o r t h c 'd ca I wor d. Tt IS true that Plato f
torted understanding of his doctrinc ~re~aw t e dlssha rply opposed to the material WOrldo 'de Ideas als
,an Constant y

pointed out that the Ideas cannot be isolated from the

things, to give meaning to which is their only reason for existence, that they arc necessary precisely to give meaning
to these things.
Aristotle for his part observed the distortion of Plato's
teaching that occurred when the ideas of things, existing
somewhere in the unattainable heavens, were put in the
for eground while the things themselves ended up being
th rown into the world without any of their conceptual con.
tent. And Aristolle rose up with all the might of his philosophical talen t against this severance of the idea from the
lhing. Of course the idea of the thing differs from the thing
itself, Aristotle believed; and to a certain extent it can perfcctly we ll exist in such an independent form as long as
onc observes scientific precision and theoretically fixes the
gradual process of different degrees of interpenetration of
the thing and its idea. Howevcr, according to Aristotle, in
actuality it is quite impossible to sunder the onc from the
other and tg ~~~. up- a s~arp opposition bclween things and
ideas. Thus Anstoile himself did not deny the role of ideas
in comprehending the material world but, taking a critical
stance toward extreme idealism, he tried to use his own
doctrine of the ideas for purely life-related purposes and
fo r unde rstanding all of reality as a work of art penetrated
with the most profound ideological meaning. Let us note
that V.l. Lenin regarded Aristotlc's principled criticism of
abstract Platonism in a very positive way: "Aristotle's criticism o f Plato's ' ideas' is a criticism of idealism as ideolism

ill gelleral."z
In the Philosophical Notebooks Leoi n wrote: "Hegel
pe rce ives the idea lism of Aristotle in his idea of god. Of
course, it is idealism, but more object ive and further
removed, more general than the ideal ism of Plato, hence in
the philosophy of nat ure mo re frequently = maleria lism.")
Onc must note a hig hly original feature of Aristotle's

thinking - the combination of a vital, all-embracing OUllook on life with a detailed, scrupulous investigation of life
down to the smallest trines. AriSlolle has an uncommon
love of breaking up any ge neral concept of an _object.
working it out in detail and singllng out th e subtlest nuan ces in it and therefore in gene ral describing reality in all

. r: .
. 'y and comlllcxity. On
Its IOllmlc vane
. I
h 10 ohJ'ccts and to hfe
Iytlca approac
r A iSlOtlc have seen In hIm traits of

o r
is negatively Icrm<.!d "scho asHC .

of this anad
Itself manv slu cnls
. hl h h
that p I OSOp Yt <11

However, onc cannot fail to ?c astoOlshed at ~ow. In

spile of all his "scholasticism" ArIStotle nevcr lost his VItal

feeling for life.

. . . .
No'by accident did lenin write that IIn Anstotlc
works could be found "a mass of c.xt,rcm~ y. mterestmg,
iivcly,noive (fresh) mall er".4 In LcOl~ S OpiniOn, later on
"the logic of Aristotle ,.. (was) made. Into a dca~ scholasticism by reject ing all the scardungs, wavcnngs and
modes of framing qucstions".s Truly, aft~~> ca~cful1y studying all these apparcn~ly. "scholaslic, mtcllcct~al
schemes and minutest details It becomes clear that A.nstotlc's perception of life is profound, vivid and c~nvmc
ing. The analytical schol~r's. a~proach to t~c subJect ~f
his philosophical study IS mdlssol.ubly. uOlted with his
keen experience of life. Such a Conjunction of two seemingly incompatible methods ~ay secm str~nge and surprising. But if onc doesn't YIeld to onc-sided, exaggerated and uncritical prejudices, onc can only clap onc's
hands in delight at how masterfully Aristotle manages to
join a dry, abstrac.t eX'posi~ory style with a genuine en
thusiasm for expenencmg hft;.
The onc-sided understanding of Aristotle as a dry and
abstract philosopher was also C,Jnnected with the fact that
people usually completely forgot, lirst, his poetic works
and, second, his epistolary legacy.
II is true that Aristotle composed few poems, but the
little that he wrole is extremely interesting and revealing.
As for his correspond~n~e, althou~h. only a small portion
of it has reached us, It IS also a VIVid testimony to Aristotle's fresh and varied perception of life and to his constant interest in not only theoretical and intellectual pursui,ts. Aristotle'S poems and letters bear to us his living
Following a long-established ~radition people did not
speak dearly enough about AfIlitotle's politic I
. d
.. h'
a actIVity
and lne even css to conjOin IS political ac,,
. h h
h .
' f I
ph,ilosop y I!, adn~ meanI109 u way. Contemporary scholarship has al Its Isposa a whole series or , d
s u les of Ans10

wilt; specifically as a political figure. However, these

works still do not go heyond the limits of a narrowly specialized st udy of the philosopher. In a book for the probing readt;r all the sma llest indications and testimonies in
ancient sou rces concerning his political activity must unfailingly he used to show what a tumultuous epoch Aristotle lived in, what were the unrcsolvable contradictions of
the timcs, and what role history assigned Aristotle in this
cra, Withoul taking into account all of Aristolle's complex
and dramatically full life, it is unthinkable 10 explain his )
philosophy and attempt any further exposition at all.
In studying Aristotle, onc can in no way contrast such
significant areas as his theory and his practice, In his tbeoretical views, especially in the realm of ethics, Aristotle is
a proponent of an active life, Without conscious practical
activity, according to Aristotle, man can never attain full
satisfaction or happincss. However, this same Aristotle
has very interest ing thoughts on man's withdrawal into the
depths of his own spirit and preaches that wisdom is a
kind of aloofnes.$}rom all the trilTes ({daily life,
.... While teaching that wisdom is self-introspection and independence from practical interest, Aristotle, as we have
just said, was a vcry active person, taking bold steps wbich
even professional politicians couldn't resolve upon, The
amazing way in which Aristotle combined a philosopbicaJ
aloofness of thought and a practical interest in life has also
not always been attended to, and this question needs to be
illuminated on the basis of ancient sources.
But wc must formulat e onc more thesis without which
Aristotle's fusion of theory and practice would remain essentially incomprehensible. Aristotle's uncommonly encrgetic nature came lip against uncommonly diflicult social and polit ical conditions, Aristotle loved life very much
and one can say was in love with life. But life could only
place befo re Aristotle insoluble contradictions which in
those times wcre beyond anyone's capacity to solve, And
th e life of Aristotle, this titan of human wisdom, was faled
to have a tragic ou tcome.
Diogenes L1crtius, the Grcek writer and historia~ of
ancient philosophy (third century AD), lists .445, 270 hnes
written by Aristotle (V, 2t-1St Some of hiS works conII

sisted of a large number of books (for example, his descriptions of the social structure of various cil y-statcs).
Hcsychius of Alexandria (sixth century AD) adds to
Diogcncs Lacrlius' li5147 morc.titles of au~hcnlic wor~s. by
Aristotle and 10 atlributed to him. Bul he IS of the opinion
that Aristotle wrote 400 books. Another admirer and bio-

grapher of Aristotle, Ih~ philosophc~ Pt?'cmy, known

from the references to him by Arab hlslonans, says that
Aristotle wrote thousands of works.
Apart from the works that have rcached us in their cn tirety (leaving aside for the moment the question of the
degree to which they reproduce the original text), fragments of above fift y more works have been preserved.
These fragme nts contain from a few lines or simply some
o nc expression to a few pages. The largest fragments remaining are fr om the dialogues "On Philosophy", "On the
Good", "O n the Soul", "On Poets"; from the works entitled "The H omeric Problems", "O n the Ideas", "On thc
Pythagoreans", " Physical Problems"; from various
zoological works (mainly thanks to the information provided by the third-century AD writer Athenaeus, who in
his work "Dinnertable Philosophers" widely draws on matcrials from Aristotle, enumcrating an unbelicvable quantity of birds and (ish which were used in ancient cooking);
quite a few fragments remain from "The Athenian Constitution" and "The Spartan Constitution" (the concept included not only the constitution of the state, but also its
way of life, history and economy). Few of Aristotle's letters and poems have survived.
Since to Aristotle are altributed works on all imagin able topics (except perhaps military arts), one gets the imprcssion tha~ a ~hole acad~my is hidden under this onc
name, especially If o nc conSiders that Aristotlc write" .
~ 10 as
much. . mln.ule c.t ~n ~ ~ most.* cific---!.oblems of
~tlC deVices... medlcal sClencc or animal behavior
'f h
had studied nothing e lse his whole life.
as I e
As far as subjcct malter is concerned Ar,-" ,I
h . 7
' ' ' ' 0 e authored war kson 1OgIC, metap YSICS. natural philo h
natural sciences, cthics and artistic creation ~op
touch here on the question of the genuine 'an e Will. not
parts of all these works and still less the
undoubtedly spurious works of Aristotle. qUestIOn of the



'1'1,,10: !h._ 'Rn;.J!

Icnt (ireeJ. p --'"
- '0'"'"
t,,<; ,,! h and (ounh
cen! u rlC~ " ( .,
;t\OI p I 'J50phy imd life.n: 0 tI
JnJ /v.J 'I 'J kho( !< ><.11, 1'/ilI". I'n~n:" l'III'h$hl:n:~ M~~ l",k:.1.e, [6eY
-V I. l .cnln. (0/1..(/<"</ Wor-'- I'ro....
....... " I:: "."
,,!IO_ 'n6, 38:
!li l.
-'I hid. p. 2SO,
llhid , p. 365.
j lhiJ .. pp. 3(",.(,7.
"In all 4-15.270 line$, Such is Ihe numhc, 0' 'h
,_. wOllen hy
, .. D .
e ""'ur....
loge nes ..aertl u~. I.,,c.f of fomm,m 1'Iu/(JJoph<"n W JI"
m.mn J .Id .. London. J9J!1. J: 415.
I lam Cl neThe wo rks of II ncicnt aUlhon: con~i~ted o( w<idled I>ook'
Iy srca~lng. par1 s, whkh in turn were divided i"", ma " er par1s-chap_
.'1. Le .. ~lnCl_
lers an .parag
' d Inparenh rap s. " e"re and suoscquently Ihe num"~
t hcses g,ve t e source
. , ' rom whICh the informat i'" 0 rquoeLSta~cn'a
Roman num e ra In ICiues the numher o( thc t>ouk a A bIh chap'
. n ra IC numeral
e r or paragrJP , When e~amples an: eited from works of Aris:
lotic (o r o the r au thors).whlch have reached us in fragments. !he Arabic
num;ral ~n pa rentheses InJlcates the numher of the fragment (d. p. 21
, I Jat os w"O rks arc Cited In the !raditional slyle: the Roman numeral
indIcates !h ~ book. the ArabiC numeral, lhe page. and the utin Jener
Ihcr,age d lVlSlon(cfp. 41).
, M{ItIP~I)"sICJ: teaChings on Dcing and the higher (orces aoc.."C nature
",hlch rul e It
8NIlIllral pIJil()wpIJ,': philosophy of nJture.


Aristotle Before His Appearance in Plato's

Academy (384/3 -367/6 BC)


IIF: I:'\G
Mewphysics (on the "t1~I philOSOphy"), 13


Physics, 8 books
Orl rile I fcll\'tIIS
Orl BC/,'l1Iringal1d I'ms/lmg, 2 books

I:OGIC (the "Organon")

On Il!IcrprelOlioll
!'rior A/la~'ljcs
I'oslcrior A/la~'lics
Topics (the last !ic:ction of thiS treallse IS some-

times published separately under the Inle Or,

5f1phi.llica/ R('[ruOIi(l/Is)
On/lte Sal/I

NicOlIlUc/ICOII Fr/l/CI, IO\l<lo\.s
f;IIt/CIUIUI1 biricJ
Mug>la Mflralia

UhcffJric. 3 houks
I'olilies, 8 hooks

/he Al/lrlll/m COII.\IilllliO/I (the SIale Structure
of Athens)
",\TII R.\ I. se iI' '\<' K~
MC1COrolfl1.,cJ (on atnlOlOphttic phcnO!T1cna)
0" Ihe l'urlS of Am1110 is, 4 bools
011 111(' MOI"I~mo" of Al/wl<l/s
0" rile (lr"('I""/II1II flf All/mo/s

IIi.lIOri<l A";",,,/iwII

Aristotle's life and personality are linked with Macedonia, near which he was born, During the whole of the
fourth century BC it played an increasingly decisive role in
the life of the Greek people. It was a country to the north
of the area which is usually called Northern Greece, i.e., to
the north of Epirus and Thessaly. The Macedonians were
so closely connected with Thrace and llIyria evcn farther
north that it is Slill a big question for specialists what purely Greek elements and what Thracian and ilIyrian elements lie at the origin of the Macedonian nation.
Some think that Macedonia is a sort of offshoot of
ancient Greece close to Thessaly. Others try to maximally
separate the Macedonians from the Greeks. Still others
feci that both Greek and Thracio-lIlyrian elcments were
equally represented in the so-called substralUm of the Macedonian people. It is not part of our task to engage in the
solution of this problem with all its ethnic and linguistic
difficulties. Nevertheless, two circumstances are immediately obvious, irrespective of our scholarly interests in the
historieal origins of Macedonia.
The first circumstance is Ihat however distant the Macedon ians were from the Greeks in cu ltural terms, nonetheless the successes of Greek cullUre and the enormous
achievements of Greek civili7..3lion always impressed the
Macedonians so that the Macedonian rulers strove to assimilat e the a~hievem ents of Greek culture, preferr~d the
Greeks to all other peoples and historically always tned to
keep in ste p with them,
could be
The second circumstance conslSls lR w,hat
called opposition to Greece. The Mac~dontans werBc n~(
. .tn the eyes 0 f G recce or their own eyes. ul It


was their constant dream to become greater than Greece

politically and militarily. It was not a Barbaric urge to.destroy Greek civilization. On the contrary! the Macedomans
always considered themselves the pupils of the Greeks.
And yet the Macedonians' conquest of Greece occurred
even before they headed for Asia. True, the ir respect for
the Greeks persisted even here, in that they were much
gentler with respect to the G reeks and gave them m~ch
greater political freedom. Nevertheless, the ~acedoman
rulers had from time immemorial rlxed thel( gaze on
Greece and tried to snatch one or another part of it. Particularly successful in this respect were two fam ous Maced onian kings: Philip 11 (c. 382-336 BC) and his son Alexander (356-323 Bq, who while still young, conquered almost the e ntire civilized world of the time up to India.

Aristotle's Origins
Aristotle, the son of Nicomachus and Phaestis, was
born in 384/3 BC, and mo re precisely, between July and
O ctober 384. This was the first year of the 99th Olympiad .
It must be noted, however, that the Greeks began the ir
chronology with the supposed first year of the first Olympiad, i.e., 776 BC. The word Olympiad itself arose to designate the four-yea r interval between Olympic Games
which got their name from Olympus in the Western Pelo~
pon nesus where .the national Greek games were held .
T~ercfore when I~ Greek so~rees. we find references to
thiS.or l~at Olympiad, the deSignation is not very exact for
us since It embraces a whole four years. But we hav
o I 'bo h
know Id
e ge 0 fA.nslot e s 1ft preCisely in the first ear of
the 99th Olympiad.
The name of the town in which Aristotle was b

also be rend ere d 10 vanous ways: we wtll use th f
d wo~ Id IIterature Ariste IOrm
. Stagira. In bot h anCient
ot e IS also
called the Stagirite, i.e., born In Stagira.
Fro m the point of view of Greeks of the t
Stagira but all of Macedonia was a rather :me not only
ince which in the nort heast even bordered 0 CrRlhote prov was actuall
to some sources, S
. cThracc. But we proceed fro m the assumplio/ hOcated in
t at Stagira

was located in southcrn Macedonia on

Ch a ICl ICC near the much beller known a d bsea callcd
t . . f j
n su quently
qUl.e Sl!pll lcant city of Thessalonica. Stagira was founded
by Immigrants from the island of Andros (this was th
hom~land of Aristotle's father; people also said that Aris~
lotle s paternal ancestors came from Messanaday MOO So 01
present. essma-LO ICI y, which was a colony of Euboean
and from Eubocan Chalcis, thc ho meo f A nsChalcls)
t~l e s. maternal anceSlor~ (the island of Andros was only a
few mdes away ~ro.m the Island of Euboca).
F~o~ all this 11 f<:,lIows. th~t despite the geographic
prommty to Macedoma of his bIrthplace Stagira Aristotle
w~s purely Greek on both his father and moth~r's sides.
H Is p~rents, for reasons unknown to us, settled in Macedoma, on the Chalcidice Peninsula. But this circumstance noticeably complicates our understanding of Aristotle's very strong pro-Macedonian sympathies. As we
shall see, thes: sympathies played a huge part in his life.
The Macedoman rulers, as admirers of Greek culture
we re always at odds with themselves: they learned fro~
the. Greeks in order to be at the peak of the cuhure of
thel.r da~. but at the same time they always dreamed of
subJugatmg Greece to their power. Hence, too, came the
profound contradiction which tormented Aristotle and
which , as we shall see,led him to a tragic end. Let us note,
howeve r, that this sort of contradictory situation is not at
all so~e exceptio nal rarity in history.
A httle later great Rome would also consider itself a
disciple of Greek c ulture. But Ihis same Rome would subjugate G reece like any othcr country of the then civilized
Now let us turn to o nc more very important circumstance connected with the philosopher's origin.
His highly provincial origin was compensated for by the
fact that he was the son of the famous doctor Nicomachus.
And here it is appropriate to mention that Aristotle's
father did not simply belong to a family of hereditary doctors. The medical profession was highly respected and honored among the ancient Greeks. All doctors, the Greeks
believed, were descended from the divine physician Asclepius, the son of non e ot her Ihan Apollo himself and a morta l woman, or maybe even the nymph Coronis. Asclepius

l-0128 2


he ~ut (11 mcJi"im: that Zcus killed him

was so ~klllc~ In 1 .
f fear that hl' woulJ make ,,11 hu1
with a hghtntng-ho I llUl 0

mans immortal.
'h I' rather tangled m~th. Cnronis.
Here was a .... (1 1.:,

r Ih !,.;
A 11 married a certam he ),S, ~on 0
O'Ela'lu~ Out of jealousy Apollo killed
Thcssalo n l3.n mg fro m h~ r womb the infant about to Ix
Coronis. but IO~C hOrn A"dcpi us Asclcpius was educated
born an~ namc r' Chira n (Pindar TIle Py/hia/l Odes Ill ,
by thc WlscccnI au
' .
~ n,cd,"cal art led hi m to t e au aCIDUS
4S 5~ ) Asc1CpiU:'>
Ih~ught of resurrecting the dead. Myths tell of hG1sJ resurrecLion of many heroes: Hippolytus, Capancus,
",nos, "''" nd others The enraged Zeus) struck
Or M
him with a lightning-bolt (Apollodorus Ill , 10, 3-~ . In reApollo killed the Cyclopes, Zcus' blacksmiths, and
'1 " h
r an
was sent by Zcus to expiate Ius gUl t m t. e serVice 0 m kind. Two sons arc ascribed to Asc\eplus, ~a~haon and
Podaleirius, who are mentioned as fin e ?hyslcl3~s ~s ~ar
back as Homer (Iliad IV, 194; XI, 518).- ASc\~PlUS W1~e
was named Epione, whieh means Soother of Pam, and hiS
daughters were called Hygieia (Health) and Panacea
(U niversal Healer).
The cuil of Asclepius was particularly famous In the
city of Epidaurus, where people thronged fr om all corners
of Greece to have their illnesses cured. In his comedy TIle
Plulus (654-741), despite the parodic situation, Aristophanes brings in information on how at night, wh ile they
were a"lcep, pilgrims were cured in the temple of Asclepius.) Asclepius' indispensable attribute was a snake,
which received sacrifi ces in the temple.
The fi gure of Asc1epius combines ancient, i.e.,
chthonid forces of the healing earth (hence the snake living in the de.rths of the ea r~h; moreover not only is the
snake an attribute of Asc1eplUS, but he himscJf is thought
of as a snake) and the notIOn that divine functions were
transmitted to the sons of gods, heroes who in their audacity vi?late~ .thc balance established in the world by the
gods mhablt mg Olympus.
Those who arc not particularly vcrsed "
". h . .
n ancient myt 0logy mlg~t ,,:o~uer ow IllS that Asc\epius a od
Id b
killed. l-hs lralling must be. understOOd in th g ,cou . e
.h h Uranus was "k illed" by C
c same sense m
"" IC
ronus., and Cronus and all



the Titan'j were "killed'" hy '..cll~. This was not killing in

the proper sen~c of the word, but !limply the removal from
di\inc power or overthrow into the underworld of Tarta.
rus. The huge importance of the~ pri!kmer" of Tartarus
not only did not dccrea~e but on the contrary increa-.ed
and simply took on another sense, that of a mighty force
hidden deep in the bowels of the earth . In turn thc<,e deepseated forces of the earth tried to exert an innucnce on
humans, in opposition to the Olympian gods. That is why
onc of the Titans, Prometheus, was considered a protector
of humans and the originator of human civili:t.alion. Similarly, Asclepius' killing through the malevolence of Zcus
brought him closer to humans and led 10 a conception of
him as a defender and healer of the unfortunate, the god
and patron of medical arl6.
Thus, the worship of Asclepius was rooted in ancient
myth. And to be descended from Asclepius meant occu
pying a prominent position in society. The famous doctors
on the island of Kos considered themselves descendants of
the god and were called Asclepids.
Descent from Asclepius was part of Aristotle's family
tradition. It is not at all important in this case that notions
of this kind were fantastic in nature. They were no fable
for either the ancient Greeks or, specifically, Aristotle.
Aristot le seriously believed himself to be a distant desce ndant of Asclepius. And from a historical perspective
this is very important.
The old tradition represented Aristotle too abstractly
and intellectually. He was usually portrayed as a rationalist, a professor who lived only for his academic research.
In reality he was a very lively and artistically inclined thinker who in a remarkable way combined his philosophical
and scientific work with the naive religious and m>1hological incl inations of his people. Belief in a di\ine ancestor
did not at all impede his activity as a sober and energetic
polit ician. T he conjunct ion of mythological conceptions
and pract ical life experience was generally ch-1faClerist ic
of the classical ancient G reeks and closely linked Aristotle
wit h his contemporaries and compatriots.
Incidentally, not the least important fact by far in Ihis
whole mythical genealogy of Aristotle is Asclepius' previously mentioned training in the nledical arts under the


'on l :-.on of Cwnus, ,dUI was the mentor ami

cen , aur Ch, ' ".
.1 r
firsl ;lnu memo
, 'c tutor of rn;\llY Greek heroes,
ruDS Wb
Achilles. And Cmnu.'; W,IS onc {) the. Ila,"o;, c Mm~ ()
Uranus (the Sky) and (laca (the Earth), In other wore}.
belonged 10 the older gcncr~li~n of gods.
An these circumstances mdlcate how much the anCient
Greeks valued the medical arts and with what ancicn~ !;ods
they connected thenl. Of course the Greek ~hys,c,ans
wcre not a special clas.s, on the order of a~ ar~stocra~y .
But from our point of view they were a special kmd of m
tclligcntsia. Aristotle's fat her Nicomachus, son of Nicomachus, was a descendant of the Niromachus considered to
be the son of Machaon, and, as wc know, Machaon was
the son of the god Asclepius. Aristotle's Arab biographers
speak of a few Nicomaehuses between Maehaon and Aristotle's father Nicomachus. We can read in Pausanias, a
writer of late antiquity, that the fir st Nicomachus was the
son of the famous doctor Machaon (IV, 3, 1-2, 9-10).511 is
characteristic that both Machaon and his son Nicomachus
were worshipped in Mcssana, where a special cu lt of them
was established.
In ancient Greece being a doctor meant occupying a
h!gh social position. Since there were no pharmacies, physicians also compounded and prepared medicines and often
invented them as well. There is no doubt that i~ tbe most
ancient period Greek medicine originally had a religious
\ c.haracter and was oft en based on various kinds of superstill on~. But the renowned Greek doctor Hippocrates from
the Island of Kos had already made himself famous in the
fi~lh ce~tury BC, onc hundred years before Aristotle's
~Irlh. Hlppocrate~ had made a mass of empirical observa all kinds of impo'
- -lions and left behmd

r an lOSt ructIOns on
reaI ways 0 r curmg Illnesses. It is theref
that Aristotle's fathe r,anm
. hab'Jlantofthe
orc not .surprlsmg
. 1
of Stagira was so well k
provmCla town
nown t roughout M d
he was invited to serve as a COurt
ace. oOla that
tas 11 , father of the fam ous Phili rhyslcmn to King Amyneven more famous Alexande 'hPGI and grandfather of the
r e reat
An yet Lt must be said th t A'
er'ltic altitude to his "d',~ ~, ~Is~olle had a very demol.,ne ongon A h i
has come down to us in which
. WOe discourse
does not at all consist in wealth e ar~ucs th,at noble origin
or Simply 10 One's anees-


tilrS prowC!.S, hut exc uslv,.Jy in v..le. which has beC'l

handed dnwn from .me ,t liml
nd uUcrly dclines the
wholt: clan. inwfar as each member of thl; tribe mulliplies
Ihi~ villor with his own personal talents (fragment ,)4).
Nicnmachus lived at the Macedonian court with his
wife Phac:otis ilnd three cbildren: hIS sons Ari".tolie and
Arimncslus and his daughter Arirnncsla. (The anCient
capital of Macedonia was the f..;ty of Aegae, Later on
Philip moved the capital to Pclla.) After Nicoma(;hu~'
death betwecn 37615 and 367 BC, his whole family re~
turned to Stagira from Pella. Nicomachus was also connected by tics of friendship with King Amyntas, Scholars
of the late ancient world ascribed to Aristotle'$ father
works on medicine and natural philnsophy, i.e., considered him to have been not only a practising ph~ician
but also a theoretician of medicine.
Aristotle's Relathes

After his parents' death the future great philosopher

was brought up by a certain Proxenus. Very little is kna,,"'T1
of this man. We know that he was the second husband of
Aristotle's older sister Arimnesta, who bore him a son
called Nicanor. According to some sources, Proxenus \\'as
an acquaintance or even a friend of Plato. and po~ibly
even Hermeias of Atarneus, of whom we shall speak later.
Proxenus came from the city of Atarncus, whicb was located in the coastal area of Mysia in Asia Minor, and later
moved to Stagira. According to the philo.sopher Scxtus
Empiricus (who was also a doctor, by the way), Proxenus
was even born in Stagira and was a blood relative of Aristot le. There arc some noteworthy accounts, not very reliable, however, that Proxenus took Aristotle to Athens
and su pposedly even turned him over to be educated and
instructed by PlaID.
Appear.mce and Character
Since youth Aristotle is said to have been unprepossessing in appearance. He was scrawny and had skinny legs,

mpensation he liked LO dress up,
tiny eyes and a hsp.. ~ C? gs at ~ time and styled his hair in
wore several cxpcns.\,c no
an unusual ~aY'h' social habits it must be said that they
arcChOa~~~;~~~u~~ significance. Certainly thcs~ habits?f a
owned hilosophcr may make a strange ImprcsSIO~.
~;t the ac~unlS of Aristotle's foppishness rcla~e to his
youth and that is excusable. Wc won't be lOO ca~tIOT"
Fo~ example, onc may risk assuming l~at ~ist'b.t c was
a rather vain and ambitious man,. especially. In ~s ~at~r
years. He is known t? h~vc been, dlsplcasc~ With t c CCI~
sions taken against him In Delphi. He conSIdered them un
worthy of his fam c. He even complained about them to
Antipatcr, Alcxan~cr the .G ~cal's vlC,Croy in Gre?ce. The
sourCC which prOVIdes thiS mformatlon,. and w.hlch does
nol charge Aristot le with vanity, is most mstru~tlve. In ~hc
Varia Hisioria of the second-century AD ~Iter Acl l.an
(X IV, 1), we read that Aristotle, justly consl~ered a.wl~e
man, after being deprived of the honors appomted him In
Delphi wrote to Antipater that as far as the honors that
had been allotted him in Delphi and now rescinded were
concerned, he had decided not to think about them too
much but not to stop thinking about them entirely either.
Aelian goes on to say that these words do not attest to
Aristotle's vainglory and that he would not accuse him of
anything of the sort, since Aristotle was fully justified in
thinking that it is quite a different maller not to have
something at all, and to have it and then lose it; for it isn' t
terrible not to get something in the first place but it is
painful to be d~pri~ed of. what on~ has already g~t.
All these bnef bIts of mformatlOn abouI Aristotle's personality a r~ .only prcli~inary in character. In the course of
our exposition we Will have many occasions yet to enco~ nter other much m.ore important aspects of the great
philosopher's personahty.
Major and 1\1inor Points in the Ri
of the Young Aristotle

ra h

og p y

In 367/6 BC A~isl ot le decided to go IO

liable versions which were given the lie b At~ens. Unrey their own nar22

rator~, proclaimed that A.ristotle ran through bis inherit-

ance In Athens, cng~ged In 9uack hea1ing and docloring,

and ':"'3S .even a sold.ler. Aehan comes righl out and says
that In hiS youth Amtotle squa~dcred his father's legacy
and was forcc~ la .become a soldier, but had to ingloriously abandon thiS hfe and become a dealer in medicinal
~rug,.~: Having made .his wa~ unnoticed to the Peripac', by
listenmg 10 the philosophical conversations there he
thanks to his exceptional g~fts, acguired thfJu.d.ime_llts of
the knowledge whIch he fater mastered completely (V, 9).1
Although h~ was brought up in a doctor's family and
therefore studlcd medicine himself, Aristotle did oot
beco.~e a prof~ssional physician. But throughout his life
medlcme remamed such a homely and familiar field to
him that in his most difficult philosophical treatises he
often explains some profound theory with examples drawn
fr?m ,:"edica~ practice. M~r~over he unquestionably had a )
SCientific aUltude to medICine and was highly critical of
doctors' advice. Again we find Aelian telling us that the
Pythagoreans were reported to have assiduously practised
the art of doctoring, while Plato, Aristotle son of Nicomachus, and many others also paid lavish tribute 10 it (IX.
22). Elsewhere he describes how Aristotle was sick onc
day. When the doctor gave him some prescriptions he told
him not to treat him like a shepherd or a ploughman, but
first to explain why he W3!'i giving them and then he would
be ready to listen. Thus the philosopher demonstrated his
unwillingness to follow prescriptions without knowing the
reasons behind them (IX, 23).
Thus, from a young age Aristotle had a good knowledge of medicine and a favorable but at the same time
quite critical altitude toward its prescriptions.
Generally speaking there is a Quantity of all sorts of
sou rces for Aristotle's biography which often contradict
each other and require a critical approach. For instance,
onc source proclaims that Aristotle first came to Athens
as an eighl-year-old boy, supposedly brought there by
Proxenus, the husband of Aristotle's sister Arimnesta.
This testimony undoubtedly originated in a desire (0 say
something about Aristotle's studies before Plato's Academy, 10 acknowledge him to have been already schooled to
some extent before his tutelage under Plato. But (his is

"nee the remaining sources

probab1y on ly
. I ' Athens at the age 0 sevenspeak of Aristotle's arnva I"bear in mind that Aristotle
. hleen Onc mus
Icen or c l g

could very well have mana : 'n the Academy without any
aralian and have


how and where


I possible

that he studied as

preliminary sch~.,~g. t I~ cgulations but specifically

stipulated by IT.a 1110~n~:.n ~or sure. In'the final analysis

this is


tanl The fact of Aristotle's en-

~ot al~ th~~~~:yr is ~uch more interesting from

trance iOto tile

hod d '

r inl of view. And this fact no

y . ~n ~cs .
ou liwas further said that even ?cforc JOIning the A~ldcf
A . lollc had studied rhetonc, that he was a pUpl 0
~~ fa%Sous rhetorician Isocrates (436-338
and that he
d d P in the Academy only at the age of thIrty after be~~~in; disenchanted with rhet o~ie. It is not at all o ut of
the qucstion that Aristotle studIed under Isocratcs. But
once again, even i{ he did, this {act is not. as impo~tan~ as
his enrollment in Plato's Academy and hIS extenSIve literary activity while still at the Academy.
IncidentaUy, the question of Aristotle's atte ndance at
lsocratcs' school is no simplc onc; here, too, il seems, ?nc
can draw some connections between Aristotlc's rhctorlcal
intercsts and his youthful studies.
First of all, Isocrates' sehool of rhetoric was fam ous at
the time and better known and more popular than even
Plato's school. isocrates had founded it around 393 BC,
i.c., at least fi,'c or six years before the Academy was
startcd. Othcr sources have it that both schools arose at
the same time. The outstanding rhetorician Isocrates
began to attract students fro~. all. ove~ Greece; and it
would not be in thc least surpnsmg If Anstotle had turned
first 10 him.
Furthermorc, study of ~rislo~le's .philosophy testifics to
his great love for r.hetonc, whl~c hiS Specialized treatise
Rllclon'c betokc ns hiS vast e~pcn.enee ~nd.erudition in this
arca and his love for rhctoncal investigatIOns. Evc'" ...
theoretical phIlosophy
e aSSigned
an imp
or ant
placc to rhet~ric;. and hc d. 'Irect1y ca 11'"
S illS b~ic method
logical investigations, wh'c? hc advocatcs In his treatise
Topics a rhetorical onc. It IS also known that When he
te red t'he Academy he was entrusted with giving a s....



course of lectures specifically on rhetoric. And if some

biographical accounts attest to Aristotle's differences with
lsocr,ltes, the originality of Aristotle's thinking makes this
deviation only natural. Aristotle's first compositions while
at the Academy arc also characterized by a penchant for
rhetoric. Let us note that in his youth lsocrates had been
in Larissa in northern Greece, where he was in contact
with Gorgias (483-380 BC), who was famed not only as a
sophist but also as a talented orator. Hence it is also )
possible that Aristotle studied rhetoric while he was still in
the north, before his arrival in Athcns.
Theoretically speaking, it is thercfore quite likely that
Aristotle attcndcd Isocrates' school. But compared to his
en roll mcnt in Plato's Academy this fact is naturally of secondary importance to us. After all it is possible, on the
other hand, that Aristot lc's classical and Arab biographers
didn't know how to fill in the three years between Aristotle's arrival in Athens and his meeting with Plato, which
could not have occurred earlier than 365/4 BC. (As is
known, Plato spent these three years in Sicily for philosophical and political purposes.) And in view of Aristotle's
clear and continuing interest in rhetoric in his maturity as
well as in his youth, preliminary study in lsocrates' famous
and popular school was regarded as more than probable.
For us now, thc most important fact is the young Aristotle's enroll ment in Plato's school.
The re is no point in gClling carried away over various
problemat ic points in Aristotle's early biography, particularly when they are given contradictory interpretations in
the sources. Onc thing is important to us: having come
from the north or Grecce under this or that circumstance,
Aristot le entered Plato's school at a very early age; at first
he adhered to the principles or Platonic philosophy, but
1;1\er departed from strict Platonism.
That is a n indisputablc and im'p0rtant fact in Aristotle's
11711: Odes of l'iJU((Jr, I/ arvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978,
p. 189.
InZI! Complet/: Works of 1/o"'tr, the Modem Lihral)', New Yori:,

s. 11 . pp. 6-1, 200.



'17.< CQmrdirs 0/ AriJlophW'($, ,Cl'Irge

Jkll and Son!., Loodon. 1907.


VI: 73-83.

' From.hc Cin:cL ",'on\(h,'wt,: urth.

- Press. Ca 'l'ausanIJs. f)acripl;o" QfGf''Ct, !la,,"')nI L:n,,-c:nrly
bmlgc. 1977. 11' 181-8), 187-8<).
b ~."r ~Ihcns (d pp 19.
~l'mp"l; 11 place for suol1ing In ,hc 5\1 "'"


At I'la(o's Academy (367/6348/7 BC)

. '

h r
\hc scoon<.lnruI} AI) philosopher AnslOCICS lra~ I ,s ~cw 0
Ari~10tlc's carly youIII bad: 10 CpICUI\IS. E)[1riIcts from An(~:!~ ,,:g~)
arc found in the laic Gn:c~ "'flIer EuscblUS of Cacscna
1Io,,"-c,-c T. ,hc accounlS of An~lollc'~ tumulen1 )'OIl.h can be dlspu,ed , as
they ",ere by AriSIOClcs himself.

[nr() lIm ~nt

in l'lato's Academy

Let us con~ i dcr it true that in the eighteenth year of hi:;

life Aristotle entered the Academy and became a faithful
disciple of Plato. Thi:; circumstance alone, despite the lack
of any evidence concerning Aristotle's spiritual development in his early years, testifies to his enormous inner needs
in his youthful period, to his extensive learning and his philo~ophical interests, which led him to none less than the famous P];ltO. For hy that time Plato was already known to
the whole philosophical and even non-philosophical world
from Asi" Minor and Egypt to Sicily.
Thus, the son of a doctor made his appearance in Ihe
Academy at the age of eighteen to become a faithful disciple of Plato. However, Aristotle did nol immediately /
meet Plato there since the head of the Academy was in
Sicily at that time.
Plato's three trips to Sicily can be called ill-fated in the
full sense of the word. The fact was thal for many years
Plato had dreamed of founding an ideal state, such as he
had written of in his spccialtreatise entitled 17Ie Republic.
At the head of such a state, in Plato's view, were the philosophers, contemplating thc cternaJ ldeas and wisely governing the society on this basis. The second class in Plato's
ide;11 stale consisted of 'tiC warriors, who had no private
properly, lived a.s("etically and defended the state from intern,11 an d external Cllcolics. The third class was made up
of t he farm ers and artisan~, whose task was to feed the entire slal e but who in reWrn enjoyed personal freedom.
PI;lIo's Sicilian friend~, despite his own scept icism, several
times tried to get him to come to Sicily, where, so it
~eerlled to his disci ples, it would be possible to csl abli s ~ ~n
i(ical st,tte. Plato had undertaken his first trip to SICIly


back in the 3c)()'s; hut all kind!> of intri~ucs allhe cour~.of

Ki ng Dionysius 1 (Ihe E lder) of Syracusc., the ruler of Sl~.

approve ()f Ari.<,totlc's characteri.,>tic bearing and dress.

For Ari!>totie aUached too much imporlance to his clothing and rootwear, cut his hair f>hort, unlike Plato, and liked
to naunt his numerous ring..", There was something arrogant in hi.,> face, and his volubility, moreover, pointed 10 a
vain disposition. Needles.<; to say such qualities are not
proper of a true philoM>pher. Therefore Plato avoided
Aristotle's company, preferring Xenocrates, Speu~ippus
and others. whom he singled out in all manner of ways. in
particular by allowing them to take part in his philosophical conversations (JII, 19).
Apparently in his youth Aristotle really did like to show
off with his costumes, his speech, and all his outer conduct
in general, which could not but cause irritation in older
and steadier people. True, in his mature works Aristotle
depicts the philosopher immersed in spiritual questing, far
from all external trines of daily Iife_ But he probably entered Plato's Academy still with the habits of his early
youth. As far as can be judged, he had a rather refractory
temper. Plato, of course, understood this well, as ancient
sources also confirm: "He IXenocrates] was naturally slo....
and clumsy. Hence Plato, comparing him to Aristotle,
said, 'The onc needed a spur, the other a bridle: And
again, 'Sec what an ass I am training and what a horse ~e
has to run against.'(IV.6)" 1 Consequently:, Plato sa.... Anstotle as a spirited horse .... hich constantly needed to be
held in check.
But as if this weren't enough, Aristotle e\idently also
impertinently attacked Plato, an attitude which bter led to
his founding of his own school. On account of these arguments with him, the good-natured Plato called Aristotle a
colt kicking its own mother, Wc have se\'cral inform~nts
on this poi nt. Plato called Aristotle a colt, says Aeilan,
going on to ask why he chose this nickname, and answering that colts are known to lash out at t~eir dam,S \\.:he,"
they have nursed their fill: thus did Plato h~"t at ArIStotle s
ingratitude; for h~l.\ing rcceived the mosl 101portant f~un.
dations o f knowledge from Plato, he cast off the bndle
afte r mastering these treasures, opened his own school opposite Plato's, strolled around thcre with his SlU?ents and
fr iends and became an inveterate opponenl of hIS teacher
( IV, 9). Reports Diogcnes Laerrius: "He seceded from the


i1y at Ihe lime, led tn Plato's being sold 11110 slavl:ry. (lI~s
freedom was, however, immed iately bought back.,br hi s,
friends.) And now, in 366 BC, Plato a~a~n left ~or Sicily al


the urgent invitat ion of his faithful diSCiple Dlon, o~c. of

the political fi gures at the court of the new ruler of SIcily,
Dionysius the Younger. Dionysius I1lurncd out to be even
)( more of a cruel and willful tyrant than his fath er. Under

his rule plalo was not oofy unable to undertake anything in

Sicily, but even in danger of death and barely escaped

from Syracusc alive, for all\he apparent favar acted out
for him by Dionysius 11. Nonetheless,. Plato spent about
three years in Sicily this time and returned to Athens only
in 36~ BC. His place as head of the Academy had been
fill ed during this time by Eudoxus of Cnidos (408-355 SC),
whom we shall speak of again later. It was during Eudoxus' adm inist ration that Aristotle entered the Academy.
After. Plat<?'s re tur~ i~ 364. BC. Aristotle met him and they
rcmamed m aSSOClalton Tight up to Plato's death in 347
BC, i.e., for seventeen years.

Aristotle's DifTcrcncl.'S with Plato at the Academy

Specia,l ists on .A:ristotlc have always been interested in
the queI sdBfofn of Anstotle and P~ato's mutual closeness and
mutua I , erences. Wc shall diSCUSS the theoretical view
of both philosophe rs below. Here wc shall dcse be h
externa I an d to a slglllllc;mt extent purely socialsid
c of IhlS
Some ancient sou rces spea k directly not
divergences but even host ility between the t only of the
wo greal phil Truly, Aristotle's great concern for his
ance, which we mentioned earl ier, disgu I ~wn appear_
naturally considered this sort of bchavior se Plato, Who
. ,
e part
o f a young man, qwtc mappropriatc in a e '
g nUme philos Wc find an interesting accou nt of the III
in Aclian, who writes that the fOllowin alter Once again
tributed to Plato's enmity toward Aristotf cause Was ale, Plato d'd
I not

Academy while Plato was still alive. Hence th e remark


tributcd to the latter: 'Aristotle spurns mc, as colts kick

out at the mother who bore them'" (V, 2).

Some of Aristotle's enemies had c~cn worse. to say.

According to Diogcncs Lacrlius, Eubuhdes of Mtlctu5, a

spokesman of the Mcgarian. school, "kcp~ up .a ~on.:

trovcrsy with Aristotle and sal~ muc~ to discredit hun
(1I, 109), while Euscbius (quotmg Anstoclcs). would tell
how Aristotle didn't even come to Plato on hiS deathbed
and marred his books.
It is hard to say what is meant by this marring a?d
whether it refers to the text of Plato's works or to Anstotlc's commentaries. Aristoc\es, however, casts doubt on
the truthfulness of reports of this nature.

had insulted him he had stopped walking there and car

ried on conversations with his students in his own garden.
Hearing this, Xenocrates immediately went to Plato's
home and found him surrounded by a great many listeners, all worthy and well-known people. At tbe end or
his conversation, Plato welcomed Xenocrates with his
usual cordiality and the latter responded no less warmly,
at this meeting neither uttered a word about wbat bad
happened . Afterwards Xenocrates assembled Plato's students and started angrily scolding Speusippus ror yielding
the place where they usually strolled, then attacked Aristotle and acted so resolutely that be drove him away and
returned to Plato the place where he was accustomed to

]n any event, Aristotle's hostility toward Plato, not with-

oul petly elements even, was felt within the walls of the
Academy. There probably was something dubious about
Ari stotle's bchavior after all. Spiteful tongues claimed that
he had bathed in wa rm oil and then sold the oil (Diogenes
Laertius citing Lyco, V, 16). People also said that Aristotle
had ousted Plato from the place in the Academy where he
taught, taking advantage of the illness of Speusippus
Plato's nephew, and the absence of Xenocrates, another of
Plato's favoriLe students. Aelian (1II, 19) tells us that one
day, when Xenocrates had left Athens for a while to visit
his native town, Aristotle accompanied by Mnaso of Phoeaea and others went up to Plato and began to press him
Spcusi ppus w~s sick that day and could not accompany hi~
teacher, an elghty-ye?r-old ma~ ~th a memory already
weakened by age. ATlstot~e mahcl~usly attacked him and
hbegan to ask him.
' wishl' og t 0 expose
h Im some ow, and behaved
Impertinently a
d 'Isrcmost

spect ru11 y. From t hat time on Plato ceased t
the limits of his own garden and strolled 0 go o.utsl~e
pupils only within the enclosu re.
around with hiS
At the cnd of three months Xenocrat
found Aristotle walking where Plato h d es returned and
that after their walk he headed with ~is used to. ~oticing
for Plato's house but for town, he asked compamons not
interlocutors whe re Plato was, beca USCh
One ofh Aristotle's
Plato had not come oul . on accau n0111
t r. e t ought that
answered that P1ata was In good health but n~. The man
since Aristotle

Marks of Respect for Plato

This so rt of behavior at the Academy is evidently connected with Aristotle's t.efractory temperament, of which
Plato himself spoke on sevetafoccasions. More important
arc the philosophical divergences between. teacher and
student. But regardless of his differences WIth Plato over
many philosophical issues, Ari$totle did nol ~t all think of
leaving the Academy and removed from l~ only after
Plato's death. For Aristotle is known to have gIVen lectures
and conducted classes in the Academy, as be naturally
could not have done without Plato's permission.
Even in those cascs where Aristotle does Dot agree WIth
Plato, he frequently says not "I" but "we", countin~ him~
self among \hc st udents of Plato's school (Me~ap~yslcs I, 8,
9; 111, 2,6).- This means that regardless of h~s dIfferences
with Plato, Aristotle nevertheless reckoned hlmself part of
hi s school, co nsidered himself a Platomst.
Furthermore, in his Nicomacl!ean Ethics (I, 6), ~1S
totle writes: "Wc had perhaps better ~nsider the u~lve~.
sa l good and discuss thoroughly what I.S meant by It, athough such an inquiry is made an uphill on~ by the ract
that the Forms have been introduced by fflends .or our
own Yet it would perhaps be thought to be better, mdced
to b~ our duty for the sa ke or maintaining. the truth eveD
to destroy \Vh;t touches us closely. espeClaUy as we arc



philosophers or lovers of wisdom j for. while bol~ are ar,

piety requires us La honor truth above Qur fflends. It
seems to us that insofar as these words rcf~r to Plato, one
can draw only the most positive concluSion ~rom them
concerning the two philosophers' personal relations. After
all it is nol all that rare for people la be very close and yet
differ in their theoretical views. Incidentally. the phrase
about Plato being a fri end but truth being dearer became a
saying which is st ill current today. The word "truth" is
usually emphasized here, as it should be. When we u?c this

phrase we don't think of Plato at all but

Q[ whoever It


be in general. But in Aristotle's mouth the whole expression relates not only to the truth but also to Plato himself,

his very close and only teacher. To be sure, for Aristotle

the word "truth" also incorporates something great and
universally human. He begins his Metaphysics with tbe
words: "All men by nature desire to know" (I, 1). But this "'I/.
knowledge of things is (he knowledge of their causes, and rt
the knowledge of eternal things is the knowledge of eternal ca uses (11, 1). As he says in his Rhetoric (I, I), " ... it may
also be noted (hat men have a sufficient natural instinct for
what is true, and u~ually do arrive at the truth ... Things
that are true and things that are just have a natural tend~ncy t.o p~evail ovcr their opposites.,,4 Furthermore, "The
Investlgal~on. of .the trut~ i~ in one way hard, in another
~asy. An Indlc~tlon of thiS IS found in the fact that no one
IS able to attain the tru~h adequately, while, on the other
h~nd, we do not collectively fail, but everyone says somethcnature of things,and
h1I e tn
. dIVId thing true about

U3. Y wc contra ute .little or nothing to the truth b th
uni on of all a conSiderable amount is am
,: y e
physics 11 , 1). In Oil/lie Soul (I 1) he . a.s~<ed (!deta we do that, whi le knowledge of a~ ki:nt.es. H.oldtng as
honorcd and prized onc kind oft y ~ IS a thmg to be
its greater exactne~s Or of a hi~~:Y' ~I(~er by reason of
wonderfulness in its objects be dlgmty and greater
precious than another, on bat'h a more honorable and
rally be led to place in the f ccounts we should nalusou l." And again in his Rheto r.on(t rank the stUdy of the
. things

an d wondcTlng
at thiogs arc ne
I I' 11). "Learnmg
dering implies the desire of la SO 'pleasant as a rule wonearning, s Ih

o at the object of

wonder is an object of desire; while in learning one is

brought into one's natural condition."
In addition to what has been said above, let us cite an
intcresting reference in Ammonius (fnth century AD), a
late commentator on Plato and Aristotle, according to
whom Plato called Aristotle's dwelling the house of the
reader (probably an indication of Aristolle's great interest
in reading and reciting, perhaps even in Plato's works, or
in giving lectures). A student of this same Ammonius,
Philoponus, informs us in turn that Plato called Aristotle
th e mind of discussion, the Greek word which we render
as "discussion" having a much broader meaning of human
It is also notable that while at the Academy Aristotle
became close to the Xenocrates mentioned earlier. Xenocrates' particular intimacy with Plato is well known. He
not only accompanied Plato on his trip to Sicily, but when
the cruel tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse, who both loved and
hat ed Plato at the same time, half-jokingly said that he
might chop off his head, Xenocrates, himself probably
dead serious, indicated to Dionysius that he would have to
cut his own off first (Diogenes Laertius, IV, 11).
It is with thi s Xcnocrates that Aristotle left the Academy after Plato's death.
Some Doubts Concerning Aristotle's
Departure from the Academy
Th e account we have given of Aristotle's departure
from the Academy has been the most popular version
si nce antiq uity. But contemporary scholars have expres~ed
oth er views as well wh ich we deem necessary to mentIOn
although th ese views ca nnot be held to have been strictly
prove n.
If onc considers that Aristotle left the Academy merely
on account of differences with Plato, one is faced with the
question of why he did not do so earlier. After all, works
such as 011 (he Good and 011 the Ideas, which harshly attack Plato were written back in the mid-fifties. Therefore
it wou ld h;ve been much more fiuing for 'Aristotle to have
left the Academy around 357-355 BC. True, onc Syrian


biography of Aristotle claims that he left the Academy be

fore Plato's death, while Diogcncs Lacrtiu5 (V, 2) and
Eusebius of Cacscria (Prcparotio E~'a"ge/jco XV, 2, 5) provide similar accounts. It is important (0 keep in mind that
Plato allowed great variety of opinion among his students
and in addition valued Aristotle for his enormous philosophical abilities even though Aristotle differed with him
on many points. Spcusippus' appointment as bead of the
school after Plato's death could also hardly have been the
reason for Aristotle'S departure, as some claim. Speusippus became the head of the Academy not so much

through Plato's will and testament as tbrough the inheritance laws of the time according 10 which the deceased's
property was passed on to the closest male relative. And
Plato had no children. Moreover, it is reported (albeit
solely .in a Syrian bi~graphy of Aristotle) that the ailing
Speuslppus wrote Aristotle a letter requesting him to return to the Academy and even become its head. The differe.n~e i? views bctween Plato and Aristotle was hardly of
d~clslve Impo~tancc here. (As we have said, the liberalm.ln~ed .Plato In general admitted heterogeneous opinions
Within hiS school. Note that Arcesilaus and Carneades th
nex1 directors of .the Academy after Speusippus 'an~
Xenocr~les, estabhshe.d a new trend, scepticism, which
t~ey qUite cle~erly derived from Plato's own philoso h )
F.lnally, Speuslppus soon died (339/8 BC) b
h d hA"
I d"d
' ut even ter
IS eat
ns~ot e I not return to the Academ
!he most Important point, which historian y. f
phi losophy sometimes overlook is that alth ~ 0 ~reek
was a pure Greek he harbored '
o~g Aristotle
ics whK:h never ldh him even w~ro- h aeedom~n sympathfeelings towa rd Macedonians ben he entertal?ed hostile
and Alexander. It is not at all', e t. ~se the kings Philip
urpnsmg 'h t "
portan! respects Aristotle inci" d
a ID Some Im The famous orator and POliticia~n1 t~~ard Macedonia.
was also a Greek who sympath :se. mes (389-314 BC)
harbo r such sentiments it was IZC with Macedonia To
becn born near the Macedonian bo d necessary to have
tcrritorial proximity to the Mae r e~, although Stagira's
course have been of Some signfi edon~an state might of
of Aristotle's p~o-Macedonianl ;cance I? the development
of the Greek city of Olyn,h us .)'mpatbles.
Philip', razmg
In the su
mmer of 348 BC


stimulated a new wave of animosity toward the Maced _

nian king in At~cns. But in the eyes of the Athenians Ar~
tOLle ~as ~n alien .from Macedonia linked with the Macedoman kmg a~d IOcapable of assuming the r:ght attitude
to the destrUCtion of Olynlhus. ]n 306 BC the orator
Demochares? son of Demosthenes' sister, who was subsequently eXIled fro~ At~ens but who on his return gave
~ubst~nlial help to hiS nalive town on many occasions, said
m hIS speech on a decree banishing philosophers from
At?enS that one of the former philosophers, specifically
Aristotle, had actually denounced to Philip elements hostile to the king in Olynthus. But even Stagira, Aristotle's
native town, was destroyed in 349 BC (Aristotle's parents
had already died by then), and in 349/8 BC Philip instigated a rebellion agatnst Athens on the island of Euboea
where Aristotle's mother came from.
Therefore it was impossible for Aristotle to live either
on Euboea or in Macedonia itseU. If he did indeed go to
Macedonia, it was only for a very short time. And the
place. he did travel to (as every one of the sources say) was
the city of Atarneus in Asia Minor, to visit one of Plato's
disciples, Hermeias. Hermeias himself was also accused of
a secret deal with Philip against the Persians when they
advanced close to his dominions, so that bere, too, one can
surmise pro-Macedonian sympathies on Aristotle's part.
In other words, the suggestion arises that Aristotle left
the Academy (probably at the end of the summer of 348
BC) not at all on account of philosophical differences with
Plato but, more likely, even before the latter's death, on account of the anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens, which
indeed kepI o n gathering head all over Greece. Much later,
before his death, Aristotle wrote Antipater, Alexander's
lieute nant in Greece, that strangers in Athens were forbiddcn things that citizens were allowed, and that it was dangerous in general for a Macedonian to live in Athens.
If onc takes all such information seriously, then the political motivation of Aristotle'S departure from the Acade
my becomes more than likely. Such a motivation is appealing if only because it projects a picture of Aristotle not as
a retiring philosopher devoted solely to abstract argumentation but as a very energetic and even impassioned man, a
direct participant in the turbulent political events of the


time. Aristotle did not have to cboose ~~we~n s<!litary sit

ling in his quiet study and direct parttclpatton In the 10
tense political life of the ~ay -aJth.ough more often than
not philosophers fa ce cholccs of thiS sort ~hen they mUM
give preference to either seclude~ reTICctlon or .open so .
ciaJ and pob1iCal struggle. But Anstotle was a phIlosopher
who could not abandon his scholarly pursuits oncc and for
all and hurl himself into social and political life. Philos
ophy and practical life were one and the same for him.
That is why in the final analysis not even the motivation of
his departure from the Academy is important to us, but
the very fact of his emergence fr om solitude onto the
broad track of public life, which opened as yet unexplored
prospects before him.
IOiogenes Laenius, U veofEminent Philosophen, I: .381.
l..-rhe Wt.>ru t.>r A~slolle", Vo1. t, Great Books of the Westcm World ,
EncyclopaedIa Bnlannlca, Inc., Chicago 1952 S' 506..Q8 508 1t 514 16
,' ,',

3"The Works of Arislolle", Vol. 11, Great Books of the IVeston World

~ .I

(Ibid., p. 594.


Aristotle's Literary and Philosophical Activity

at the Academy

We consider it necessary to dwell on Aristotle's literary

and philosophi cal activities while he was at Plato's Acadc
my. The truth is that, except, of course, in narrowly spe
cialized studies, schol ars hardly touch on his work during
this period. The reason is clear. Aristotle wrote such a
mass of profound philosophical works which have been
pi eservcd that it requires an enormous amount of lime
merely to somehow master these. Aristotle's literary writ
ings during the Academy period have reached us only In
the form of individual fragments, the study and reeon
stru ction of which by philologists is an extremely dlflicuh
task. This early period of Aristotle's creative work has
been examined in studies by Werner Jaeger (1912, 1955),
Paul Gohlkc (1955), I ngm.r Duhring (1957), Will, Thcilcr
(1958), Otlo Gigon (1958) and AnlOn Hermann Chroust

Il is worlh touching on these early works of Arislotle if
only because everyone would nalurally like 10 know how il
was that Plato's nearest disciple moved on in other philos
ophical direcLi ons, how this shift occurred and what,
properly speak ing, is the differe nce between Aristotle and
Plalo, of which everyone speaks in various ways.
Aristot le cou ld not immediately have become an adversary of Plato, ot herwise there would have been no se nse.in
hi s living at the Academy for nearly twenty years. A rls,
tot lc's divergence from Plato hardly c~me about all at
once; it was gradu:tl in the maJ..ing. In view of the lack of
precise chronological data it is uncerla.in whether the definitive break occurred while he was sllll a( the .Academy
and whether it was definitive. It seems to us qUite ~nde~.
standable that th e young Aristotle shou ld worship hiS
teache r, at least in his lirst few years at the A~demy.
The refore, oul of the great many titles of works wrlllen by


Aristotle while at the Academy we shall first discuss those

which are still rather naive philosophically and basically
reiterate Plato's doctrines, and then turn to works in which
be begins to diverge from Plato.
The Dialogue and the Monologue Treati se

In the early days of his literary career Aristotle. foUowing Plato'S example, began by writing philosophical dialogues. Later on he gave up writing dialogues, and his
scholarly works arc essentially a concise exposition of his
lectures and studies.
Plato was inclined to write metaphorically. He d rew
pleasure from showing people engaged in the process of
philosophizing and discovering the truth rather tban from
systematically expounding his own teaching. Besides he
viewed philosophy itself not as a realm of theoretical probings but as the reconstruction of all elements of being in
the most general form.
. But in the d~velopment of Plato's writing style one can
slOgle out a senes of late dialogues in which his exposition
ha~ a ~ore systematic and analytically abstract character.
~hls dlscr~pancy between the philosophical and artistic
Sides of hiS work is clearly manifested in his dialogue
17leaeterus, v.:here for the first time his interest in the
~ e~hod ~f philosophical meditation triumphed over his artJsllc aspirations. To ~ .significant extent this dialogue al ready approaches a cnucal treatise.
In the Sophist
Od and Politicus! Timaeus .nd Plo/
even. more. e,? ent. that the dialogue form had becom
SP~CI~ stylistiC deVice for Plato with no Ion er an h' e ~
arlis(Jcalness and dramatism. Socrates th g . Y lOt ?
Plato's dialogues, was reduced to a s~ e mam figure ID
the Sophist and does not appear at IJ' co~dary role after
last pi ece.
a In t e Laws, Plato's
Thus the urge to classify the subtl
wh ich prevailed in Plato's late pe . dest tWIsts of thought
call~d dialectics, entirely squecz~~o a me~h~ which he
malle fealUre~ from. his dialogues. ~~t artistic and. drae complete dlsappea rance of hIS cia<;<,lcal dialogue f
of time, as its hvi ng rOOts had wit~rm Was only a question
ered away. This is the


very period when the young Ar~totlc appeared on the

At the time everybody at the Academy wrote dialogues,
but Aristotle wrote more than anybody else. The influence
of his tcacher was of course a factor here. But tbe clearer
it became that Plato and his compositions were unique in
their greatness, the more his students realized the need for
new forms of investigations. They searched out these new
, forms primarily inthe area of lectures. But Plato and Aristotle's inner closeness explains why Aristotle began with
Aristotle can be considered the creator of a new form
in which to a certain degree he revived the classical dialogue style on the basis of his experience of life at the
Academy, abounding in philosophical ar?Uments, exchanges of opi nions and scholarly conversahons. But to a
large extent the personal element p~ayed only a subord~
nate part in these dialogues, and baSically they were reminiscent of Plato's later dialogues. Aristotle did not at all
destroy the di alogue structure as liter~ historians ofl~n
claim, but actively participated in c~eatJng a new, post-dialogue form, the necessity for which was clear even to
Nevertheless Elldemus, or 011 the Soul and 011
Rhetoric, or Gry'lus, are highly reminiscent of such ear~y
dialogues of Pl ato as Phaedo or Gorgias. The. Socratic
manner of conversing in the form of questIOns and
answers is still clearly visible in Eudemus (fragme~t 44). In
other dialogues such as the Polilicus and 011 Plu/osophy,
which consisted' of (WO or three books, Aristotle, as fa r as
we can infer from ind ividual fragments (8-9, 78), pr~bably
expounded his subject matter direct lr The. ste~s m the
transition Fom a Socratic manner (~ull poss~~le m EudeI11US ) to an almost strict ly monologlc .exposlu?n areht h~
outward expression of Aristotle's own mner ph llosop Ica
h' d'
There are often very evident pa rallels between IS la. 1 ues of Plato Thus. Elldemus goes back
5 nd
IOgp/ 'd C
d " ,O,g, {a Corvias .011 Justice to the Republic. . /
lae 0,
'0 "
. ryp, I r .
and H'fellexen US a Iso

Td h~ SOr'llS\hC~::~~~ic dialogues of the same names. In

enve rdom
P-trepricus one can trace the admonitory
the non- la loglc



[PI I ',Ellth)'demlls right down to litcrttl Cotr(,:.
sect ion 0
IOl l.:rIo.
spon dCRCCS. I1 I
'/"d' PI
, A' I lie', dialogues as Socrates v i 10 alt s.
d I
, I ' I le here is dislincllvcly pure an c r.:ar, or he
I d
h Id '[r,
felt that the power of sCientific ~now c gc S ou J. C o(
onc' s Ianguage, 100 . At the same tlrne Elldcmlls contains
retelling of the myth of Midas and frequent compansom,
along Platonic models.
Generally speaking the style of A~lstollc s early ~orks
gave pleasure la many people, as testified by the anCient s,
for example the cynic philoso~hcr Crates of Thc~s, who
read Aristotle's Prolrepliclls WIth the cobbler Phlhscus In
his workshop (fragment 50). Arislollc'~ .dia logues ~aught
the interest of the stoics Zeno of Cil ium, Chryslppus,
Cleanthes, and subsequently, of Cicero, Philo of Alexandria and Saint Augustine (354.430 AD). The latter be
came acquainted with Protrepticus through Cicero's dialogue H0l1ellsius. 1We can find echoes of Aristotle's early
works still later, in the sixth-century philosopher Bocth ius.
Of course for all their merits Aristotle's dialogues evcn in
antiquity were never placed on a par with Plato's, although
in the Hellenistic period of late antiquity they perhaps had
an even greater significance.
But now we must ask: what was the relation between
teacher and pupil in the area of pure philosophy? Unfortunately at the time of Andronicus of Rhodes who stud ied
Aristotle's works in Ro~e in the first century BC, the d ialogues of the young Amtotle had been pushed into the
backgroun~ by a newly aroused interest in his system atic
wor.ks, w?lch had been neglected for a long time. The
Penpatetlc scholars!, followers of Aristotle's school,
turned to
these, works
and began to study Ihe'
m'nlen , , ~y,
Th e slnct Penpatetlc Alexander of Aph d"
(seeon d
an d t hIr centuries AD) felt that in his d' I
mere Iy reporte d the Opinions of othe h' l
his own opinion had to be looked f . r ~ I osophers, and
Many of Aristotle's dialogues wereor In .~s matu rer works.
thing esoteric, i.e., written in an 0 ~onsl ered to be som econtrary to his true teaChings 0 ull:"adrd~y popular forma t
Ulne Int

narrow Circle of readers . Yel [romle

real ises for a
tarch (fir st ce ntury AD) and P I
comments of Plu is evident that th e contcnt o[ Ar~ us (fifth century AD) ;1
nstolle's ca rI'lest d ,ialogues


was very similar to that of his late criticaJ writings (fra~

ment 8).) J lence wc can conclude either that Aristolie's
depa rt ure from Platoni ... m can be dated from the Academy
period, or that. hi!". dial.ogue .... have a later origin.
O n the ba~ls of thl!". te~tlmony a number of s pccla!J~ts
have categorically denied any traces of Plato's philosophy
in A ristotle'S dialogue!".. At the sa me time the dialogues
form a unified whole that clearly contra!".ts with all Aris
totle's other works.
Early Rhetorical Concerns

Before we turn to Aristotle's main works from the

Academy pe riod, wc must touch on a most interesting
point , which, ahhough attested by only a few sources,
nevertheless con tr ibu tes enormously to Aristotle's characterizati on, in ou r opinion. This circumstance is that in the
fir st yea rs o f his stay at the Academy Aristotle gave a whole
long lectu re course on rhetoric. Wc have ~Iready re.markc.d
on th e fac t that Aristotle was concerned WIth rhetonc all hIS
life. He gave lectures on rhetoric before his departure from
th e Academy in 347 BC and later after his return to Athens
in 335 BC he resumed giving thcse lectures in the Lyceum
wh ich he founded. 4 The Epicu rean philosopher Philodemus of Gada ra (first century BC) even reproached Aristotle for having spent too much time on such ~ extern~1 affair as rheto ric and devoted much less attention to ph ilos ophy. This is of cou rse not true. Rhetoric fo r A ristotle was
only the packaging fo r philosophy and wa~ ful~y t~ought out
on a philosoph ica l plane. It is pro~ably m h.ls VIew of the
purposes o f rheto ric that Aristotle dIffe red WIth the fa mous
Isocrat es, whose school he left very early. Perhaps .one
should rega rd Ihe young A ristotle's Icct ~res on rheton c at
the Academy as being a symbol of th e difference be~ween
the two schools, Isoc ratcs' and Plato's, and o ~ly servmg to
stre ngth en Plato's ACadcm): in ~ he e~es of ~oclel~. To hav.e
an exa ct notion of thc direction m whIch A ~ lstot le s rheton ca l theory was dcveloping \\ hen he was still at the Academy, onc need only read the significan t pa~~s. of Pl ato's
Plwcdnts (2683-272e).s Here Plato sharply entlcl/ed ~ m pty
eloq uence and defcnded rhetoric as a method for gett mg to

know the human soul and, for the orator, to influence

human souls. Under ISQcratcs ArislOtle undoubtedly

learned 10 use words e1cgan.!!Y.J;>ul added _to this skill profound philosophical content.. initially drawn rrom none
other than Plato. True. today many people fmd it very hard
to believe in the brilliance and elegance of Aristotle's


The texts of Aristotle that have reached us are extreme_

ly difficult and poorly intelligible because of the heaping

up of complex and most subtle logical arguments. But one
must remember that most of Aristotle's works have come



us in the form of notes laken by his listeners and

have suffered a multitude of distortions oyer the centuries

at the hands of scribes, commentators and readers. In any
case, A~ist~_e's very late work Rhe/oric still astounds U

today with hiS profound knowle ge 0 life situations and

Eis rare ability to grasp and lind a way out 01 them. Therefore the universaf opinion oT ArIStotle's works as obscure
unreadable and sometimes disconnected is utterly erro:
neous. But onc can prove the mislakenness of this view
only by an~l~ling certain very fine arguments of Aristotle.
We. shalll~mlt ourselves to citing the sentiments of a few
anCient writers on this subject.
In his .treatise De Ora/ore, Cicero writes: "According!
w~e,n Arls~ot.le o~served that lsocrates succeeded in ob~
~aln\Og a dl st\Og~l ~ hed set of pupils by means of abandonIng legal and political subjects and devoting hi d'

~o~~~t~ !~;l~n~~ h~~ ~~~'s~:t:~ms;!f


fr om Pllilocteres [the tra ed ~amlng, and quo~ed a

slight modification the hero gth y y Sophocles] WIth a
e tragedy sad th .
a d Isgrace for him to keep silent and
at. It was
speak, but Aristotle put it 'suffer I suffer Barbarians to
consequently he put the whole of h~ocrates to speak'; and
in a polished and brilliant for
I~s~stem of philosophy
st udy of fact s ,:,it h practice in s~le~~ h~ked the. scientific
cape the notice of that eXl me I Or mdeed did this csPhilip, who summoned Aristotrt y sagacious monarch
c tobethct utor of hiS
. son
A exan er, an to Impart to h'
Im the principles both of
conduct and of oratory.'"
In another treatise
e . Ied 0 I
," of. his,ntlt
courses as r0 11 ows, Aristotle trained ra or, Clcero dis42
yOung men in this,

not for the philosophical manner of subtle discu~io b t

for the fluent styl~ of th~ rhetorician, so that they mi~t
able to uphold e~~her Side of the question in copious and
elcgant, language (XIV, 46),' In the same treatise Cicero
ad~omshe~ orators as. follows: "The orator will treat these
tOPiCS, not ID the fashion of the Peripatetics-to them belongs a graceful method of philosophical discussion which
as a matter of fact goes back to Aristotle- but with somewhat greater vigor" (XXXVl, 127). Here, too, we read:
"B ut wh? ev~r, e~ceeded Aristotle in learning or in
a.cumV/h ID_~T1~aht)' of thought. or in subtlety of dialec0 agalO was a more vlOlent opponent of Isotic?
crates?" (LJ , 172), Cicero's judgment in the Tuscu/an Disputations is also important: "But just as Aristotle a man of
supre'"!le genius, knowledge and fertility of spee~b, under
the stimulus of the fame of the rhetorician lsocrates,
began like him to teach tbe young to speak and combine
wi~dom with e1oque~ce, similarly it is my design not to lay
aSI~e ~y early devouon to Ihe art of expression" (I , 4, 7)."
QUlOtlhan, from whom we learn of Aristotle's lectures on
rhetoric at the Academy, says approximately the same
thing as Ciccro.9
Thus the ancients, and moreover such an authority as
Cicero, had a definite opinion as to Aristotle's graceful
style and his involvement with rhetoric throughout his life.
Later on Aristotle departed from Plato, but he never
abandoned rhetoric,


Aristotle's Earliest Dialogues

One of Aristotle's earl iest and still very naive writings
from the Academy period is entitled Magiall (fragments
32-36), Aristotle'S authorship of this work is somewhat
questionable, as others arc also named as its a.uthors, This
dialogue opposes Hellenic and Barbarian philosophy, .Of
the Barbarian philosophers he takes the famous PerSian
sage Zoroaster, who in his religious thinking h~d already
departed from naive spontaneity and made WIde use of
philosophical argumentation. Diogenes Laertius' general
remark on the Persian magi is typical: "With the art of
magic they were wholly unacqua inted, according to Aris-


totle in his Magicus" (I! 8~. The magi .c.ngagcd. in dL\inJ,.

tion, soothsaying, sacrl fi cmg and wTltlng phllo~ophic<ll
This point alone is very characte ristic .of Aristotle, who
subsequently became fam ous as a cha mpion of theorctic<ll
philosophic thinking an d scientific criticism.
Let us now examine what else wc know concerning
Aristotle's writings at the Academy. Judging from the few
lines that h~ve been preserved in fragm~nl 49, onc can say
that for Anstotlc, as fo r Plato, the most Important thing in
all of existence was what they both c? lIed mind. But thi!> is
not at all the mind of an individual person or even of !>omc
divinity, but simply the totality of all r eg u larit i e~ that exist
in the world . Here Aristotle doe!> not yet set forth the de.
veloped doctrine of the mind which is found in book XII
of his Metaphysics, and the mind here is not yct so absolute
as. not. t? allow of anything else that is higher than the
~ md; II IS.als~ not so independent as 10 exclude all indiVidual subjective moods and states. These arc the notewor.thy eiemc.nts we find in the still relatively imm ature
~no~ .of Arrslotle's philosophy. The late commen tator
SLmPdhcluS (52~-565 AD) wrote that Aristotle evi dently as.
sume !>ometh rng above . d d
c d f h'
mm an essence because at the
e~h 0 M ~Sdboo on pr.ayer he literally said that God was
I er
rn or somethmg beyond Mind
The follOwing two fragm
this early period Th h",ents apparent ly also date fr om
. e p l osopher Se
AD) praises Aristotle fo '
neea lIT!>l century
timid, i.e., reverential : hsaYlngh th at we must be most
, ere
W hl"' e t he Greek author
S ' t e gods a rc concerned
yneslUs of th r
centurtes AD reports that Ari
.c our{ and fifth
pe rfected
'. stotle bell cved people were
a certam


!t is qu ite evident that fo h "

. .
r t e time be "
mame wc Wit hm the sphere of PI' , . mg Aristotle r e
ready appa"rent that AristOtle's d' ato 5 .deas. But it is alformal onc of a pupil but at!
ISCOurse is not the
depth a nd ~re~hness of fcelin~~t~~Oathc YOung man':~;~a~
pe rh a p~, Ihls I~ true of another d' I n eVCn greater ext e nt
my peTlod, entit led Eudemus ola ague fr om the Ad '
, or fillieS
ca eDui.

The Dialogu e Eudemuf. Of On Ihe SO/lt.

The. date of the co,:"po~ilion of Eudcmus (fragmt,;nt<o

3748) IS largely determrned by lhe vcry content of thi ... dia
logue. The circumstances which kd to Ati\tolic\ writing
of this piece arc known to us from Cicero. Eudemu<o a
pupil of Plato's, exikd from his nalive Cypru". bcca~e
gravely ill while travelling through Thessaly. The doctors
in the city of Pherae, where Eudcmus lay sick, considered
his case hopeless. And then Eudemus had a dream of a
beautiful youth who promised that he would !>oon recover
that a liule lat e r Alexander, the tyrant of Phcrae, would
die, a nd that at the end of five year!> Eudemu!'. would retu rn to his homeland, In the dialogue'S exordium Ari"totle
described how the first and second predictions had come
true: Eudemus recove red, and the (nant was won killed
by his wife'!> brothers (359 BC). It rn"u<;t be noted that tht:
third prediction was not fulfilled: Eudcmus joint:d a pi1rl~
planning the return to his country of Plato's friend and
pupil Dion of SjTacuse (man'. members of tht: Acadt:m't
belonged to this party) and died in b.::mle outside the walls
of Syracuse in 354 BC, exacth five "'cars after hi!'. dream.
At the Academy the prediction v.a"s intcrprctt:d (0 ha\t:
meant not the earthly but the eternal spiritual homeland of
the sou l.
The cxordium to the dialogue, where these event!'. ;Ire
recounted, i!> dedicated to the memory of Eudemus. In
Ar istotle's mind, the !>Ior)" of the dream \\:.IS supposed to
confirm Plato's doctrine of the unearthly origin of the soul
and it s futur e retu rn to its homeland. Such an introduction
gave occasion to a com'ersalion on the immortality of Ih e
sou l. In this dial ogue of the young Aristotle the world of
Plato's Phaedo was reborn: th e image of the temporary
exile of th e so ul and its bondage in th e fellers of (he body
is contained in the story of th e fugitive banished from his
fa therland .
Like Plato, Ari stotl e is in this case opposing those who
de ny the immortalit y of the souL He rdut e~ the opinion
that the soul is only a harmony of the body, Le., alt hough
not merely a sum of mate rial particles, still somethi ng resu lti ng from the ir proper combination. Aristot le cit cs two
arguments against this view.


Aristotle's first argument can ~c summari~cd as foI_

re can be no harmony. I.C., a ce rt ain ordered
f h
combination of individual parts, I t CS~ parts t cmsclvcs
do not exist. But these parts may be disordered and discordant Consequently, for them to be ordered they them.
selves are not sufficient. and there must be som~ other csides different from them but ordcnng them.
Thus harmony is a certain conditi on or qua Ily 0 ~ ~pecific
essence, opposed to another, ~ontrary . ~OndllJo[] or
quality. But the soul cannot stand In opposition to ~ome.
thing in the way that harmon~ can be opposed 10 dlshar.
mony. Consequently, the soul IS not a pro,?crty o~ some es
sence but essence itself. We see that Arist otle IS already
quite 'clearly distinguishing the essence of an object from
its qualities, a distinction which will later play a big role in
his Categories.
It must be said that Aristotle's proof is simpler than
Plato's in the Phaedo. Plato also comes to the concl usion
that harmony can be a property of thc soul , bu t can in no
way be the soul itseU. Aristotle's proof, which can be con sidered a slight adaptation of Plato's, clearly shows Plato's
influence on him as a logician. According to Aristotle, essence (or substancc) cannot be that which it is, to a
greater or lesser degree. Hence it foll owed for Plato and
Aristotle that not the soul but its properties such as harmo.ny, virtue and so on, could change to va:ying d egrees.
Aristotle, alre~dy possessed of Plato's proof, merely gave
a somewhat Simpler expression to the same idea fr om
which he also drew his second proof.
the harmony of thc body ,st
d h

S IS armony.
B ut th IS IS SIC ness, weakness and ugl,nc Th h
en armony
. h Ih
IS ea t , strength and beauty The so I .
U IS nOne 0 these.
F or even H omer s ugly warnor Th .
There.fore the soul is not harmony.
ersltes had a soul.
ThiS second proof nows directl f
man and his division of human viri ro.m Plato's theory of
tain to the soul or the body. Pla~e,s In~ofar as they persponding opposi.tes. If the virtues re~~dVlrtues had corremetry), then their contraries were foundon har~ony (sym(asymmetry). Plato borrowed the e I e~ on disharmony
or sickness as an asym metry in th XP~ahon of weakness
y's particles fr om


the medi cine of his day, which is undoubtedly also the

source of his science of ethics as therapy of the soul.
This theory clarifies Aristotle's train of thought: if harmony is the foundation of corporeal virtues, then the soul
cannot of course be harmony.
Thus in his proofs Aristotle follows Plato, or more precisely, his doctrine of the soul, in almost every respect. In
his subsequent works Aristotle took an intermediate position between the o nes he defended and criticized in Eudemus: the soul is inseparable from the body and, consequently, mortal, although .at the same time it is the formative principle of any organism . It is noteworthy that in
Eudemus the soul is called "a certain idea" (eidos ti), and
not " the idea of something" (eidos linos). This wording
emphasizes the independent and utterly irreducible character of the soul, and does so not in a Platonic but in a new
The hidden meaning in the philosophical depths of
Eudemus is glimpsed in the story of King Midas and Silenus, retold in Platonic terms. Asked by the king what the
highest good is, Silcnus describes the misfortune and suffering that are the lot of humans. It is utterly impo~ible,
Aristotle reasons, for the children of men to partake 10 the
highest good; they can never be privy to the nature of th.e
best. For the greatest good for all is not to be born. But If
they have been born, the best thing, and this is possible f~r
people, is to die as soon as possible. The meaning of thiS
passage (fragment 44) is that the death of the body free s
the soul for cternallifc, for immutable Bemg:
The most Platonic aspect of the dialogue IS the doctrme
of the immortality of the soul, which also g~s back to lh.e
Phaedo. Although later in his psychology Anst?tle repudiated the theory of the immortality of the soul,. 10 Eudemlls
he accepts it completely. As for the psychologJcal pr.oblem
o f the existence of consciousness after dea.th, It was
presented here for the first time and solved als~_DY Pjatonic means.l.ife outside the body is t.he normaf ~onartlon
o f the soul life in the body is a grave Illness. On~ s forgetting of th~ sights of one's former life is explalRcd by .a
break in the continuity of consci?u~ness and memoryk ThllS
. .IS b ase d o n the PlatoDlc Idea that human now rcasoOlng


edge is only a recollection of something seen in former


Elldemlls contains a great many


. I
~to~c ~ cments and

direct reminiscences, but tbe c1ose~~'rc ~ Idargumentation in the dialogue lacks the ftnalli - t cl eas as rthey
, PI t ' Plloroo Yel all the other e ements 0 the
appearm aos
h h
r h

doctrine of the soul urgenlly rcqulfe ~ c t e?ry 0 t e

imself had noted. And srnce Anstotle subIdeas, as PI ato h
sequently relinquished the purely P atomc ocl~LDe 0 t e
Ideas, he also gave up Plato's theory of recollectIOn.
Analysis of the fragment~ of Eude,?lUs sh?ws tbat ArIslolle is Quite independent, m the ,lOgle of ~s argumentations and proofs, although Ideologically he stlll.d~pcDds on
Plato. The soul according to Aristotle here, IS urunortal,
as it is for Plal~. But Aristotle's theory of the immortality
of the soul does not rest directly on an unconditional acknowledgment of the eternal Idea of the soul, but foll ows
from purely logical proofs. Aristotle is trying to say that
for the attributes of such and such an object to exist tbe
object itself must first be recognized. Therefore, if various
manifestations, various abilities and states of the soul exist,
affirmalions of this sort are possible only if the soul is admitted to exist in itself. But this means that the soul considered in itself does not contain any atlributes or properties, and consequently does not alter in time. That is why it
is eternal and immortal.
Let us now turn to the Protrepticus.
Protrepticus, or Exhortation



(fragments 5061) holds as meaningful a

place among ~ristotle's .e~rly works as Elldemus. But the
exact date of Its composlllon, as well as its form and content, have ~ot ye~ been suf~cicntly elucidated.
Protreptlcus IS exceptional among AI'
works It is addressed to Th .
Islot e s ear y
cmlSon of Cyp
AI h gh
almost nothing is known of this insignifi rus.
t ou
Isocrates' panegyric to Evagoras and h.
.ruler, froI?
cocles, also a protrepticlls, one can b
~ epistle to NIidea of Themison as an enlightened y an ogy form .some
ested in philosophy. In any eVCnt t~an :-vho was mler, ere IS scarcely any

doubt that Aristotle's epistle wa$ composed in accordance

with. the goals of the political activities that were being extensively conducted by the Academy at tbe time.
The exordium 10 the Protrepticus is an address to Tbemison, who as a result of his power and authority is said to
b.e destined. to be ~ philosopher. This was hardly flattery.
s~nce Themlson eVIdently. was supposed to put into practice the Academy's teachmgs on the state and tbe philosopher-king.
The form of the work is closely linked to its edifying
content, and goes back to the sophists, who replaced the
verse admonitions that had been known since the poet Hesiod's day with exhortations in prose. One can conclude on
the basis of later protreplici that tbey bear a similarity to
the edifying speeches of the Hellenistic period, which later
gave birth to the Chr istian epistles and sermons.
But Aristotle's Protrepticus can best be compared with
Isocrates' works. Aristotle proclaims a new, Platonic ideal
of a rule r engaged in philosophy and leading a contemplative life.
Sho uld man philosophize, asks Aristotle. Even if one
rejects philosophizing, onc will need to resort to philosophizing to argue this refusal. Consequently, philosophizing
is necessary in any case. Thus Aristotle heightened the effect of the o ld admonitory devices with the help of logica1
infe re nces. Prolrepticus demonstrates the Academy's penchant for rhe to rical methods. But Aristotle spurns the trivial tenet s adhered to by Isocrates and his circle, who felt
that the art of rhetoric alone and a healthy life style were
quite suffi cie nt for human happiness, and that it was nol in
Ihe least obligatory to engage in pure philosophizing. It is
signi fi cant th at th e unknown author of the Consolatio ad
Demollicum, which is strikingly polemical and anti-Platoni c in character, most likely belonged to Isocrates'
schoo l. The main idea in the exordium to this work is that
those who try 10 inst ru ct young people with the .help c:,c
purely philosophical reasoning not o~ly do not assist their
moral improve!"ent but fa~c .!.!'e_m__Wlt~ ~r~u~Ie~o_me ta~ks
as well. It is possible tl1ai An stotle himself w~s counted
among such preceptors. A comparison of certam passages
, hoth works also confirms that the anonymous Consolaon
was most probably a response to Anstot e s wor .


After painstaking philological investigations it. was established already over a century ago . th at. considerable
Aristotle's piece arc contamed In the Protrep[
.e h't
[ragmcoIso ru
(iellS of the fourth-century AD ncO- alOt I? t osohPlhc,
lamblicbus, where the pronouncements 0 vano~s p I as"mcluding Plato, were gathered for homilettc purapers,
' d
h Tbe protreptiCus was CIte,
as pr,oo[ [~A
_ [.Ist.otie's
adherence to Plat,onism. The major portion o~ la~blichus'
Pro/rep/iells consists of excerpts from Plato 5 dlalogu~s.
But approximately half-way lhro.ugh, I~cse ext ra~ts are mterrupted by quotations from An~totle 5 Protrept~cus.
The use of Aristotle's Protreptlcus by such philosophers
of latc antiquity as Ciccro, Saint Augustine. Proclus and
Boethius assisted in the identification of citations fro m it.
The only question is whether lamblichus integrally quoted
these passages from Aristotle or whethe r he himself con\ structed proofs on the basis of Aristotlc's material. First of
all it must be noted that whereas the extracts from Plato
arc connected externally and often haphazardly, the theses
borrowed fr om Aristotle ale internally connected. But all
that can be concluded for sure from this fact is a similarity
between Aristotle's and l amblichus' methods of constructing proofs. Most probably l amblichus merely used mate rial from Aristotle (though in a very thorough-going way),
and. ~ne can scarcelr s'p<:ak of a strictly Aristote lian comPOSlt,IO? hel e, even If It 15 beyond doubt that it was Aristotle s Ideas that .formed the basis of many o f Iamb lichus'
arguments. Particularly rich in borrowings is C h apter
Sevc.n, wh~ r c a great many arguments can be qua lifi ed as
commg dllectly fr om Amtotle as is
d b
comparing them wlth som
con ume
y a so
dealing with strict scicnt~~~~~ls from the Metap!tysics
Melaphysics these ide .
ed~e, although IR the
T here arc quile a fe~ eappear only 10 the introduction.
chaptcrs of lamblichus' p;~rpt~ from Aristotle in o ther
the ninth, tenth, eleventh a~d':CU~tS well, for instance in
these references allow One t we lh. Taken togethe r all
the content and philosophica~ reco
d nstruet to some extent
ten ency of Aristotle's own
The point and meaning o [ A "
.10 .It he d oes not examine partic
nstatlc'. s Prolreplicus is t hat
the most general problcm_ h ular ISSues but deals with
t e essence [ h"
0 p Ilosophy, its

right to existence and its significance for human life in

general, a nd, more specifically, it deals with the essence of
the P latonic ideal of human life and the way to achieve it
namely, P lato's philosophy_
It is no accident that Aristotle, representing the
younger generat ion of Academy students, should have
mad e an attempt to justify Plato's ideal of life to the outer
world, since the opposition between theory and practice
was felt pa rticularly keenly by this generation.
A ll of Socrates' philosophy, and then Plato's, sprang
from practical experie nce and the necessities of life,
eme rging into a purely t heoretical sphere only in its highest manifestatio n -and in the doctrine of the Ideas. Socrates' doctrine o f t he cognition of virtue demanded the
primacy o f creative reason, contemplating pure being and
creating life upon this basis. A deserving and virtuous life
could therefore consist only in contemplating the highst
truth . The you nger gene ration of Academicians, nurtured
o n thi s truth , nevertheless had to raise anew the issue of
the value o f the "contempl ative life" - and to search for it
in the inner, p ure happiness of cognition and the union of
reason and e te rnit y. Thus Plat o'S ideal was reexamined by
his pupils and in the p rocess acquired a contemplatively
religio us characte r.
Phroll csis, the concept which most fully expressed such
an ideal, was the focus o f Aristotle's attention. This concept can be defined as the cre ative cognitio n of the highest
good , which becomes accessible thanks to the inner conte mplatio n of pure bei ng; as a result, the soul's inner capabil ities account for a person's d eserving actions and true
knowled ge. T his is how pllrollcsis, or the creative inte llec(,
was unde rstood by Socrates and his foll owers up to Aristot le's time. In his ProlrcpliCIIS Aristotle still assumes a
Plato nic posil ion, i.e., he understands phrollcsis as pure
theoretical rcason. A seco ndary meaning of the term indi cating a separate arca of knowledge is a~m.ost ?ot encount ered in the ProlrcptiCIIs. He re p'trOllesls IS Mmd, the
d ivine eleme nt in us, a capability of the soul rising high
above a\l other capabi lities, precisely as the term is used in
P lato'S d ialogues 7/mGCIIS, PltilebllS or his Laws.
In A ristotle'S ialer works, such as the Mctaphysics and
NicomGchcGII EOlies, this conception of phrollcsis as intc1-


lcct is no longer encountered. Here the concept is C n ~

dawed with a pre-Platonic, in other words purely practical
meaning, and is sharply d istinguished from the sphere of
the mind. In this sense phronesis exists even in animals
and consists not in reflection on general things and con~
cepts but simply in observation of particular things, and
consequently phronesis is neither the most valuable part of
knowledge nor any kind of science at all (Nicomachean
Elllics VI, 7, 8). Thus Aristotle quite obviously gave up the
tenets of his Protrepticus later on.
However, underlying tbese changes in terminology are
modifications in Aristotle's views of metaphysics and
ethics. It follows that when he was writing the Protrepticus
Aristotle held a different position: he recognized the theory of Ideas and, consequently, Plato's metaphysics. In no

other work apart from the Protrepticus does Aristotle ac-


cept the division of philosophy into dialectics, physics

(theory of nature) and ethics, as was the practice at Plato's
Academy. Likewise ethics is presented here as Plato's
doctnne of the four virtues and is understood as a kind of
kn~",:ted.ge related to the exact sciences, such as geometry.
Pohltcs IS also seen as exact and purely theoretical knowledge.
This " math~matical" nature of ethics an d politics
sharply contradicts what Aristotle wrote in his later works
;ht re her ~me o~t ~g~nst strict exactitude in the melho~
~ ~~ 0 ~ ese dlsclplmes and compared them rather to
r e onc ~ an to mathematics (Nicomachean Ethics I 1)
::~ep~~r~it~gtleassaISOtrejechted .the Platonic ideal of the ~hil~
ermgtatltwas t
a ruler to philosophize b t .
no ~t a necessary for
to listen to the advice ' r U It. was suffiCient for him merely
totle apparently arrive~ :t~~ man .(fragment. 647). Arisder the Great's campa,' . A' COnVlC110n durmg A lexan T
gn to sla
he need to raise philoso
science is also reflected ' h p Y to the level o f exact
bctween empmcal
' , sciencID t re inte rpr~tatl on 01 relabons


st ri ct theoretical science
hounded on experiment and
ponent of phtlosophy in P I
otrepllcus. When the op
. h
f I
IS arm u because it only hinder S pr~c1alms that theory
An stotle (although the cones s pr.acllce, we expeetthal
been preserved, the tendency oh?dm~ ~ragmcnt has not
IS thinking can be reoon-


structed) will respond in the spmt of late Platoni~m, 1.C.,

elevate p!~~is~ philosophical knowledge of the most
-general concepts above all pal titUlar sciences, and give
preference to the purity and precision of theory over practical usefulness. The philosopher, in contrast to those involved in individual sciences and in the arts, contemplates
the highest principles and imitates precision itself; he
views the things themselves, nature and truth themselves,
and not their imperfect likenesses perceptible to the senses. The meaning of this discussion is without a doubt
purely Platonic and goes back to the doctrine or Ideas in
book IX othe Republic (599a, 6OOe, 602c, 603a, 6OSb)"
Similar arguments appear several times in Aristotle's
Protreplicus. The aim of human existence is knowledge,
therefore it is absurd to ask what kind of knowledge is
good in itself. Perfect .o.nd unhindered acti\oity contains
pleasure within itself, therefore only philosophers are capable of fully enjoying life (fragment 61). As Aristotle says
in fragment 52 of this work, the acquisition of wisdom affords enjoyment. All people feel at home in philosophy
and strive to abandon all other cares and spe nd their
whole lives studying it. Philosophers need neither tools nor
a specially equipped place for their work: wherever in the
world anyone may ponder, he is evcI')'\\'hcre surrounded
by the presence of truth.
Of great significance in the Prolrepticus is the examination of the elements of being (stoicheia), of which each
preceding onc is more important than the following.
Among these in fragment 52 arc listed numbers, lines,
planes and bodies. Later the mature Aristotle would object to this classification in his Metaphysics (V, 8; XIV, 3),
o r rather, indicate that it was a Platonic view.
From the preceding summary one can conclude that at
the time he was writing the Protreplicus Aristotle accepted
the doctrine of the Ideas and although he recognized the
difficulties connected with il, ncvertheless he did not consider them suflicient grounds to reject the whole theory .
H e did so fater in hiS WOrKS""DII P1117osopliy arid Meta-

physics after Plato's death.

T he views in the Protrepticlls, as in Plato's late dia-

logues, unquestionablr are in keeping ~ith the ~eneral

ideal of a pure and stncl mathemat lzed sCience which had

arisen in the Academy envi~on~e~t. ~l~to's students

be an to seek the "contemplatIve hfe this Ideal required
in gmore ancient philosopher~: P}1h~g?ras, A~axagoras
and Parmenides. At the same time their mterest 10 the fig.
ure of Socrates gradually faded because ~he Acade'."y Was
irreversibly moving away from the S?cratlc ,style of hfe and
thinking, In any event, the theoretIcal phIlosophy ,of the
Prolrepticus has nothing in common WIth the SocratIc type
and regards Pytbagoras as the forerather of Platonic philosophy, The Pythagorean character of Platonism is COmmented upon even in the first book of the Metaphysics (I,
6), This comment cannot be consIdered an, attempt to
somehow belittle Plato's Importance, for the View was om
cially accepted at the Academy, where Pythagoras was
also professed to be the originator of the "contemplative
life". In the Protrepticus he appears as the "contemplator"
(Iheoros) of everything there is in the world,
Finally, to a somewhat greater extent than the abstract
arguments of Eudemus, the Protrepticus reveals for us the
personality of Aristotle, his moral and religious temper.
The life of the body, according to Aristotle here, is the
death of the soul, while the death of the body is th e resur'
rection of the soul to a higher life, The life of the
suffenn-gs in
are '
sufferings of the living
people the Etruscan ~lrates would bind to corpses, The
Protreptlcus warns agamst too great involvement in the life
of the senses, One should turn to the truth otherwise it is
better to leave this ~or~d entirely. All else is empty words
(fragment 61), At thIS hme Aristotle undoubtedly felt this
world of PlatoDlc Ideas and allegories to be an i t
part of hiS own self.
n egra
Protrepticus apparently OCcupies
, an mter

me d late posllton between pure Platonism
own later teachings The I f
and AnstotIe s
rea m 0 Ideas abo h
Id '
still admitted here in a def! 't
ve t e wor IS
IDl e an confid
gh f
insofar as the work advances the
. I ent en~u
orphic philosophers on the t
ancIent teach 109 of the
ransmlgration f
least the necessity of liberating th .
0 sou s, or at
mortal body," At the same time ~ Immortal soul from th e
his conception of pure intellec'tu ~ver, Anstotle builds
a speculation with the

help of termin?l~ whi.ch, both as it is generally used in

Greek and as It IS ~pp~led ~y Plato, testifies to practical
rather than speculative mtelhgence. Such is the case of the
term phronesis, of which we spoke above. One must con
jecture that Aristotle uses this term with an unconscious
prescntiment of the specifically practical bias pure specu
lation was to have for him.
The Dialogue On Philosophy

The doctrine developed by Aristotle in his dialogue On

Philosophy is patently un Platonic in nature. To be sure,
even here the un-Platonic conception does not at all bear
the character of a flagrant repudiation and in many re
spects rests again on that same Plato. However, what is
important are the main tendencies in this dialogue, the attempt to reform in some way or another Plato's strict the
ory of the Ideas,
Aristotle's departure from Athens can in no way be explained solely by a break with the Academy circle, although it is also quite dear that it was at this time that
Aristotle first came out with open criticism of Plato.
Hence it follows that the entire period between his departure from Athens in 347 BC and his founding of the Lyceum in 335 BC can be considered a transitional stage be
tween Aristotle's initial unconditional acceptance of Plato
and the second, crowning stage in his philosophical devel
It is during this middle period that the basic concepts of
his own system were generated. The dialogue OIJ Philosophy, which is sometimes listed among his earlier dia
logues, should be placed at the center of his philosophical
development during this period, for the philosophy and
the form itself of the dialogue manifest transitional rea
tures, while its style, tendency and content allow this work
to occupy a completely independent position among Aris
totle's other compositions.
One can dctermine the time dialogue was written because it represcnts a first draft of Aristot~c's critique of t~e
theory of Ideas which was developed ID Book I of hIS
Metaphysics, The dIalogue On PllIlosophy and Book I of

the Metaphysics were therefore written close together I

time and can both be dated to the years immediately fol~
lowing Plato's death.
The content of the dialogue is distinctly anti-Platonic
and is primarily directed against the theory of the numerical conception of the Ideas, which had originated with
Plato himself and not Speusippus, as was formerly believed. Apparently it is to this work that Plutarch and Produs were referring when they reported that Aristotle

again emphasizing his belief in the natural periodic .....

of ancien~ truths. Note that one of the carIieIt ..... . .
MetaphYSICS (XIII, 4) also mentions the .... . . . . . .
dualistic teaching as precursors of Plato's dualism..... ....
ory of the good. Thus Aristotle showed PIato'I orpIIic
connection with divine thought through the cenl __ ...
Aristotle's whole theory of the cyclical
is nothing but Plato's doctrine of the periodicilyofeo*f!k:
catastrophes adapted to the history of philosophy_
In this connection it must also be noted that although
Aristotle criticizes Plato in the Second Book of the dialogue and develops his own theory in Book m, he has
nevertheless n~t abandoned Platonism where cosmology is
concerned, as IS attested by the similarity of his conception
of the gods to Plato's in the Epinomis, as well as by resem
blances in terminology. Differences in particulan do DOt
prevent Aristotle from following Plato's example in joining
theology, or teachings about the gods, with astsODomy_
Aristotle's cosmos, embracing the sun, moon and stars,
fully corresponds to Plato's cosmos in the dialogue

criticized Plato not only in his treatises but in his dialogues

as well. The title of the dialogue and the form of the
preserved fragments altest to the mOle systematic character of this work compared to Aristotle's othcr dialogues.
Aristotle and a defender of Platonic philosophy arc conversing about philosophy. His interlocutor's arguments
prompt Aristotle to plunge into a long discourse.
H~ begins with an hisl~rical sketch on the development
?f phIlosophy. He lrac:es It from the time of the magi, turn Ing next to an ev~ual1on <! Egyptian and Hellenic philos
ophers, and devolIog considerable altention to thc famous
seven sages of .Greece. U This strictly chronological account (r~om .An~otle's poin,t of view) is not, however, of
purely hlstoncalmterest. Aristotle intends to demonstrate
t~at. pe?ple r~peate~ly ~r~d the very same truths. A
Similar ,-dea hes behind his ascription of the saying "know
thyscIr not to one of the sew:n sages but to the Pyth' f
the temple at Delphi herself from whom th
'~ 0
rowed this divine thOUght
Socrates I t e .sages ordanew.
a er mtcrprctc




Aristotle's idea is clear: all philoso h' I .

many times in the course of the


arc close to traditional folk belief~

lea VlC,WS


d at theIr ongms

Arist<;>tlc's special interest iD the mA

thought In general, in this dialogue can 41, ~d eastern
rcspect for oriental wisdom ~ e>plained by the
astronomy, which in gener~ cbaract mathematics and
circle in the final period of Plato'. ~
the Academy
into the chronology of Zornastcr', ~rc
otle's research
analogous research on the part of the PI- .preceded by
Hcrmodorus and Xanthus. But .ti(D'" ,_''5 EudoxUs,
Zoroastcr lived six thousand )'earS .:r::'e IISCrts that
PIcoI4, he is


However, the heavens, for Aristotle, are no longer a re~

flection of the highest Idea, which embraces all the lesser
ones. He has left aside the world of the Ideas, along with
the dcmiurge who creates the material world modeUed
after the Idcas. The cosmos itself is now seen as the visible
unity of the world and the constellations; it contains so""tthing divine. The stars are sentient beings eDdowed with a
soul; th ey dwell in the cosmos in divine immutFiIity u4
bcauty. These arc already Hellenistic
in late antiquity, but Plato was their sour~
It must be said that there was also
mos for a motive force which, akin to
from the outside, gave meaning to and
unity of the cosmoS. The notion of suc:Ia
mover is also purely Platonic. AristotltD ...... . . .
formed it into a supreme principle. AI the . . . ~
stars in his cosmos were capable of 5~ . . . . . . . .
belief the philosophcr later rejected.
Consequently, although Aristotle did ......, . .
Plato , he still held to Platonic positionS,_


tcacher not by refut ing him ,outright but by imposing his

own interpretation on Plaloms m .
The same can be said of the t,hcolog1cal ~CCIIOI~ of the
dialogue On Philosophy. The ttmes of naIVe fal~h had
cd Now it was necessary nol only to rccognl7:c the

pass nce
' of a god but to prove his existence as well. Aris
totlc created what much late r, past antlq.Ulty, was given the
name of philosophy o~ religion. In the d,al~guc On Philo~.
ophy he for the first time grounded the eXIstence of a divinity in logical deductions. He says in fragment 16 that in
every sphere where lher~ is a series of steps, ,where there

is a higher or a lower With respect to perfection, onc can

affirm that there necessarily exists absolute perfection as
well. And because in that which exists there is a gradation
of things of greater and lesser perfe~tion, th~~e is also a.n
all.perfect being, and it c~~ be ~nslder.ed ~IVlne. Here IS
the basis of a proof of a diVine bemg which, m accordance
with Aristotle's theory of nature, i.e., physics, is linked
with an affirmation of expediency in nature itself. In nature there is a certain relationship of lower to higher, and
this order was quite obvious or empirically evident to Aris
In spite of all the new elements in this di alogue, on the
whole Aristotle is following in the direction indicated by
Plato. In this work Aristotle also points to the psychologi
cal bases of religion.is Again it was Plato who had first
given philosophical form to the idea of the inner contem
plation of the divinity. Aristotle applied this concept to the
problem of the relationship between knowledge and faith .
He ~ees lIl~e~ concen~rallon as the essence of any religious
feelIng. Priority here IS accorded not to reason bulla inner
emotional experience.
Aristotle derives the inner knowledge of th e divine
from two sources: the sense of a certain daemonic force in
on?'s .soul, and one's contemplation of the starry heavens,
ThiS 'ISd

. I other
. than the religious c
PI ato s .lSCIP es &lven more
, . articulate fo rm b y A
n stot Ie
d rrestmg
on. a recogmtlOn
of force s 'InaCCCSSIble to
~clenl1 ll c cogrutlon -a t ~t not at II -=- k
. ----;
the mature- Aristotle's scientific aspa t~n eepmg ~lth
I h
. h1
ora Ions Followmg
Anstot C, t e StOIC p I osophcrs viewed f . h .
tive emotional expe rience of the huma "'It a~':JubJec.
n sou ano tne result


of contemplating the objective existence: of the eternal

starry heavens. The renowned German philosopher lmmauel Kant expressed the same thought nearly two thou~and years later, in the eighteenth century.
Aristotle was the first Greek who ga/.cd on the real
world through Plato's eyes. But he replaced the Ideas with
contemplation of the shaped and ordered ~~OS. thus ~x
pressing the aspirations of the Academic circle to lInk
eastern astral theories with Greek religion.
To formulate Aristotle's new departure from Plato
(which was not, however, entirely foreign to Plato himsell), we would like to draw t~e reader's attention to fragment 16 especially. Here Anstotle says that both worse
and better exist in the world. But if one can pass from
worse to better one can reach the very best as well. Today
we would stat~ the same idea more simply. If there is a
natural series of numbers, i.e., moving from one to two,
from two to three and so on, then the transition to an infinite number is also necessary. Hence any gradation of
things in the world makes us pass on to a limit of s~ch
changes beyond which onc can go no further. ~cc:ordl?g
to Aristotle God is this infinity. Moreover, lhlS mfiOlty
cannot beco'me greater, since it already contains all t~al is
greatest. Nor can it become lesser, since all the ~east IS already contained in it; infmity minus o~e .ac~rdlng. to ~ny
mathematical textbook will still remam mfiOlty. LikeWIse
nothing can affect this infinity because it already embraces
all that could affect it in onc way or another. For the same
reason it cannot become more beautiful or ~ore ugly. For
infinity itself already encompasses everythmg that cpuld
exist as a value of some kind.
This train of reasoning, generally spcakin~ can a~so be
considered Platonic. Bul what is typical of Aristotle IS that
he proceeds not from top to bottom but, on t.h~ eo.ntra~y,
from the bottom up. Therefore his proof of d~Vln~ mfiOlty
undoubtedly has an empirical character and IS aimed not
so much at grounding the existence ?f the. co~~~s on the
recognition of a divinity as at presenll~g ~hls dlV:OIty as lh.e
t" of the cosmos itself the prinCiple of Its orderh
oun d a IOn
d "God"
But even a sceptic, without usmg e wor
wouid fully agree that there exists in the world a certam


regularity, mani fes ted fr om \1,:i th{~ut . an~ co ul d een for.

mulalc this universal regul 'lflty In precise mathematical
tcrms. Of course there is mu ch that is incomprc hensiOl e in
Aristotle's discu~ion (Ih.c prol~ lc ms being cO~po.undcd by
fragmentation). since this IS stdl the very begmnmg of his
philosophical independence from Plato. But the rc arc also
many difficulties concealed he re whi ch Aristotle did not
surmount to the cnd of his life and co uld ha rd ly have Over.
come conclusively. In fragment 26 C icero frank ly reproaches Aristotle with great confusion in the thoughts ex.
pressed in this text, At onc moment Aristotle speaks of
Mind as an infinite universal regularity located outside the
world, at another he says that the world is itself a god; then
again this god is the intellect that regulates all the motions
of the world, then he counts the heavens as a god, although the heavens are a part of that world whi ch elsewhere he has entitled god. I/) And we truly can find no solutions to all these difficulties in the surviving fragments of
Aristotle's dialogue Oil Philosophy. But, let us repeal,
these are only Aristotle's first independent steps in creating his own system no longer dependent on Plalo's.

SI. AuguSotine, "The Confessions" (Ill 4 7' VIII 7 17) Great Books
oft/~c Western World,18: 14, 54.57.
' "
~Pcripalc/ics: cr. pp. 79.&1.
JPlutarch, "A LeUer la Apollonius" (CXV 27) M
/ ' , 16 V. I
0 '" n4' I lam elnemann Ltd_, London 1971 2' 117
Lyceum: cL p. 109.
', .

W',, ".

, ,


37. s"The Dialogues of Plalo", Great Books Of Ihe Western World, 7: 135.

' Clcera, "De Oralore" (Ill 35 141) .

Un iversity Press, Cambridge 1977' 4. I"~ Clcero In 28 VO/llmes, lIarvard
1 .
, . 1-13.
Cice ro, Ora/or, Ilarvard Univers't p
' C'Icera, ''1' usculan Disputatio ns"I C"
Y rtss, Cambridge"
9711e Inslitulio Oratorio Of Qrl i 'r leao In 28 Volumes, 18: 9-11.
Ilarvard University Press Cambnd "" /," (Ill, I, 1314) in " Volumes

ge, 958, I: 3n
So-called exho natory speeches
. :
ad mo nito ry and persuas ive charael" or prol7r!PIICI, whieh had a didaClic
r, were Wldesp d '
rea In anllqulty.
Pla to, "!he Republic", 1'10/0 in 12 V.
Pre~, Ca mb ndge. 1980, 6: 435, 44 1, 44749 :;lIm cs, Ilarvard University
7he myt hica l sage and musician 0 ' 9.51,457.59.
1n3to r o f t he orph ic leachings..
rpheus was COnsidered Ihe orig.


"_ , ~

,n who were commo nty regarded as sages were the rollow

m 'j..lon Pe n a nder. Oeohulul, Ch1o
~,,' , es,
_ I n. n!H, ,-tlacus
ing- .("a

( I)' )~e n es l ..aertius.. 1. 13).

I~.t'rlin 's rde rence 10 Ih L' ra v age undoubl~dly retalu I~ Rook. ' 0(
Y On Phi/050
Rose atlnbuled It to
t he d La ,ague
. ugh Va lenhn
ri!>lotle's 100t MoglOn o n Ins urfiCle nt groun......
A 1~ ln Ihe case or ancient phl106Ophers, one ~ould beat In mind t he
cific c haracler o f their nOlions o f the 'WOrld, I.e., the gods. themselves
' PC h
hi to be cornnreal . wove n o( the fineu elher.
Y ..
C - .,,, H_I.. _ _
we re t oug
I6 C ro "De Natura Deo rum (1, 13), Kero III
O'vuunu, ' .




friendship, the closeness to Plato, which joins together his

faithful disciples.

From the Academy to the Lyceum
(348/1-335 BC)

Departure from the Academy

Plato's death and the destruction of Aristotle's native
town of Slagira by the troopS of Phi lip of Macedonia deprived him of his paternal house and the second home
Plato's Academy had been for him. While Plato was alive
th ere was no clement in Aristotle's spiritual development
that could be detached from his mentor. But his ties with
Plato's other disciples dissolved soon after his teacher's
demise. Aristotle left Athens and the circle of his friends
there, left the surroundings where he had spent about
twenty years, and set off for Asia Minor.
Since Aristotle argued with Plato on more than onc occasion during his lifctime, it could easily appear that his
departure from Athens proves his break with Plato. Aristotle'S character could also have provided personal mo*
lives for his departure. Some of his companions perceived
his mocking tone and the implacable logic of his reasoning
to be signs of demoralintion. 1t cannot be said that the
r~asons for ~i s de~arture were de;u in antiquity. The gosSIp concernmg Anstotle's quarrel with Plato was refuted
hy.the intelligent and educatc.d scholar of late antiquity
A n sloclcs of .Messan?, who CIted the inscription 00 the
alta r e rected m Plalo s honor, the wording o[ wh'ch
'b cl
I was
all fl ute to ArIStotle: This inscription is rlnc testimony to
the nature of the rc1aLtons between pupil and teach
The first verse of the
speaks of a
follower . of Plato, who on hiS arrival in Athc ns 'institute
d an
altar In the name of the goddess Phyllis
' d
cl d
' saere d F nen
Sh lp, an
.bl. Ith'to Plato. The worship 0 [ an .md'IVl'd ua I
r '
was ImpoSSI e Wit In the framcwork of PI t '
and therefore this poem dciries the idc I ha OOte re IglOO,
a c aracler of the




A corner to the glorious land of Cecropia piously

erected an altar of sacred friendship to a man whom the
unworthy should not be allowed to praise; he was the only
or at least the first among mortals to show manifestly with
both his life and his words that a good man is at the same
time a blessed one; but noW nobody will ever more be able
to understand this. Such are Aristotle's words concerning
PlaLO in fragment 623.
But for all that, Aristotle's departure from Athens was

a sign of inner crisis. He left Plato's school forever. He did

not return to the Academy even when he subsequently
came back la Athens. Plato's successor at the Academy, as
wc already know, was his nephew Speusippus.
Yct it was not Aristotle's critical attitude to Plato that
excluded the possibility of his becoming the head of the
Academy following Plato. For Speusippus had also regarded PlalO's theory of the Ideas critically even during his
Onc can also judge of the esteem Aristotle was held in
at the Academy from the fact that he left it in the company
of Xcnocrates, who was reputed to be honest to the highest degree, and of all PlalO's students was the most wary of
any innovations. Aristotle and Xenocrates broke away
from the Academy as a sign that Speusippus had not inherited Plato'S spirit, only his position as head of the
school. Aristotle, Xenocrates and two other Platonists,
Erastus and Coriscus, settled initially in Assus on the
shores of the Troad (the northwest coast of Asia Minor)
for the sake of joint studies.
Aristotle's Stay in Assus and Mytilene
Plato mcntions Erastus and Coriscus in his Epistle VI,
where he advises them to make peace with Hermeias,
thc ruler of Alarneus and Assus, the area they both
came from.l Upon returning to their homeland after
spending many years in PlalO's Acadc',"y, the p~il.osop
hers could not fail 10 enjoy great prestlgc. And It IS not


at all surprising that they were cxpc.ctcd to .do what was

customary for phllosophers of the time:. wntc new. laws.
They also enjoyed the favor of H ermelas, .who himself
was keen on philosophy and was a Platon~t. an~ who
gave them the city of Assus in return for thclr ~dVlcc on
governing his state. Evidently Erast.us and Conscus successiuUy accomplished in Asia ~hnor wh~t Plato had
traveled to Sicily for. They established a mdder form of
constitutional rule instead of a tyranny. These reforms
were effected even before Plato's death; in any case
Erastus and Coriscus had received Assus from Hermeias
still in his lifetime since Aristotle set off for them straight
to Assus and not the neighboring city of Sce psis where
they came from.
Hermeias spent a lot of time With the philosophers, and
one can moreover surmise that regular lectures, not casual
conversations, were held within the circle of philosophe.rs.
Aristotle became the head of the group, and Hermelas
was especially well-disposed toward him. The branch of
Plato's Academy at Assus became the basis for Aristotle's
future school. Coriscus' son Neleus subsequently became
an ardent Aristotelian, and Aristotle's closest disciple
Theophrastus (360-287 BC) came from the neighboring
city of Eresus OD Lesbos. One understands why Coriscus'
name occurs so often in Aristotle's works: Aristotle was
recalling the time when his friend actually had sat in fron t
of him during their studies in Assus. Hermeias' liking of
Aristotle was so great that he married him to his adopted
daughter and niece Pythias. Strabo has a sensational account of how Aristotle fled with Pythias after Hermeias
was overthrown (XIIl, 1, 57).2 She bore Aristotle a
daughter, also call~d Pyt~ias, who was born in approximately 336 BC. while Anstotlc was rcturning to Athens
from MacedoOla and who was still a girl of thirteen o r
fourteen in the last year of Aristotlc's life.
But Pythias was not Aristotle's only wife. There are rcports that afl~r ~er deat~ (probably in the mid-330's) Aristotle bccam~ mtimate WIth Herpyllis, Pythias' young maid,
who bore him a son named Nicomachus in honor of Aristotle's father. Although Herpyllis was not his lawful w'fe
in his will Aristotle ordered his nephew Nicanor to I~k
afte r her.

After a three-year May in Assus Aristotle moved over to

Le!\hOS and taught there until 34312 BC, when he was invited to the cnu.n of Ki,ng Philip of Macedonia to scrve as
a tutor to the klDg's heir Alexander. Aristotle was accompanied ~n this trip by Nicanor, the son of Proxenus, Aristotle's kmsman who had brought him up after his parents'
death. Probably this was the same Nieanor who later
p!ayed some part .under Alexander the Great, was sent by
him to the OlympiC Games of 324 BC with the news of the
amn esty of exiles and was killcdjn 317 BC by Cassander
the ruler of Macedonia after Alexander's death.
Soon after assuming his new duties Aristotle received
news o f the fr ightfu l fate that befell Hermeias who had
been besieged at his residence in Atarneus by Memnon of
Rhodes, a Persian general, lured out of the city by a ruse,
and ca rried off to Susa, where he was interrogated under
torture about his secret plans and conspiring with Philip,
and crucified after maintaining a stubborn silence. When
he was given a last wish, Hermeias requested that his
fri e nds and comrades be told that he had not betrayed
philosophy o r done anyth ing unworthy of it.
Onc can judge of Aristotle's shock at thc death of his
fri e nd and his allachment to him from the fact that he
himself undertook 10 write the hymn to Hermeias which
wa s chiselled on his cenotaph J at Delphi.
This poem, dedicated to the glorification of virtuc (wc
shall discuss it in Chapter Six), is extremely valuable for
understanding Aristotle's spi ritual development. From a
scientifi c point of view Plato's Ideas had no real existence
fo r Aristotle, but they lived in his heart as an elevated symbol, an ideal.
H owever, Hermcias' death aroused quite different feelin gs in Athens: Demosthenes triumphantly announced
that the Persian emperor had through torture forced Hermcias to confess to a plot with Philip. It must be explained
that Philip was planning to declare war against the Persi ans, and if he came out victorious, it would allow him to
legitimize his power o\'er the Greek cities he controlled
only through brute rorce. And Hermeias must be seen as a
farsight ed politician who fully rea lized Philip's int entions.
In th is connection AriStCltlc's appearance at Philip's court
is also han.lly fortuitous.
.'iOl1~ !


The usu~ll account of the m:lll e r is th at Philip I: u

turned to all the fam o us philosophcrs of his time in ~c,lfch
o f tutor for Alexandc r. But Ari~t otJc , pur~uing ph;ln~ophv
with his friend s in A ~sus and Myt iJcnc, was not yct at th(
time the spiritual leader of Greece, nor was Akxandcr .\
hi storical figur e.
The fa ct that Aristotle's fath e r had o nce hccn a physi
c ian at the Macedo nian co urt could not have played a part
~ince th at had bee n fort y years earlie r.
It is ull e rly out of the qu esti on that Aristotle knew
nothing of Herm eias' relations with Philip . The refore
Ari ~t otle came to Pe lla as th c be are r of lI ermeias' poli li.
cal ideas, in the least. Ilis political wo rks clea rly reveal
th at from ethical ra'jicalism and Platonic medi tations on
the ide al statc Ari sto tle movcd to the problems of actual
politics. The fact th at he agreed to become Alexander's
tutor is a cle are r evidence of hi s outloo k th a n any of his
co mposition s. This shift in Aristotle's attitude to politics
occ urrcd unde r the influe nce of He rme ias, whom Aristotle e ncou nte re d whe n he was still unde r the sw'ay of
PI ;I(()'s ideal model of a small city-stat e.
Il e rmeias' de ath increased Aristo tle's ant ipa thy to
th e Persia ns and his belief in the need fo r a national
Greek coalitio n. Al exande r was cdueated in thi s spirit
as ,""ell.
Ar istotle had no do ubt that Hcllas could rule the world
if it \\ere united . Il c did not do ubt the cultural supc rior ity
of Greccc over all thc surrounding peoples. On thc o the r
h;l nd, hJ ving g rown up at the Maccdonian court , Aristotle
was unctwa rc of the contradictio ns which inevitably arose
ill con ncctio n with any nalional Greek associat ion sin ce
the po litical life o f the Grec ks was trad itionally bounded
hy th e framewo rk of th e city-state. He lackcd the lo vc of
fr(;ed o m charactc risti c of the Athenian dem ocrats and saw
nothing te rrible in thc unification of Grccce unde r Macedon ia n dominio n. Fo r him the contradictio n betwee n
p;ltria rchal royal po we r and the democrati c freedom o f
the c~ties cou ld he re moved only by thc outstanding pc r snn<.tlt ty o f the ruler, who would as it were cmbody th e
ideal o f Greece.
T hi<;, is Ihe ki nd of rule r Aristotle so ught in Alexande r .


And it ... tl(lUld he <:rcdited to Ari~totJc that although in

actual fa ct A lexa nJer a lways pursued the policies of a Ma
cedonian king a nd commander, he ncvcrthdess felt his
histo rical mission to be tied with thl.; fate of the Greeks.
i.e., with Il el len ic culture in ge neral. In this respect he wa~
d ~c id cdl y diffe re.nt from .Philip, who,. although he recogOIze d the necessit y fo r ( , reek education, Greek teehnol
ogy, milit ary scic nce, diplomacy and rhetoric, nevcrtheless
re maine d pri marily a conqueror at heart. In his aesthetic
ano ethi cal edu cation and in his pursuit of vi rtue, Alexander was a G reek, ahh ough this sidc of him was combined
wilh a scmi- barba ric, stubborn drive to bccome a second
Achilles and take o n Asia.
Of this youth A ri5totlc could expect that he would lead
the Greeks to unity a nd subsequently spread their supremacy to the East th rough the ruins of the Persian empire.
It is true that for two years before hc went to Pclia
Aristotle gave lectures in Mytilcnc on Lcsbos. The rcaso~
fo r his movc to this place in particular may have been his
closeness to T hcophrastus, a nat ive of Lcsbos. The main
th ing here is that in his timc Theoph rastus had also been a
pupil of Plato. Latc r he was Aristotle's most cminent disciple, renowned for his kecn mind and powcr of observatio n. Hi s rea l name was Tyrtam us, a nd it is Aristotle who
called him T heophrastus, or Divine ly Spoken. Thcoph rastus in tu rn tut o rcd Aristotle's son Nicomachus. whom hc
loved ve ry much. T heophrastus' c10sencss to A ristotle is
att este d to by the fac t tha t in his will Aristotle appoi nted
him hi s so n's guard ian and left him his lib ra ry.

Invitatioll to th e f\.t acedonian Court

A ristotle lived only two years in Mytilc ne, whe re he had
moved from As~u~. In ~n.':! BC he was invited by Philip to
tutor hi!> thi rtee nvea roIJ son Alexande r.
Quintil ian, the' n:nowneu instructo r in {he art of oratory, correct ly says thilt A ristot le would not havc undc rt'lke n the ti.l!.k of tutoring Alcx.tnue r if he had nOlthought
th ;.t " the e;lrlil.'~t in~truct ion is best givc n by thc most perfec t teacher" (I11~fjllllio Orll/oriu I, I, 23). In onc of his

Dio Chrysostom claimed .ha.

to MW beentbe cleverest of kings
ud ruler for his son Alexan:
DOt competent to give in-


(XII, 18), some

dial Aristotle (along with Xenocr es

&nI welll flolb Mytilene to A.hens
~ be spent. very short while. In
him from Athens, no. Mycircumstances arc not of great

We would also
tcrest in
speak in more
creased during


court, and

aCter the
them a.

AIInndc' f . . . .
the enrwsed
.. 2: _ _1_ OIi(iZ


shows tbat the
talks with
in the depths of
and ordered tbe
some; who
many oC the
and some

In the same
it was to Aristotle
to the theory
medicine. For
often prescribe
proper 10 their
was naturaUy a
reading; and

ahhnugh mentioning the rhilosopher, rq'loTb .it the $.ame

time that already as a youth Ak':\anucr sl'~\\...\. l,r him with
~corn. The ~cnsc of himsl..'lf Ixing nl)( only a (jrc-ck hut a
ciLi/cn of the world which was attrihutctl h.l Aic\.mun was
not at alllypical of Aristotle. It r~latc$ rather to the \;cws
of the cynic philos(lphcrs. partll'uIJrly the "hove-mentioned Oncsicritus. who was (lnc of Alexander's fa\oritcs.
Under the circumstances the question arises as to whether
Alexander really was a disciple of Aristotle and whether
he was not at the same lime the pupil of onc of the cynics,
especially when onc considers his respect for Diogcncs of


If onc turns from the earlier to later historians, Plutarch

hdorc referring to Aristotle mentions two other tutors of

Ak:xandcr _ Leonidas, a relative of Alexander's mother
Olympias, and Lysimachus the Acarnanian (5, p. 542)and li!'.ts Aristotle only in third place (17, p, 548), XenocrilLes who was even entrusted with ""'Tiling a manual on
rny . 1I. powa, might have had no less importance for Alexander. If such is the case. could Aristotle and Xenocrales
have been ri\~Jls at the Macedonian court, since they were
both students of Plalo, left the Academy at the same time
and hoth wt.:nt to the north?
Ouintilian directly states that Alexander'S main teacher
was neither Aristotle nor Xenocrates but the Lconidas
ml:ntioned by Piutarch, whom Quintiiian holds responsihle for many faults in Alexander's character which clung
to him even in his maturer years (1,1,9) .
Aristotle's Arab biographers, who highly esteemed
Aristotle, either confine themselves ,.imply to mentioning
that among Aristotle's pupils was Alexander, or say nothing at all about Aristotle's mentorship. Not Aristotle but
On,esicritus accompa. nied Alexander on his campaigns to
A::'13, ~nd th~ centunes-old tradition of the stoic philosophers With thelT co~ecrn for the education of the ideal person als~~ says nothmg of Ale~ander's schooling under Aristotle. Clement of Alexandna blames Alexander's irascibility, cruelty and other faulls on his education under Leonidas, not mentioning Aristotle,
.Probably a certain literary tradition arose in late anliqUlty of houndlessly praising Alexander and h', ' t ,
'l f
s VIr ucs
(W hle orgcttmg IS monstrous crimes) and boundlessly



'n' Ari~tntk :1" hi" idc;11 pcdal'.0gue and pn.:tcptor.

!aulh _g(, '11'u'> cvrll l'itl'S a whok kner suppo~cdly written
I '
I ' I'lITth ,In 3St. HC
)' 'I' ,l 10
Aristotle altl'r
,\ IeXilOlOS
I,": ere.:
I hi he
'II to h
Ie ~expresses the.: WI'"
I~ Ihc future
f hi ... ~on," But if onc corrcbtcs the chronologic.11
' . 0'( turn"
out that ,.It that time
nstot IC h'Im~c If WitS
'11 studying
under I'1 atn an d wa\ on Iy lwcn,ty-el'gh
stl~ Could Philip really have known of Anstotle's cxi ...t
o c'e already thcn and rcali/ed that he would become it
~;eat thinker and. pedagogue? ~ilhout do~bt a letter of
this type from Phlhp was only a literary fictIOn composed
for Ihe purposes of the tradition then developing of trying
at al1 costs to join together the greatest conqueror and the
greatest thinker.
AI1 these facts which cast doubt on Aristotle's commanding role as mentor in Alexander's life and fatl! cannot be immediately and categorically tossed aside in
favor of other ancient accounts of Aristotle and Alexander's close relations, Such exaggerations, sometimes
frankly improbable, were rife in late antiquity. Just cor.sider, for instance, the image favored by ancient writers,
of Alexander surrounded by all kinds of miracles and
fantastic events which supposedly accompanied him
everywhere! But even apart from the superna(ural, many
writers and readers of the time were CX1remely fond of
the idea of this touching friendship hetween a pupil and
teacher, where Ihe pupil had conquered half the world
and the teacher was a celebrated thinker, Upon analy,ing the numerouS and often contradi~LOry f~cts, wc are
obliged to proceed with extreme caution, which leads us
to tak e a sort of middle !'.land on the issue of Alexander's
instruction by Ari~totlc, Onc cannot entir~ly dis';liss
Aristotle's inOuencc on Alexander. Such major ancient
writers as Dionys;us of Halicarnassus, Eratosthe~es,
Ouintilian, Plutarch, Din Chrysostom and espeCially
Diogcnes Laertius insist ()~ Aristotlc's tutelage of Alexander and innueTKc on hlTll, Yet onc should also not
raise the rclalinn ... hip hetwee n ,tW\l great men to the
status of :;'(lOle ahsnlute.: ideal. flOally, onc must reckon
with the pos ... ihle untnl ... t\\:orlhiness of man~ accou~ts
current since antiquity, thClr frequent obscunty and m(0111 plct c de Ill{)n!'.t rahil it y.


, \~

-.; or



" ......









IPlato. Epistlts, Jlarv3ru Cni\'crsily Press, (.lm .... nJgc William

llcincmann lId., London. 1'Ji'!\1, 9: p_ 4,\7
~l1lr Gwgrl1phy of StrlJN VI ... j"olimlt'f. IIdl'\'aN University Press,
Cambridge, )950,6: 115-17.
lCcnOtaph (lilcrally, ~cmpty tOm"'''): a monument erected to a per.

LYC<lIm (335.322 BC)

son ",h()l;e remains lie elsewhere:.

~Thc FortyNinth Di.Jc()lIr5t: on I\jllg~hip (4), William Ilcincmann

Udr London, Im,6: 297.

In fact Diogencs Lacrtius reports Ihal Aristotle was himself pari of
this delegation, to which he assigns an earlier date, 339 BC (IV, 8, 9).

nle Founding or the Lyceum


"The Lives of [he Noble Grecians and Romans.-Alcxan .

deT" (8), G~OI Books of the Wt.f/tm WorM, \4: 544.
1This valuable casket was seized from Darius, and Alexander kepi in
illhe things that were most precious 10 him.
6XolOphon: famous ancient Greek historian and philosopher of the
fifth and fourth nturies nc, a follower of Socrates and contemporary

of Plalo.

"Aulus Gellius, Th~ Attic Nighu UI 3 VofwfI(,s (IX, 3), William l!cinemann Ltd", London, 1968, 2: 159-61.


Aristotle did nol spend a great many years at Phi lip's

court Alexander's military and political enterprises prospered and he could not devote much time to studying. Already as a seventeen-year-old youth he was the ruler in the
Macedonian capital of Pella while Philip was away" Arislotle often did not have the time to instruct and train his
royal pupil.
But the most important circumstance was Philip's assassin"ation in the summer of 336 BC by onc of his bodyguards, Pausanias; Alexander became the head of st<.lle
and now had other things on his mind Ihan studying,
Remaining on the best of terms with Alexander, Aristotle decided to leave Pella that 5ame year and, feeling
himself a mature philosopher (he was about fifty at the
time), he resolved to settle in the city he had once lefl, Athens itself. Thus he spent about eight years at the Macedonian court. I
However, if onc is to observe chronological order, the
information provided by our main source (Diogcncs Lacrtius, who refers himself to Apollodorus _. V, 9-10) concerning Aristotle's return to Athens in the !->econd YC;lr of
the third Olympiad admits of different interprctation~; it
could have been either in the faU of 335 BC or in the
spring of 334 BC. A scholar has even suggested that Aristotle did not head straight for Athens but stopped in Stagira on the way, But this hyp{lthesis is very debatable, and
if it really was so, Ari!->totle's stay in Stagira could have
lasted only a few month~.
In Athcns Aristotle's first task was, of course, to found
his own school, for hy that time his philosophical diver




gence from Platonism had hccome quite perceptible. There

was no longer any place for him within the Academy.

Spcusippus, Plato's first successor, did not remain at

the head of the Academy fM long. Hot-tempered, impul_

sive and somewhat gloomy, he was also seriously ill. The
Academy needed the firm hand of Xenocrates, who had

become a most prominent figure by that time. Diogcncs

Lacrliu5 rcports of Spcusippus: "When he was already
crippled by paralysis, he sent a message to Xenocrates
entreating him to come and take over the charge of the
school" (IV, 3). Judging from the lellers which Speusippus is reputed to have sent Xenocrates, things were not
going well at the Academy. In one, the ailing Speusippus
told Xenocrates that he had thought it necessary to write
him of his physical condition since he believed that
Xenocrates would get the whole sehool back into shape
if he ret urned to the Academy; since Plato had valued
him highly and declared as much at the end of his life ,
Speusippus now advised him to show his gratitude to
Plato, a deed he considered fine and just, by coming to
the Academy and taking the school into his hands: such
firmness and faithfulness could justifiably be called true
wisdom (Letter 30). In another, he urgently summoned
Xenocrates, saying that for a long time he had wanted
him to eome, but that it would be a good thing if he
came ~ven ~ow; for he would be put in charge of Speu"ppus affairS and take proper care of the business of
the school (Letter 31).
Xenocrates did not tarry. Returning to Athens after a
ten-year absence, he beeame the head of the Academy
after Speuslppus' death and ran it for full twenty-five years
(339-314 BC).
h' Aristotle came to Athens" in 335 BC wh en th c f'
ncn d 0 f
". youth Xenocrates~ with whom he had onee left the
Academy, ~ad been directing the school for four ears alre~dy. InCIdentally, Diogenes Laertius . f
Anstotle purchased the works of S . I~ orms us that
death for three talents (IV, 5)."
peUSlppUS after hIS
One can say for sure that 'f
l A .
nst~lIe dId not stay at the
Academy it was only on ace
with its new head.
ount 0 profound differences


Onc cannot speak of philosophical closeness between

Aristotle and Xcnocralcs in the absolute sense nf the

word. The fact is that Xcnocrates had considcrahly rC

worked Plalonism and in the cnd come up with a numhcr

of theories which went far beyond Ihe limits of Plato",

philosophy; Arislotle had done the same with Plato's legacy, only in a different direction. There were probahly
also non-philosophical reasons for Aristotle's differences
with Xenocrates, and these may have been rooted in the

latter's character.
Xenocrates was always "dignified and grave of demeanor" (Diogenes Laertius, IV, 6-10) and was distinguished for his truthfulness, integrity and sclf-possession.
Wilbout being haughty, Xenocrates neverlheless was hard
to approach, quite incorruptible and really too dignified.
Even the then-renowned and irresistible courtesan Phryne
was unable to tempt him. Xenocrates was famous for his
enormous self~conlrol and could even endure cauleri/a

tion for medicinal purposes.

Xenocrates conducted himself independently. Once
Alexander sent him a large sum of money as a gift, hUI
he kept only 3000 Attic drachmae and sent back Ihe resl,
saying the king was more in need of this money for the
wants of his people. From Antipater, Alexander's military commander, he did not accept any presents at all,

and once did not even answer his greeting immediately,

but only after finishing his philosophical discourse.

Xenocrates' incorruptibility and uprightness were such

that the Athenians allowed him to bear witness in court
without taking an oath, although this was forbidden by
law. And when he was sent to Philip with other envoys,
he behaved independently and did not natler the king
like the others. In this connection Philip later said that
he had learned who in Greece was mercenary and who
was not to be bough!. When Xenocrates was sent to request the freeing of the Athenian prisoners taken in the
Lamian war (322 BC), he once again treated Antipaler
in a most familiar and original manner_ He did not
bother spending any time preparing a speech, but confined himself to rcciting the famous verses from Homer's
Odyssq reeounting the freeing of Odysseus' compan!ons
from bondage to the enchantress CITce (X, 383-385).- To


the g1bc~ of a certain Bil\n, XC'nr~('r.HlS rc!-.pondcd c;'llher

arrogantly that he would make nll frtlHt us it Wit~ un~
worthy of tragedy 10 crilil"ile n\f1\lJy. For f;liling to I\IY
some ta.xes he was alml)sl sold into slawry. Si~nificant i~
itself is the fact that when he \\\)uld k;m: the Acadl:my
to go into [own liller-bearers would rush to clear [he way
for him .
It is only natural that Aristotle did nol feel like slaying
at the Academy under Xcnocrates. Onc can guess at the
rivalry between these two philosophers in Alexander's
eyes from Ihe following facl. When he left Pella in 335 BC
Aristotle had recommended his kinsman Ca lli st henes as
an ad\isor, secretary and historian to Alexander. Subsequently Callisthenes proved to have been part of a con.
spi racy against Alexander in 327 BC and was executed on
his order. Afterwards, to humiliate Aristotle on Ca ll is.
thenes' account, the king began to give ri ch gifts to Xenocrates. Such a state of affairs could hardly have improved
relations between the two philosophers.
Aristotle established his new school in Athens near the
temple of Apollo Lycius, situated in the northeast section
of the city and giving the locality the name of Lyceum.
BOlh Apollos shrine and Ihe Lyceum had exisled from
time immemorial in Athens.~
Xenophon mentions that the Lyceum was a place for
horseback riding.s A gymnasium was also located Lherc. 6 It
~ad been built by Lyeurgus, an opponent of the tyrant PisIstr~lus, to wh~m the building of the gymnasium was also
atlnbut~d; Pencles as well figures as the founder of the
gymnasIUm. Thus the Lyecum had existed for a hundred
or even t:-""'o hundred years before Aristotle. In any case,
the sophIsts had pursued their studies here and their
sc~ool had ar~sen in the fifth century nc and aimed at stu~
dymg ma? With .all his subjective moods, in coni rast to
more ancIent phtlo~opher~. who primarily studied nature
and the COsmos. IllS I.n thiS ancient Lyceum that Aristotle
began to teach after hiS return to Athens.
The Lyceum was latcr destroyed twice: by PhiJip in
a~ut ~g BC a!ld by thc Roman general Sulla around 87
BCffdurdtn the slcgc of Athens, when Plato's Academy also
su cre .
' .


'Ill. L)teu. . . . . . . . . . . . . . ""."..

Fro~ oaY' of

stro\IiD&. .,..........

mUnicIpal garde mofteD "cd \belli . , . . .

philosophIcal sc~ \ect
... bald
semble. the public, ~Th :",fOd all die _ _


discus~lOns m. gen~.

peti';.u '.uBi., adjoined ~

ratly since th~:'1I intended (or &Y"'.'ztjc . . . . . . . .

i,e" places Orl
Ykinds of scb001iag. The
subsequently for ~Il
..... scbohm for
widely used bY. phl1O:~e: came to "!C'n a school P'!'.
purposes, ~nd at~r t school. it becaIM "bOO)_ _ ~
ally or phllosophlcal tribe (dIe latter wipal\y
Ihe words school or dIQ.
conversation, argument, tntcn:e~ ~
The mosl famous gymna.. ..... die
were lhe Academy! theJ-yccum rs) TIoc
school of Ihe ~re'd
~ therebe IJeIaoFd
Academy was ac:qul
Aristodc as.1JIlIife of doe
only ~o him . ~
the ri"''' .........
provlOces, or m the L ~~
. .c
granl), did nol have the.rigbt t~
Alhens, The f1!rlJHI' whIch ~~DI
boughl after hIS ~eath by his -:um -oc iIs _ I D ,.,..
lhal lime Ihe perlptll of tho L:yec
lollc's school.
A remark is in order hue. "'5
ring 10 a representatiw of
_< =
neeled directly with tbo idaII-For it was the
nol only Aristolle, to
stancc, also gaw biI
Epicurus spCIeb
were at lirst
come to he


for ;,;:e:; m




were many difference s which cmphasi/cd the rivalry between these twO ~ChllOls. In the Lyccum, linked fr om
ancient times with the name of the god Apollo, there was a
templc to Apollo Lycius. In the Academy, there was a
sanctuary of Athcna, the muses and the hero Akadcmos,
and an altar to Promcthcus. The Lyccum had an ancient
gymnasium; the Academy also had onc, which was even

older. At his Academy Plato conducted scholarly conversations while strolling around the peripa(. The Lyceum had
its own peripat, where Aristotle, following ancient tradition, also conversed with his pupils. The Academy was located to the northwest of Athens, six ... tadia (a little over a
mile) away, beyond the Dipylon Gate, while the Lyceum
hlY 10 lhe cast of Athens near the eity wall by the Gate of
Diochares, where there were springs with wonderful
drinking water. And quite close to the Lyceum another of
Plato's students, the cynic Antisthenes, founded his own
school, the Cynosarges, also with a gymnasium andperipat .
The road to the Academy passed through Ceramicus,
where funerary stclae were erected to famous Athenians.
The Lyccum was situated near the road to Marathon, famous from the Greco-Pe rsian war. From the Academy
o~e could sce the hills and ol ive groves of Colon us, the
birthplace of Sophodes. From the gardens of the Lyceum
th ere was a view of Mount Lycabellus,linked with the god
Apollo. The site of the Academy was Plato's private
propcrty. But lhe Lyceum, founded in 335 BC was not
legally Aristotle's right up to his death.
From the momen t it was formed Plato's Academy can
be called a school. One can refer to the Lyceum as a phil?sophical scho?1 in the proper sense of the word not start109 In 335 BC, If onc is to be precise but only from 322 BC
w.he~ Aristotle died and the head of the school, his closest
dIsciple ThcophraslUs, a lawful Athenian ciLizen finally
became the ow.ne r of the Lyceum. Plato spent all his life in
.A:thens, returmn~ from h.is trips to Sicily to his own home,
h~: Aca~emy. A~lstotle dId not live all that long in Athens,
\\, as always consIdered an alien and his life was noL very
Ar.istotle worked indefatigably in his Lyceum In the

~~r~~~th~;f;'~~I!cctu.r~~ fo; ah.sclec~ group of list~ners on

pOlO ..



philosophy. But he also

ave afternoon classes in a large auditori~m for It;~"-r~c.

~ared students. These aftern~n a~d evcOI.ng C(lU~s.cs .wcr~l
devoted to relatively accessible ISsues, 10 ra~lIcul.lf ,t
questions of rhetoric. Here AristoLle even had
tinctive school in the art of oratory, a fact whIch In I~SC
portrays him not only as an absorbed philosopher, ~ctlfcd
from the world, but also as a person concerned With the

~IS o.w~ dl~f

general problems of life .

The Rheton'c that has come down to us attests to hiS
enormoUS interest in various everyday situations and his
amazing ability to get to the bottom of them. One can co~
clude that the philosopher's "evening-class students", If
one may so cailthem, were supremely lucky people, since
they could learn to analyze complex life situations and to
speak about them in an enlightened, competent, elegant
Aristotle established one other noteworthy custom at
the Lyceum. He regularly dined with his friends, conduct
illg scholarly discussions with them at the same time. And
like everything else where Aristotle was concerned, these
dinncrs had a systematic character, to the point that every
tcn days a new chairman was elected for them, and Aris
totle himself even wrote a special memorandum for these
scholarly dinners entitled "Laws of the Mess Table".
Moreover, from the biographical information we have
about Aristotle we can infer that such " laws" and attendants to their observance, whom we would now call monitors, were instituted by Aristotle for the whole school in
general, or perhaps only for the conversation hours.
The Lyceum undoubtedly had to dispose of a library of
no small dimensions, as is apparent from Aristotle's
works, those whose authenticity is unquestionable. They
arc packed with precise references to various authors and
quotations from them which would be unthinkable without
a large library. Without a doubt, too, Aristotle had to
make use of the help of his patrons Philip and Alexander
to sustain the existence and development of all these
studies and scholarly and scientific cndeavors at the Lyceum. According to the.writer Athenacus, Alexander gave
Aristotle no less than eight hundred talents to further his
zoological research (711e DeipllosophisiS IX, 398e). But
perhaps no less important is the communication by Pliny

Ihroll'h the appCJrance of new features alien to
I'latn's philosophy
and through the retent~l)n
an d even f ur-

the Elder that Alexander put at Ari~t(ltle's disposal, also

to aid in his zoological investigations, "all those who made
their living by hunting. fowling, and ri~hing and those who
were in charge of warrens, herds, apiaries, fishponds and
This report sounds too exaggerated, and some scholars
have questioned its reliability. But in any event onc cannot
dcny that Aristotle's Lyceum received substantial assistance from highly-placed patrons to pursue its extensive research and teaching activities.
There were peculiarities in the very organization of the
Lyceum which indicated the entirely new features characteristic of Aristotle's philosophy and foreign to Plato's.
The practical direction of the Lyceum and the multitude
of concrete investigations undertaken by Aristotle and his
students showed that philosophy within Aristotle's school
was understood and taught differently from the way it had
been by Plato. The difference must not of course be exaggerated and taken 10 an extreme. But with it in mind, it is
proper to show how the transition occurred from onc type
of philosophizing at Plato's Academy to anothcr kind at
Aristotle's Lyeeum.

tha dC\-'ciopmcnt of cil;mcnts of Platom"m, A.s wc read

d pcr inlt) Ari~totle's works, wc keep comlllg across
c~~ocs of Plato's thoughts, which stayed with Aristotle to

Aristotle, and Plato's Academy

Plato and Aristotle arc two different philosophers who
arc gener~lIy th~u~ht to be utterly incompatible. It is as
though Ans~otehamsm had been chopped off with an axe
~rom.Plato.msm and had only become Lrue Aristotclianism
to thiS anLt-Platonie condition. Views of this sort are not
onlr custo.mary among the public at large but have found
their way mto many textbooks and shown up in a number
of scholarlr s~u~ies. Such sharp contrasting of different
~pochs or mdlVldual figures within onc era has been reJ~CLed no~a~ays, even if onc must still take into account
t e oppos~tl?n .and antagonism between cultural henomena onglnatlng from the same foundations
Yes, as wc shall sec belo A'
to Plato. But Aristotl' w'. nstOl c really IS contrary
Plato'S, could in no w~ s hPhllosophy, th.us opposed to
Aristotciianism arose onr g~~ed cm erged Inst~nlaneously;
ua ll y on the SOil of Platon-



the dilY he dicd..
As wc saw earlier. Aristotle appeared althc Academy
in 367/6 BC. Is it of no significance that the Academy had
arisen in approximately 387 BC, at lea~t twenty years be
fore Aristotle entercd it and met the sooy-year-old Plato,
already wise with experience? Can it be that the brilliant
Plato had not gone through a certain cou~se of development up to that time and thatlhc young Anstotle, who was
also to bc a philosophcr of genius, did not find the Academy at a definite historical period of its existence, at a definite stage in its spiritual development?
By then Plato had already produced his main. philosophico-mythological works. He had already wnltcn the
Plwctims, SymposiullI, Plwcdo and Republic. Moreover, a
shift had hecomc evident in Plato's approach from mythophilosophic and artistic constructions toward much more
theoretical, often ahstractly dialectic and systemalic:llly
complete structures. The dialogue 77teaetecus, written
around 369 BC, or ahout two years before Aristotle's .enrollmcnt in the Academy. can be seen as such a tu rlllngpoint.
Of cOllfse admiration of Plato's earlier works never
faded at the Academy nor, onc can say, in all of ancient
philosophy up to the last centuries of its existence. Nonetheless at the Academy Aristotle not only cncountered
philosophico-rcligious and mytho-artistic problems but
also the actual tcachings on the dialectic of concepts.
For already in the Tllcoetcllls purely gnoseologicai i~ues
(i.e., relating to thc theory of k?owledgc) w~re. raised
and grnpplcd with, tasks essential to estabhshmg the
logic of cognition.
771('llCic/llS is grounded on the asserlton of .the .eontmuous Ouctuation of all that exists; and the quesllon IS posed:
Ci.tO the philosopher remain within the limits of uninte~

rupted and chaotic Ouidilr? It appears. that human tfO&,nltion is possible only provided that the~tab.le~.I~~a$l.eXlst,
through the help of which onc can comprehend nUld re-


ality and Irace in it some kin~ of logical ordc,r. In this CO~

nection am'onc must rccognllc that the ba~"c problem In
the 11leacl~tlls is a p urely gnoscoiogicai (epistemological)
onc or, generally speaking, a systemic and logical onc. The
77,coetellls was followed by Plalo's PamlCtlides, Sophist,
Po/ilicus (Statesma n) an.d Phi/rblls, all dialo~ucs in w~ich

the constructive and logical cleme nt pre do min ates. It IS at

this slage in the development of the Academy that Aristotle e nt ered it.
But if the history of Aristot le 's spiritual development
and activity at the Lyceum is o f importance to us, we must
dwell on a very essent ial fa ct in his biography: around 367

BC Aristotle met a rema rkable person at the Academy,

Eudoxus of Cn idos.

Eudoxus of Cnid os

Eudoxus was born arou nd 408 BC (acco rding to other

accounts, in 391 BC) o n the island of Cnidos o ff the coast
of Asia Minor, in the city o f Cnidos, known as one o f the
main centers of worship of the goddess Aphrodite, in
whose ho nor the G reek sculptor Praxiteles chiselled his
fam ous statue. The heyday of Eudoxus' ph ilosophical
career was in 368-365 BC, during his second stay in Athens. He died around 355 BC at the age of fifty-th ree.
Eudoxus came to A the ns for the fir st lime at the age of
twenty- three, i.e., around 385 BC. It is possible that he
began to attend Plato's lectures alread y then . In addit ion,
the sou rces say that he stud ied unde r the Pythagorean Archytas, who instructed him in ast ro no my a nd geometry;
and he also studied medicine under famous docto rs of the
time . T.he re arc also reports that he trave lled to Egypt in
approxImately 381/0 BC. In Strabo's version (XV II 1 29)
'. eve n went to Egypt wit h Plato and spent a whole of
thlrte~n ye3.rs there.' prevailing wit h diffi culty upon the
EgyptIan priests to Impa rt some of their doctrines. The n
Eu~oxu~ spent a few yea rs in CYlicus and Pergamum in
ASIa Mmor, and returned to A the ns this time with a
wh ole h I f d' .
sc 00 0 Isclples, so that D iogenes Laertius eve n
re e rs 10 a cerlain rivalry between Eudoxus and Plato
(VII I, 87) . T hat was hardly the case since there is scholarly


'idcncc o f E udoxus' Platoni"m. In any event , during

~~ato's second trip to Sicily (367-365 Bq, Eudoxus se rved
for him as head of the Academy. This is only nalUral as the
twO o f the m we re old friends from the time of their joint
jo urney to Egypt.
Some tim e a ft e rward!; (approXlmately SIX or seven years
later) Eudo xus retu rned to Cnidos, where he was invested
with rulllegisla tive powers. He had had his own philosophical schoo l before he came to the Academy, and he did
not stay at the Acad e my to the cnd of his life, but relUrned
to his native town a few years before his death. Thus he
was no t a Platonic Academician in the proper sense of the
word, but merely spen t his prime years at the Academy.
Perhaps E udoxus of Cnidos should not be considered a
Plato nist in the full sense of the term, although he even
visited Plato in Sic ily arou nd 361 BC. Aristotle speaks of
Eudoxus with great affection and in so d oing reveals a line
of thinking characte ristic not of Plato but of Eudoxus and
Aristotle himself.

Eudoxus as the Transition Between Plato ond Aristotle.

A passage fr om the Nicomocheon Ethics where Eudoxus'
teaching o n pleasure is sympa thetically examined sho\\-'S
Aristotle's closeness to E udoxus. Neither Plato nor Aristotle holds pleasure to be the highest good. Nevertheless it
ente rs int o this greatest good wit h a certa in modifica tion.
The text which we cite below att ests 10 A ristotle's g reat affini ty with E udoxus: "Eudoxus tho ught pleasu re was the
good because he saw a ll things~ both r.aliona l and. i rr~
tional, aiming at it, and beea ~se In a ll th mgs that wh~eh ~s
the object of cho ice is what IS excellent a nd tha t whIch IS
most the object o f cho ice the greatest good~ Ihu~ th.e fact
th at all things movcd .'oward t h~ sa me obJcct mdlc~t ed
th at this was for all things the ch Ief good (fo r each thing,
he argued, fin ds its o~ good, as it find~ its own nouri~h
me nl ) a nd that which IS good fo r a ll thmgs and at which
all ai~ was the good. His arguments wer~ credited morc
because o f the excelle nce o f his character than fo r !heir
"'Own sa kc;nc was Ihought to bC re ma rkably Sclr-conrnmca,
and ther~fore it was tho ught th at he was no t saying what
he d id say as a fr iend o f pleasure, but that. the fac ts really
we re so. H e believed that the same concl USio n followe d no


less plainly from il. study of tn,: contr':lry o~ pleasure; pain

was in itself an ohJcct of ,!VcrSlon to all things, and thcre.
fore its contrary must be simil .uly ':In object of choicc. And
again [hat is most an object of cho~ce which wc choose not
because or for the sake of somet hing else, and pleasure is
admilledly of this nature; for no onc .as.ks .to what en~ be is
pleased, thus implying that pleasure IS In Itself an object of
choice" (X, 2).
Aristotle's closeness to Eudoxus on some issues was
balanced by divergences on some others, but these differences did not come in the way of the two philosophers'
personal friendship.
Eudoxus' closeness to Plato and Aristotle is evidenced
by Ihe factlhal he considered the circle or sphere and cir_
cular motion 10 be most perfect, and on the basis of various mathematical computations proved the sphericality of
the cosmos as a whole, and of all the then known luminaries and planets as well.

ElldoXllS' 71leory 0/ a Spherical Cosmos in Relalion !o

Other Allciefll Greek Sense-Based 77,eories o/lhe Cosmos.
There is no need 10 be surprised that the Platonist Eudoxus, like Plato himself, imagined the cosmos and the main
motions of the heavenly bodies to be spherical. Let us not
forget Ihat the Greek ethos in general was primarily based
on visual perception and that the whole cosmos was conceived visually mosl often as a sphere. For Thales the cosmos was a round plate floating on the water, with the bottom of Ihis plate turned upward, nol downward. Anaximander imagined the.cosmos as a cylinder, but this cylinder
was surrounded by circles of fire. Thus in Anaximander's
words wc also find a globe-shaped heaven, consisting of
some sort of fic~y "~ing..c;", and the heavenly bodies
preSe~le? as opemngs In these rings, thanks to which the
fire wlthm the globe becomes visible. Onc encounters no
less than live attempts by Plato 10 picture the shape of the
cosmo~. And Onc o.flhem .also p~csents a spherical sky; but
Ihe aXIs of .the unlVcrse IS depicted as a cosmic spindle
around which the heavenly spheres revolve. For Emp~docles the COsmos would now appear, now erish in
t.o Ihis eternal
Demole\c eac h mdlvH.lual COsmos to be finile , and

~;:~~'a~~~~I~r~ ~a~ .en~



f r him ours had appeared out of a vortex, a vlolent and


motion of atoms. But acco~djng to Dem~ritus

there is an infinite numb~r of suc.h umverscs, so t.hat. I~ the
final analysis the world IS unending. After all thiS, IS It so
surprising that the universe should be sphere-shaped for
Eudoxus too, and that this sphcricality of the cosmos is
characteristic of both Plato and Aristotle as well?

Mutual Influence 0/ Plato alld Eudoxus. However, it is

probably Eudoxus ~ho introduce~ to the Academy a v~ry
important idea, which we shall diSCUSS below and which
was based on the method of so-called exhaustion, which
slressed the idea of infinity within the bounds of the
general spherical c~nceptions of th: ,?smos.
Aristotle also pomts 10 Eudoxus differences WIth Plato.
Specifically, in criticizing the isolated world of ~latonic
Ideas in his Metaphysics (I, 9), he asserts that the Ideas of
things explain nothing in the things themselves, even if we
accept the teaching of Anaxagoras and Eudoxus that the
idea of the thing (note that Anaxagoras himself does not
use the term "idea") relates to the thing itself as whiteness
relates 10 a white object. In olher words, Eudoxus in con.
trast to Plato was inclined to view all the ideal as a variety
of Ihe material, hence his whole theory of spheres was not
pure idealism but merely a refined materialism.
Probably Eudoxus really did represent some kind of
transition between Plalo and Aristotle, since Aristotle
himself did not at all deny the independent existence of
the id eas, but atlributed to them existence inside individual things. Onc cannot but consider such an intermediate
link between Plato and Aristotle a remarkable phenome.
non in the history of philosophy.
It mllst be kept in mind that Eudoxus was also renowned as an expert in many empirical sciences. He was
primarily a malhematician and. an astronomer, bu~ .the
sources also speak of his works In Ihe fields of mediCine,
geography and ethnography. ~II sciences of this kind were
developing successfu lly In vanous I?arts of Greece, but al
Ihough sometimes they were fused In the work of o~e pa~
ticular thinker, they had never before becn summanzcd 10
a few clear principles.


As Plato's students, Eudoxus and then Aristotle


came the firsl Ihinkers to join empirical and Iheoretical

knowledge. It can in no way be denied Ihat Plato exerted
enormous influence on these two philosophers, even
though the most flourishing of all the sciences at the
Academy itself were mathematics and astronomy, the two
farthest removed from precise and detailed empirical investigation. Nevertheless the Academy, as we have just
Slated, bad arrived at the elucidation of the logical unilyof
human knowledge. All that was lefl was to apply this theory concerning fundamental principles to empirical research, and it fell to the lot of Eudoxus and Aristotle to do
so. But if we keep strictly to tbe facts of the history of philosopby and philology, it must be remembered that it was
Socrates, always aiming for generalizations that could not
be reduced to individual observed facts, who had already
long since elaborated the principle of the unity of concepts. Plato himself had begun his career precisely by
examining these generalized concepts.
Elldoxus' Method of ExhOllstioll

Eudoxus' method of "exhaustion" is a WdY of merging

Plato's Ideas of t.hings with the things themselves, where
the Idea of the thmg does not f'tmain in isolated existence
but finds expression in the things as their principle and
metho~, as the law of their actual coming-to-be. But to the
S?,rallc theory of ~niversalizcd meaning Plato contnbuted an extremely Important principle, which found its
most pronoun",:d ~xpression in Eudoxus' work, namely
the so-called pnnclple of exhaustion. This principle will
become dear to us after an examination of the main dif.
fler.encerbetwe en Plato and Aristotle concerning the corrcallon 0 Idea and matter.
Despite his grcat intellectual bias in favor of the exist~~ce o~lresc generalizations, or as he put it, these eldos or
Ideas, adto was always put off by a complcte dualism of
eas an matter Of COurse .
d "
themselves withou"l lb h'
10 st~ ylOg these ideas in
e I lOgs to &I ve
they were actually firsl formulated '( .meaOlng to which
IS very easy to cut
oneself off from the study of th
thermore such separation of the e t I~gs the":,scJves. Furary for a preci<;e and It . two IS somctlmes nccess
a entlve study of them inde.



ndentiy of each other. In the Pann~njdes.' for instance,

~ato outlines a remarkable abstract dJalecl1c of the Ideas
in which there is not a word about ~ny' sensual things. B~t
this rupture is not a matter of prmclple for Plato. It 15
maintained only for convenien~ a?d clarity of bis dial~cti
ca1 analysis, as every onc of hiS dialogues, and espeCially
the Panuenides, shows us. Pannenides in particular contains a detailed discussion of the inadmissibility of the isolaled independent existence of Ideas and things, and in no
unce;tain terms recognizes nol only Ihe separate existence
of Ideas and things, but also their most intimate interaction.1I Such reasoning on Plato's part would bardly have
been possible without the intervention of Eudoxus, who
bad an enormous significance for Aristotle as well.
In the end all these philosophers agree that the idea of
the thing. whether it exists outside the thing or inside it, is in
any event necessary for the cognition of. each ~ndividual
thing. Plato only foregrounds the generalized e)Qstence of
the Ideas, without however denying the Ideas of indi\idual
things; whereas Aristotle gives pride of place precisely to
these particular Ideas, without at the same time denying the
general existence of the world of Ideas as a whole. Laler v.:e
shall see that Aristotle develops even further the PlatoOlc
doctrine of the general existence of a world of Ideas, calling
it the cosmic Mind and Prime Mover. And it was in order 10
explain how onc could pass from t~e ,?nceplion oftbe Idea
of a thing to the existence of the t~mg Itself and,. conversely,
from a concrete thing to the Idea Itself of the thmg that Eudoxus came up with his exhaustive method.
As we know Eudoxus was primarily a studcnt of empirical knowledge, albcit gen.cralized. Empirical knowledge, based on direct ?~servallon of ph~nomena, attests .to
the continuous mutability and nuctuallon of Ihe material
world so uninterrupted that it is impossible even 10 re~ord
each i'ndividual thing and its specific character. Hcracht~s,
Empedocles and Ana.xagoras already well understood. t~IS.
What are wc 10 do now in our ~uest for exacl :mplrlcal
knowledge if evcrything is contmuously and umntcrrup" nux? Plato pul forward the conccpt of the Ideas,
1e dl y 10
nw: W h"IC h are "liS
those sup po
'd "f
Ian d mar ks as
"Ir must be su rrecord it. But for this to be true Ih"d
e I ea Itse


ficient'y flexi~lc Jnd fluid. otht'n\i~l' ~t will {)llly lomprt.

hend separate discont~nuous .milrh'r~ In the nll\\', not nUt
tuation as such. The Idea l)1 Ihe flung had III he under_
stood nol only as firm and st~lhlt:, hl!t .1\ .<1 pr~nl'ipk' or in.
stability and variahilily as wdl. The Idt';, IIsell of Ih~ thing
is rlXed. But 10 ground .1 theory of Knowh..'dgc It W<ls
necessary that this steady Idea scryc as the found.Hion fOr
alllhe instability and fluidity of the corre!;,ponding Ihing. It
was here thal Eudoxus' method camc in handy.
In studying Plato wc find that c~lch Idea can and IllUst
undergo endless division, as is also true of each thing. This
can full well be called a classicallheory of least values. In
the Modern Era the lerm "infinitely small" has COme to
refer to whal can become smallcr than any given quantity.
The infinitcly small is not some rlXed magnitude which
would not allow of any further division. Division cannot
stop anywhere and ever, does not lead t~ so~e sta tionary,
albeit very small, substance; rathcr the infinitely small is
the process of infinite division, insofar as between two
points on a line, however close they may be to each other,
one can always imagine a third point.
Thus in its very essence the idea of the thing is nothing
other than Ihe principle of endless division or, gencrally
speaking, endless transformation of the thing itself. It also
needs saying that the living idea of things must be the prin~
dple or their coming into being and the real law of th eir
origin. If wc know what the thing itself is, i.e., what COnstitutes its essence and idea, then we will be able to judge
both how this thing changes and what it is at a given moment of its existence. But if we do not know what the idea
of the. thing is, then we do not know either what the thing
Itselr IS or what it is at a given moment of its existence.
T~is iS,why ideas arc needed to cognize things in nuX, and
things In flux, to cognize the ideas.
The ~niversa.' does not exist without the particular, nor
the particular Without the universal.
. The universal is the law for the appearance of the part~eu~ar, and the ~articular is the natural result of the funelIonmg of the Ulllvcrsal.

(~ristot/e and Eudoxus. Thus onc

can say (hat Eudo){us

en lvencd the Platonic Idea by understanding it as the


. '11'11: ot tilt' l'lIIpllit'al ni\tclKC of things. It mu..,t im

PIHlI',ldv. he noted Ih;11 Ari\lollc al~o c~(;tbli . . hed and \.:/a.
Tllt'l I,
. l l or
. rril~ml'nlallOn or ~ub,tances, or,
Il 'I
"lrHl~liVl' 111(.:1hod, ;1'\ hClOg it law n(:(;~ sary for the cognl'
"lion of emplfl.GI
.. I rc'l I"Ity JO gcne~a I.
This prJO<:Iplc lay al the h;:I\IS of all of AfI~totlc s latcr

And so, as we \c\.:, l:.udoxus played a very important

role in Aristotle's intellcctual d~velop~ent. and con~c.
quently in ~hc <.Idvance of the philosophical theory which
was recognl/ed at the Lyccum.
The Genenll Altitude Toward Philosophy
at the L)'ceum

\Ve shall not be mistaken if we say that Aristotle's

whole philosophy-which took shape at the Lyccu?,-is
nothing but a eulogy 10 reason and Ihe reasonable life. In
confirmation we could cite a host of di\'ersc passages from
Aristotle, but we shall content ourselves here with referring Ihe reader to the NicomacheQII Ethics (I, 3), Eudcmiall Elhics (I, 5)12 and the Magna Moralia (I, 4; 11,6).0
Care/Ill Historicism and Systemati:ed Scholar6'. Philosophical Research. We ar~ slruc.k by A~istotle's m.el!culous-

ness in going over earlier phtlosophlcal ~atenal bef?re

coming out with some more or less conclUSive formulation
of his own regarding the problem ~nder study. The v~ry
beginning of the Metaphysics cont<u?s abun.d.ant matcn.al
from previous philosophers along with a ~ntl~al analYSIS,
and only then does Aristotle make up hiS. mind to st<~rt
speaking of his " firsl philosophy". He m~nl!ons such philosophers as Thales. Anaximcnes, Hcrachtus, An~agoras,
Xenophon, Empedocks, Parmenides, ~clissus, Dlog~nes
of Apollollin, the Pythagoreans, LcUCIPPUS, I?emocntu5,
Cratylus, Socrates, PI;~to and so on. In the NI~omacJJca~1
. (X 9) he finds II necessary first to examlnC the 0PI I Jlies
. .
f h
nions of his predecessors on the orgamzallon 0 , e .sta C
of it himself.
In the Rhetonc
311lI 'l)ll Iy tllen t(l 'I)eak

read thal "what is long estahhshed seems akin 10 w at
. hy..
n'Irc ..' what appears 10 have becn always what

into being but

y ". an unreasonmg being to come
In reason Itself i
h' h
this coming into bein has a '. n w I~ case, however,
blissful quality in vie: of its ~tlte s~lfic and moreover
is also interesting to find th ta. ~~bra~Jng universality. It
Aristotle (and hence all hi: ,~~ Is)aUltude to philosophy
way able to conjoin practical 00.1. was 10 a remarkable
tranquil, unperturbed and b/~Ptcal research with the
155 u state of pure reason.

horse is born for ~tDI!o

Ni,totlc would oay that Ju~t
r bunting out, man IS born
an ox ror ploughmg and a og 0 h nsion and lICHOn, like
for two things, intellectual compre e
some mortal god (rragment61)'a . best of all, according
On the one hand, practical I e.1S
to lace inaetivil)'
to Aristotle. "And It I' ~qually a ~~ake llbe actions of
above action, for happiness ~s a~tlVlt~, an h that is noble"
the just and wise are the reahzatlOn 0 muc
(Politics Vll, 3). Furthermore, "the answer ~o the ha '.
P1 f
we are asking is plain al~o from the defifl1.tI~)Q Of
ness for it has been said to be a virtuous actiVIty 0 sou, 0
a cc~tain kind" (Nicomachean Ethics I, 9). On the .oth~r
hand, rcason is portrayed by Aristotle as ~hat wblc~ IS
most universal and most essential, and practical and bl~
ful. The following passage from the Nicomac?ean EthiCS
(VI, 6) makes a particularly deep impreSSion OD. the
reader: "Scientific knowledge is judgment about. thmgs
that are universal and necessary, and the conclUSions of
demonstration, and all scientific knowledge,. follow from
first principles (for scientific knowledge IOvolves apprehension of a rational ground). This being so, the first
principle from which what is scientifically known follows
cannot be an object of scientific knowledge, or art, or of
practical wisdom~ for that which can be scientifically
known can be demonstrated, and art and practical wisdom
deal with things that are variable. Nor are these first principles the objects of philosophic wisdom, for it is a mark of
the philosopher to have demonstration about some things.
If then the states of mind by which we have truth and arc
n~ver d'eccivcd about things invariable or even variable are
scientific knowledge, practical wisdom, philosophic wis
dom and intuitive reason, and it cannot be any of the
thre~ (i.e., practical wisdo~, ?cicntific k~ow~edge, <?r phil.
osophic wisdom), the remammg alt~r~atlve..'s that It IS intuitive reason that grasps the first pnnclples.
Aristotle's conjunction of practical experience, contemplation universality, necessity, justice, wisdom and happiness c~n only, we repeat, give rise to the most profound
wonder and an uncommonly noble frame of mind. As
Aristotle says in another pa~age. f~o~ the Nicomachcan
Ethics (X, 7), "If happiness IS actIVIty I.n accordance with
virtue , it is reasonable that It should be m accordance with



it is is regarded as real" (11, 9). In other words it is natural

for the philosopher to study the facts of the past; and the
community of opinion of his precursors, or as Aristotle
here expresses it, "what appears ~o have ~cn always what
it is", confirms and strengthens him on hiS way toward the
truth. That is why it is a prerequisite to study each ques.
lion in its historical development. In the Topics, for in.

stance, .he speaks a,l I~ngth. of ~hc need to ,study not only
the subjects of onc S investigation, but (hcu opposites as
~cll (I, 14). This ':leans that onc should examine the opimons of former philosophers who do nol concur with each
other, i.e., truth is reached no longer through shared opi.

nions but by overcoming differences.

Thus at the Lyceum Aristotle taught philosophy first
strictly historically and, second, strictly systemat'ically:
Both me,l,hods of u~dcrstanding philos.ophy are necessary
because the same Ideas, onc must believe, recur in men's
minds not once or twice but again and again" (On the Hea.

I, 3).

In the third place it is ~Iear that Aristotle also requires

a ~ry calm and methodically sclfpossesscd attitude to
philosophy. In rragment 27 or a biography of Aristotle by

a~ un~~own author w~ read that he had a very moderate

dISPOSIlI?O; an,d the biographer goes on to cite a passage
from Aristotle 5 Categories to the effect that one must not
c.xpr~ss onc's .opinion precipitously but only after considermg It m~ny times, and that perplexity is not always injurious. In hiS ~ork. 011 the Good Aristotle wriles that not only
when expenencmg happiness must you remember that you
ar~. 0hn~ a mere mortal, but also when constructing proofs
w(r IC
0 not always immediately assume a flawless form
ragment 22).

Pr~ctfcal ACli~)ily alld COllfcmplotion

It IS Inherent not anI i


i f

the highest virtue; and Ihis will he tha! of the heM thing'
I . c Ise that is this c1e.
us. Whether it be reason or somclllng
ment which is thought to be our naturill ruler and guid
and to take Ih~u.gh( of things noble an? ,divine, whether i~
be itself also dIVine or only the most dlYmc clement in Us
the activity of this in accordance with its proper virtue \Viii
be perfect happiness."

EffOJleous 77teones of all bnmm'able, Purely Intellectual

Reason. Ancient philosophy usually contrasted reason and
feeling. Sensations and feelings were mobile, while reason
was immobile and stable. A principle of mutability and becoming, thanks to which sensations provide pleasure, was
always emphasized with regard to feeling. Reason, on the
other hand, resembled a solid rock, so there could be no
question of any bliss intrinsic to this rock. Such a view
which was widespread even beyond antiquity, does not at
all apply to Aristotle and his philosophieal theories, abstract as they may be. In a passage we shall presently
quote, he demolishes the opposition between the two principles and finds process, and life, and pleasure, in reason.
Here is where one must seek the attitude to the philosophy of reason characteristic of the Lyceum.
In the !"~comachea,, Ethics (VJI, 11), Aristotle cites dif.
ferent OpinIOns on
. what pleasure is and how, linked as it is
to sense perceptions, it can correspond to the good. We
read: "The reasons given for the view that pleasure is not a
good at all are that every pleasure is a perceptible process
to ~ natural state, and that no process is of the same kind
as Its end, e.g. no process of building of the same kind as a
~ouse ..A temperate man avoids pleasures. A man of practical Wisdom pursues what is free from pain, not what is
pleasant. The pleasures arc a hindrance to thought and
the more so the more Onc delight!i in the
m, c.g. In sexua
P lc s
a ure; or no onc could think of anything while absorbed m thiS There is no t f I
is the product of SOme art ~~.~ p easure; but every good
pleasures. The reaso f' h I ~en and the brutes pursue
. ns Or t e View that
t II I
<.Ire good arc that there
no a P easures
and objects of reproacharc Pdleahsures that arc actually base
,an t ere arc h
f I I
for Some pleasant things arc u h I harm u p casures;
view tbatthe best thing in the n e~ t y. The reason for the
War d IS not pleasure is that


is not an cnd but a process." And so it appears

fhal regardless of the differences of opinion as to whether
pleasure should be ~icwcd. as a go~d or not, ~nc thing ,is
cerlain: it is something flUId, ~ransltory. pcrc~lvcd only In
rocess as is natural for feci lOgs and sensatIOns but not
for rca;on, devoid as it is of all variability and hence, of

Aristotle's Positive Teaching on the Identicalness of Reason, Happiness and Pleasure. Not onc of these views he
presents suits Aristotle. The supre~e go~d and s~preme
reason for him are not some dead Immobile rock In comparison with which only sense experiences could afford
pleasure. No, the abstract constructions of reason have
their own attraction; and the more profound, the more detailed the work of reason, the more onc attains the good
and the sweeter, the more blissful is this good. Therefore
the contemplative experiencing of all these reasonable and
rational forms offers hope for their o\'erall scrutiny, and
the entire practice of detailed scientific analysis of an object does not exclude a contemplative attitude to it but, on
the contrary, pure contemplation is precisely the blissful
inclusion of all details, now bereft of all agitation and fuss.
Hence in another part of the Nicomacheoll Ethics Anstot le arrives at this remarkable conclusion: "And we think
happiness has pleasure mingled with it, but the activi~y of
philosophic wisdom is admittedly the. plca~a~test of virtuous activities; at all events the purSUit of It IS thought to
offer pleasures marvellous for their purity and their endu.ringness, and it is to be expected that those who k?ow :"'I~!
pass their time marc pleasan~ly than those who mq.Ulre
(X, 7). This is quite natural, smce knowledge of ~.he Ideas
is beautiful. It is no wonder that Anstotle wntes: The a~
parent good is the object of appet:,te, and the real good IS
the primary object of rational WIsh (MetaphysIcs XII, 7).

All Philosophy Is Beallty. Thus the philosophy of the

Lyceum aflirms the supreme ~bstr.ac~lon of reason, sees a
certain blissful sweetness lurkmg m It; howeve~, the contemplation of reason and the 10~liest abstract Ideas <:focs
h practical pursUit of concrete, detailed,
not exc Iu d e t e
. . h' bl' f I
t'Iga tlons, on the contrary, It IS t elr ISS u
care f u I lOves


consummation and uni\"crsali7ation. As wc know the

of bliss is far above all the goods and evils of eve; da SI~IC
Th.e philosophy of the .Ly~cum tcaches onc (0 slri!c / hfe.
ulllmale good, or, which IS onc and the same r f Or the
reason, which is the cause of all Ihat is bcs<t A'doA c.1crnal
, h
. n
says, lspulmg t c Pythagorean and Platonic phil
h e
"Those who suppose, as the P}1hagorcans and S;:~~ Crs:
do, Ihat supreme beauty and goodness are not
the be' .
. .
present In

. gmnmg, cause the begmnmgs both of plant

of ammals are causes, but beauty and completeness 5

perishablc plants an? ani~als .we have abundant inlOrmation, living as we do an thclr mld~t, and ample data may be
collected concerning all their various kind~, if only wc arc
willing to take sufficient pains. Both department!;, however, have their special charm. The scanty conceptions to
which we can attain of celestial things give us, from their
excellence, more pleasure than all our knowledge of the
world in which we live: just as a half glimpse of persons
that we love is more delightful than a leisurely view of
other things, whatever their number and dimensions. On
the other hand, in certitude and in complcteness our
knowledge of terrestrial things has the advantage. Moreover, their greater nearness and affinity to us balances
somewhat the loftier interest of the heavenly things that
arc the objects of the higher philosophy" (I, 5),


the effects of these, arc wrong in their opinio F are In

seed comes from other individuals which are n .. or the

co~plete. and (he first thing is not seed but Ih pnor and

bemg" (Metaphysics XII, 7), The supreme g~ c~",lplete

sou;~ o~ everythin~, it is complete, beautiful andper7e~;e
ere ore ~ their understanding of philosophy the f, "
owers of Anstotle were not at all troubled b 0 presence of evil or ugliness since the su
y the
beautiful and reasonable, is always oPPoS~~~~~h gOO~ the
em, rom
the rest of Aristotle's biogra h
dram atic c?mplexities of life
or t h wart his e dl
IS WlS om
the Yicto
f n ess patJ~nce, mdustriousness and faith in
was reac~do reason, Anstotle was convinced that truth
Slood that that t~e cost of great effort. But he well underere IS another way of fi d'
joint research and coo ra'
10 ~ng truth - through
era] occasions prima "f'C: tlOn, He wntes of this on sevjUlations (34) ~nd To;;Zs It~,hel~)eatiscs all Sophistical ReIn a word, all knowled .' b' ,
totle, All philosophy is tr~~ ~ eautlful aC,cording to Arisways give oneself up co I eauty, to which one must aigently. sercnely, trustin;Pi~t~~~ endl~s~lr, patiently, dilitruth and beauty and fi 11
,POSSlblbty of achieving
gant c1aims:but stri~t1 m:e y, ;n~hout mak,in~ any extravaman from what is not in t~a atm~ what IS IOtelligiblc to
mals we read: "Of th:
c tr~atlse 011 the Parts of Ani,
lOgs constituted b
ung,enerated, Imperishable n
Y nature Some are
subJcct to generation and de~a d ~crnal, whilc others are
beyond coml?arc and divine bY' he forme~ arc excellent
edge, The eVidence that mi
ut less ,acceSSible to knowlthe problems which we lo~ \thr ow light on them, and on
furnished but scantil b g 0 ~olve respecting th
Y Y sensation' h
cm, IS
, W ercas respecting

~o~I;~~t ~:~t~:Cb ~~at ~lldthe

Sciellce Is a Painstakingly Exact Im'esligation of Life,

The followers of Aristotle were always distinguished for,
and even proud of, the strict scientificality of their thinking, These claims of the Peripatetics did not find much
favor in antiquity. Many people then, as now, wcre
troubled by the extraordinary laboriousness as it were of
these philosophers' mental explorations and their customary fondness for all sorts of minute investigations and
probing of trifling details, which is seen as an example of
some sort of scholasticism and casuistry. But this is not at
all correct.
Aristotle and his school always liked to study life both
at its source and in its external manifestations. But any
kind of life- and the cosmos was seen as universal lifewas always beautiful to Aristotle. In the same section of
the treatise just quoted from we read further: "We therefore must not recoil with childish aversion from the examination of the humbler animals. Every realm of nature is
marvellous ... wc should venture on the study of every kind
of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us
something natural and something beautiful. Absence of
haphuard and conduciveness ~f everyt~ing to an cnd are
to be found in Nature's works to the highest degree, and
the resultant end of her generations and combinations is a
form of the beautiful" (I, 5),



Wc shall cile a few examples of how Aristotle, for all

the generalizing capacity of his mind, was endlessly inter.
c!)tcd in all sorts of trifles, details and facts, which some
times bear relation (0 the univcrsaliz.ing constructions of
his philosophy but sometimes arc not related to them at all
and arc simply interesting 10 Aristotle in themselves. In
such instances Aristolic is not only unafraid of dissipating
his energies in his observations and descriptions, but on
the contrary just loves to go off into endless details even
about subjects of small importance 10 him.
Thus, in explaining how housekee ping should be set up
Aristotle writes in his Aecollomica (fragme nt 182) that ~
home is formed of four relationships - the fath er's to his
children, the husband's to his wife, the master's to his ser~
vants, and income to expenditures, in such a way that ex~
penses not be greater than income, for that is dissipation
nor income greater than expenses, for that is miserlines~
and baseness.
It would seem that family affairs of this sort are far
removed from the thorough and detailed studies of a his~
tory of rhetoric. But Aristotle's encyclopedic mind was in~
l e rcst~d both i~ family. questions and the history of
rhetOriC. Accordmg to Clccro, Aristotle collect cd compared and joine~ together all the old writers deali~g with
th.t. art of rhetonc. He wrote down the instructions of each
WIth great care, elucidated the difficult passages and diligently expounded upon them. In so doing he so surpassed
th es~ fir st founders of rhetoric in the beauty and concision
of hiS langua.ge th~t people no longer cared to acquaint
th em~e l\'e s. wlth their prescriptions in their own books, but
all ""ho Wished to understand what their advice really
amoun~ed to lurne~ to Aristotle's book as a much more
conven!.ent e.xplanat lon (fragment 136).14
. But If Anstot.ic ~n~ered so minutely into the historical
I,>sues of rh~torlc, It I'> not surprising that in addressing
H?me r he tTled to resolve some of the contradictions that
arise when onc reads his works Wh d
the 01
(XI 6
Y oes omer say In
l)'SSey . .' )34) that the head of the dreadful mon sler Gorgon IS In Hades when the Iliad (V 741) t 11
that Athena bears it on her shield? A
e s us
the godocss did nol at all h
. . Tlslot e responds that
ave It on her shield . sI
diU not have "St rife" 0 r " horn'ble OnSlaught
withal" on ite


either. "The poet had in mind here only the horror evoked
by the Gorgon, ~hich was conveyed to those gazing upon
the goddess' aegls (fragment 153).
Further on Aristotle takes u~ th~ questIOn of why. ~lax
told the Trojan Hector of AC~llles wrath and unwil~g:
ocSS to join in baUle, thus openmg the way for the Trojans
nslaugbt. After all there was no need for sueh slep, and
~sides a reasonable man should not inform. his cn~mi~s
of his side's calamities. Arisl~tle unt~ngl~s this seemmg.1llogicality: Ajax had to proclrum Achilles wrath, olheTWIse
Hector would have thought that Achilles did not enter t~e
fr<iY out of cowardicej but Hector had to know that Achilles and the other Achaeans were stronger than he (fragment157) .
"And the tall spears are planted by their sides," says
Homer (Iliad Ill, 135). But it is bad to thrust spear-shafts
into the ground; and if onc of the spears thus plan~ed
should fall down at night it would make a lot. of nOIse.
Aristotle explains this seemingly strang~ expression as follows: in his poetry Homer always d~plct:d what was the
practice in his day, and in those ancient tu~es the Greeks
did as the Barbarians still do; many Barbanans thus plant
their spears (fragment 160).
. '
""Therewith the goddess spread a table With ambrosla
and set it by him, and mixed the ruddy nectar," says
Homer of 'he nymph Calypso (Odyssq V, 90): If ,he gods
drink nothing but nectar, why. did .Ca~ypso gwe some to
H e rmes " mixed"? For if she miXed It With water, then they
drink water as well as nectar. Aristotle resolves the c?nfusion in this way: the word.tra!,sla~ed as "m~: (cer~sal) ~n
mean either "10 mix one liqUId Wlth anothe.f or Slm~ly to
pour". for the word has both th~,s~ ~eamngs; and iD the
phrase "mixed the ruddy nectar It iD fact means not to
mix but merely to pour (fragment 170).
Sometimes A ristotle gets too bogged down iD ~Ist~r~cal
fact s and their diversity even begins to hinder ~IS cnllcal
judgment, as one can ascertain from his ~ppralsal of the
Pythagoreans. In his account he tells of miraculous occurre nCCS in the life of Pythagoras, for example, how a god
greeted pythagoras by na~e. (frag~ent. 191), and relays
the ancient division of all hvtng bctngs mto gods, people
and creatures like Pythagoras (fragment 192). On the


other hand, he pro\idcs various so~rin f

rhagoras: for example the P\lhago" g acts about Pymeat
r... ans actually d >d
except lOT cerlaln parIS of animal
I cat
~hned for s~bolic reasons (fragment l~)~hlch I~cy de.
earl symbolicallv meanl nol torment'
. nOI Cahng the
~ow (fragment i97). Aristotle pcda':I,~~csclf with SO t lists of. Pythagorean symbols, Sh
Y enumerates
I ' over a y ISk nothmg
[ ' about. them .' not sepplng
o geUmg earned away by
0 e meant
c aI
o S WU . a knife meant not IrrI
> >[
almg a ch I' nOI
. raking
nOI p Iuckmg at wreaths nOl d fir
0 cnc person'
for Ih~ laws crown tbe state so ~OISI;~ ~ (Cflaws of the state:
Anstotle's encyclopedic c
He was interested in [he ro~~ccrns arc truly unending
Nile (fragment 246) and ~Iabl~~e~f!~h~ ~oodjng of tb~
caused by rainfall in its mountain
a Us floods were
as,ked Alexander the Great to sen~ourees, To this end, he
tam the reasons for the floodin b '?C0ple there to aSCCr
problem was cleared up fo A ? y Idlr~et observation, The
patently sbo~ to be eause~ b;I~~~~f~l~mce the floods were
In hIS PhYSical Problems (f
:orehes ,on the phases of the ;:~e~~s 210-244).' Aristotle
u to dnnk melted snow wh "
' e reason U is harm
salt water, why white wide ' ~ U I~ wor~e ~o wash clothes in
lhe heal of the su'
IS ess mebnalmg than red h
, ow
n IS transmitted
people blush with shame and
'? npemng fruit , why
in wealh er prognos'pale
b wuh fear ' He was a Iso
t e wmd and the behavior ofb~sd ased o~ the direction of
Overall Aris[o[le '
, Ir sand ammals 15
IS amazm C h'
o n~ture study, his tireless g or ,IS extraordinary love
all kmds of rare and
' observation and record>
sometImes e
mg 0
ven amusmg phenomena
n a discussion of swan
~~e as sayin~ that Swans a~ea~~t~~tes Aelian ciled Arjs~

~~e~fr~:~J~~~ aa~uwelJ thejreb~~~~~;e~~:,n:~t:t~~d

fights !n which they kill ea~hagamst, ea~h other and get in I:
~o~etJmes they even bauledot~e[hr, AT/stotie also said that
elence and n [ . '"
eagles Ih
h >
Ih I
0 lnUlatmg the figh
"oug In selfI
t. Aelian g
a swans are co
he has not h
mmonly famed for their . ?Cs on 10 say
body h b card them sing and rh ' k Singing, although
10 s that perh'
as ul that eve
and that their song is
faith that
aUllful and mellifluous

p7r~~CeUI:~ye~ o~

~t;y ~o~


th ' swans un ny across the open sea and al:

tx:f{lrc uC,1 ,
(I 14)
. nn the l'horc without tlflng t Clr Wings.
al A~> [otIc aJso wrote books on metals, plants and ag,n
' Iars all~)ut
where he de!'.cribcs countless partlcu
ell IIII re ,
these subjects in. eq~al d~tal ,
. '
Amidst all thiS diverSity of often haphv..ard tnformatlon
one comes across ideas that are strikingly correct and
well-grounded. Meditating on the starry sky, Aristotle
writes: "Our observations of the stars make it evident, not
only that the earth is circular, but also that it is a circle of
no great size, For quite a small change of position to south
or north causes a manifest alteration of the hori/.on_ There
is much change, I mean, in the stars which arc overhead,
and the stars seen are different, as o nc moves northward
or southward. Indeed there are some stars seen in Egypt
and in the ncighborhood of Cyprus which are not scen in
the northerly regions~ and stars, which in the north are
never beyond the range of observation, in those regions
rise and set. All of which goes to show not only that the
earth is circular in shape, but also that it is a sphere of no
great size" (On the Heavens 11, 14).
E lsewhere Aristotle described the customs and institu
tions of nearly all the Barbarian as well as the Greek
states. Onc life of Aristotle affirms that he followed Alex
ander the Great to the Brahmins of India and that his observations of the habits of many countries allowed him to
describe 255 types of government. He wrote a book entitled The Customs of Barbarians, as well as a book on the
claims and rights of the Greek city-states, on the history of
the Pythian games with a list of the victors and onc or even
several books called Pep/os ("The Garment"), containing
a variety of materials, from a list of national Greek sports
competitions to a collection of epi taphs from the graves of
ancient heroes,
Such waS Aristotle's altitude to philosophy, and to all
other sciences as well, as it fou nd expression at the Ly
ceum, One cannot fail to note his infinite devotion to both
major and minor areas of philosophy, his patience in the
process of searching out the truth, his conception of all existence as life, as well as his tranquillity and greatness of
spirit before all types of evil and outrage, which he felt did
nol hinder the ultimate victory of truth, goodness and
. 1.,




beauty but only conrirm~d the existence of these lofty

spheres. Onc mu~t especially keep :111 this in mind when
re\'lev.ing the dismal cin.um~tances which scemingly
triumphed in the philosopher's last Jays.
It is not surprising that in his will Aristotle's disciple
Theophrastus mstructed that the !lust of Aristotle be
placed in the shrine of the Muses along with the rcst of the
dedicated offcrings (Diogenc..'i L"lCrliu.<; V, 51).


Aristotle's Letters
. Interested in the most diverse sciences, the natural
sCiences no less than the humanities, as well as different
t~es Of. art fr om both i~eologica l and formal points of
VIew, Afl stotle was also directly engaged in literature himsel f, particularly poetry. A t the beginning of this book wc
already had occasion to say th at AriSlotle was far from
pursuing only abst ract constructs and that he was also the
author of a nu mber of poetic works. Some letters known
as A ristotle's in antiq ui ty, have also Come dow~ to us'
from them wc can assess his epistolary skill. At that tim;
the art of le~te r-wri t ing was valued no less than the art of
el.oquence, smce a letter was the same sort of conversation
wltb another, and revea led the personality, frame of mind
and thoughts of those who were exchangi ng epistles.

Extension of Ari~totle's Ellcyclopedism to his Literary

Art. The

fa~t tha~ Afl stotle engaged in writi ng poetry of his

o~ alongside .hls work in the natural sciences, medicine


rhetor.IC and history of the theater on ly confirm;

IS encyclopedic propensities. His surviving poems for insta ~.ce / he v~ses g~orifyin~ Plato (Which were me~tioned
car ler ,~r er~elas (which will be discussed later) as
w:~li c~S hh ls foebt'c pr~se glorifying the beau ty of nat'ure
as a so Ccn cited earl ier) g. c
Aristotle's artistic' r
I V a su lelent I ca of
time to his letters. IOC mal Ions. Wc shall now devote some

17Je Epistolary Genre. T he

. .
Demetri us the Cynic (' t
o utstandmg rh elofl clan
Ilfs cent ury AD) not . h"
On Style (IV 230) th t A "
CS In IS work

fiStotic was "cxceptiona lly sue-



ccs..... ful in att'llning the epistolary manncr",u' II~. J~~o~m~

us that a certain Artemon, ~ho pro~ably colkclc l~ _
transcrihed Ari<;lotlc', letters 10 the third ~cnlUry ~~ (~~
though he may have composed them himself) c1almc
from the example of Aristotle's letters t~at "a l;lIer ought
to be written in the same manner a~ a dlalogm:. (IV',22).
However, Demetrius himself thought th~t Aflstotle 5 lct~
ters sometimes turned into whole treatises although he
personally felt that "thc heightening. sh?uld not, h~w~v~r.
bc carried so far that wc have a Irealise ID place of a Ictl~r,
as is the case with those of Aristotle to Alexander and With
that of Plato 10 Dion's friends" (IV, 234). He also commcnts that "Aristotle, howevcr, sometimes uses actual
proofs, but in the way appropriat~ to a letter" (IV, ~2). ,
Demctrius' remarks charactenze the style of AnslOtl~ s
letters as being simple. But elsewhere ~e says that Anstotlc's letters contain jokes, not of the klOd that arc more
elevated and filled with dignity but of the sort that arc
more common and close to buffoonery (Ill, 163-165).
The elegance of Aristotle's epistolary ~tylc is .nOled in
fragments 668 and 669, although somclime:; hiS ktters
were written in the most simple language, very close to ordinary everyday and conversational speech.
The sources speak of the concision of Aristotle's letters as well as of their broad intelligibility and originality.
Aelius onc of the late commentators on Aristotlc's Categorie~, wrote that in his private writings, his letters, Aristotle was tersc and at the same time as easily undeistandablc as he was original- understandable to anyonc
bccause his epistolary style did not diffcr from ordinary
conversation, and original without falling into earelcssness' yct hc could be abrupt as wcn (fragment 6(7).
T'he abundance of Aristotlc's 1cllers, their varied style
and their great fame will convert anyone who, having. studied the philosopher's other writings, is in the habit of
thinking that Aristotle's style is dry, hard to understand,
monotonously abstract, devoid of all artistic elements, far
from clear and simplc, and always overly scholastic.
Ammonius Saccas, another late commentator of Aristotie, wrote that Aristotle was obviously a master of the
epistolary style, which should be brief and clear and shun
excessive dryness in the combination of phrases and ex-


A Le/ler 10 Afexolldcr,

prcssions. Simplicius wrote that Aristotle's ability to ex

press himself clearly was best demonstrated by the character of h~ letters, .w~erc, as befilled the epistolary style, he
appropriately mmllckcd everyday conversation none of
the famou s writers had a letlcr style comparabl~ to Aristotlc's.
Aristotle not only liked to write lellers, but had an extremely varied and wide-ranging style, as Simplicius also
attests. He tells us that some of Aristotle's works were
classed as lectures (for instance his works on logic and
physics), in the sense that he addressed them orally to his
closest students; others were cal.led. familiar writings
(these were the ones he wrote to hiS fri ends); still others
were termed exoteric, and were in the form of letters to
people who were not close to him, wrillen at their request.
The latter were also called "circular" works because on reccipt t~ose who had asked for them were to read them
aloud In front of a group standing in a circle so that all
c?~ld hear equally well. In these writings, when treating of
dl~ne ~atters, Aristotle would often demonstrate that the
prlm~ mt~llect is divi.ne, is above everything and necessarIly abides Immutably m an unwavering sphere.
Many.ancient authors fell that Aristotle's letters should
not ~ dis regarded or considered somehow incide ntal. In
the View of .the late writer Philoponus, Aristotle's iclters
were a ~cry Imp~rtant area of his writings, no less than his
t~e~rell~1 treatises: he said that Aristotle's works were
dlVlded mto those dealing with private matters such as his
lctte~s, those dealing with general issues, ;uch as the
Physl~s, 0" the Soul and so forth, and those dealing with
an intermediate
nature ' such as h's
P0 "I ,'ICS
d H of
. A .
Istono 'lllll~/wm;.the personal ones were those he
~~o~~ to someone m particular, for instance his letters and
IS answers to Alexander the Great's questions on ru lmg ~nd how to establish colonies.
As for t~e content or hIS letters, we have alread
o n It
times previously. They arc
l~~ el ' grera , nobi lity of spirit and enormous concern for
nee ds 0 G reeceasawhole In
on Aristotle's letters we shall cite s~~nc u mg. tlls secllon
not yet discussed.
e matena S wc have




Ari~totle's letters to Alcxandcr

arc striking rlrst of all for thcir noble scntiments and atmpt to defend the oppressed and appcalto thc humanc
~e clings of the Macedonian potentates. We shall dCfoCribe
c e of them. Although somc doubt its authenticity, it is in~~cativc that a letter of the kind should havc been linked
,,/th Aristotle's name. The letter states that many sagcs
h~ve proved that doing good gives onc access to.t~e lot. of
godS, because the life. o~ huma~s rests. on .r~ceIVlng gifts
and giving them, C?~slstmg as It does m .&I.Vlng away, .receiving and again &lVI.ng ~ortb. :berefore It IS rlne .a~d lust
to shoW pity-for Pity IS a Sign of. a meek Splflt, and
cruelty, of an ill-bred one-and ~eheve an who arc u~
descrvcdly unfortunate, and espeCially good people; [or It
is disgraceful and cruel to scorn virtue stricken by misfortune. Hence Aristotle approves of Theophrastus when he
says that showing pity never leads to repentance. He tells
Alcxander to try to be prompt to do good and slow to
anger, for the former is .regal and ~erciful! while the lattcr
is repulsive and befittmg B~bafla?s. Fm~lIy. h~ urges
Alexander to do as he thinks right WIthout dlsdalntng useful advice.
It would be hard to imagine a letter by a great philOSopher distinguished by a loftier content and more pronounced humane feelings.

A Letter to 11leopllroslUS. In this conne~tion it is expedient to mention onc other letter from Aristotle addressed
to his student Theophrastus and marke? ?y t?e ~ame lofty
temper. In it Aristotle says that sudden mjUSIl~e IS unquestionably better than injustic~ of 10~g duratiOn; for the
memory of it and the harm It occaSiOns last .0~ly .a short
time while long-standing and deeply-rooted Inj.usltce creates' eternal halred; and reconciliation often foHows tbe
.. former aner one kind word, whereas wc can rmd nO way
out of the latter even after much a~itation. and t~rment.
Therefore one should not behave unjustly W1th onc s associates in the first place-there ar.e no reason~ble grounds
for doing so-but if it is impoSSIble to abstam.. after one
has unwillingly acted unfairly, onc should rapidly put an
cnd to the hatred. After all it is beyond human power to



entirely refrain from injustice ?n)'\\-'ay;, but rep~iring a

blunder brings much good and IS especially a feature of
ba lanced minds,
Sellse of Equality with Ki"gs, It must be ?oled that, in his

lelters to the sovereigns of the world of his day, AnSlotle

was nol at all some pitiful and crude nalterer. While giving
them various lofty admonit ions, he felt on the same plane as
they. An example of such a lelter is the onc ciled by Pluta rch which we mentioned ea rl ier, although Plul arch is well
known not to have been at all particular about the literal
truth of the documents he cites, Let us remind our readers
of a notable instance in Aristotle's correspondence with
Alexander so that they can judge fo r themselves of the
overall character of Aristotle's lelt ers, Alexa nder, far off in
Asia, was displeased thal Aristot le had openly written
about the truths which at onc time he himself had Considered esoteric, i,e" intended for a narrow circle of students, Since we have already quoted Alexander's leller on
the subject, we shall here reproduce Aristot le's response,
laconically self-possessed and full of dignity: "Aristotle to
King Alexander, Greeting, You have wriuen tQ me regarding my acroaticJlectures, thinking Ih.1t I ought to have kept
them secret..J<now then that they have both been made
public and not made publ ic, For they arc int elligible only to
those who have heard mc, Farewell, King Alexander,"I?
Realistic Approach to LIfe, Finally, Aristotle's letters arc

also full of a multitude of different fact s reflecting the con fused even ts of the tim e, For example, everyone usually
knows that Aristotle asked King Phi lip to restore his native town of Slagira, which was located near the city of
Olynthus he had destroyed, The king was not at all averse
to granti ng Aristotle's req uest. But there were spies and
informers about who got Philip not to reslore Olynt hus
and to leave Stagira in ruins. Aristotle was criti ca l-m ind ed
enough 10 see through these kinds of intrigu es, but he
cou ld do nothing to aid his native town , This is what the
late writer Dio Chrysoslom has to say on the subject: "And
I us~d to envy, Aristotle at times because, being a native of
Staglra - Stagt~a was a village in th e territory of Olyn thus- and haVIng become the teacher of Alexander and an


lp'~ after the capture of Olynlhu<." he

. lancCO
d h
ut that Stagira wa~ resettled, an t ey use
acqua m ,
brought It abo nea
h' d had the good fortune to become
thealoh i d Bul meanwhile qUIte
to say t h a
founder 0 f ISletter 'hch
he exhibits a changc 0 earl
came upon a
' n that some of these seUlers arc trYIng
and laments, saY'o~ the king, but also the satraps who
to corrupt, not t ythwart any good outcome and to precame lh~re, so as ~eltlement of the city,
vent enltrcly the re
crsons, exiles and homeless as ,they
d b Ihe prospect of haVIng a
"But when some p
, . d
1 ally annoyc Y
were, were ac u, ' constitutional government ID m, efatherland and en;~{~~r~d to be scattered in villages hke
p t han 10 have the form and "name of Ia
, , but
I ask you to feel surprise n~ ma city, would It be proper ~tain pers~ns? Accordingly, Just as
ter what else an~oys ~e his letter as onc who has ~come
Aristotle ~as wntt~n 10 bl _ for he says he is holdmg up
sick and tired of hiS trou ,eds Ihall too am holding up my
ou may consl er
hiS fingers - Y
Iherfingers there arc, For '"
s as wc as any 0
f h e fellows proved more t an a
own l,"ge~ ,
truth the mfatual1o~ 0 t f~ 'stotlc so thal they did nol
n 10 Ihe' rank of a city. and to
match for the exertions 0
. h
t '!Iage to grow
'h b' d" ("The Forty-Seventh Dlspermit t c pet Y~t
this day the spot IS umn a Ite
course" 9-11).
. l'
istolary legacy. it must be
In summing up Anstot e s ep d' composer of letters.
said that Aristotle was an outstahnll~g antiquity they were
of them t a 10
d. ' .
He wrote so many
, I sec110n 0 liS wor ,
, I rIlngs Moreover, Artsclassed as a specla
.' h'
at theoretlca w I
t I s in his letters, rangIng
compn smg IS grc,
tOlle used the most dlvc~,el sof ~cholarly treatises to lhe
from langu:1ge close to t:1 'okes and everyday spec~~.
diction of hvely conversa1liO,n, J f his letters their intclhglWe have spoken of the c :flt~ :d nothing i~ common with
bility and popular st~. 1 at 'or philosophical works, and
the diffacull texts 0 IS, majistolar style,
even of the elegance of hiS ep 't dr~ess and abstractncss
And in general the obscu ra y, I S arc usually greatly
h'cal trca Ise
of Aristotle's P I o:fai~ 'difficult ideas Aristotle of~en
exaggerated, T~ e ~
ill mteiligiolc evcn to an 111,
Ihe most slmp)fe cxamp cs,


educa ted person. He almOSI nevcr uses new, unprecedented or complicaled terminology, although he is literally e namored of the most suhtle theoretical discourses
and Ihe inexorable logic of thought. He is somclimes very
difficull to read and requires conce nlrated atlcntion,
Bul at the same time Aristotle unexpecled ly emerges as
a true arlist of the word, Cicero, for onc, remarked on the
obscurity of his language. Bul also none understood better
than Cicero Ihe profundit y of Aristotle's a rtistic devices
when he spoke of his golden flow of eloq ue nce and the unbelievable sweetness a nd richness of his la nguage, as well
as the "ornate style" of Pl ato, Aristotle and T heophraslus
(Ow or XIX, 62).
Reading Aristotle, one senses that he is speaking to a
whole audilorium, trying to explain every detail a nd by no
means pronouncing calegorical judgme nts. H is speech is
filled with all kinds of supposit ions, conjectures, of searching aft er what is nol unde rslood, establishing the prob
ability of Ihis or thal argument , of repetitions of what he
has already said and of elucidations.
The cont enl of Aristotle's lette rs is quile helerogeneous, almost always noble, a nd attests to his courage and
lofl y human sentimenls. Indicalions of all kinds of inIrigues and squabbling surrounding the philosopher are
also not lacking in his letters. But if we sai d previously th at
Aristotle is the oUlslanding encyclopedist of the ancient
world, this judgme nt applies not only to his theoret ical
ph ilosophy, but also to his everyday inte rests, refers to his
cheerful and courageous altitude to surrounding reality.
Aristotle loved pure thinking in all it s most abstract constructions. But he also loved life, loved playing a big role in
it and by nature happily combined theoretical purposefulness and a very active political spirit. But this is where
A ~istotle co!lided with. the tragedy of life and ended up
bemg vanqUIshed despIte all his phil osophical wisdom and
his everyday practicality. We shall see as muc h whe n wc
turn to the great philosopher's last years.


Th~ serond <entury A D Roman

write r Saint Just in Ma rtyr claims

tha l Aristo tle tuto red Alexande r fo r o nly five yea rs a ltogethe r.


Allic talenl w3!> a greal sum of money in A~lotlc's day.

W:Jrics(){J1oma, p. 156.
In,t Comp/clt (
rd /yen/m i~ ~ther interest 109. M~t
"The etymology of the (.reek wo h
I '/ye which is al the basIS of
Id 10 be !.Ienved from t e roo
'od ~~ pictured in the
often ,1 110 sa
"WOlr' In ancient times the: g: 5 _
' ( n At.
Ihe word /yc0$, or
" ( i n Nia MlIlor) and Zeus LYCII,l$ 1 ,
f Ill'I of animals. ApolloLyclUS,
r a woU "flu5 conception was reln2


we: :;.~rsth~r,,:~~n ~~~a~~SCI~e

le~dle ~Ives,

protectors of


i.e., WOlf-Slayc,fS, The w;"~h lye,.,~iIC" related 10 the

k word eycos, or lb" ,
derived from the f CC
h ourse of the millennia :z.oomorphlc an
Latin lux, "light". Over tee
s alternated. suC(ccded each other
light_related conccpllon~ ~:~~~hUS very ancient. Today it is used 10
and even (usedd. ~:n~eslabhshmcnt, sometimes of a pnV\leged typeeom
re fer 10 an e uca I
i on the DutIes of a
SXenopho n, " lI ipparch,cus, or ha \re;:~r Works George Bell and
mande r of Cava l ry~ (3, 1), Xcnop on $ In
Sons London, 1878, pp. 309, 310.
1(1 1 33) lIarvard Cni\ler6):.enophon , Hdlenica lllistory 0
reece "
sity P ress, Ca~bridge, 1947,~. \5.
7Gree kpcnpateo: 10 walk around, stroll.
.. (VIII l>'b) The [kip
8As quoted in Athenaeus,.
Lld London,
4: 103
n()$Op hIS...
Ccuo in '8 Volumes, 19: 611,
9Cicero, "Academica W (112, 131), I



637IOpliny, NOMoi History

~ni,0 Volumes (VIII. 17,4-'). William Ileme

man n Lld., London, ~94~: 3 . .

Dial es of Plaw, pp. 48791.
Il Plato, ~Parmenldes (129a-lE~?' fI e~f;tiCS, and Ecollomics, of
Ilnte GrcOl, and Eucklluan, u"C$, I
Ariswlle, Manor Place, London, 1811, pp. 116~1 '.
r ss Cambridge,
DArisw/fe in 23 Volumes, lIarvard UnIVersIty re,
U 172 LVII 191 194 196; LXIV,
14Cicero , Orowr (XXXI1, 114;
218; LXVII , 228).
ISAris/otle in 23 VoluT1le.s, 15: 859-9J:O. . "
'3 v: fumes 23: 4H
S I ~(IV 230) mAnslOlcm- 0
Demetnus, On tye
. ' 11 'AllicNightsiIlJvolwm:s(XX,V,
17As quo ted in Aulus Gelhus, le
12),3: 435.

It was indeed said that the poi!.on had been sent

Zonar as .
b Antipatcr at Aristotle's advice, and the properties 0
ison which was supposedly prepared for Alexander
t h epe"
at Aristotle's urglOg, were even d C$CrI'bed ; "Th ey say.
IGng Ant;gonus speak of it. and tell us that the pOld
h eaTwas
water, deadly cold as .ICC, d'Isll'\\ c d f rom a roek 'm
sho n district of Nonacris lin Arcadial. which they gathered
e a thin dew, and kept .m an ass'5 h
00; or It was so ve.rr,

Aristotle'S Lasl Years

Of particular imporlance for understanding Aristotle's

lasl years is his connect ion with Alexander the Great.
Aristotle left the Macedonian court to come to Athens but
did nol break off his very close ties with Alexander, whose
generosity and attention to Aristotle's scholarly research
as we have said, greatly helped him in his position as head
of the Lyceum. But in spite of their intimacy, Aristotle and
Alexander's relations were far from easy.
Let us say a few words about Aristotle's differences
with Alexander. They were nol much 10 speak of, although
the reasons for them were serious enough, In the first
place Aristotle did not much approve of Alexander's constant campaigns si nce he advocated more spiritual occupations in life, and Alexander himself had had a surficient Iy thorough schooling undrr Aristotle not 10 regret the im possibi lity of pursuing his study on account of his distant
and dirticult mililary campaigns.
As a typical child of Greek culture, Aristotle hated and
fea red any kind of tyranny. It is remarkable that people
subsequent ly affirmed that he had even been a party to
Alexander's poisoning.

The Question or Alexander's Poisoning by Aristotle

In his biography of Alexander, Plurarch lists a grcat
many names linked with rumors of Alcxander's poisoning
(ch',77). The rumor o rigi nated, in cidentally, with King
AnlJgonus, a formcr military commander of Alexander's
who at first ruled over part of Asia Minor and later on
over .Syria as. well .. The. queslion is di_~cussed by such
pr.omment. a nc ient historians and ..... riter.' as Pliny, Arrian,
DlOn Casslus and the twelft h
rlJr~ 1l/.lIllinc historian

cold and penetrating that no other v~sscl would hold It

(Plutarch TIle Lives of tile Noble GrecIans alld Romans.Alexonde; p. 576). Onc cannot entirely ignore all such ru-

mOfS of Alexander'S poisoning which circulal~d in antiq-

uity, although Plutarch b~licvcs that .mo~l writers of the

day regarded the whole thing as ~ fabncatlO.n.
We admiuedlv find ourselves In a very difficult poSitIOn
here Not to credit in the slightest such serious writers as
Plin; the Elder, Arrian or Dion Cassius is qU.ite i~
possible. On the other hand, the enormity of Anstotle s
poisoning Alexander puts us on o~r guard. and makes us
cail into question the truth of such mformallo n .
. .
Aristo tle was, apart from everything else, a. p~YSlclan
and a botanist and to whom could such prescnptlOnS for
poisoning mo;e aptly be attributed? All ~hese ~onsider
ations leave one with a very unpleasant fechng of inconclusiveness when it is impossible to say simply yes or no.
Some m'onstrous story is unquestionahly hidden here. But
what is it?
History, alas, knows of only too many great people who
have combined genius and villainy.
Finally, even if one deems these repor~s to be pure I~
vent ion the matter is still not altogether Simple. Some hiStorians 'and philologists say that such a fabrication could
well have had a very real political meanin~, since Alexander's he irs were deeply at odds and could mvent the most
unbelievable calumnies against each othe~. Pr?bably t~lS
kind o f sla nder concerning Alexander's pOIsoning at AriStotle's advice was thought up by certain successors of
Alexander against others whom Aristotle might ~a\'e sympathized with. Apart from that, subsequent Ar~stoteh~n~
might have blackened Alexa~de.r hecause of ~IS re~nsal
against Aristotle's. nephew ~alhsthenes, a~d m ~e\,cn~e
their opponents nught have Imputed to Aristotle IO\O\\C11\


and when she hau got ht'r there, skw her, togethcr with
her sister, threw their /lodic!'; intn the wdl. and filkd the
, ..dl ";th earth" (ibid .. 77. p . ..f.H).
After such goings.on. ho~. (:ould Amtollt:,. a Greek
through and through and tradlllonal oppllne.nt 01 anY.kind
of barbarity, havc regarded Alcxander? AmJlmgly
enough, despite such hcha,jor t~n Alt.:xander's part the relationship between him a~d ArIStotle, though 1.1 may have
dimmed somewhat. remain ed fundamentally Intact. The
Iwo great men still conlinu~d 10 com'!lunicate: Even an
episode that was frankly painful to AnslOtle did n,)t destroy their friendship.
The Killing ofCallisthenes

Alexander, as we know, was a Yery hot-tempered man,

and in the last years of his life a suspicious onc as well.
When his friend Cl it us strongly objected to the intrOduc.
tion at court of customs observed by oriental dcspots, he
was so infuriated that he snatchcd up a spear and killed
Clitus on the spot. Alexander himself suffered mOre than
anyone from his deed. He sobbed all night oyer it, and nobody could calm him. Then Anaxarchus, a foll ower of
Democrilus, and Aristotle's relative Callisthenes were
brought in to him. Aristotle had scnt Callisthcnes to Alex.
ander's camp as his secretary and ehronicJer of his military
campaigns, presumably with loyal intentions.
Callistht;ncs was a natiyc of the city of Olynthus, a former Athcnian colony. Thrice in 349 BC Olynthus had
asked for thc Athenians' hclp against Phi lip. But Athens
was too weak. To win over thc inhabitants of Olynlhus,
Philip even gave them neighboring Potidaca. But they still
continued to resist him, and Olynthus was captured by
Philip in 348 BC only thanks to traitors within the city,
where a prO-Macedonian group was activc. The city was
razed to its foundations. At that time CalJisthencs was
arou.nd twenty: He Wa'i not only a relatiye, but also a great
a~m.lrer of An~totlc, who had raised his nephew himself.
Calhsthenes eVIdently accompanied Ariqotlc to his friend
and patron Hcrmeias of Atarneus. And when AriMotlc
wa.'i forced to mOYe to Lcsbos on aCt:()ur,( of the dangerou s

. "on in Alarncu'S, ( alli"lhcncs dgain came "long.. AI'

. , d
d '
.. Il y c,;ven after Anslotlt.:
s eparlure or ." ace oma
p.. n,:n
. . h'
Calli ... thcl1es n.:mallled WIth 1~'In .. conllnue to
"' 111).1

!';Ilitil:nl. iI'> Wit':. at Ihat s;lme time I hcophrit!.IU5, for I~.

I,ntc Ari ... totlc's future . . ucces....or at the Lyceum. It 15
~~et:idcitl ly known .thilt. Aristotle tutored C~lIi"thenes in
hi"lOry, inculcated In him a loye for Th~cydl.dcs. and on
the who le madc him a highly educated hlst~nitn and rhc.
tori eian. For some time CalliMhcncs was Allstotlc's secre~
tary and helped him compose historical w?rks.
Aristotlc and Ca l li~thenes parted only In 335 BC, when
Aristotle returned to Athens for good. Callisthenes rcmaincd with Alexandcr, whose school ~ompanion he had
been under Aristotle. But even after Anstot!e's ~eparlure
for Athens Callisthcnes did not lose touch with him, send ing his teacher yarious scientific materials, particularl.y o~ a
zoologica l naturc. For his part Aristo~le hoped to ~alntam
his tics with Alexander through Call1sthenes. Calhsthenes
behaved rather freely at court. It was said that he got the
king to restore his native Olynthus, destroyed by Philip. Il
is true, however, that after Philip's capture of Olynlhus
Callisthenes could hardly haye felt much respect for the
Mi.lccdonians.ln any eyent, his too familiar beha ...ior at the
court proyoked Aristotle's censure. The historian Arrian
frankly accuses Callisthenes of rudeness.
Let us now retu rn to the Clitus episode. How did Ana.
xarchus and Ca lli sthcncs comfort Alexander when they
ca me 10 him ?
The sevc rc and harsh Anaxarchus began to put Alexan.
der to shame for his paltry and slavish bearing in grief,
which he said was not at all worthy of a king. And this
somewhat co nsoled Alexander.
As for Ca llisthcncs. on this occtsion he addressed the
king vcry mildly and affectionatcly. Ho~c\'cr, AI~xandcr
was nol o,crfond of Callisthcncs, ,vho did not hesitate to
rebuke him, and quil e se vcrcly. At the same time Callis.
th cnes' intima cy with th e king and his irreproachable
rep utation Mousetl great cm)".
Anti the timc came when Alexander began to consider
Citl li slil cncs his cllelllY.
When once at a banquet Callisthenes had made a brilli ant SpCC dl in lh.:rCIlCC of Maccdonia at the king's requesl.

so that all who were prc.~cnt not nnl~ appLtm.kt!. hut threw
their \\<Tealhs at him, the king then ordaed him (0 Uller a
speech against the \1accdoniitns. And C..Jli..,thc:nc:s pronounced it with such ardnr that Alexander kit him 10 he
his most dangerous cnemy. He said thal Callisthc:nes had
shown nol so much the force of his cloquem.:e as the fon.c
of his hatred for Macedonians. Alexander's malevolent
feelings intcnsified slill furl her hecausc on leaving the
fcast Callisthencs scveral times repealed on his account
Homer's famous phrase, "Palroklos too is dead, who was
better far than Ihou" (Iliad XXI, 107), an allusion 10 the
fact thal Alexander, lOO, was mortal If better heroes than
he had died.
On learning of this sort of bchavior, Aristotle said Ihal
Callisthenes was a fine orator, but a foolish man. Not only
did Callisthcncs refusc 10 fall face downward in front of
the king as was the custom in the East, he even tried to
comince him 10 renounce such homagc. Once at a banquct when all Alexander's retainers fell face downward
before him and then went up to kiss him, Callisthenes direclly wenl up to kiss the king, who angrily turned away.
Such actions aroused Ihe halred not only of the king bUI
also of many of his attendants, who slanderously began lo
accuse Calhsthcnes of inciting the youth against the king.
Therefore when a plot of young Macedonians against
AlcxJ?der was disclosed in 327 BC, and when none of the
conspirators, even undcr frightful torture, named Call isthene~ as a participant in or organizer of the plot, Alexander did not yet execute the philosopher, but already announced that he would punish not only Callisthencs but
also those who had sent him to him and those who received conspirators against the king in their cities. In his
threats Alexand~r was undoubtedly alluding lo Aristotle.
Th~re were varymg reports of Callisthcnes' death (in the
sJ.JfIng of 327 BC). Some said that Alcxander had ordered
him to ~ h~ngcd, others, that he had died after suffering
greatly m pnson for seven months.
. It goes without saying that Callislhenes' fale could not
fall to dampen the friendly relations between Aristotle and



rsonally told of it toy Si ,me onc who came Irc,m Alcxanpc

"b l h .
dl:r'~ camp. Bullt 1-. qUite po\ et at pc.r"I"tt.nt rumors
ar05C hack in antiquity about Am,totlc" participation Ln
Alcxandcr'~ poisoning on acc, ,unt (lf Callisthenes. The
newS of Calli ... thencs death ~pread all over Gn.;ccc that
much is clear.
The whole tragcdy of thesc decade" in the history of
Greece was that the overwhelming majority (If the (jreck
population continue.d (0 live according to the ~lld de~o.
cratic ideals of Pcncles. Absolutely evcryonc 10 ancient
Greece, first among them Plato and Aristotle, condcmn~d
tyranny. Since Alexander was deemed Aristotle's pup.!,
many prominent figures of thc time, particularly in pro-Macedonian circles, cherished the hope that Alexander would
prove an enlightened monarch striving to unite the .... holc of
fragmented Greece on the basis of a rational and hum;tnc
state system. The death of Callisthencs stripped the Greeks
of all illusions concerning the enlightened and humane nature of Alexander's power and madc them sec the king as
an oriental despot, cruel and inhuman, sccuring his powc:r
through endless bloody crimes. Callisthcnes hecame J. martyr who had given his life for frecdom and human dignity,
which not so long ago, at the time of the Greeo-Persian
wars, had prevailed on;r bloody, immoral and harharic
eastern tyranny. Aftcr Calli~thcnes' death all Cireek illusions concerning Maecdonian dominion disappeared once
and for all. If anyone still continued to cx101 Alexander and
his successors, it was only Oul 'lf pusillanimity.
In his comparativc live-stories of illustrious Greek and
Roman punlic figures written four centuries after Aristotle's death, Plutareh excelled in remaining faithful to the
old Greek ideals of enlightenment while maintaining a laudatory attitude toward the Romans, who in spite of ha\ing
learned much from the Greeks, ncvcrtheless wen.: re
garded by the laller as typ~cal Barb~rians. This is ~hy <.'a1listhenes' fale helps (0 nghtly estimate the enhghlcned
Greek scholar's attitude to Macedonian t..kspolism .

Pulities ,\Od Murals

!rue ~nough! there is no concrete information about

Anstotle s reaction to Callisthcnes' death, although he was

There were other fatlors which could nDl but conlrih

ule to Alexander's estrangi,,!mcnt fmm Ari:\totle, creating a



wc already know (hill Ari ~loll c fran kly consiJcrcd them

the li\ing beings bereft of rc,lson.
Here, however, wc must dwell 011 'lnoth~r lmpo~tant
question, namely Ari.srolic's asscsS".lcnl of various ~aLlOns.
If wc omit various tnOes and concentrate on what IS most
important, we arc struck both by thy brca(ll~ of hi,s,views
and by his purely c.rcc~ sympa lh H:s. In IllS ':ollflCS he
"TileS; "Those who hve In a cold climate and 10 Europe
arc full of spiril, but wanting in ,int e lligence and skill; and
the re fore they retain comparative freedom, but have no
political organization, and arc in capable of ruling over
others. Whereas the natives of Asia afC int e lligent and inventive but they arc wanting in sp irit, a nd therefore Ihey

arc al~ays in a slale of subjection and slavery. But the

Hellenic race, which is situated between them, is likewise
intermediate in character, bei ng hig h-spir it ed and also intelligent. H ence it continues free, a nd is the best-governed
of any nation, and, if it could be form ed in to onc stale,
would be able to rule the world" (VII, 7).
Let's examinc this eval uation in more detail, sin ce it
contains both many nega tive and so me quite important
positive feat ures.
In the first place, Aristotle had too lillle hi sto rica l material and first -hand observation in general to assess th e
peoples of the no rth, and hence ascribed to them o nly onc
quality which he could fully understand , namely the
quality befitting peoples compelled to struggle for the ir
existence in a harsh climate. Aristolle indeed had so me
grounds 10 speak of the spirit and courage of th ese northern peoples. On the whole, his opinion of the north can be
accounted for only by the childish state of histori cal scholarship at the time; and who could have assessed the north
as a de finite cultural and historical entity in the fourth century BC?
Aristotle's appraisal of the Asians is a bit more realisti c
since the cultural and hi storical life of Asia was known to
him in more detail. But here, 100, reducing the whole of
the ~r~ent to simple slavery, while reserving its peopl es a
procliVIty for the arts and sciences, would be regarded as
na.ive t~ay. There were no more and no less arts and
sCle.ncc.s ID the East than in the West As for a "state of
subjection and slavery", the ancient Orient may indeed


have been more notahle for these qu.alities than Europe ;1'1
rep resented .hy ancie~t Greece, which early (~n nc~a~ t:'
manifest qUite definite germs of democrallc thmklfl)!.
which blossomed forth in Athens.
But what is trul y induhitable i... the Greeks' ~rt.:at courage and spirit an~ at the same time enormou~ propensity
ror the arts and SCie nces.
Aristotle was quite ramiliar ""ilh the history of Greece
and was a very int elligent socio-historical observe r in
general. The combination of strength and beauty in Lh <:
popular ethos of Greece could not rail to strike him. And
he could speak loudly and openly of this ama:ling unity ,
backing himself with thousands of well-known facts.
Finally, the extent to which the political unity of the
Greek people had been weakened by rragmentation did
not escape Aristotle. Each city in Greece. even small ones,
claimed independent and entirely sepa rate statehood .
Ancient Greece was not onc big state. Only the polis could
be a staLe, a city in which everyone knew eve ryone c1~c.
saw what anyone else was doing, where any undertaking
was discussed and carried out jointly on the spot. The passage from Aristotle's Politics quoted above indicates that
such a fragmented cou ntry can nou rish only under a se rious and intelligent leader.

Aristotle's Attitude to Alexander

In many respects A ristot le could see such a person in
Alcxander. But th ere was no way he could imagine Alexander to be some absolute ideal. H e knew well all the intrig ues at the Macedonian court and all its gory horrors.
A s we shall sec helow, Philip had already made a mess of
both hi s state and personal arfairs Jnd was killed by his
own favorit e Pausanias. Alexander him self shed the blood
of his intimat es on several occasions, and did it more out
of ambition than for reasons of slate. He was an inte lligent
and educated man \\ho had indeed learned much from
Aristotl e and appreciated the arts and sc ie nces. But he
drank a lot, especially in his last years, and died after a few
drunke n night ~. In his treatise 011 Duey, Cicero asserts:
" Philip, king of Maccdon, I ohscrve, however surpassed hy


his son in achicycmCnb ,mu famc. W.tS supl'rlor In hiln in

affability and rcfinL'mL'nt.'" Nu ... v~m('r did A!c\.tnJcr die
than di~cord brok~ ~)ut "mtlng hi ... gran~lce.\ ~tn~ mutiny
among his Iwops. JOined h~' Ihe dC~lnh:tl\)n ()' his house.
hold and the fall of thL' ... Iall' hl' had l'rciltl'U with sUl'h
great labor. Aristotle nnllJ m)t f;ail 1\) h;lh.' knnwn all this
.:lnd therefore he hardly iJt.:alil'ed Ak'\.lnJl'r. \Vc ~h<tll say
nothing of the laller's cd!!incs~, hp,tt.!ria and {'(uclty.

I-,vc 11 ill 11 j" 011 I im(~ I he pi <tU Ice !lf hero~\\ rship was
;I!--I) qllllC lkvc1I)PC4! 10 {,rccu,;:. An 0utstlndins person

Here we face the very difficult histori cal question of

Aristotle's attitude to Alexander. Aristotle was un~
doubtedly astounded that Alexander declared himself a
god because the priest of the Egyptian god Ammon~Ra
(whom the Greeks, incidentally, identified with Zeus~He~
lios) had told him that Amman considered him his son.
This proclamation was later followed by all sorts of divine
homages paid the king. But let us not be too surprised at
such worship.
It must be borne in mind that in antiquity the Greeks did
not sce an impassable abyss between humans and gods. In
ancient mythology we find frequent transformations of
gods into people and people into gods. Take, for examplc,
Ihe well-known hcro Heracles. who was said to be in 11 ades
after his death. but ~t the same time, according to legend,
had bee? admlllcd 1010 Ihe assembly of Olympic gods for
all ,:terDlI~ and. lived on Olympus. The young Ganymcdc, a
Trojan prlncehng beloved by Zcus. was ahducled by his
eagle ~nd also ~nded up on Olympus. Eos Ihe goddess of
d~wn ImmortaJ~~ Tllhonus, another son of the Trojan
king, alter enlcnng mlo marriage with him,

lkdarnl il hero after hl~ de..llh. i.c., even if he was not

.1 ~od he was at any' vc Ilt hi ,nored ~s. ~ de.mig~K1. Wilh the
huj!.C dcvclopllltllt (lf ,;uh'Jrc and <'lVlhl'..atltlfl 10 the cla~I'
c;\1 period uf Greece dClllcatiun and hcroworship becalll e rafer, 'Ilthough the grc~!t dramatist Sophodcs, flJr
onc, wa~ declared 5uth a heroic demigod.
But hehold an extraordinary phenomenon on the Greek
horizon - the world dominion of a !->ingle sovereign, Alexander. Il was unquestionahly a social and hiSlorical
necessity, since as a result of the growth of produ(;tivc
forces the small, isolated eitystates of the classical period
could no longer make do with the closed, isolated !;true~
ture characteristic of the old Greek cities. At the time of
Alexander's conquests the need arose for a state which
could firml y unite the countrie~ he had conquered, scaltcred as they were over enormous cxpanses, and Greece
with her poli.scs. Alexander's empire sprang up, and it
made a tremendous impression on the people of his day.
Onc musl understand these people who, finding themselves in the presence of an omnipl)tcnl and omniprescnL
sovereign, fell on their faces before him, fearing to perish
mom entarily at his slightest whim. One can comprehend
Alexander's restoration of the ancient cults of the East,
where the Eb'YPtian pharaoh, for example. was seri0usly
believed to be either the son of a god or a god hi.mself.
Onc can find traces of the deification of a conqueror of
the world eYe n during Philip's reign. Already at that time
in Macedonia triumphal processions were held in which
not only rcprcsentat i{)ns of the twdve Olympic g~~s were
carried hut a thirteenth figure as well, that of Phlilp, who
was tcrm ed th e altarlllatc of the gods.
ProdailllitH.! A1rxandcr the so n of Amn1{)n in Egypt was
linked with ;t' whole.: ser ies of miraculous cvents, so the
s()ur('cs tcll us. On their way tt) the temple. Alexander and
his cnmp;\llinns travl'fsco a descrt. ~ut Zcus sent ~bu~
dant rain~, whidl n\~lkd Ihc scorchlOg sand, makmg It
moist and hard, and dearcd the air. so that it became easy
to hrcatlu: . Then whl'n it turned out Ihat the markers set
lip In help !!,uities had ban destroyed a~d the Maccdo
nians Wl'rl' wandering ()If track and losmg each other,



\Vithout doubt. Alexander also h"HJ tOt) high an opinion

of himself. In his treatise 011 Tral/quilli~\' of Mind (13,
472e), Plutarch, \l,rishing 10 say that even ordinary pcoplc
ca n have true notions concerning th e gods, cit es a letter
from Aristotle to Antipatcr where the philosopher Con.
trasts these ordinary people with their right to be proud
specifically to Alexander, who was proud bccause he ruled
over many men. 4 In this letter Aristotle is expressing thc
thought that communing \\.;th the gods is in no way a func~
tion of ruling over a large number of people, as Alexander
did. but is quite possible without such government.


ravcns sudden Iv aprcan.'d and hq~"ln to ~how them the

way. "~ Ioreo\"e~. \\hat W;IS. nll's! 'lslll~ishi~g l,f all, Callis~
theo es tells us that (he bIrds hy Ihelr cfles call cd hack
those who straggled away in the night, and ('awed until
they had set them in Ihe (r..id of the march" (Plutareh,
Alewmlcr 27).
Plutarch makes anolher telling point: "It was difficult to
(urn him [Alexander ) aside from any course so ever when
he had once set oul upon it. For Fortune, by yielding to his
onsels, was making his purpose obst inat e, and the high
spirit which he carried into his und erta kings rendered his
ambition finally invincible, so th at it subdued not on ly
enemies, but e\'cn times and places" (Alexander 26).
Of course it wa s not only a question of Alexander's ob
stinacy- , but also of the enorm ous politi ca l sign ificance of
the king's deification. Alexander had advanced through
Asia Minor, taken Tyre, invaded Egypt and occupied
Mcmphi s. But it \\'as not such a si mple matter to get the
beller of Egypt. There was a famous o racl e of the god
Ammon-Ra, a pri cst who at Alexander's approach came
to mcct him and solemn ly pronounced the will of the god.
It is possihle that Alexander did not initially have deifica~
ti on in mind but came to th e famous oracle to con firm the
necessity of his campaign against Persia and ascertain the
Pe rsians' participation in a plot against Philip. The oracle
of Amm on did not provide Alexander with this second
corroboration. On the other hand, it not only affirmed the
necess ity of th e campaign against Persia but also proclaimed him a god just as Dionysus.
Al exander the Great did not realize his idea of a world
empire. After his death the lands he had conquered quick ~
Iy fell apart. Individual potentates were not loath to be
called gods th emselves. But already starting in the second
century BC the Roman republic began to grow miraell ~
lou sly, and from the time of Augustus' reign in the late
first century BC and early first century AD became a
mighty empire, whose entire social and political life was
permeated by the cult of Ihe emperors. These were wor.
shipped like real gods. Temples were built in their honor
in which holy rituals were celehrated, sacrifices were made
to them and incense wa s hurned.

,-hu<; if onc ~ur\"9"~' the hi<;t()ry of the ancient world as a

\"'hok, AIl',am.ll'r's.. dcifiCiltion does not at all appcarJant" ... tic ilnd unhl:ardof. R:.tthcr, it is part of the ~orshtp of
all natural forces, thl! pantheistic orientation typical of an~
Let us noW examine the complex and uneasy pohltcai
situation that rcigned al\ over Greece in the second half of
the fourth century BC as a result of Macedonian pressure.
Only t hen will wc get a clear picture of the sociopo.Iitical
environ men t in wh ich Ar istotle was fated to part wllh all
his ea rthly joys and sufferings.
Gret>ce and Macedonia in the Second Half
of the Fourth Century BC
If wc were to review in detail the military and political
activities of King Philip 11 of Macedonia, our heads would
spin with the hundreds and thousands of large and small
ent erp rises he undertook to take possession of Greece:
co nsp iracies, intrigues. bribes, squabbles, political assassinat ions, ope n agreements, direct mi litary action, betrayal.
iI is importan t to note that by the mid fourth ce ntury BC
two hostile parties had fo rmed in Greece-an antiMa
cedon ian and a pro~Macedonian onc.
This whole period in the history of Greece is onc of
constant co nniels, bitt cr fight s to the death between the
anti~Macedonian part y, which stood for the full freedom
or th e ancient Gn:d ci ti es, and the proMacedonian
part y, which dee med it besllo suhmitto Macedonia.
In 3-t6 BC in onc of his speeches the famous Greek orator and patriot Demosthcnes painted a picture of the sad
stat e of the country which instead of heroically resisting
Phi lip had fallen into utt er decay as a result of petty dis
<tgrecments and disput es hetwcen indi\idual cities or politicians. Almost at the same time, in W BC, Isocrates, another famou s orator and p..lIriot with a completely differ
ent lInden,t anding of patriotism, openly called upon Philip
to head Gn:cl'e against lhe Persians. The noless-famous
orator Aeschincs, who fa\"ored Macedonia, accused the
anti ~1al' c d()nians, including Ocmosthenes, of having been
hrihed hy the Pcr~i,tns tn attack Philip. In general, Persian


money was ortcn of cnllrmllUS import.lIlct III the..: lIlir, '

an~ political his~ory of (;rcec.;c, Fnr instant'c, Iht' Pd{l;'\l~)
neslan War, whIch had lasted for sevcral t1n~ltlcs .U 11ll'
close of the fifth century BC, cndct! tu the at!v,lIl1agt; ,I'
th? Spartans against the Atheniam ,)nly thanks to 1\:rsi;1O
What was Aristotle's position in th e troubbJ last thin)'
years of the fourth century BC in (;reeec"
On the onc hand. he naturally opposed the intern:!1 disint egration of Greece and supported th e id ea of Greeks'
u.nification, He even conside red this pos~ible on ly under a
smgl e ruler for all of Greece, realizing that it was wl!ak.
encd by fragmentation into a multitude of sepa rate citys ~a.tes, each of which considered itself an int egral , indi VISible stale inferior to no other in anything.
But could Aristotle recognize the Macedonian kings as
Ihe autocratic rulers of Greece? Hardly. He was all too
familiar with the gory intrigues at the court of Philip and
Alexander. If we say that in this troubled time Aristotle
got confused, we shall not be far wrong.
The situation grew particularly complicated arter
~hilip's assassination in 336 BC. In 338 BC Phi lip gained a
VictOry over Athens and won many people to his side beca use his conditions for peace were very moderat e.
Through sk ilful maneuvering Phi lip included Athens in an
all-Greek union and became it s head. Furthermore, he announced it was the common task of the Grceks to undertake a campaign against Persia, and to subjugate this
ancient enemy of theirs was an age-old dream of th e
Greeks. But an unexpected event occurred.
In Ihe fall of 336 BC Philip planned 10 marry off his
~aughlcr from ~js first marriage to Olympias. A year carhcr he had obtamcd a divorce from Olympias, Alexander's
mot~er, and married Cleopatra, the niece of Analu s, onc
of hiS ~OSl powerful commanders. A certain youth nam ed
PausaOJas, onc of Philip's bodyguards, who had been in s~hcd by, Attalu~ and not backed up hy Philip, decid ed to
~lllth~ klOg at hiS daughter's wedding and carried out hi s
JO~cnllOn. Thus the grcal Philip perished most miserably.
HIS death aroused new hopcs in those Greeks who still
drea~e~ of liberating their country from Macedonian
domlOatlOn and restoring free Grern.:,

1 he ~xlr;HHtlin;lIy drama )f these events may be judged

bv tht: way Dcmosthcncs, v.ho had rccognilL:d the !.upremacy of M;Kedoni;1 in 117 BC whcn Philip had sci/cd all
of C;ret:ce, now, ahn hi! death, triumphantly appeared
bdort: the pnpubr as..'\cmhly with the news of the Macedonian ruler's iI$!'-a~~ination, But Dcmosthcnes' hopes for an
anti-Matcdonian in-.;urrc<.:tion were based on his naive
confidence in the wcaknt.:Ss of the youthful Alexand!.!r,
whom he ca ll ed a boy and a ~implclon. But Alexander
tleall quite energetically with a rcbellion in Thebcs, after
which th ere were almost no more anti-Macedonian uprisings in Greece up to his death.,
Howeve r, when in 336 BC Acschmes tned to obtam
Demostlu; nes' conviction in court, he was not ahle to
gather even a fifth of the nccl,;ssarY,votes. But ,D 7mosthe nes him self was already more cautiOUS, not wlshmg to
spoil relations with Alexander unnecessarily. When Alexander's treasurer Harpalw; ned from him and arrived in
Athens with a neet ami money, calling upon the city to revolL against Macedonia, Demosthcne? no~ only did ~ot
support him but even suggested arreslmg hlm and tur~mg
him over 10 Alexander. Nevcrtheless, when thc dctalOcd
Harpalus escaped, Demosthenes and a number of other
political figures who had been known for t~~ir anti-Macedonian !-;entiments wcre accused of comphclty, and Dcmosthencs went into exi le.
But after Akxandcr's death in 3:23 BC there was a new
wave of anti-Macedonian uprisings in Greece. Demosthenes returned to Athens and \vas shown great honor.
But his triumph was short-lived. The uprisings were SllPpressed, and the old political order of Solon's time (early
sixth century BC) was rein stituted in Athens. DCPlOSlhcnes went into hiding in the temple of Poscidon on the
island of Calauria, where he was found by the volunteer
"hunter of fugitives" Archias with a detachment of spealsmen. DeJllosthe nes commillco ~uicide by swallowing a

strong pOIson.
The orator lI yperides, a student of Plato and Isoc rates,
wa s close to Demosthc m:s in his political \~ews and shared
a similM fate. lie spoke out ag.ainst Macedonia after
Philip's death and miraculously escaped being turned over
to hi~ enl'l1lit:~. After Alexandcr's death, he, like other

anli_ j\l accdon ian G reeks. tnnk p;lrt in thL' ~tru~k to free
G reece. Th is struggle. as wc know, prow:J um,uLt:es~ful: in
Th cssa lv at (he hattle of La mi;l in 3::!2 BC the Grccks Wcre
rout cd bv the sc\,cnty-c ight-ycar-nlo An(ipater, who had
bccn a g~ n c ra l alrca dy un de r Ph ilip and h'lo thcn served
Alcxa nde r. Aftc r the defeat Hypcr ides fled to (he island of
Acgin a, where he hid in the tcmple of Aec us, dedicated to
the hero Ajax. along with Ariston icus and H imeraeus, his
co mpanions in th e struggle. All three we re seized and exec ut ed by ord er of Antipat er.
Even Acschin cs, the long- time defender of Macedoni ~Jn hege mony, did not fare we ll either: after his fail ure in
the trial of Demosthenes in 336 BC, he withdrew fr om political life and went into vol untary exile on th e island of
Rh odes, wh ere he died in obscurit y.
O ne ca n well im agine the di fficult and tangled situation
Aristotle found him self in after his arrival in Athens from
j\lacc donia in 335 BC. As we have seen, his d e parture
fro m the Academy for the no rth had already been hard to
expla in as motivated merely by phil osophical considerat ions or the death o f Plato. Philip's destru ctio n ofStagira
in 3-19 BC and of O lynth us in 3-l8 BC was a pparently of
much greater significance. It would have been quite da ngero us at that poi nt for somebody close to the Macedonia ns to remain in G reece and make himself out to be a
G rce k patriot. It was bette r to leave, as Aristotle in fact
d id, head ing north in 347 BC with the hope o f influencing
th e Ma ced onian government.
In Ma cedonia Aristotle became the kings' intim ate adviso r and th e defend er of his beloved Greece . He was un do ubtedly close to Philip and stili had eno ugh weight with
Al exand er to innuence him in his treatm ent of Greece. It
is at hi s in sistence that Ol ynthus and Stagira were resto red , and at his request aft er the battle of Chaero nea in
338 BC that Philip spared Athe ns, altho ugh many othe r
G ree k cities were razed to th e gro und. In 335 BC Aristotle
ca me to Athe ns not for the sak e o f a ple asant trip to the
land of~hil oso ph ers and poets, but undo ubtedly fo r serio us po htl cal purposes. Some contempo rary historian s said
o ~t"ght that he had come to Ath ens as a person invested
With Al exander'S and Antipater's political trust and secretly acting in th e interest of Macedo nia.


Thi~ prohahly explains the Athenians' contradictory ate

lilude to Ari~lOlk. On lhe onc h.tnd, a medieval Arab biog.raphy of Ari~lotlc reports ahout a de~ree o~ the ~thenian
popular assemhly to erec~ a c.()I~mn 10 An~lo~1c 5 honor
with a highly respectful IOscnpllOn where Anstotle wa,c;
proclaimed almost the savior of Athen.c;. On the other
hand, the dycd-in-thc-woo~ Greek. patriots, alw~ys overflowing with anli-Macedoman ~e~ltment, s~w ~nstotle as
an enemy and found liule to rejoice ~~out m his. return to
Athens, which they viewed ~s hYJ>O.Cntl~l. ~ut smcc o~n
conflict with Aristotle was Imposslb~e m View o~ gr?wmg
Macedonian power, a trial against him could be tnsutule~
only after Alexander's death i~ ?23 BC, and e~e~ so this
trial was conceived not as a political but as a rehglous onc.
The priest Eurymedon, according to Diogenes Laer~ius
(V, 5-7), accused Aristotle of impiety, as a result of which,
as we shall sce, Aristotle was forced ~o flee f:o~ Athens to
Euboea.s It is clear that the underlymg motIvation for the
charge was not so much a religious as a political onc.
There was no impiety on Aristotle's part. It was only an excuse lO seule accounts with a prominent Macedonian sympathizer with the help of a~cusations that wo.uld sound sufficiently weighty for the uninformed populauon.
It seems lO us that one can see clear in all this mess only
in the following way. On account of his poli.tical sympathies Aristotl e was an alien in the Greek envlTonment: The
Greek p atriots nat urally perceived him as a secret If not
open enemy, with whom they had to square ace~unts. On
the ot her hand, Aristotle was \ink~d to Macedoma only by
place of birth . H e was so firmly linked to Greek culture,
knew and loved G reece, its past and present, so much, that
he could in no way h ave been its enemy or a secret ~g~nt
and spy for its enemies. A ri stot le dreamed only of umfymg
fragmented and weakened Gree~e into onc mighty ~nd
united nation, and it seemed 10 him that the Macedoman
rulers could furt he r this cnd.
Yet after witnessing cou nt less bloody ~oings ~l. the Macedonian court and the crim inally aggressive pohllC:S of the
Macedonian kings toward G rcece, knowing of.thelT preparations for conquering the Orient and op~oslOg A~e.xan
der's pClsian campaigns, Aristotle tur ned toto a cnllC of
Macedonian autocracy and in fact p roved much more of


an advc rsary of thc Macedonians than thc Greek patriot!\

for he consl3ntly m3de use of hi s high connections (0 push
the kings toward a morc hum.lI1c ,IOU solic it ous IrealmcO(
of Greece.
In the c nd evc n illusions as to hi s influence vanished in
him who had been considered a committed supporter of
the power hosti le lO Athens. And so it was not surprising
that rUnl o rs spra ng up of Alexander bei ng poisoned by
Such an int e rpretation of Aristotle's political loyalties
clarifies the fru strating historica l riddle in which Contra.
dictory Grcek so urces e nvel op Aristotle . In spit e of every.
thing, Aris(Qtle was and re mained a true Greek and, thrust
into bloody political chaos, hc li ved and worked only for
Greece. He was compelled to ~t\,c up his Macedonian
dreams since the Macedonian kings proved to be blood
thirsty conquerors.

flight from Athens

Soon aftcr Alexander's death Aristotle left Athens for
the ncighboring island o f Euboca and settled th ere in thc
city of Cha1cis. If Strabo says that it was a comfortable,
pleasant and undi sturbed abode for philosoph e rs (X, 1,
11 ), such a motive can hardly be taken seriously in deter
mining the reasons ror Aristotle's coming there . Otherwise
o nc would have to conclude that Aristotle wentlhere dur
ing the stormy events fo llowing Alexander 's death simply
in o rd e r to rest in sol itud e. A numbe r of authors such as
Ju st;n and Procopius claim that Aristotl e traveled to Eu
boea fo r scie ntifi c purposcs, specifically to study the tides
and currents of th e Eubocan Sea (a socaJled euripus
channcl). Such mo tivation fo r Aristotle's departure to
C halci s also sccms too weak.
A third vcrsion involves much morc serious issues. A s
we mentioned above, Diogenes Laertius rccounts that a
hi~h-ranking priest Eurymedon (or Dcmophilus) inst.Jlutcd procecdi~gs against Aristotle, accusing him of im
pl c ty. What sacnlege was this that entailed such serious
consequenccs? It turns out that "the ground of the charge

Iwas1 the hymn he composed to the aforesaid Hcrmeias, as


,vdl ,IS till': f(,lIowin~ ins(:npllon for his !-tatuc ~t Ddp~i:,

'Thi s nMn in vinlal inn of the.: halln~cd Ltw of the Immort.~I1:
WilS unrigh!l.:oUsly slain h~ the long of the. b<)w.tx:afl~g
Pe.:rsians, who ovcrcamc him, not ope!lly With. a "fX IT ~n
Illurde.:rous comhat, hut hy trc;lchcry With the aid of unc m
whom he trusted'" (V, 5-6).
Thc reader no douht remcmhcrs that Hermclas.was the
Platonic philosopher who rulc~ Atarneus, took m An~.
totlc and Xenocratcs after their departure from Plato s
Academy and was soon afterwards cruelly put to dcath by
the Pe rsians.
It is not quile clear why such devout verses were takcn
to be impi ous. Aristotle's enemies said .that h.c had n?t
simply extolled Hermcias as a man but del~cd him by wnt
ing a hymn in the spirit of the paeans which were usually

addressed to Apollo.
This was all the morc true of Aristotle's other pocms
ho no ring Hermeias, his accusers assert~d. Diogen~s Laer
tiu s also cites this hymn commemoratmg the slam ruler:
"0 virtue toilsorne for the generation of mortals to
ach ievc the fairest pri'lc that life can \\;n, for thy beauty,
virgi~, it were a doom glorious in Hellas even to die and
to e ndure fi e rce, untiring labOTs. Such courage dost thou
implant in the rnind , imperishable, better than gold, dearer
than parent s or soft-eyed sleep. For thy sake H~racles, son
o f Zeus and th e so ns o f Lcda endured much m the tasks
whereb; th ey pursue d thy might. And yearning after thec
ca me Achilles and Ajax to the house of Hades, and for the
sakc of thy dear fo rm thc nursling of Atarneus ~oo was bc

reft of the light of the sun. Therefore shall hIS deeds be

sling, and the M uses, t he daughters of Mernory, shall.make
him immorta l, exalting the majesty of Zeus, gua rdi an of

strangers, and the gra ce of lasting friendship" (V, 7-8).

Of interest is onc o th e r account which proVldes addt

lional detai ls on Aristotle's indictment and nightlo ~h.al
eis. The iiule known writer Pto lerny of the early Ch n sl lan
era inrorms us 1h<1t o nc of the priests called hier.oph.ants by
the namc o r Euryrnedon accused Aristotle of Impletx for
not worshipping the ido ls which wer.e ho nored atlhe. tlrne;
he did so out of hatred for the philosopher, as Aristotle
said in a leller to Antipaler. When ~ristotle .learned of
this charge, he left Athcns for his native Chalets so as not



cause the Athenians the same disasters they earned C

killing Socrates (fragment 18).


The unjustly accused Aristotle is thus ranked with S

cralcs, who in 399 BC was also accused of impiety Of
spurning the universally recognized gods and worshipp' 0
some new divinities, and of corrupting the youth. Socra~ng
d lo la k

to (he verdict of rhcs

~as C
C pOison,
su b
Judgc~ and Athenian law. ~ut ~ristOllc was not SocralC:
and did not want (0 reconcile himself to obvious slandc

so he secretly left Athens. His accusers had made Use of ~

tned-and-true method, although the fantastic nature of th
case was patent. Arisrolie had met Hcrmcias in 347 B~
and they had Soon had to part. Hermeias was killed in 341
BC, and Anstotle was accused of impiety only in 323 BC
~.c., nearly (WC?!y ycar~ after Hermeias' death. Morcovc;
It was ullcriy ImplauSIble to scc in Aristotle's verses a

hymn worthy only ofa divinity. The accuser's judgments in

thIs case were exclUSively subjective and prejudiced.
It seems to us that under the guise of impiety Aristotle
was belOg charged by the Athenian democrats dreaming
of restoring the former free Greece after the death of
Alexander. It may also be possible that Diogenes Laertius
IS not telllO!! the full story here or simply does not know it,
0: pe~haps IS confused, the morc so as he is very pronc to
hlStoneal muddles.
Manyancient writers speak quite categorically of the
SOclo-poiJt1cal underpinning of Aristotlc's pcrsccution by
the Greek religious zealots at the cnd of his life. We shall
CIte only Aelian, who writes that having fled Athens for
f~ar of a tnal, Aristotle, in response to somcbody's qucslion as to what Athens was like, answered alluding to the
sycophants, magnificent, but pear upon ~car grows old
there and apple on apple, and fig upon fig'; when he was
then asked why he had left Athens, he replied that he did
~~t want hIS fellow-clllzens to sin twice against philosophy,
avlOtg 10 mh,nd Socrates' death and the same danger
th rea enlOg Im (Ill 36) 0
. '. . ncc agam we tnd a referencc
ocrates, who 10 hIS day ;,as also accused of impiety.
de~th sentence 10 his case too was explained
motives, as we know.

once had, Aristotle also wrote a speech in

whIch, according to the late Greek writer


Atlll.:naeus. "if the speech is not a f?rge~(', he logically

proved the absurdity of the accusation: If my purposc
had been to sacrifice to Hcrmeias as a god, I should ne~er
have built for him the monument as for a mortal, nor, If I
h' d wished to make him into the nature of a god, should I
h~ve honorcd his hody with funeral rites" (fragment 645,
The DcipllosophislS XV, 679a).
Thus Aristotle's social and political situation was most
complicated and troubled in 323 BC. .
The great philosopher felt uneasy 10 those tangled Circumstances, The Macedonians could not trust him, nor
could the Greek democrats. He needed to nee to a place
where he could safely devote himself to philosophy and
continue his Lyceum pursuits, which he had abandoned
for good. Blit where could he flee? Demosthenes,. Hyper ides and other leaders of the Greek struggle for IOdependence had been forced to go IOtO hldJOg, but then the
only way for them to escape execution had proved to be
death. Can one therefore be surprised at the existence of
ancient accounts claiming that Aristotle died on Euboea
after taking poison?
The Poisoning of Alexander and Aristotle's Suicide

Onc should probably not totally disregard the reports

that Aristotle, who had very probicmatie relations with the
Athenian patriots as well as the Macedonian rulers, poisoned not only Alexander but himself as well with aconite,
as Diogenes Laertius informs us (V, 8). In ancient mythology Hecate, the goddess of sorcery and the underworld,
had taught the princess of Colchis Medea, also a sorceress, to brew poison out of herbs and flowers, and was believed to have discovered the poisonous properties of aconite (cL Diodorus Siculus, historian of the first century
BC) . In the East, particularly in India, the tips of arrows to
be used in battle were smeared with aconite. But through
a certain process aconite becomes a medicinal, pain-killing agent. Having practised medi6ne all his life, Aristotle
could not fail to know the propertIes of thIS plant. Nonetheless the story of Aristotle's suicide is recounted in various so urces, including the twelfth-century Byzantine com-


mc n(al or E USl3lhiu5 MacrcmblllilCS and thl' Italian hu manist o f Ihe fo urtee nth and fiflccnlh lTnluril' S Lconiln..l ~l
Arc lino. Consequently, th e {alc [X-'TsistL'lJ righl up 10 Ihe

Re naissance.
We won't go after historica l effects. BUI theTl' evide nt ly
was something enigmilt ic ahoul Arislol lc's ck ..Hh. And
wh ether he drank some aconite as a medicine 10 relieve
slomach pains (for Aristotle had a stomach ailment) or
whet her he took a large dose to sc ulc his account!'. with
life, the secret will always re main sca led.
Diogenes Lacerius is conside red by ma ny to be a rather
authoritative source for knowledge about the a ncient phi).
osoph crs. But he evide ntly vacill ates on the q uestion of
Aristotle's suicide, referring himse lf to the historian
E umcl us, according to whom the sui cide supposedly took
pla ce. He does not mention the third -ce ntury BC Aristoteli an He rmippus, who as fa r as wc can judge fr om surviving
reports, liked to discuss philosophe rs' suicid es wh ile
ga th ering fa cts for their biogra ph ies. It may be that
D ioge nes Laertius borrowed his ve rdict on Aristotle's
suicide from this He rmippus, although in this insta nce he
says nothing about him.
O nc can neverthe less affirm, it seems, tha t many more
hi storia ns wrote of Aristotle's natural death tha n disputed
it. Very im port ant a nd a uthoritative a ncient so urces speak
de finit ely of Aristotle's na tural death: Apo llod orus, a historian, rhetorician and grammarian of the second century
BC (incidentally, Di ogenes Laertius also refers to him in
counterpoise to his basic view), Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a rhetorician and historian of the first century BC, a nd
Censorinus, a grammarian of the third century AD.
Various doubts and conjectures concerning both Alexander's poisoning and Aristotle's suicide are possible in
view of the contradictoriness of the sources. Yet in reviewing. th e philosopher's last years we see that there were very
sohd grounds for Alexander's poisoning by Aristotle and
Aristotle's own suicide, although these two events rem ain
on the level of hypotheses.
H must not be forgonen that Aristotle 's philosophy was
to a high degree one of action and courage. No t witho ut
reason did Ari~totle himself declare: "If you take away
from a hvmg belflg action, and still more production, wh a t


- J.ft hut contemplation?" (NicOI1lQchcarl Ethics X, B).

I~ C
. ~ d
. hit
Ar i ~tot l e could not be saW,lIc WIt merc y con cmlating phi to~ophk:al idcas. H.c had to act. It was no~ at all
thc ~piril of the grcat AfI~totlc to reach dc!;palf and
stop at that. The supp{)~ed fact that he had undertaken to
figh t a dcspot ~nd ",:an~cd ~o poi!;on him ~as .considered a~
great an explOit a!; In It.5 time the a!;sa<;slnalton of ~he n.otorious Greek tyrant Hlpparchu!; at th~ pan-Ath~ntan.res
tival in 514 BC by the youths H~rmodlUs ~d A~lst<>glton.
T hroughout antiquity HarmodlUs and. Anst<>gllon were
glorified as true patriots who had dehvered the Greeks
fro m slavery. Statues were erected to them and poets
hymned them.
If we take an objective approach, we cannot deny the
testimony of a number of ancie nt authors to Alc:cander's
poisoning by Aristotle, just as we cannot conclUSively reject the reports of Ari~tot~e's .suicide. If these e~ent~ truly
took place, they are qUite Justified by the dramatic Circumsta nces of the philosopher's last years.


Aristotle's Wil l
We have yet to discuss Aristotle's testa~c~t. in whi~h
he expresses his last will. The text of It IS found. In
Diogenes Lae rtius (V, 11-16). Scholars who have studied
it drawing on various other sour~s, gen~ rall.y concl~de
that in this case Diogenes Laerttus' verSion IS pl ausible
enough and corresponds to Aristotle's life principles. The
will is brief and businesslike. It is supposed that othe r versions which have not been p reserved were more detailed .
T he first thing that strikes the eye is that Aristotle
named Antipater as his main executor. Whatev~r ~ne ~~y
say of Aristotle's moods in the last days of hiS hfe, It IS
clear that pro-Macedonia n sentime nts to some degree or
othe r still fli ckered in the heart of onc who had once bee n
close to the Macedonia n kings, both fathe r and son. True,
A nlipate r as Alexander's vicc~oy and successor in Greece
was loo highly placed for Artstotl e to be able to entr~st
him directly with executing his will. The refore ,he desl~
nated a few more pe rsons who we rc to .see to It that h~s
last will was carried o ut. At the same time he made hiS


nephew Nicanor, the son of his sister Arimncsta, his true

executor. Apparently at the time Aristotle drew up the \1.111
Nicanor was not at hand. But from the text of the docu.
ment it is quite clear that Nicanor was extremely close to
Aristotle and the report of his adoption by Aristotle may
well be true.
In his testament Aristotle instructs that his daughter
from his fIrst wife Pythias, also named Pythias, be married
to Nicanor.
He also reveals very warm feelings fer both his first wife
Pythias and his second wife Herpylli. He instructs the
ashes of his fIrst wife to be moved to the same place where
his would lie. As for Herpyllis, he put at her disposal
either the house of his mother in Chalds, where he had
fled from Athens in 323 BC, or his father's house in Stagira. From this it is evident that at the time the will was
dra\rn up Stagira had heen sufficiently restored for Aristotle to continue to own his fatber's house. J[ appears, 100,
that Aristotle was a rather wealthy person with a few
houses in different towns. Aristotle also did not object to
the remarriage of HerpyIIis, who was much younger than
he. He only wanted her new husband to be a worthy man.
Aristotle instructed that Herpyllis be given a talent of silver and, wherever she should live, that her dwelling be
adequately furnished.
A little boy whose parents were unknown was being
brought up in Aristotle's household. He also showed solicitude' for this boy, entrusting him to Nicanor's care.
Aristotle gives very important directions concerning the
slaves who lived with him and his relatives. Some he orders
to be kept until a certain time, others are to be freed immediately, still others are to be freed before they reach a
certain age.
Finally, this document reveals a very noble character of
its author. He ordered statues to be erected to his nephew
Nicanor, his guardian Proxenus, his brother Arirnnestus
and sister Arimnesta, and willed the statue of his mother
to be dedicated to Demeter at Nemea. He also left instructions for stone sculptures to he erected to Zeus the
Savior and Athena the Savior in thanksgiving for the safe
of N.canor, who had often carried out important
missions for the Macedonian rulers.


. of Aristotle one gets from .this
The overall Imprc~StOn not only sensible and praeltcal,
will is of a man who ~~sd and eager for peaceable and
but also very noblc, m
I all this at a time when
friendly rclati?DS tmo~~sht;Pa~bitious, cruel pas~ion~
political, natlOna.' se onetheless he invariably bcliev~
seethed arou?d him. N d' . the highest degree a pnn
that "in all things the gOOd ;s IDd. "the world refuses to he
. lc'" and it is he who ce arc .
' d b adiy" (Metaphysics XII, 10).

" (I 6 329b...d), Pluwrch's

IPlutarch "On the Fortune of A1,exan,derp ~ Cambridge, 1962, 4:
Moralia in 15 Volumes, Harvard University r .
" - , , (47) Plutarch's Lives in 11 Volumes, Ilarvard
2plutarch, uA1exande.r
, 9 7' 359-61.
University Press, Cam~~?ge, 194 , 'Cicero in 28 Volumes, 21: 93.
)Cicero, "De OffiCIIS (I, 26, 90)"
"Plutarch's Moralia in 15 Vol4Plutareh, "On Tranqullhty of Mind.
umes, 7: 213,

cites Favorinus' opinion that it was DemOboth of them together.

50iogenes Laertlu~ also
philus who accused Aristotle, or bol of denunciation, since at one tlmt
~n Athens figs ,we~ a sym
0 saw to it that figs were not secret y
there had been speclallR~o~ers wh.. of the word sycophant, I.e., fig
taken out of Athens. This IS the ~ngtn'Con Favorinus cites Aristotle as
minder the Greek word for fig belng.5) ro~ old and fig upon fig" (~s re
saying that at Athens "pea.r upon JX:~~fs is paraphrase of the lines m the
rted in Diogenes LaertluS V, 9)..
. ous where "pear upon pear
bdySSey describing the garden of k~ngd~:~~er ~pens upon cluster of the
axes old and apple on apple, yea
;rape, and fig upon fig" (VII, 120),


Aristotle's Philosophy

thing in this sense would mean denying the existence of

the thing itself as well, or at least would mean acknowledging it to be unknowable. If a thing really exists, it differs in some way from another thing; and if it differs in no
way from anything, then it is not something at all. is not
something about which onc could say something. Thus the
mere existence of a thing requires that it be the bearer of
some idea. On this point Plato and Aristotle are in complete agreement. Neither the one nor the other conceives
of things without their ideas, their eidos.
Let us continue. It immediately becomes clear that the
idea of the thing also has a whole number of immaterial
features. Tht;s, wc breathe air, but we don't breathe the
idea of air; if a person were to be put in an airless place,
nO idea of air in its pure form would save him from asphyxiation. Thcrcror~ the idea?f the thing, whieh renects
and gives meaning to the thing, is not at all the substance
itsclr which it -actually reflects, but the meaning and essence or (his substance. This is the sort or idea or things
which was first advanced by Plato.
This was a discovery which astounded both Plato and
his students. For there had been a time when people were
unahle 10 distinguish thinking rrom reeling. But then camc
the famous Greek philosopher Parmcnides or the sixth
and fifth centuries BC and discovered the difference, and
even celebrated it in hymns filled with mythological symbols. There had been a lime when people could not distinguish the numbers by means of which things are counted
and caleulated from the thin~ themselves. But then came
pytt1agoras~ school, which established th-at the number is
not at all the thing itself, thatlhings flow and changc while
the multiplication table always remains the same. And this
discovery so struck people that they bcgan to consider
numbers divine and even equated them with the gods
themselves. The very same thing happc'lcd with the concept of ideas. People suddenly realized that the idea of a
thing is not at all the thing itself, but only its meaning and
reflection. And this discovery, wnich today is clear and
eVident to anyone, waS so enthusiastically proclaimed by
Plato that he prescnted the ideas virtually as some divine
essences. From our historical perspective we should understand the delight and amazement thcse discoveries

. hAristotle's name in world literature is directly link d

~It P at?'s. ~c havc already indicated features Aristo~
s arc d With hiS teacher Plato and points of di
But all our observations were made exclusivel . vergence.
lion 'th A'
Y 10 conneew~ . T1StO( e's biography. Now in concludin g our ac
count l( IS necessary to speak at least briefly of A t I philoso h
h d
T1S at c's
,p as suc an examine it as a whole distinct from
lato s philosophy. In so doing it must be kept in mind th
great dlfficultlcs arc encountered not
on y 10 under
109 n stot c's text itself but also in the f .
distort cd form it inevitably
at th c
numerous owners of his works the s c ' b '
ords vcry a~bltraTlly. To present Aristotle fro
temporary p.010 t 0 f View,
conwe shall try to expoundmhias ph1
. no easy task
Ihy 'as SImply as pOSSIbl e, whIC h IS
. I
the great
I WTl mgs.

~ommentators ~nd


~ho SO:~li~~~nt~,:~~~e~~;

~:~~~~I~~s~~~ltya~~shisnto ~t~nsideration
1. 11 (hings really erist thell tI'd



erist, so that Wit/lOll! all'idea (h le t~ .eas: (Jullgs necessarily

thing remains Ilncognizabl 0 e I/llg. oes flOt exist or the
ce ntral category of Plato' e. h
st~Tlmg-pojnt is that the
t~c eidos as it was called iSn ~;cos~p y, namely the Idea, or


tlrely by Aristotle. If onc un~ ,was adop.ted almost cnerstands thiS category in
Plato, onc will also basicall
cir1c of Aristotle's own hI co~prehend the main prinnew interpretation.
P IOSOp y, although he gave it a
Each thing, according to Plat dn
from any other thing, th
. 0, I crs In some way
a d er~ ore It. possesses a number of
the . n. U e t OI '"ly of all these essenli.al
I IS nothmg other th
h d
thing. Indeed denying t h '
an t e I ea of
e cXlstence of the idea of a



evoked: let us nOI forget thallhey were all mack two and
half Ihousand years ago.

2. Aristotle cn'tici:es tlr' detachment 0/ tire ult.'u 0/ (h('

thing/rom the tlrillg itself. Bul already Plato's closest adhcr ~
ents and pupils had found the re was nothing at all divine
about the ideas Plato had discovered . Plato was SOlar!
enough to realize the impossibility of fully separating the
heavenly realm of the ideas from the most ordinary earthly
things. After all, his theory of the Ideas had arisen only in
trying to grasp what things were and whethcr it was
possible to cognize them. Plato fr equently sa id that the
idcas of things can in no way be cut off from the things
themselvcs, nowhere more clearly than in his most difficult
and abstract dialogue, Pantlenides. Onc must also reaLize
that, carried away by the flow of his philosophical reason
ing and his poetic cxaggerations in expounding his vicws,
Plato unwittingly separated and contrasted the beauty of
the eternal ideas and the imperfection of the mate rial
world, giving a too abstract and remote-fromlife description of the Ideas. Plato the exalted poel enamored of his
realm of Ideas contradicted Plato lhe strict philosopher
who understood the interdependence. of_ idea and .t ~ing
and tliCir UOlly. This contradiction in Plato's theory gave
oC'casio"h 10 Aristotle to break with him. Moreover, a
sc hool arose among PlaLO's pupils centered around the
city of Megara whose members deepened the contradi c
lion in Plato's thinking and began to preach the absolute
isolation of the Idea of the thing from the thing itself,
hence assuming a position of unconditional dualism.
Aristotle often heatedly attacks this conception of the
isolated existence of the ideas, It is easy to see that he does
not always specifically have Plato in mind, but rather these
Megara philosophers who $lood for absolute separation
between the ideas of things and the things themselves.
Aristotle's critical zeal was a philosophical exploit. Even
tod.ay in its criticism of the extremes of Platonic idealism,
m::lterial1st philosophy leans on Aristotle's views.
Yet onc must remember that Aristotle did not himself
deny ~he existence of .ideas, but on the contrary did not
co~celve the. world :v'ltho.ut them. He objected only to
their separation and Isolallon from reality with all its infi-


Jitillllic and varidy of things. The poetie raptures of
mte nH I I. I sunt. the remote nthefWorlJly realm of the
rlaw, w \0 htl no
I 'nAris.
'f I . le'IS were ahen to the ~nher y reason! g
hea~\I;u/~hi.~~ Ari!.tnllc would put up with dealing W1~h
..d philosopher-poet he could not tolerate to
the e ntrance
. 11
d con
f his pupils who began ,-ystematlca y an

Ih~)se to ~ffirm. ~ith no longer any trace of poetry, t~e

~CI~)~S/ existence of the idea of the thing and t~e th~ng I~.
:I~ 1~~~stotlc'S criticism of this du~lis~ was pru~nanl.y dl
recl.e d ag<a'lnst
. the onc-sided vuiganzatlOn and slmphfica-


tion of Plato's theory of Ideas.

3. The idea of tile thing, according t? Aris~otle. is loca~ed
within lire thing ilself What is the A,nstotehan co~cepuon
of the idea? Aristotle conceives the Idea of the thing to be
not separate from the thing and ofT somewh~re ,else, but
within the thing itself. For the idea of the thmg.'s the essence of this thing. How can the essence of a t~mg be 10
cated outside the thing itself? And how can. the Ide~ of th.e
thing be located in some ot~er place, not l~fluencm~ ~~s
thing and not giving it meanmg and expressIVe. for;. h' e
notion that the idea of the thing can be .fou~d m t et lO,g
itself d oes not at all contradict PI~toOls~ lf the latter lS
sufficie ntly broadly conceived, and Its logiC and system fa

, .
1 t'on with re
Nevertheless AristotehaOlsm was a rev? U I
ard to Plat onism which recognized the eXlste.nce of a sep
garate heaven Iy w
Id o
of idr
Aristotle admitted that
. d the
idea 'of the thing could be anywhere, e~en OUtS1 e ~ e
thing. However, whatever function s of the I?ca of the thlO~
. volved the most important for Aristotle was pre
\~ere 10
f the idea within the thing itself, the
' - clsc1 the presence 0
h h'
'I If
" g of the idea of the thing within I c t mg I se ,
f unCl10mn
the two and
i.e., th e complete absence of any gap c tween
of an dualism. This thesis of the prese~ce. of th~ Idea
the tI;ing within the thing itself is the ~rmcIP~. ~tTe;e~~~
between Aristotclianism and PlatOOlsm.
I~OU A .
r hin else we arc going to say here a ut flS~~~I~S:i~~ :Ccon~c ~ncsided, not purely Aristotelian, and

simply incorrect.


Now let us examine how Ari..-totlc (k\"~".'lor~ his them\,

of the ideas on the basis of his critique of the i~o"'ted t:x
istence of the ideas outside the things,

4. 17le idea of the thillg, being sOU/l"th;IIg ;/leJi\'idual, like

lhe thillg itself, is at the. samc ti,."e also o. gl'/ll'Taliza(jOlI of
all of the pans of the llung, (hal IS, a ecnalll sum total, First

of all, although Aristotle stresses the existence of particularized ideas, the ideas for him are something fundamen tally and necessarily general. The idea of Ihe thing, according to Aristotle, ne(:essarily is an aggregate and
universal of some kind.
I ndeed, any thing consists of its parts, whatever they
may be. If we understand each such part to be fully isolated from the other parts of the thing and from the thing
as a whole, it will be impossible to conceive what a part of
the thing is. The part will end up being a kind of independent thing without any relation to the whole to which it
belongs. In that case the whole would simply become fractioncd into a number of independent things and cease
being something integral. A part of a thing bears the entire
thing as a whole; and if there are several such parts in the
thing, then all of them express the integrity of the thing in
different ways. Wc can speak of some part of a house, for
example, of its individual rooms, hallways, living and auxiliary accommodations only if we know what a house is in
general. A part of a house that is not generalized as the
bearer, albeit only partial, of the idea of the house is in no
way a part of the house. Likewise all the parts of a house
arc generalized in the whole which wc call a house. A
house taken as a mechanical and chaotic collection of
parts is n~ hous~ at all., A .h?use always is this or that aggregate With whIch the mdlvldual parts of the house enter
into rclation and in light of which the parts of the house
thcmselves interrelate.
Thus a house as a kind of idea, or the eidos of a house
?Iw~~ necessa,rily is some general aggregate to which th~
mdlVldual parual elements of that house are subordinated
_A ristot le never tire~ of sayiTJgJh~!..!5cie[llific knowledge i~
p~s~ltile. only as s.pence of the general and universal. If
sC,lcnce st~dles only mu.tually isolatcd and tOlallyungcneraIJ7ed objects, there IS no science. Scientific thinking

Olenns gcncrali/ing. Remaining at the level of separate,

mutually i..-olatcd, completely ungeneralized particulars
means n.:nouncing ilny science concerning these particulars, being left with only a blind perception of all the chaos
of things and seeing no farthcr than onc's own nose. This
is not science but its total absence. Howevcr, not only the
aggregation of parts within some one whole is important
for scicntifie knowlcdge. If we take two, thrce or infinitely
many things without gcneralizing them in any way, we will
also remain outside science. Therefore the eidos in all senses and respects is always a general aggregate or universal.
Aristotle very clearly distinguishes both the universal
from the particular and the necessary from the accidental.
Scientific knowledge is possible only with regard to the
general and universal, since all that is ungeneralized and
mutually isolated is merely accidental. What is accidental
is pcrceivcd by the senses and is always amorphous, so
that there is no que5tion here of any kind of necessity. If
we were to find some regularity in the accidental, it would
ceasc being an accidental to our thinking and would
become a necessity, whieh in the form of some aggregate
or universal compn.:hcnds all that is accidental, thus stripping it of senseless hcterogeneity and complete unintelligibilily. "Scientific knowledge and its object differ from opinion and the object of opinion in that scientific knowledge
is eommcnsurately universal and proceeds by necessary
connexions, and that which is necessary cannot be otherwisc ... So though there are things which are true and real
and yet can be otherwise" (Posterior Ana/ytics I, 33).
"There is no knowledge by dcmonstration of chance conjunctions; for chance conjunctions exist neither by
necessity nor as gencral connexions but comprise what
comes to be as something distinct from these" (ibid., I, 30,
20). Thus, the idea, or eidos, is universal, neussary and
equivalent to scientific law. "Even if perception as a fa- ~
why is of 'the such' and not mercly of a 'this somewhat',
yet onc must at any rate actually perceive a 'this somewhat', and at a definite present place and time: but that
which is commcnsu rat ely universal and true in all cases
onc cannot perceivc, since it is not 'this' and it is not 'now';
if it were, it would not be commensurately universal-the

d f thin("/~ both matcn\,..hole difficulty in Mudymg any "m o.

0.11 and immatni"l, i~ prcci!-.cly that ~t IS utterly;;:,p art;cUto isolate the general from the partlcu.lar a~d t P
lar from the general. Take any malenallhmg, a tree,~.ay,
~r a stone, or a stream, or a knoll. We know that any t 109
is an indivisible sum of all its parls. And w.e also kno~ t~at
any thing is something particular or conslsH. o~ parllCU ar
things. In othcr words, the general an~ the particular .m~sl
somchow be unitcd into some onc thmg. Some pceuhanty
of the thing must be found whcrein the g~neral sum and
thc particular arc indistinguishable. And m. a remarkably
concrete and rather inlcl1igible manncr Ar~slotle .'ocates
the indivisibility of the general and the partICular m what
he caUs the whole, or the integrity.
The eidos or the thing. being a certain general sum a~d
a certain p~'rticular, is at the same time also a certain
kind of an integrol!. And in thc integral whole the general
and the particular indecd cannot be torn. apart. 1~ onc
removcS some onc element of a whole, It Immcdlately
ceases to be a whole. If you remove the hands from a
watch, the watch instantly loses its integrity ..If 'you. remove
the roof from a housc (for instance to repair It), It ceases
being a wholc and, virtually spcaking, bcing a house. A
part of a whole can of cou.rsc be exa~i~ed separately fH'~
the whole whose part it IS. And thiS Isolated part of thL
whole will also be a whole. but no longer !he same whole
from which it was extracted. Naturally lhls or that beam
which enters into the makeup of a hut's wan~ can
removed from it. But in that case, first, Ih~ hu~ wtlllose Its
integrity; while the beam removed from It wtU also ~ a
whole, but this whole will no longer be a hut as somcthmg

term wc apply 10 what is always and everywhere" (ibid., I,

On the other hand, can wc deal only with universals and
can the idea, or eidos. be only a universal, excluding all
particulars? After all, the eidos is a universal precisely be

cause there arc in di\idual, particular elements whose

generalization leads us to the eidos. For the universal always presupposes the presence within it of these or those
\ / particular things, whose generalization it actually is. If
there is no particular, then no universal exists either.
Aristotle mercilessly criticizes the notion of universal
ideas which have meaning all by th emselves and presuppose no particular. The eidos of a thing is not only the
generalization of its individual elements. It necessarily is
also something particular. It is in it s particularity that the
given idea of a thing differs from all other ideas and, consequently, from all other things. However fragm ented,
chaotic and indefinite a thing may be, if it really is a thing,
it necessa rily is itself, i.e., something particular a:nd, therefore, something eidetic, so to speak. The air can be cold or
hot, dry or humid, clean or polluted, rarefied (as in the
mountains) or dense, fresh or stuffy, and so forth and so
on, but in all these cases it still is air, and not water or
earth or stone or plant or animal, although all these objects can be found in it. The air is something, and consequently some onc thing, and consequently some particular
thing, and - if we grasp its meaning, or in other words its
idea-something eidelic. The eidos of a thing is indivisible
although the thing it self is divisible in infinitely many rcs pects. Aristotle's argument in support of the eidos of the
~hing being something particular, located within the thing
It self and not outside it is completely irrefutable; and if
some followers of Plato recognized the ideas only as some
general aggregates, forgetting their particular existence,
there's no denying that Aristotle's criticism of such types
of Platoni sm is justified.

5. The totality of (he thing necessarily exists in each indiv.iduol part ?f the thing, and exists ill a dIfferent way each
tlfll~; but tillS meat,s tha~ the totality of the thing comprises
ol/lfs separote parts alld ,s therefore tlte integrity of the thing.


Thus, wherever we turn , there are always agg~cgates,
there are always particulars and th~re ~re always tntegral
wholes. In other words, all that eXIsts IS defined, shaped
and knowable only because it is an eidos or at least contains its eidos within itself.
6. TIle tenus "idea ", "eidos ", ''jonll'', a~,d <ltlli~g". ll. is
proper to note hcre that the Greek word eldos whl~h Anstotle uscs is traditionally translated by th~ Latm wor~
fonn . There is some sense in such a translation because It

But the maller goes far beyond this train of reasoning. The




~lIows onc to 'bring together

d h
. as far as possible the e,'dos or
I ca 0 f ( h e t h tng
an l c thmg itself and thus stre""
"",, A rts
I ~II c. 5 concc~llO~ 0 the presence of the eidos of the thi~
such a I' I g~
. . the
. thing
_ ItSelf. On the other hand ,ram;a
lIOn IS qUit e Incorrect because Plato calls an idea not . I
an "idea" but also an "eidos" (the two words being syn on y
mOllS for him), both terms f;efCr:.
.me~~al an~-:f"b()lh !?u~ U~lversal dis.semination thanks to
tile anCients propensity to see everything with their own
. andBgenerally to perccive through the senses 'm sensatIOns. ut Plato's terms "idea" and "eidos" arc nev
by Ihe word "form". in order la Slress
Plalo 5 Ideas
h' localed
l ' oUlside Ihe lhings ' The re fore
;:. hen ..PI ala s P ,I oso~hy IS referred to as the doctrine of
Ideas and Anstotle 5 as the doctrine of "forms"
. uSlon IS engen de re d .m scholarship, since Plato's' ter
" Idea" and 4'eidos" can also be rendered by the womd
"fa r m" a.n d A'
.n stotI'
e s " f arm' can be translated as "idea"
Connectmg " Ideas" only with Plato and "forms" 0 I
' h'
n y WIt
n stot e IS a n attempt to establish at all costs the gap be~
Iween Plalo and Ari slol le, While an abyss truly lay between them I~ some. cases, in others there were quite
st rong and rehable bndges f!om one side of the abyss to
~.he ol.~er. We shall nol object la Ihe use o[ the word
. form fo r Anstotle: But we must always remember that it
IS. the very.sa~e thmg as Plato's 4' idea" or "eidos", onI
With a special Interpretation of all these terms.

~2-vi~jQ.nJ ~i~he~ _scnso~~;



~. 771e. illlegnty of tile thillg, where the whole thin


penshes wa". the ,elllol'al oJ Olle oJ its parts. is the

of tire .tlUllg, III ~Oll~rasl to tire mechanism of the thing, where
tile llllllg.remams /~Itegral despite the removal of individual
parts of If and lltelr repla~emen.t by other parts. As we imme rse ourselves furthcr m Anstotlc's theory of inte ralness, we
across a feature which though it ma n!
be dl}lmctl y enough articulated [ram a
ca i~l~i~ :hv~~w, ~~vcrth~less gives a quite specific color~
~ p ~ aso p, y, so much so that it can be con~




PhiIO~~\pOy :r~~ttotle s c~nlral

categories, not only in

ure, as It may appear at fi
In hiS entire world view.
IfSt g ance,


The pertinent passages ID Ari~tot\e are very scattered,

difficult and cmploy complctely different terminology.
Thereforc, so as not to enter into all the philological diffi~
cultics surrounding this issue, wc shall try to expres~ it in
our own words and, we hope, clearly.
Say we have before us some lhing which presents itself
as a whole. And say some parl of this thing gets damaged,
stopS performing its function or even simply fans off. And
say an expert comes who repair~ this part of the thing and
the thing begins to funclion as before. Thus, if the hands of
a clock get broken or fall off, it is nO trouble for a watchmaker to a[fIX new hands. and the clock will [ulfil its [unclion as before. Nothing prevents us from damaging or even
taking out a spring inside the clockworks, and the watchmaker from quickly restoring the clock to its former state.
But say we have before us another thing, such that the
damage or destruction of onc of its parts entails the destruction of that whole thing as well, after which it can no
longer be restored. Say in the living organism of a person
or any living creature, the heart, for instance, stopped
fun ctioning or was extracted in the course of some medical
operalion. This would prove to be not simply the desti'UC~
tion of the heart as a part of the organism but the destruc~
tion of the organism as a whole as well. Such is the case of
the brain or the lungs. All these organs cannot be entirely
removed from the organism and then restored by various
artificial means, at least not in the present state of medicine. But what does this mean? It means that the heart
or the lungs are vitally important for the whole organism in
its entirety, embody integral being i.n a11 its substance, as
philosophers would say. True e nough, if onc were to amputate an arm or a \cg, the organism would continue to
live. This means that not everything in the organism is organic in the absolute sense of the word. The organism may
have other parts less essential to it which may mechanically be rcmoved from it and mechanically replaced without any injury to the life o f the organism as a whole.
We can noW define an organism considered in its fun~
dam ental and specifiC form of existence and vicwed in
contrast to a mechanism. An organism is that integral
thing which has one or several parts in which the integral
thing is present substantially. Each individual thing, and


each indi\idualliving creature, and each individual historical ~ra, and fi~ally the v.:holc univc.rs~ in its entirety is such
an mtegral th,~g 10, Anstotle: This IS not simply a sense
l~at the .w?~ld IS, 3mmatc, whl~h humans have always had
since pnmltlVe times. The entire mythology and after all
t~e entire poetry,of the .ancie~ts is ~o~nded in
l~on of all that CXlstS. Wlt~ ATlslotl~ It IS not simply a question of nature and l~C uOlv~rse being animate, but a carefully thought-out philosophIcal theory in which what is im _
portant is nol the animation of the universe which nobod
, y
?u. C. 10 antiqUity,. but the logical structure requisite to
dlstm~~Jsh a mechamsm from an organism and extend this
orgaDlclly to the entire cosmos.


8. !7,e four pdllciples of the slrnctUre of any thing as an

0':8amsm. Foml al.'d matter. Aristotle himself expounded

hiS .theory of a thlOg as an organism many times and in

vanous ~ays. But it will probably be most expedient here
to descnbe what he himself calls "the four causes" or as
wc would say tod~y, the four principles of any thing under.
stood as an orgaOlsm.
Ii nle first prillcipie is of course the eidos we spoke of ear
e~, without which one cannot understand one page of
~5tot~e. Remember that Aristotle uses this Platonic term
ID a qUlle un Platonic way. The eidos of a thing is not at
~~I ~~hothel"'WorldIY essence, but its essence located within
Arist ut which one cannot grasp what the given thing is.
0 c. vc~. a~c~ralcly calls this essence of the thin
that which It IS m usclr'. It is the "what" of th h
. g
. . e t 109, I.e.,
the answer to the queM ion f h
hOW at thiS thmg IS. If we ren
\ der Aristotle's tcrm as
t e "whatncss" f th h"
shall not be mistaken I h---~ - , _.
e t 109, wc
"what" in a Ycr
f' a t oug Anstotlc understands this
y pro ound and not at all everyday d"
sense. Evcry thlOg n .
or lOary
ecessan y IS something Oth
re wou d not he that of wh
Ipcak, i.e.., the thing itself would o~ p~operhes we could
remain unknowable Thcr.
no ~XlM or at least would
dIere already is that of wh~s aO(~ anl.mation here yet. But
apo.dinl Aristotle, scholars nlfl~allon one .can ,speak. In
.....ioa cri the. thing its fO...::s~aJ~ callthas principle of
if one does ~otPk ncl~le. ~ut one can
.............. the eidos 'd
d up IQ mlQd what we
,I ca an form of a thing. If we


....... -,"",.lce


understand these three terms to be completely identical

we shall not he mistaken in speaking of Aristotle's formal
principle. Properly speaking. i~ ~s an eidelic or ideologi~alt
ideal, principle. But on condition that w~ corr~ctly, I.e.,
sufficiently broadly, understand the Anstotehan term
"form", nothing prevents us from speaking of Aristotle's
formal principle of the definition of existence.
The second principle wc have also mentioned above,
and said all that matters about it. But since we have under
taken to describe Aristotle's theory of the four principles
of the structure of existence, we must devote special aUen
tion to this second principle here.
The fact is that matter and form constitute such a corn
mon and universally clear opposition that it would seem
there is nothing to be said on the subject. The matter of
this cupboard here is wood. And its form is the ~ar
ance assumed by the wooden materials processed for a
dCTinite purpose. Tt would seem there is nothing to ponder
about here. And yet we are faced with one of the most
profound issues in Aristotle's philosophy. Material for him
is not at all simply material. For every material already has
its own form. h there any material whieh before being
transformed into some object for human use does not have
any shape at all? All the most formless, confused, disor
dered. chaotic things already havc a form of their own. A
pile of sand or lime cven before being used in building a
house already has a form of its own, namely the form of a
pile. Clouds during a storm arc also seemingly formless.
Out if a thundt:rcloud really didn't have any shape, how
could it be a cognizable thing for us? Rather, onc might
say th:.H the matter of a thing is s(ili only the very possi.
bilily of its being shaped and that (his possibility is inli
nilely varied. Ncvcrlhclcss, without m~lIcr the ~idos would
remain only the "whatncss" of the thmg, only Its abstract
meaning without any actual.em~l~di01cnt. o.f.this meaning
in reality. The maller of a thmg ~s .It.S poSSibility, yet ~Ol an
abstract possibility but the pos~lbdl.ty o.f the ve~y hemg of
the thing. What the being of thiS (hillg IS, the el~os e~bo.
died in it will tcll us. On the other hand, the cldos I(sc.lf
without matter is also for the time bcing only the POSSIbility of the thing. and not the th.ing ibclf. O.nly (he com~
plete union of the matter and {'ldos of a (hmg, or more

exactly only their complet e identification makes th th' g

specifically the thing. I sit not on the matter of a
but on the
itself. And I si t not on the cidos
bench? but ag~ln on Ihe. bc.neh itself. Philosophieall Y
speaking, the eldos

. of .a thlOg IS not its matter ' nor'IS t he

f a t h Ing Its eldos. But once we have le arne d to
" er 0'h
d I StlOg~I S the two, philosophica l thinking requires us to
recogmze as well the complete identity or the 'd
the matter of a thing.
et os and
Plato had already distinguished the eidos and matt
a thing. and
job of equating them
B~t Aristotle s work 10 thiS area was almost a rev 1 . .
l2;!fo nlsm. Of all the a ncient
ISllOgUlS eu a rm from matter, Aristotle was the
most" profound
and subtle at equati ng (hem . Th ere 'IS no
~ f
q ues Ion 0 naivete on Aristotle's part here 0 Ih
trarr, one should be amazed at Ihe audacil . f n. e ~on
ophlcal discovery and his ability 10 Ihink of~ 0 hiS PdhIIOStcr as onc and ident ical
orm an mat-

through our sensations, and utterly ideal, since the idea of

the universe is fully embodied in it. But how is one to understand the partial and distorted realization of tbe eidos?
According to Aristotle, only the cosmic spheres above
the moon have their full eidetic value. But what is brought
about within the lunar sphere and below is always partial
and imperfect, and sometimes even totally misshapen.
Aristotle reasons quite intrepidly here. No deformity in
life troubles him. In the first place, it is entirely natural insofar as it is material and accidental. And in the second
place, it is possible only because an undistorted and absolutely perfect cidos lurks in its depths. If it weren't for the
latter, we would not be able even to comprehend deformity precisely as deformity. Only in comparison with the
eternal beauty of the eidos can the ugliness of the thing be
judged specifically as ugliness.
But apart from this amazing fearlessness for the fate of
the cidos, Ar istotle feels quite calm and contented. A
given deformity has come about in life, but as the misshapen thing ascends to its beautiful and eternal eidos all
its deformity fades. This notion of the presence of chance
in maller will come in very handy when wc consider the ultimate roundations of Ar istotle's philosophy, which we
now sce as tragic.
But onc more important explanat ion is necessary at this
point. The Greek word Iydle, which in Aristotle must be
understood as chalice, also means fate in ancient Greek.
But the purely philosophical orientation of Aristotle's arguments prevents us from translating the term as fate.
Afte r all , chollce is also fate for Aristotle. But for the
ancient Greeksfate was a purely mythological concept, not
a philosophical onc, whereas for Aristotle it was not myth ological at all but purely philosophical. T o put it bluntly,
Aristotle absolutely did not want to reduce all of reality to
fixed concepts and join them in a strictly logical and per-



~idn'l d~ b~d

:~ d~ct ~o



9. Matter alld chal/ce. 17le causal alld


~esd' In aU,r very brief survey of ArislOlle's~~;;:;;ySI~~ ~:~It~r-

c ecm It necessary to d 11
will be most helpful 'n 5 wc, on onc morc aspect, which

as a whole,. This aspC~1



Matter IS neitller eidos n

'd .
eidos in particular. Insofa' or Cl OS ~n genenll, nor some
of the real ization of the .~ as matter I~ only the possibility
realization and an eXl Cl ~dS' ~attcr IS Ihe very fact of its
ra,cl elle fact i e
meanmg, si nce cidos is mca nin B , . " a act, outS! e
It means that matter bca
. g" ut what ~ocs Ihls mean?
reali zation , not cnvisag:~ ~lIh It thc, fortUitousness of its
overstepped the bou cl f Y any ~Idos. Once wc have
realization of the

C~d so ,pu re Cldos, a,ny ~xtra-ejde(ic

mcaning and hc
lOS, I.C., a~y rcallzatlon outside
possiblc. Thc eidOSn~~n ~vcn ~can~n~lcss ~calization, is
mattcr will thcn bccom c rcah?-e~ In Its cntlrety - and the
But thc eidos can
c a p~lnelple <;,f ,?aterial beauty.
tially, contradietor~;~n~c realize? ~ot In Its entirety, parter will then becom
. ev~n miSS ape~ly-and the matintegral reali7..ation ~~ ~~I~clple o f ~aten~l deformity. The
mos which is both
ti e world !deas IS a beautiful cosutter y mate nal, for we perceive it


e mpt ory way.

We have alrcady said that for Aristotle reality is end less
mot ion or it is full of motion; and we shall speak of this
again in a moment. But pure eidos is not some motion. It is
the rational principle of motion and its meaningrul shaping
but is certai nly not motion it sel f. The latter can be both invested with mcaning and meaninglcss, i.e., both beautiful

~rinciples ma,Y be, they arc far from formulating the mo


~f the thmg.

For without motion onc cannot im

a.nythmg ~t all. But the form of a thing is not yet its m~1~:e
since a thmg can also
motion at re s.
t SI
.be without
Irnl arly'

. Ifle IS
. f at. h mg IS aso not yet the thmgltsc
the .m a t, ero
not Its mOtion, smee
wc imagine
matter pr,m1
" ,"

an y spatially
c fmm
0 f a thmg.
' "m It-.
' be In motion ' b ut conceIVed
~c It I~ not yet, motion, Just as the matter of a thin can
motion hut IS not mol ion itself. Motion is a :ite be
Cl fie category ,:hich cannot be reduced to anyq
must be rccognl7..cd as such ,ono
a par
an dmatler.



ca6~li~;1~lem:ti~~: e}iN~~n:h~n c~~t;~~:s~~'y an~ in~radi.

scrtcd by all who have anything to say abo:o~~~~r~s

they all concern themselves with the
be f


~hfn;o:~. ~nd study the question of becoming and' p:~.

cxisLdncc I~f pro.cesscs could nOl come about without the

kind of m (mol.lO~ "'hevery one would admit that in each

thi~~g~alp:~l~S ~~ ~~~motion: and so there must be some-

g burned before there can be a prohc'f~re t~~~~ b:arnnc~, and something capable of burning
VIII, 1).
c a process of burning" (Physics

cess of b .

la ATi Stoll c, motion
. .IS as fundamental
a cat
ego according
r as malleT and form M
cumstanccs come' t
: oreovcT! two other cirnumber of
In 0 P ay. First, there IS an unlimited
vanous lypes of
1" . d

motion in nature and' mo IO"! an sccon~. If there is

speed, i.c., rest, is also ~s :hc umvcrsc~ mO~lon at zero
is Ihat A . t i P s ble. The malO pomt, however

ani as


al c


the problem of motion


bolll ~lso as a p~ilosopher. And
araelerl/ahon of mollon leads to ..

w h IC go far bey d h r
.on I ~ ImllS of a natural-scientific
of (he ver
~ ~.ollono Anstolle addresses the question
already d~~~:t~li~ o~ the ~ate~ory of motion. Plato had
to IS Issue In hiS day. But we shall conra~e on how Aristotle tackles the problem of the or,.;
of motion.


If a thing is moving, it means that another thing exists

which set it in motion. But the same reasoning obviously
applics to the motion of this second thing. Clearly this second thing moves because it was set in motion by some
third thing, and so on. If we go off into an infinite regress
to explain the motion of the first thing, will this be a true
explanation, or, by referring ourselves to ever new things,
will we not then be ronouncing all explanation of our moving thing? To put an end to this infinite passing from one
thing to another, Aristotle requires us to recognize that
there exists such a thing whose motion no longer needs
referral to some other thing. This thing moves of itself and
to move does not require any other thing which would
move it. In other words, if all things move, and if some
definite cause must exist for motion, one must admit some
autonomic motion, some cause which is a cause for its
own self. This is tlJe_ tlJirdJ!ri!..!cip(e of the ex;is!.enc. of
things, the "inird -principle oCl)ein&....whi<:~ muost.pc rccog'mzed on equal terms with the matter and the form or eidos
-ola rtiing. Of course in our daily experience, practically
every thing acquires its motion from some other thing. But
at the level of philosophical examination of motion, we
must recognize, according to Aristotle, that in existence
there is a self-propelled cause and that this self-motion is
renected in onc way or another in the real dependence of
the motion of onc thing on the motion of another. This
auto-motion, this spontaneity, is diffused throughout the
whole universe, although everywhere it exists and is manifested in different ways.
Let us advance onc more step, and Aristotle's fourprinciple formula of existence will be basically complete.
A thing moves, and some cause exists for this motion. But
specirically where is this thing moving, in what direction is
it moving, and is motion possible at all without being directed? Clearly, every moving thing is necessarily characterized by some direction of its motion. This is obvious if
only because every thing functions in some way, exists for
some end and was created for some purpose. We shall not
speak of the animate world and the motion of individual
living creatures, which of course always has both a definite
reason and a definite goal. But let us take an inanimate, inorganic thing, a stone, say, outside the window, or the





, '..~




w;lI e r in the n c a rC~ 1 !\trc;ml. T hnt' Ih ing.s ;Ife l'~rlajnly in .

o rganic. But can ()nc have :-.onlt: Cll"l'CPlill" \If them wilh
o ut a conce pt ion (If a n o rg;lIl i!\1ll a~ a l'I.'n.lin l'nlil~? For nil
Ihese ino rganic Ihing~ abn hilVC the ir hi~hlf)' .IOU m;l), have
losllhc ir fo rme r in tegrity Of ",i ll ,It:quirl' it. The)' may h<l\'e
once entered into the compo.'.i lion of live orgi1ni~~\ . . Of





, of mcowrc.
AI th
.. point
W. 771e t/oclnl/(,
- . . we must . at

least brien y d isl.:u<;<; a general aesthetIC prmc.lple of antlquit ' which, although Ari!.tollc does nOI. set It forth ,S~~l~'
m1tica lly in o nc place, can hc sy~tematleally sum~am.c~
under onc head ing once onc has conside!cd .all Ar.,st~tle s
o n thc subjcet. It seems to us that If thIS tOpIC IS not
d I h
ry of mea s ure
presented 100 gcnc rally and ry y, t e ca ~o ' h
will p rove a neecssary eonsequen~ o f ~ ns~.tle S t ~or!t is
the fo ur principles of life and hemg Ju-~t . ISCus.S~ .
cosy '0 p rove th .. t for Aristotle measure IS ~ot .slmpl~ a
pnn, 'I e an d no ' s;mply a .qualitatIVe
q uantit ative p nnclp
11 as
ci le but first and foremost an eidetic pn.nelple~ as we .
a ~a~sal-pUrpos i\e principle, to say nothmg of Its maten-

alit:~r exa m ple, in the sphere of ethics, the ?est is a sort ~~

mea n between IWt) opposites, i.e., a certam m eas~re h

mo ral orientation between the two. Thus courage 15 t e
mid d ie point between fea r and reckless b ra\ery,. g~neros
ity between sti nginess and prodigal ity; mag(~I~llImltYh betw~en selfconccit and sci f-abase ment
ICOl1l0C eon

EII~c:el!~~~ '~e~s~~,51~r A ri'itotie, is also observed in the

aesthelie sphere (01/ Poetics 7 ) . .
f IiUes
He secs the same p heno me non I~ t h~ r~a m 0 po .
as well' "To the size o f states there IS a limIt. as there IS t ~
othe r things piants, animals, imp le ments; for no ne 0
thcse retain t'heir natural powe r when the~ arc too large o r

. 11 but Ihey e ither wholly lose the ir nature, o r a ~e

too sm,1 ,
h' h '
sp an long woll
s oiled . For exa mp le, a Shll~ w IC IS on y a .
,p b
h' at all nor ashlpa q uart er of amlie iong,yet
no t e a s ~e a ship of " certain sin, eithe r too large o r
100 srn;! l, , w h.. will still he a ship, but bad fo r sailing"
(Politics VII , 4).




~::J tMs is ..1ri,\((Jlk '.f fmu1h pnl1C1pJe of the aI_lIence of OilY

out black, hcavy without light , lofty wilhoutlow and so On.




.. . hut in the hnu. it~lf Thl'> mcan<; that the
lIon proce, 'I '", ')\Ion CII!Se OInd i\ not 8 caUM: at all. It
hnll~ 1"!lO Oil Y
. hi,
' .'
, . irn What Cx;.H liy i.. an aim? Onc ml~ t say a 0
., I
h' ofathlngl'i
un the .. uhjcl.:l. hut onc thlOg I.. C ca~, t e aIm
"form nor iti malta, nnr Its cau<,c. The tum I'> a
n\:lt ler I ' i ,
d I'
<; 'cific (illegory which C<lnnnt lie re uce ,0 any

were such Ihc msch-cs, as, for c\;tnlplc, fossili/cd rn(lllu.,h

or ambe r. In ge neral, spontaneous motion .lnU mcchiln'
ically caused motion an: two concepts which do nol exist
the o nc without the 01 her, just as "'hi ll' does nOI exist with Thus the concept o f mech anic'lt mo tio n is unt hin kable
wit ha Ul the conccpt o f spo ntaneous motio n.
Thus, if onc as-cri bes mo tion to things, and if a mo tion is
impossible without a corresponding cause, and if every
cause presupposcs a cause-in-itself, or spo ntaneous motio n, sueh an unde rsta nding of cause o bvio usly has un iversal significance and no thing is conceivable witho ut it.
H e re the need arises for o nc mo re catego ry witho ut
which the category o f mo tio n is unthinka ble. Fo r o ne ca nno t conccive o f motio n in the abstract, i.e., witho ut the result it produces. We spoke o f the directedncss o f every
motion just now. This direetedness testifies to the fact that
the re is a de fin ite result at each point o f the motio n. If we
do no t perceive the result o f the mo tio n, the n obvio usly we
do not perceive the d irectio n o f this mo tio n e ithe r. And if
wc d o not perceive the result s o f the actio n of the cause,
the n we d o not perceive the action itself o f the cause. A
cause and its result can o f course be thoug ht o f separate ly.
The lo ft y can also be thought o f apart fr o m Ihe low, and in
perce iving the colo r white it is not at all necessary instantly
to imagine the colo r b lack. Yet all the same, the onc is impossible without the othe r. And if the cause of a thing's
motio n led this thing some whe re, brought it 10 a certain
stat e, furni shed it with certain properties or qualities, then
every cause in its actual fun ctioning presupposes some
aim . A house is built as a result o f certain causes, whethe r
they be the architect's plans o r the efforts of the wo rkers
who bro ught the bricks and arranged the m in a certain
orde r. But the completed ho use is neithe r the plan of this
house, no r it s co nstruction. We live no t in the plan of the
house, but in the house itself, not in the house's construe-

,, ,

, ,'










, 'J






Finally. the category of measure pla~ a big role for

Aristotle in astronomy as well. To understand the passage
wc shall quote below, onc must bear in mind that the faster a body moves, the morc space it covers in one and the
same time interval, and Ihat, consequently. a body moving
infinitely fast at once occupies all the possible spaces for
its passage, i.e., it is at rest. The sky, according to Aristotle, moves at this maximum speed, hence it is at rest.
When it is a question not of a heavenly body. but of any
body which moves with a finite speed, the slower the body
moves the less it is like the heavens. And yet there is some
point of comparison to the heavens in every body moving
with a finite speed, insofar as the measure of its motion is
infinitely small. Now the following extract becomes clear:
"If the motion of the heaven is the measure of all movements whatever in virtue of being alone continuous and
regular and eternal, and if, in each kind, the measure is the
minimum, and the minimum movement is the swiftest,
then, clearly, the movement of the heaven mu~t be the
swiftest of all movements" (0" the Heal'ells 11, 4).
In other words, Aristotle's doctrine of measure is the
direct result of his theory of the four-principle structure
of f\-"ery thing. Since the eidos of a thing is identified with
its matter, this identity is the measure of the functioning of
cidos and maucr; and since cause is likewise identical with
aim in the given thing. this identification must also be
viewed as the measure of the functioning of these two catcgories. If only because the motion and aim of a thing
cnter into its very definition, measure in the thing's
meaningful actualization must also enter into its definition.

11. Gcncral fOn/llllarion of the fOllr-priflciplc sfnlCfure,

alld ifS aesthetic alld creatil'C foundation. Up to now we
have been expounding Aristotle's four principles more or
less separately and indcpendently, whereas for Aristotle
himself they unquestionably represent something integral
and indivisible. For Aristotle has a truly mosaic-like style
of thinking. His concepts arc cxtremely diffcrentiated and
~inute. ~Ie likc.s to distinguish ~ndlhssIY~. t9 .analr~e infiMc detaIls ana rino-ntw nuances w cre others fhink too
generally. Anone -does so-m-disCli"~ing the: rour- prinCiples
of ;m animate structure, which could of course be





, ,.


, -

.' , ,
, ''



, , ,

resented more as a whllle, in a less minute and more

~cncral much morc intelligible form.
S Lct ~s formulatc these four principles in a ,:"o~e general
way, and Ihen ~how how I~is !'.ingle ~ntegral prm~lple operatcs in various arcas of eXlstcnce WI.thoul the ml?ute compartmcntali7<1tion which Aristotle Imparts to hIS re~son
ing, or rather with the same minutencss but synthetIcally
and more intclligihly.
And so, we are dealing WIth the defi~'t,on ,of a tbl~g.
Specifically, a thing is (Ict us convey Aristotle s mca"!ng
more comprchcnsibly), first, matter,. second, .fonn, t~lfd,
operative cause, and fourth, a eert~1R expedIency. ~ld<!s
(form) does not cxist scparately, but IS always embociled m
mattcr. And so we shall speak of materially realized form,
a formulation which, il secms to us, will be un?erst~ndable
to everyone. The fact tha! every thing functIons. In some
way-for example a trce gro",:s, a sto.ne changes I~S shape
depending upon the surroundmg cnvlfo.nment -WIll. hardly be questioned hy anyone. For all thmgs change ..grow
younger or older, acquire a purer form, decay or slmp~y
get destroyed and die. A ch~rry trce pr.oduce.s a certam
type of fruil. And these ch~mes ar~ t~e aim whIch the tree
pursucd while it was growing. A e~lld s sled ~adually gets
rickcty and finally breaks. And thiS break.age.'s the e.nd al
which the growing rickctincss of the sled me~tably aimed.
Would not it be simpler to say that every thmg has a causal-purposivc aspect, that it occurrcd through somc cau~
and rcached some go,ll, po~iti\'e or neg~tjve? Wo.uld not It
be simpler to rcduce Aristotle'.s cO~l?heated tram of rcasoning to ~_~ingle un.i\'~rs'llIy mtcl~!gl~lc Fhrasc, nam~ly,
each thing is 1I matenallzed rorm ,uth a causal-purposlve
Similarly, the four-fold structure of a thm~ can ~ exprc~ed simply without refcrence to any of A~lstot~e.s four
causcs, in the form of a single principle, a~so lfitclhgl.b1c t.o
all but naturally requiring some cxp.lanallon. What IS t~IS
, ' Ic
' Afler
all if we grasped 11, the whole of Anspnnclp
t tl 's highly complex philosophy would appear to us In a
o c '"'plc and intelligible form, which there would be no
mos t SI..
I" h
. ,,'
In our
' not
I 'm
own words", as they say, but t l
a wrong







,. - '

I '


I ),I;.
I' .





. .,

., -

'. ,









. ,

Let us take the corre lation of rido r .

matter. In everyday lire m"'" . _ d . (Imm, idl'a) and
11 .
... r I ~ un ers!){ld
ca y, simply as a material out ofwh" h . l .I()(,) pro~ai.
But ~\'cn if onc understands matter I.t ~omcthlOg is made.
shaping of matter to gel'
k' ,IS simple material the
"Qrne md of '"
r .
ready presupposes a certain alheit ? )J.c~t rom it al
and creative principle giving
pnmlttve, aesthelic
There was some wood I '
. pc 10 matter.
sticks and logs. But I sum;m ~ ,t he ya rd, some boards or
10 make a ood
onc, a ca rpenter and told him
could takegshel~::Utr:~;ea~~ar~.lve kennel for my dog so it
carpenter began to cons It . hlOY or frosty weather. The
to build for this doghou~e:~ ~~ over what kind of sides
chatted with him for a I '
~t IOd of roof, and so on. I
didn't seem ri ht to u ong lime. ~ certain type of wall
We also decid~d on s, an~ ~e decided on another kind.
kennel. Learnin ma p~rtlcu .ar form for the roof of the
"Wouldn't il be gb
Y ~nLcntlons, the carpenter said,
etter 10 the . Le
r I .
sketch this kennel on'
?" 10 rest 0 c anty, first to
plan of the kennel withat~er. And after I had drawn the


~r~~~y~~e:~~;:, t~ecause ~e c~rrn,~t:~n~et~k~:n~e~ :of~

ably escape bad w:~~~ra~~~1 h t~e ?og could comf~rt

to be l b '
, e dldn I want the opemng
tered a~u~~ ~r too .small, elc. The carpenter then putmuch sawin a~~ q~t~ some time ,~Ih the planks, did
And Ih
g i P nlOg, much nalllOg and hamme ring.
e resu I was a fine k
agreeable to my ey
enne , cosy for the dog and
The question now is wh
' h'
(form idea) and wh " ,ere 10 I IS doghouse is its eidos
, '
ere IS liS matter? Wh
I I k
qUite forget 10 think of any e'd
en 00 at 11, I
is simply a dogho
d I oS,or any matter. For me it
enou h
. use an nothlOg more. But it is nol
and IS to say thiS, The thing is that both the car enter
b,ef?fehbuilding it. The eidos itself nothske'tch on
os , It IS t e carpe,nte,r's and my thought, our
kenn I b p~pe~. But the dog Will live nO( in the idea of the
kenn~1 but ,.n t e kennel.itself, not in the blueprint of the
the eido ut ~n ~he kkennelltself. And my friends admire not
wood Ihs 0 t e . ennel but the kennel itself and not the
., oun d 10
. my yard or garden

of whichatthwas
k Iv.ng
and out
e ennel was made, but the kennel itself.





, tl'

... I




., .

,.'. ,





.\.. -.\


'. I






,, (I, . . , r
) "Jt
..", ,-:;. ~


"V ,1':;1\ ," (_J""

.. ~'

In uther wurd ..., the m'lteri"li/.ation nf the eidos of the

kennel in it'!. m"tler i... none other than a succe~~rully and
expedient Iy executed prcK.!utt, i.e" the result of work bearing a direct rc\ation to the !>kil1, and therefore ultimately to
the arti~tic a!>piration of the craftsman himself. or course a
doghou!>e is a very elementary example, where creativity
manife!>ts it!>cif minimally, although the carpentcr can
make the kennel well or badly, make it beautiful or ugly.
But even works of art can be both good and bad, In fact,
the principle of form's embodimcnt in malter, of which we
spoke above, is always necessarily only a certain creative
principle, either good or bad. In daily life, tOO, we speak of
the form given 10 some material. But our recognition of
this form is always too prosaic, We know neither what the
eidos of the thing is- at the most, 10 us it is only its plan;
nor what the matter of the thing is - at the most, it is only
its raw material. But Aristotle has analyzcd the concept of
the eidos of the thing in the mqstJefined w~ and so sub- \
tly and elegantly has he elaborated this categQ!)' _,-h~t
'WIlOle dissertations and thick tomes a re written onnow he
understands matter. In this work it will be sufficient to
point out only the indispensable general creative principle
unde rlying the correlation of eidos (or form) and matter in
Aristotle. In any case our focus corresponds to Aristotle's
central position on this question.
Aristotle has just as painstakingly elaborated the two
other principleS of a thing's structure, namely the principle of the operative cause, as a result of which the
thing came into being, and the principle of its end shape,
by which it diffcrs fr om other th ings made of the same
materials. Say wc arc look ing at a painting on which is
dcpieted a sinking ship, or a peaceful landscape, or a
bouquet of fl owers, or a person's portrait. The artist
worked hard to give his painting the appearance it has,
He tried out various colors, many times erased some detailor other, Morcover, he studied for many years in
' - orde r to becomc a maturc artist. He received an education, had certain ideas, defended the m or argued against
other ideas. But do wc sce all thcse operative causes in
the painting? No, wc do not al all. Of course there is a
whole scholarly disci pline. namely art criticism, which
tcaehes us to identify and study all the de tails and the

0' _.'



r'1 ,

j )1,1'-

-/ ..,.









origin of a given rl;linl ing. But t'an


.")....- ....,

say (h;.1 Ildinlings

arc created only for pnlll'!\),I)r:. of art hi.~hlPt' No. AI.

though paintings can he endlessly .1Il<tIY/t:d, they arc cre.
ated for absolutely c\l,::ry~xly anJ arc pnn:ivcd hy
eve ryo ne quilc spont 'lncou!.1y, without ;,"y .malysi!., without any scholarly tkt,lil);. Only .lftcrnilrtl ..., "fler the
painting has hCl'/l pl.:n'l'jn:J as ;\ (crtain indivisihlc
whole, can onc, anti sometimes \lnc even should (although onc may not <t\w<tys !.uccccd), analY/c the paint.
ing. study its minutest dct;li]s and di.c;cuss the reasons for
its creation. Thc same thing mu:-! he said of thc aim
which Ihis painting achieves, its results as a ce rta in whole
and its effect on those looking at it. If onc looks at a
painting spontaneously, onc secs neither its causes nor its
aims but only the picture itself. And again this is true not
only of works of art. For even all those things whieh we
arc not at all inclined to treat aesthetically have also
come from somewhere and puri>ue a certain c nd ; furthermore, it makes no differe nce whether all these causes
and all these results of the state of the thing at a given
moment arc good or bad. Thus the operative cause and
the end result of a thing arc also distinguishable only in
ou r mind. By the mselves they do not differ in the slight est. And I sit down not on the cause of the chair, but the
chair itself, not on the cnd result of the chair's provenance but on the chair itself.
Therefore, to sum up what we have just said: Aristotle
based his theory of the four principle structure of things
exclusi\'ely on the premise that every thing is the result of
creatin activily. Moreove r, it is unimportant whether the
creative product is good or bad. Note, too, that in constructing his theory of the causal and purposive principles,
Aristotle had a definite intention in mind, Actually the
fir st pair of his four principles, namely eidos and matter,
express Aristotle's aesthetic and creative approach to reality quile fully, But if we sit down not on the idea of the
chair but on the chair itself, and not on the matter of the
chair but on the chair itself, and hence conclude that every
chair as the material realization of an eidos is the product
of a certain creative activity, or a work of art (whether
good or bad), one could just as wc.JI say that wc sit down
not on the princ iple of the chair's aesthetic reproduction









/ \

, ,

, '\l

but simply \In the ('h lir .tnl! the~_forc ~hc "est~~lic.ity r"J1
the lhair i. . al ) 1 fM:: c.,. Ih:.lr; cl category. 1.1 IS IhlS a~.
"Iracti(," in his. lonSlruc.;t of Ih4 thlOg that AtlStotle ob~lt.
,-.r;lte5 hy hrin~in!phc o~iRln. an(llhc ~nd re'wlt ''If,the thing
. \0 it'\ con~tru("tlon . 1 he mtrodll.l..llon or the ,laller two
IDrinciplel make s Ih( Ihin~ both .JClually operallV(; ;1D~ e~
~dicntly directed. In ulher wMd'!. the latte~ two pn~cl.
pies Iran .. rfJml the Ihing illto Ihe pr.ocen or hfe, m~~e .t a
Ihing (Jl"J.:anbm, 01" a rc .. ult or ","Iu(;h the ~e~thetlcJt~ or
Ihe thing is utterly identical. If) it ... material ~rfechon .
Therefore a beautiful dj~h whICh we u~ for food pr~vcs ~o
!le ooth vcry bcautilul and very stu~dy; and a bc~u~,rul hat
which wc wear Occomes both a plCce of creative craf~s
manship and a durahle hcadpiecc made of good q.uallty
material, comfortaole 10 wear, and ~enerally, eqUipped
with all the features of optimum and qUite practical usdul-

nest~ this way,

these two principles. alone.' cau.se and aim,

make a beautiful thing nol only an ae~thetle obJcc.t but also
onc meeting all the requirements of the most ordmary use.
In Olher words, for Aristotle as for Chernys.~ev~ky la.Ier
on "the beautiful is life"; Beautiful is the bc~ng m ...... Iuc.h
see life as it should be according t~ our nOIi~:ms; ~auu
ful is the object whieh manifests hfe or brlO~ hfe to
mind."l Naturally the agreement of these two thinkers ?n
this one point does not in the least prevent them from dl~
fering radically on many other philosophical and aeslhetlc


. . I AI lotle
It is important to note that the f?ur pnnclp es
an be embodied in a thlDg In the mosl perfect
spea ks 0 r C
that is con
wa in which case they create an organISm
.str~~ted not only expediently. but well and evcn beautlfull too Thus the existence of a work of art.depends
u ~~ the'degrce of perfection in th.e integra.' umtr: of the
P pnnclp
' . , .cs. If the degree of thClr embodiment IS lackfour
surc is insufficicnt or on the contrary exceSSl\e,
Ing In mc~. m "il he characterized by defectiveness, conthe orgaOls WI
se uentl it will lack aestheticlty, beauty, .use u ness, exqcl
y , .. cl w',1l be an example of somethlOg bad, unsucpc lency a..
h d
f 1I 'xecuted ugly and inexpedient. All t e nersl y
cess, Y
,H;r1d is based on \arying cor~'ations or
. h'
10 1 elr causa -purposne
ell/os orlll,

U C,'""" ,






I i',
, I'

embodiment. This i~ why the four principles can he pre~.

ent in both the most beautiful and the most hideou~ thing.
Both have their own measu re of correlation, din-crent eaeh
time, otherwise the world would present a boring monot_
one of identically constructed objects.
12. 111e aesthctic afld creatil'c prillCljJle i/l cOl/flection
with Aristotle's theory of the asccnding lc\'c/s, or hierarchical
Slmcture, of life and being. Now all we have left to do is
examine how Aristotle applies this primary aesthetie and
creat ive principle to various stages o f J evelopment of life
and being. The fact is that the basic aesthetic principle we
formulated above is applied by Aristotle in very different
ways because for him, as for all of ancient philosophy,
there was no indifferent being lacking all value. To the
nalUrai scientist of the Modern Era, all objects under
study have the same value: in a biological sense a'frog is in
no way less valuable than the most beautiful, developed
and intelligent living being. The moon is no worse than the
sun to us, and our sun is no beller or worse than any other
hea ....enly body. Therefore there is no top or bottom in na.
ture from the point of view of value. Everything can
equally be considered both top and bottom, highest and
lowest, depending only on the point of departure we have
chosen to start with; and there is an infinite number of
such reference points. We find a completely different conception of life and being in the ancient philosophers. For
them some things are more valuable, others less; or to use
the ter~s from Aristotle wc have accepted, some are more
aesthellc, others less.
It is interesting that the ancient thinkers, elemental material ists though they were, established corresponding
temporal and spatial locations for objects of differing
values. What was fine and valuable was higher spatially
and. more co":,prehensive and r~ch cr temporally. For the
anCients the hlghestlevcl of spatial existence and most allembracing positiC!n in time was realizc.d in the sky, which
to them was not Simply e mpty space gOll1g off into the infinitc distan.ce b~t a quite definite sphere of life and being
at a defimte distance from the ea rth. This distance was
known beeausc, according to the poet Hesiod, Hephaest us
thrown out of heavcn tumbled nine days to the earth. By

u~ing the pre.c.:i..,e ti<lta providcti in f,uch m~hs. contempor-

My phy..,ici..,ts (:ould C<I\ily C;lkulale the distance from the

sky to the earlh With ulmo\t accuraCy.
In a certain sen ..e of the word, thc .. ky 1<; even some ~Ind
of firmly e~lahli..,hed cupola. It is no ac~idcnt that ancl~.nt
poets speak of the iron nr copper !-ky, JU\t ~s ?Id RUSSian
had a word equivalent to the firmament to md.'<:<,tc not so
much physical solidity and firmness as the splTltual aflirmat ion of the heavenly curola. The gods, whom the
ancients conceiveti as certain principles of truth, beaut.y
and all existence in general, mainly lived in the sky. And If
they were also called the Olympian gods it was. because
the famous Mounl Olympus in Greece was considered to
!:oe so high and so sa~re? tha~ its s~mmit was thought to
tOll.::h the sky itself or be Iden(lcalto It.
. .
It is quite clear that with ~UC:I a .vie",' of the quahta~I:ely
diverse hierarchical shaping of bfe, It was to receive a
quite v~ried aesthetic shaping as well..
Aristotle's basic aesthetic principle, as IS the cas.;'_ Wlth
almost all the ancient philosophers, changes.al~ost unrecogni'lably depending upon its sphere of .ap~hcatl.on. Let us
touch on these levcJs of existence, begll1nll1.g Wlth the lowest forms and gradually moving up to the highest.
a) TIlc aesthctic role of matfer. It is c1e~r Ih~t maller ~s
lowest of all for Ari~totle. But even he.re hiS basiC aes~hCllc
principle compelled Aristotle 10 se~ 111 maller not slm~ly
some shapeless mass of dead materials. Matter .bears Wllh
it the very same four-principle structu.re. of eXIstence .we
spoke of earl ier. But naturally it bears It. 111 a very spe~lfic
cure nlaller is defined by ATlstotle as depTlvaway. To be " ,
f 11
t" of all fo rms. But this is not Simply the absence 0 a
but is an infinite creative possibil ity as well. Maller
[ 'd
. ICe principle of the actuali7atlon 0 Cl os, or orm. u
IS 11

I I 11 '" actuali/ation
of the Idea- orms, It IS eVl ent
that they would not exist at all. Later '."e shall sce that even
the highest, supreme levels of cosmic development. have
thcir specific matter. The gods, in the eyes oft.he a~ctents,
must keep 111 mll1d that
1 material bodies; only one
this matter was very fine and al -pervaSive, I.e., t ey were
ethereal bodies.

b) Nature as a work

0/ art

~ ..

and foremost in various spatial t~l~~r ~lamfcst!', itself fir~l

fortunately wc cannot stud th'
tc~\p(l.ral fOrms. tlnhere. But onc thing is ec.t ~ . IS 9~CSII?n In all its depth

am. nCltucr tlm '
I "
crcnt, IOfinitc black hole f A ' c nor space arc
have their physiognomy alw s or n~t.otlc, but always


and always have some v~luc ays seethe WIth vital strivi ngs

HC?c~ ~::~~~~~r~~nccJ aiS:r::i~t~t~c'S

was always futl of countless

theory of nature.

. c.. ~~t, for



principle establ ished by Ari~~~tSl~I:~tlcs. ~.o~ If the basic

naturallhings and all of n
apP.lc to, nature,
necessarily endowed Witn .alur~ takc~ 10 Its entirely are
some mcanmg. As the unity of
matter and lor~, nature to "Aristotle is full of all kind f
causes and all kmds of aims.
Many scholars have unduly exaggerated tCe s" "r,
ance of th
.. .
Ignl IC'
e purposlve principle necessary in Aristotle's
VIew of nature, and have r~duced all of his philosophy of
.to a .
' or philosophy or cnds . Th"IS "Interpre
tatlOn IS qUite
a", mS,causes
' ap.'t r'om

I cas, an
a ove a~1 ~atter itself, arc aclive in Arislotle'~
naturc. T~eref~re It IS much closcr to the truth to speak
nol of An~lOtle ~ te.l~ology but of his aesthetic philosophy
of na~~re, I.e., hiS \%Ion of na.ture as an integral organism
creatl\7ly constr~ct cd accordmg 10 his four principles. It
goes '.'-'I.thout saying that as a result, the entire cosmos is
aesthellcally shaped for Aristotle.
. Let us new ascend o nc step higher in the hierarchy of
c) The 50.111 is IIo~"illg otller Ihall the pn'f1ciple of a filling
body. After I~orgamc a.nd or~an i c nature we pass on 10 the
realm of am mate b~lOgs, mcluding the whole human
worl.d. Here, too, Anstotle's four principles of structure
arc lO the foreground .. W?at is specific to Ihis level is the
sphere of the soul, w~lch IS also understood quite diversely, from the propagatIon and growth of living beings to Ih
presence in them of a highly developed psychology. Let e
n?t. be
that Aristotle views the soul as an
n\Zln~ diJectlOg and even commanding principle. For th
50ulls also a s"TI of eidos. Only it is not eidos in gcner
hut' substance in the scnse of the form leidosJ of a




ral body having life potential within it" (On the Soul 11, I).
In (lther word,;, according to Aristotle, the soul is simply
the life of the body, only understood in a particular sense.
Aristotle's analytical and more minutely articulated manner of expression lead!> him to speak not merely of life, but
of "life potentials", and not merely of "life potentials". but
of thl; "physical possibilities" of life as well. This is why for
Aristotle, as for many ancient philosophers, the soul gOY'
erns the body. If one does not take this nolion too literally
and 100 absolutely, since often it is not the soul that governs the body bUlthe body the soul, but if one understands
it eidetically, in the sense, for instance, that the multiplica
tion table "governs" all our quantitative computations,
then Aristotle's definition of the soul is quite comprehensible. The soul's governance of the body is not logical or
mechanical or ethical but vitally creative or, we would say,
aesthetic. According to how the body of an animal behaves, we can determine the essence of this animal. 10 ob
serving a human body we observe its inner causal-purposive direetedness in giving meaning to the vital element in
onc way or another. This means that for Aristotle the soul
is primarily the principle of a living body's aesthetic shapIng.
Generally speaking, Aristotle distinguishes three types
of soul: vegetal, sensitive (animal) and rationa.l. Aristotle
examines the four principles of acsthetic shapmg at each
of these levels and ascribes a specific charactcr to them in
each case. A rational soul also has its eidos and its matter
and its causal.purposive directedness. In this respect it is
entirely analogous to living nature. The only difference is
that in nature the creative and created elements are one
and the same, whereas in man the creating subject differs
from t~e work of art ~e ~realcs. He nce thos~ who. foreground the merely imltallve .charaet.er of art m Anstotle
have an incorrect understandmg of hIm.
These scholars say that for Aristotle art is the imitation
of nature. Abstractly speaking this stat.ement ~akes some
sense. But in actuali.ty nature f~r Anstotle IS al~eady a
work of art in itself msofar as cldos and malter, I.C., the
'nner and outer, are fused inlo one indivisible whole in it.
~herefore from Aristotle's point of view, one could say
that natur~, tOO, is an imitation of ar!. True, there is some


in cncral, arc in r.om!! way v1~iblc or. audible.

or our hoJy d glhc indi\'idual human soul is ccrtalnly morIn other .wnr'i(;~$ can in nn respect he con<,idcred mortal
~~~~~~:el~: ~<;. q~ilc m pm;<;ihlc and en~lcss to apply the

inconvenience in expressing hi!; po!;ition in this nlanner be.

cause the modern reade r associate!> !>uch a thesis \\oith vari.
ous purely. subjectiv~s( th~or.ies .. Therefore wc shall say
~hat. for ~ns(otlc. art IS (he mlltatlOn .of n'ltme, while keep.
109 In mmd the Inlportant elaboration of his position we
just formulated.
Thus, in our ascent of the steps of existence wc have
reached the rational sou l, and a rc now faced with two fundamental aspects of Aristotle's ph ilosophy. We shall brief.
Iy touch on these two issues, which are in fact the capstone
of Aristotle's philosophy taken as a whole.

cal~f~rr: ~~~I:~!~ ~~~o keep in mi~d that the idc~, whal~

they be do not cxi~t in isolation, because. th~s wou I

eV~:n they v:.ere distributed in space at certam mterv: ~
~om each other. But neither the concept of spa~ nor \~e

lies to the ideas. Consequently, a passl

d . d' . 'bly, as an integral whole.
'd time .app
t t get er an In 1\'SI
~~~si~~I~is ~ense all the ideas taken ~ a wholf ~epres~~~
Aristotle calls Mind. As for a ratIonal w~, It. IS no
~hat I b t a "place for ideas" This eidelic mmd In a per109 ~ se u b Aristotle as som~thing liable 10 no spatial ~r
son IS seen y .
h- t is immortal. The translnes
. ThLS IS w a r . cl the
tem poral catego
t f soul to the concept 0 mm IS
~~~ ~~~~h:uf~~~~So~ points of Aristotle's philosophy as

13. The aestltelic alld crealh'e principle ill ils cll/m illatiol!.
a) Every malerial body is somelhi/lg, i. e., has a certaill
cidos, or mea/lillg. 77,e eidos of a fil'ing body is ils life prillciple. i.e., its 50111. Bill allY 50111 1II01'llIg a body also has its
own eidos, which Aristotle calls Mind. And so Ihe 5011/, according 10 Aristotle, is nothing bill Ihe ell ergy or actllolily of
Mind or Ihollghl. Bill "IIIe aClualily of thouglrl is life" (Metaphysics XII, 7), hellce all that Ijl'es is allimote, i.e., "as its

Thus, every soul, every type of soul as a result of its
fourp rinciple structure is first and foremost an eidos. But
a human sou l actually existing in life is, according to Aristotle, a mixture of various souls, mainly a vegetal, sensitive
and rational sou\. The value of these souls differs greatly.
The vegetal and animal aspects of the soul arc eternally in
a process of becoming. This means that vegctal life can
originate. bloom, wither and, most importantly, die.
Therefore from Aristotle's point of view it would be very
difficult to speak of the immortality of an individual
human soul. Its vegetal and animal aspects can reach completion and end, and thus does an individual human soul
die, too.
But here is the hitch. Every soul is first and foremost an
eidos, actualized or shaped in a certain way. But the eidos
itself, however we approach it, is as unsusceptible to
change, including death, as the multiplication table, which
does not admit of spatial and tcmporal categories. It
would make no sense to say that a onc or a two or a three
etc., have some odor, are somehow tangible to Our finger~

a whole.

.r If Id
Thus in existence there
b) Mind is tile Idea oJ a . cas.
h' n Mind Aristotle

is nothing highe r than t.he I~eas, a~~~oaunt im~rtance of

spent much c~f~.t 5r':~~tc l~fSest sphere of existence as
. ely the supreme concept
the concept 0
I h
h I M 10 dis.' toputllConcls
a woe,
In the human sou t e
for Aristotle. It I~ the .Iddea 0 Ih ea~ypcs. of eidos is relative

I 'dos bc:mg tiC to ot er

ratlona el
il is limited by various ot er
and only pote~t lal, Into ar as But taken in itself, Mind is
less perfect kl~ds 0 ;o~ s. ds only upon itself. In this
bound. by nothm~1 a~ m~~~ Furthermore, whereas the
. here and there in different
sense It IS eterna Y I~
individual human. SOd" rmhovesh le cosmos which compre.
the Mm 0 t e w o ,
. h
ot itself move since It as
hends absolutely every! I~.g, cann therefore nothing exists
already embraced every! 109, and
to or into which it could move.



. ils Llllcr Ioilllless of scnsible malfe~. AfI:fld COII c) I?cspllC

ly mClllal maller wilitOllf which 1I would
taillS I/S OWI1 pl.,;e
No hilosophers before Arislotl~ a~
/101 bc a work.oJ aff. of ~1\1Cr in Mind. And if they did, It


tled the eXIste nc e ,

r the
3 still incompletc dL erentlatlon 0
was as a resu 0 ,

concept of Mind or l'it/O.f. Bu t n(llll.)(ly had ~o acutely and

f~ndam e ntall y. contrasted mallcr and Mind as Arislolle
did. And n0.w It turns out t hat mall er, so essentially diffc
~nt from Mind, fin~s an absol~le place for itself in Mind
It s~ lf. .H oweve ~, this matter IS not the sensible matter
wh~ch IS the object o f our physical sensations. It is mental
or ~nt e.ll eetua~ matt er, n~ a tt c r. e ndo,,:,ed with meaning. dif~
fe nng to nothmg fro m eldos, mtra-(',dctic maller. We must
fully ac~ount fo r why Aristotle found it necessary to thrust
matter mlo the heart of Mind itself. The reason will com ~
plc.tely escape those who do not gras p the unive rsality of
Aristotle's four principles of structure. In accordance with
thi.s cons~ruct, I?aner is neccssary to give form 10 eidos.
~I.lhou~ It, the Id e~ would ~cmain only an abstract possi.
bl~lty, ~Idos for ArIStotle .bemg only one element in every
thing, msofar as every thmg is a work of art. Without its
mcntal matter, Mind, according to Aristotle, would not
find its actualization, would not have its beautiful form

and consequently would not be a work of art.

After all, everyone realizes that to produce a work of
art one must first have this or that physical material, in itself not yet bearing a direct relation to art. A sculptor
comes, starts to work on the shapeless blocks of marble
and a beautiful statue appears. His artistic intuition mad~
Aristotle introduce a certain type of matter into the heart
of Mind itself, absolute, cosmic, divine as it may be.

d) Other properties of absolute "'h,d following from An"stotle's gelleral fOllr-principle sinlcture of all that exists: im~
'./lobile prime mo\'cr, absolute regulanty of existellce "tJrink/II~ ~~I tJrillking", coincidence of subject and object i~ olle illd,v,s,ble pO!/II,. absolute supra- and intra-cosmicity. Finally,
the four-prmclple formula of life and being contains as we
kn~w> the aspects of cause and aim. Applied to Ari~totle's
Mind; these concepls lead to his splendid theory of Mind
as pnm.e mover and absolute expediency. But one must
n~t, as IS often done, separate the four fundamental princlpl:s too much. Na~urally, each onc of them is somethin
~arlicular and specific, and ea.ch deserves special allen~
lion. But, as we have already said several times th
~se our
principles are absolutely indivisible in the"Ir eXIstence
T here fore onc cannol too literally separate the Mind of


the ~osmllS from thc co.~mOS itKif, j~st ~~ any eidos of.a
Ih in~ cannnt he "kt;u hed from the thing Il"l~. Th~ COS~IC
Mind, ur /itlm (If the cosmos., is at the same time Identical
hi the Ct,:-;nltlS. And if the cosmos moves. then in that sense
the coc;m ic Mind abo moves or, more exactly, is the cause
(If all motion, is the aim (If all motion. The identity of eidos
and matter. as wc said above. is the reason that a thing is
an organ ic;m, hence the entire cosmos i5 a beautiful, eternally living organism. But the cosmos is the only possible
form of existence and the only possible universal object of
thinking. Consequently the Mind of the cosmos i.~ also the
sole and absolute mind comprehending itself, since it ba~
absorbed everything. It is thinking on thinking. its thinking
is its activity, and its inherent activity is thinking. In other
words, the subject and object of thinking ~ineide in a
single indivisible point, just as, generally speaktng, the four
fundamental elements of the four-principle structure of all
that exists also coincide in 'his thinking as in a single point.

14. A ristotle's three concepts of Mind as prime mo\'er,

Contemporary scholars have advanced the notion that
Aristotle did not come up with a single concept of Mind,
but that three such concepts can be found in his works.
Si nce no ne of them are of secondary or incidenta1 importance but must be treated as three completely diffe rent approa~hes to the problem, we shall briefly touch ~n the~ aiL
His fint concept is still purely PlatoOlc. Basically, Jt re~
gards Mind as supreme and fina l Being upon w~ich ~very
thing depends, including the Wo~ld ~oul, .whlch ~ th.e
principle of the cnti re cosmos' motion ID a Circle: MIRd IS
nothing other than the realm. of the gods, that IS, of the
ideas- the higher, supracosmlc oncs, and the lower, stellar o nes.
The new and original element we find in Aristotle here
as compared 10 Plato is his highly diffc rentiated notion of
Mind which led him to his second concept.
In 'the fir st pl ace, Mind for Aristotle is thinking and, in
the second place, comprehending its own self, i.e ., thinking on thinking. In the third place. Mind contains its own
ment al matte r, which gives it the possibility of being eternal beauty (insofar as beauty is the ideal coincidence of
idea and matt er). In the fourth place, Mind is the idea of

ideas, and therefore shares the fate of any t'ifios, namely to

be simultaneously distinct from maller (i.e., from the cos~
mos) and identical to it (i.e., to the cosmos).
In the fifth place, Aristotle is so enamorcd of everything
intellectual, and consequcntly of Mind, that the World
Soul loses its Platonic meaning for him. In a person only
the rational soul is immortal. in contrast to the corporeal
soul, which is entirely mortal. According to Aristotle, the
soul of the world would have a humiliating existence, since
it would be ordering the body of the cosmos to move not
as is proper to it according to its nature, but according to
its own arbitrary will; and since the body is completely different from the soul, the harmony of the world and its soul
would be only accidental, so that the soul would be deprived of all bliss and would eternally abide in vain efforts
and torments, like the mythical Ixion in the underworld,
who for his sins was compelled to revolve eternally with a
wheel of fire to which he was bound (011 tlrc Hca\'ellS

11, 1).

From this last consideration follows Aristotle's third

concept of Mind, considerably different from Plalo's. The
fact is that everything in the cosmos moves, and every
movement depends on another movement; but this means
that there is some mOl ion which moves itself, and thus
everything else as well. For Plato the World Soul governs
the cosmos. For Aristotle, it is Mind which moves absolutely everything and consequently is life as eternal energy,
but which is itself immobile, because its mobility would require some other cause, and there is nothing above it.
But not only this theory of the eternally motive and motionless Mind is interesting in Aristotle. It turns out that
(sinc.e it is immobile), Mind itself aspires to nothing and,
specifically, loves nothing. But everything else that exists
besides Mind is eternally in motion, eternally aspires spc~ifie~lIy to Mind as the suprem~ good, and eternally loves
11. .Mmd loves nobo~y and nothmg: But everything outside
Mind loves mental Me, because WIthout it there would be
no expediency and regularity anywhere.
Two C/?mme~ts must be m~de concerning this third,
purely Aristotelian theory of Mmd. First, if Mind aecordin~ to Arist?t1~, .is the universal aim and therefo~e everythtng loves It, It IS not correct that Mind, as the aim, does


not love ,mything. hut (in ..tlfar 0I'i everything in general

love .. it) it mu~t unqu~ti()nably love it.o;c;lf. For it differs
from everything cbe nnly in that it i" not a gradual attainment of the goal, hut the aim alrcilJy achieved. This mcans
that it must love itiClf and nothing c\se. in\Ofar as everything cl~e i~ only a . . riring to an cnd, and therefore imperfect. Aristotle, it is true, does not directly speak of Mind's
love of itsclf, hut he speaks of the eternal r.elf-contentment
of Mind and its resulting eternal bliss (Me/ophysics XII, 7).
Second, this theory of Mind's love for itself and absence
of love for everything c\se is a characteristic ancient
teaching. As in everything else, Aristotle is a typical
ancient thinker here. For Mind to him is not somebody,
but only something. Or, to be more precise, Mind to Aristotle is not a personality, and only a person can love or
hate. But why, onc may ask, is Aristotle's Mind no! personalized? Aftcr all, it is the Idea of Ideas, and m3XImally
gencralized Plato's and Aristotle's Ideas arc none other
than gods. But the pagan gods were not personalized. The
truth lies in the trivial thought that the gods were the result
of the deification of the forces of nature (and, we would
add, the mat erial forces of society). $0, there was no qu~
tion of personalization here at all. All the personal traits
ascribed to the mythological go?s arc ordina~ everyd~y
human qualities, Besides, man himself, accordtng to Anstotle is not a personality either but only reason. All the
rest in him is the same as in animals. True, such a concept
of the pagan gods makes them secm too rational, coid and
remote from the concrete \ire of the hum~n soul. But ~hat
is the way it is. With any o.thcr interpr~t~tl~n we lapse mto
a modernization of pagamsm and christianize what has no
relation to Christianity.

15. 771e /Wf!lre of An'slOtlc's religiosity. It is clear we have

ached an issue which cannot be formulated other-

nowr C
wise than the qucstion of Anstol e s re Iglon.

) Aristotlc was i"jilJitcly far removed from fI]c cI]jldisll

a'ele or his peoplc's religiolls olld mythological COllcepts,
D . nced
read only a few pages where A'
nstot Ie expI'
~\ he calls his "first rhilosophy" to be convinced of the
;o~plete originality of his philosophical thinking and its





, '.l




utter indepe ndence of any dogma~ of failh. lie sUhjn:ts h\

analysis the most ultimate, supreme and hasic foundati\\ns
of life . He is entirely fcarless in so doing. Hen:. too, onl",
what has been made intellig.ible, proved and brought into
system exists for him. In his philosophy there arc simply no
unproved and at Ihe same linlC absolutely impcnltivc dogmas of raith. Aristotle's philosophy is the domain of the
all-conquering power of human reason. He never tires of
c:\1olling and glorifying reason, hence it is not surprising
that he secs all of life as the realm of reason, culminating
in the all-conquering power of Mind. Either Mind must be
acknowledged as a refere nce-point in the ehaos of life, in
whieh case it is absolute truth and absolute necessity, although it is reached only gradually and as a result of e ndless and quite concrete menial efforts. Or, if Mind is not
Ihe bas.ic principle, everything pe rishes in the sheer chaos
of existence, unknowable in any respect. Aristotle was an
apostle of reason, although he well understood that much
knowledge causes many cares, or as he put it, "great learning gives many starting points" (fragment 62).~

b) AristoLle's \';ew of rCOSOII is /lot at ollllonowly ollesided. Of course, reason for Aristotle is not o nly the highest a<;pect of the soul, but the highest aspect of all of reality, the ultimate degree of its expediency and the system
of its regularity. But he well knew that the actual human
soul is not only full of rational aspirations. And what is
more, some of its irrational faculties are useful and absolutely necessary as well. While we say that Aristotle loves
rationalist constructions, we affirm at the same time that
he loves life as well, and his rationalistic constructs are inseparable from his vital, passionate love for life. Generally
speaking, this is a very broad topic.
Onc could cite a lot of examples to characterize Aristo tle's personality in this respect. But we shall confine ourselves here to his discussion of the usefulness of anger and
its necessity in various circumstances.
According to Seneca, '''Anger,' says Aristotle, 'is
necessary, and no battle can be won without it - unless it
fills the mind and fires the soul; it must serve, however, not
as a leader, but as the common soldier"'; and "Aristotle


'. 1

!! I


, ,.
, "





:, ,


,.\ l ,
, \)


) Aristotle always remaillcd 0 SOli of 'Iis people ol\d 1lI1,~ (d patriot To him /lIC ancient beliefs of the Greek
millgo e
eoplc wcre parr of I,is IlCntoge~ w,se olld ,"efuto . ~.
p A 'stotlc lived in an environment of traditions connect~~ with the cult of Asc1epius. and even th~ught h.imIf to be his distant d escendant. It would seem Impossl~le
~e combine strict philosophy and mythology, But for Anst~tle philosophy, like any knowledge, arises from wonder


stanJs forth as the ddcruh;:r "f .mg.cr,nd r(.rbid, us tocut

it out; it is, he daim .., a 'pur to virtue .. '
Ciccm pro..id~ further te~timony 0n the suhject:
'Again, wh t of the tontrntion of the saml;!: Peripatc;tics
that these selfsame & ..urdcrs which we think need extirpating arc not only natural hut ahn bestowed on us by nature for a useful cnd? ... hut that there is no substance in
the petty logic of those who coldly argue like this: 'It is
right to fightlhis battle; it is proper to contend for law~ for
liberty, for country'; that these w()fds have no meaning unless bravery breaks out in a blaze of anger. And tbey do
not argue about warriors only; no stern commands in time
of need arc given, they think, without something of the
keen edge of irascibility. Finally they do nol approve of an
orator unless he uses the prickles of irascibility, not merely
in bringing an accusation but even in conducting a
defence, and though the anger be not genuine, yet it
should, they think, be feigned in language and gesture, that
the d elivery of the orator may kindle the anger of the
hearer. In fine they say that they do not regard anyone,
who d oes not know how to be angry, as a man, and to what
we call mildness, they apply the term indifrerence with a
bad meaning" ("Tusculan Disputations" IV, 19, Cicero ill
28 Volumes, 18: 373-75).
Another passage with a less posit ive appraisal of anger
says that just as smoke stings th~ eyes a~d prevents .one
from seeing what has been put mto a drink, anger ~I~en
into consciousness dims it and prevents one from notlcmg
the absurd e rrors of reason (fragment 6(0).
Thus in his view of reason Aristotle always showed
himself 'to be a realistically-minded philosopher. He was
enamored of reason, but he also took account o f the other
aspects of the human soul.





.,. ,



I )/,i'




at li~e's enigma~, and myths aTe also the result of

astomshm~nt at life. and manifest a certain wisdo m. "A
man who IS puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant
(whence even the lover of myth is in a scnse a lover of Wisdom, for the myth is composcd of wonders)" (Meta-

p/lysics I, 2).
Aristotle does ~ot see myths as the delusions of ignor~nt people. In thw own language they speak as it were of
Important problems, for instance the first substances or
ideas, and are even practically useful: "Our forefathers in
the m~s.t Tc":,ote ages have handed down to their posterity
a tradition, m the form of a myth, that these bodies arc
gods, and that thc divinc encloses the whole of nature. The
rest of the tradition has been added later in mythical form
with a view to the persuasion of the multitude and to its
legal and utilitarian expediency; they say these gods are in
the form of men or like some of the other animals, and
they say other things conseque nt o n and similar to these
which wc have mcntioned. But if onc were to separatc the
first point from these additions and take it alone - that
they thought the first substances to be gods, onc must regard this as an inspired utterance, and renect that, while
probably each art and each science has often been de\'eloped as far as possible and has again perished, these
opinions. with others, have been preserved until the present like relics of the ancient treasure. Only thus far, then,
is the opinion of our ancestors and of our earliest predecessors clear to us" (ibid., XII, 8).
Thus, Aristotle makes no use of myths in his own philosophy based on pure reason; but he respects the ancient
myths of his people, seeing them as the result of collective
popular wisdom.

d) Grollllding Irimseif in sellSe experiellce alld at the

same lime filldillg rational [ol/lIdatiolls ill it, Aristotle COIISln/cts ~ [oulI,dation [or tile elltire cosmos wit" Ihe Irelp of
~ategones wllleh I/II/st be seell as religious, so that Iris purely
IIIlel/eell/al eOIlSIn/et o[ tile cosmos clllmillates ill the doctrine of absol~l/e .1I~ljversal regularity, or Mind, One may
wonder what IS dlvme about recognizing Ihe eler I
Ianty 0 t e cosmos; It IS on y a question of the laws of na-


tu re and Mlcidy, and thert: i~ nothing di ..... nt. In them. But

onc can not ddal.:h Ari~t(lt[c from his times.
Accordi ng to Ari~tlltk, in thc dcpth:; oC be ng unde rstood as absolute tru th, nothing exi.~t~ apart from this sc=lf.
sufficient and au tn nomous eternal regularity of existence,
Moreover, he arrived at all hi., cmmie const ructions
through scie nce, logical arguments, and quite evident and
independe nt human emtltional experience. He is rar from
being always inclined to ~peak or gods. He easily denies
the existence of the mythological poet Orpheus and at
tributes his songs to ~omc actual person (fragment 7, as reported in Cieero, "Dc Natura Ocorum" I. 38, Cicero in 28
Volumes , 19: 105). And he is just as ready to refer to the
supracosmie Mind as a certain god. But the important
thing is that re ligion and mythology add nothing new and
unexpected to Aristotle, since all that was new and unexpected in his thi nki ng he drew from scientific probing,
Philosophy proves to be independent of religious dogmas, Of itself it arri ves at allembracing existential conclusions , which could lead to religious analogies, not ' only in
antiquity, but in the M idd~e Ages as well,. when An stot.le's
legacy, and particularly hIS theory of Mmd ,as the ~n~e
mover governi ng the world, was inte rpreted m a Chnstlan


A god is thought to be eternal, and Aristotle's cosmos. is
also eternal ; a god is thought to be uncreated, and, An stotle's cosmos is also created by nobody a?d no~hmg. A
god is thought 10 ~e almighty and always !n act~on, and
Aristotle's cosmDS IS also all-powerful and Its actIOn continuous and unending. God ,is completel,y self-mo,:ed an~
his motion de pends on nothmg exce pt himself; A~I~(Otle s
matter is also automotive, and so is the cosmos ansmg out
The self_sufficient regularity 0 t e cosmos IS co~tame
',I' " Hence it must be de pendent upon nothmg and
. If( d
absolutely free, comprehending only Itse . an not 109
for it has already enveloped everythmg else), and
~:~~e self-satisfi ed and ut~erl'y bl~ssf~1. In his Ml't~pllysics
Aristotle writes: "And thmkmg I.n I~sclf. de,als ,Wlth that
hieh is best in itself, and that which IS thmkmg m the fulsi sense with thal which is best in the fullest sensc. And
t~ought thinks on itself because it shares the nature of the

obj e ~t o.r thought; fo r it becomes a n ohject of thou h .

c~nllng mto cont act with and thinking its objects s~ Ith~n
t . o.ugh.t and obj ect o f .t~ought arc the sa me. 'F~r th~:
\\hlch IS ~apable of rece lvmg the object of thought' th'e
e~ence, IS tho ught. But it is actil'c whe n it poss~;~~' (h
?bJ~ct. The.r?fore the possession rathe r than the recepli~~
Ity IS the dwme cle ment which thought seems to cont ai
and the act of cont,emplatio~ is what is most pleasant an~
best. I.f, then, God IS always m that good stale in which we
so.mel1mes ar~, this compels our wonder; and if in a better
t~IS compels It yet mOTe. And God is in a better state. And
hfe also b~longs to God ; fo r the actuality of thought is life
and. G?d .IS that actuality; and God's selfdepe nde nt ae:
tuahty IS hfe most good and eternal" (Metaphysics XII , 7) ,

c) Aristotle's philosophical dlmlIg. Aristotle's prono une~ ment ~ o n ~i~? a.s prime mover and o n the soul
so.me tlmes give an lmtmllmpression of some confession o f
faIth. B.ut our preced ing acco unt has indisputably shown
that ,Amtotle r~ach e d conclusio ns having the form o f the~lo~leal.tenels m the course o f scientific philosophical in\estlgallOn. What co uld have been simple r than to h3ve
ma.de use o.f the traditional belie fs of his own people? But
Aristotle. did nothing o f the sort . He reasoned and con
ducted hiS scholarly philosophical investigatio ns in such a
w.ay that he absolutely did not need any mythology. And if
hiS theorr could then be interprete d mythologieally that
had nothmg to do with him. Although he loved the Greek
myths and understood them profoundly, Aristotle did not
use them anywhere in his scholarship.
. It thus becomes clear why Aristotle was accused of im piety at the e.nd of ~is life and a trial instituted against him.
:ro~ the pomt o f view of the people of his time the charge
I~ qUit? understandable, He was religious and at the same
~Ime did not need any religi,on. People wanted to tr him
Just as Socrates had been tTled a few decades ca r y S
crates, too, had been religious. Neverthelcss h. r ler. 0mind and his critically oriented philosophy h I~ v~.ry a:~
ma~y people. An~ th~ Athenians decided it :oul~:rbc _
ter If Socrates With hiS too critical m'nd
than for the old faith and piety to be s~ake:ere no I.onger,
. But Aristotle,
like Socrates, was quite fearless in th'
IS respect. The critical

minds (If S(lCrates and Aristotle were not afraid of shaking

ant i.:nt beliefs. even though suhjcctively, internally, these
beliefs were very dcar to them. And the religious and p hilosophical fea rlcssncs!I of hoth thinkers won out. Both remained faithfu l to old tradition~. but their faith was not a
slavish but a completely free onc. Therefore the Question
of Aristotle's rel i g.io~ity is a very complex onc; and we suggest seriously pondering ovcr what wc have just said,
Anothe r impo rtant point is that Aristotle's religious
and philosophical fcarlessne~s is quite characteristic of
late classical antiquity with its very mature philosophical
procedures. Let us add that in thc thirteenth century at the
waning. of the Middle Ages, John Duns Scotus also
claimed that without any higher revelation philosophy
could formul ate all the dogmas of faith which had previously been considered attainable only through divine
revelation. This o nly proves that both Aristotle at the time
o f Greek classicism (fourth century BC) and John Duns
Seotus at the time of medieval orthodoxy (thirteenth century AD) had both reached the most mat ur~ state of phil
osophy possible in thcir grcat eras. Both philosophers h~d
attained the utmost limit of philosophical development In
the ir culture, whcre separate tr uths were not simply
founded o nc u pon the other, .but all went back to one ~u
preme truth explaining bot h Lts own self and all of elClstence, and where the religious animat ion of being was seen
not as a bli nd psychological process b~t a logi~l structure
ascending to infi nity, just a~ anr senes of limle. natur~1
numbers also stretches into In fi mty an,d also tCT'.""lnatcs. In
an infinitely remote point, above which. there IS n<?thmg
which contains supreme perfectLo n. AcCordmg to
e Ise
, ' 11
Aristotle in fr agment 14, If wc revere nlia y enler a tcm~ e,
wc should with " tit he great er revcrence set about studYIng
os which Aristotle saw as the starry heavcns.
m ,
0 S
. dl'd not eXIst
In antiquity aesthel1cs
Ise~" r
d Aristotle waS not at all an aesthetlelan 1R thiS
P lOe, ay~t we must reeogni/e that his basic principle of life
. onc . I~ h
" I e w~
waS a purely aesthetiC
~ e same way, A
a theologian or a theoretiCian of myth, but only a phllno phe " nd theoretIcIan
. '
d on sense
o~~c ricncc; and yet in investigating the utmost degree of
~;:th secn to comprehend all the regularity and expedi-


cne~ of the cosmos., he arrived a.t ~i~ theory of a Mind P<)~.

scssmg all the attnhutes of a dlvmity, so that a late cum.

mentator of Aristotle ascrihes to him a doctrine of God ilS
Mind or something beyond Mind (fragment 49). And
Aristotle himself speaks without th cologi:ling of the god~
and their contemplation when he is talking of the best
state of life; in illustration onc could cite passages from his
treatise "On the Virtucs and Vices" (ch. 5) or fragments
10-11. On the other h,md, he says nothing of the gods in
his treatise Olllhe Heal'ens. But when he is describing the
absolute lightness of the sky and its so great stability that it
would be degrading even for the soul of the cosmos to
somchow affect the etcrnal and absolutely natural motion
o f the sky, he comes 10 the conclusion that such a vicw of
the sky fully corresponds to what he calls mall/is, or the
prophctic (mantie) vision of the essence o f things, as we
might translate this Greek term.
Thus Aristotle is religious, but for him God is the Mind
governing the cosmos. H ence he requires no religion in
building the system of his philosophy.

16. Complete unity of reaSOIl ofld life. Now we can try to

summarize Aristotle's philosophy as a whole, since wc
have already formu lated its basic principles.
One cannot help being amazed at the originality of
Aristotle's philosophy, the dialectical unity of concepts
which other philosophers usually present too disjunctly.
To start with maller, for example, there is no such mat ter for Aristotle that is just a shapeless heap of whoknows-what. It is penetrated thro ugh and through with life
and reason, so that it is even difftcult to separate life and
meaning in Aristotle. He endlessly scrutinizes this matter
bursting with life, and is endlessly happy to discover in it
the minutest details in their vital interrelation. Aristotle
wrote whole t~ ea li ses devoted to the anatomy and physiology of the amm,,1 world, for example, in which with childlike ingenuousness and delighted surprise he tries to delect and. formulat: countl~ details of the life process.
To give a notIOn of Aristotle's practical wisdom we
shall quote the pro~ound observations on people at different age~, found I~ hIS.Rhe/oric. Here is what we read about
youth: To begm With the Youthful type of character.


Young mln have !.trong p.:t ~ '0', and tend to gratify them
indi ~l'rimin<ltdy. Of the bodily desires, it is the sexual by
which they arc mllst swayed and in which they show a?
scncc of selfcontroL They arc changeable and fickle In
;hcir dc!-.ircs, which arc violent while they la\t, hut quickly
over: their impulse" an: keen hut not decp-rooted, and are
like !>ick pcopk'g allacko:i of hunger and thirst. They are
hot-tempered, and quid-tempered, and apt to give way to
their anger; bad temper often gets the better of them, ~or
owing to their love of honor they cannot bear being
slighted, and arc indignant if they imagine them~lves u~
fairly treated. While they love hono~, t.hey love VlctOry SI1I\
more; for youth is eage~ for superiority over others, and
victory is onc form of thIs. They love both .more than t~ey
love money, which indeed they I.ove ve:r htt~e,. not haVl.ng
yet learnt what it means 10 be WIthout It -th iS IS the POint
of Pittacus' remark al:tout Amphiaraus. They look at the
good side rather than the bad, not having yet witness.ed
many instances of wickedness. They trust others readily,
because they have not yet often been cheated ..They are
sanguine; nature warms their blood as though WIth. excess
of wine and besides that, they ha\'~ as yet met ~th few
disapro'intments. Their lives arc mainly spent not to memor but in expectation; for expectation refers to the futur~,
m~mor to the past, and youth has a long future tx:fore It
and a short past behind it: on the first day of one's bfe one
has nothin at all to remember, and can onl~ loo~ forv.:a.rd.
They are e~si1Y cheated, owing to the sanguine fd~s~SIIIO~
ust ment ioned. Their hot tempers and hope u IS~SI
ore courageous than older men are. the
tions make t em m fear and the hopeful disposition crehot tem~~ pre.~e;~s(,3~n~t feci fear so long as we are feelexpectat ion of good makes us conft?tes con 1 en~e"
Ing angry, an ~ny ccepting the rules of society in which
dent. They are s y: aed and not yet believing in any other
' have been tralO "
t h ey,
They have exa lted notIOns,
standard of o,n~ 'n humbled by life or learnt its necessthcy .ha~e ~ot ~e~lor~over, their hopeful disposil ion makes
Ives equal to great things-and that
ary hmltatlOn~,
them thin~ t e;;~~ed 'notions. They would always rather
uscful ones their lives are regulated
means haVlng I
bl dee ds Ilan
do no e
I feel ing Ihan by reawning; and whereas reamore by mora

soning leads us 10 choose what i~ useful. m(lral guodness

leads us to choose what is nobk. They are fondcr (If Ihe ir
friends. inlimates, and companions than older men arc
because they like spending their dity~ in the company of
others, and have not yet come to value either their friend.~
or an)1hing else by their uscfulnes..~ to themselvcs. All their
mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively
and vehemently. They disohcy Chilon's prccept by over
doing everything; they love too much and hate too much,
and the same thing with everything else. They think they
know e'.'erything, and arc always quite sure about it; this,
in fact, is why they overdo everything. If they do wrong to
others, it is because they mean to insult them, not to do
them actual harm. They are ready to pity others, because
they think every onc an honest man, or anyhow better than
he is: they judge their neighbor by their own harmless natures, and so cannot think he deserves to be treated in that
way. They arc fond of fun and therefore witty, wit being
well-bred insolence" (Rhetoric IT, 12).
and the same
-men who
arc past their prime- may be said to
formed for the
most part of elements that are the contrary of all these.
They have lived many years; they have often been taken in,
and often made mistakes; and life on the whole is a bad
business. The resuh is that they arc sure about nothing and
ullder-do everything. Thcy 'think', but they never 'know';
and because of their hesitation they always add a 'possibly'
or a 'perhaps', putting everything this way and nothing
positively. They arc cynical; that is they lend to put the
worse construction on everything. Further, their experience makes them distrustful and therefore suspicious of
evil. Consequently they neith<;rJpve. warmly nor hat<::.pitterly, but following .~~_~J.Bias they love. as .though
theY-will some day !,a~e and h.lte. aSJhough they will some
day love. 11\cyarc smalT.minded,oecause they have been
humbled by life: their desires are set upon nothing more
exalted or unusual than whal will help them to keep alive.
They arc not generous, because money is onc of the things
they must have, and at the same time their experience has

tau~ht them how h,lrd i(

I' 10 Kct

<lnd how easy 10 Jo~e.

They arc mwardly, and Me ,jlways anticipating danger;
unlikl: thal of the young, who are wMmhlooded their
tcmpl:raml:n.t i.\. (hilly; \lId age hacr. paved the way fo~ cowardltc; fear 1<;, In ratt, a form of thill. They love life; and
all the more when th('ir I'L\I day has come, hecau.~e the object of all de~.irc is something we have not got, and also because we (.Icslre most strongly that which wc need most urgently. They arc too fond of themselves; this is one form
that small-mindedness takes. Because of this, they guide
their lives too much by considerations of what is useful
and too little by what is nohle- for the useful is what is
good for oneself, and thc noble what is good absolutely.
They arc not shy, but shameless rather; caring less for
what is noble than for what is useful, they have contempt
for what people may think of them. They lack confidence
in the future; partly through experience-for most things
go wrong, or anyhow turn out worse than onc expects; and
partly because of their cowardice. They live by memory
rather than by hope; for what is left to them of life is but
little as compared with the long pa~l; and hope is of the future, memory of the past. This again, is the cause of their
loquacity; they arc continually talking of the pasl, because
they enjoy remembering it. Their fits of anger arc sudden
but feeble. Their sensual passions have either altogether
gone or have lost their vigor: consequently they do not feel
their passions much, and their aclions are inspired less by
what they do feel than by the love of gain. Hence men at
this time of life arc often supposed to have a self-controlled character; the fact is that their passions have slackcned, and they arc slaves to the love of gain. They guide
their lives. by rcasoning more than ~Y mral ~e~li~ rea:
soning bemg dlrecl"C"d to utllity-anJ"mora Teehng 10 moral
goodness. If they wrong others, they mean to injure them,
not (Q insult them. Old men may feci pity, as well as young
mcn but not for the same reason. Young men feel it out of
kinct'ness; old men out of weakness, imagining that anything that befalls anyone else might easily happen to
them, which, as we saw, is a thought that excites pity.
Hence they arc querulous, and not disposed to jesting or
laughter-the ,!o,:,c. of laughter hcing the very opposite of
querulousness (IbId., 11, 13).




, \1

' I


Onc cannot fail to appreciate the vital tendency of Aris.

tolle's philosophy, which manifests itself in the fact that all
life for him is permeated with meaning to its utmost
depths, and this meaning is always pervaded with some
vital potentialities. This outlook mal..cs Aristotle a fcarless
and serene contemplator of life, however bad or terrible it
may ~. For to his way of thinking everything has its
mcanmg, because everything that is material is in quest of
its eidos, thanks to which alone it is comprehensible. And
~hi~ ei~os exi~ts. not ~nly in people's heads, but spccilically
In hfe Itself, In Its ultimate depths. From this point of view
even nonsense has its sense, just as a "shapeless" pile of
s~nd ca~not fail to have its shape, namely the shape of a
pile. This does not at all mean that there is no nonsense. It
certainly does exist, or can exist, but with the reservation
that it also has its eidos, i.e., in this case an eidos of nonsense, without which one could not say of this nonsense
that it was precisely nonsense.
Aristotle's fearlessness in the face of the nonsensical
ness ?f !ife makes him serene; and his spirit is constantly
submiSSive to the behests of life. But this submission by
virtue of eidetic universality is at the same time the mastery
of reality.
In antiquity whatever was considered beautiful, pro
foundly justified and natural was termed divine. Therefore
the beautiful cosmos with its eternal beauty was neccssar
ily thought of as something divine, i.e., as something maxi
mally meaningful. There is no need to say that in this respect Ari~totl~ ~as. a. true man of his time. If everything
has meamng, It IS dlVlne as well, so that Aristotle's mereiles~ realism was entirely congruous with his recognition of
universal beauty, i.e., universal deification.
In his l?e Natllra Deon/m (11, 37), Cicero reproduces
the follOWing passage from Aristotle's treatise On Phi/os.
ophy: "So Aristot~e says brilliantly: 'If there were beings
who had always lived beneath the earth in comfortabl
well:lit dwe~lings, decorate~ with statues 'and pictures and
furnished With all the lUXUries enjoyed by persons thought
to be supremely happy, and who though they had never
come forth above t~e ground had learnt by report and by
hearsay of the eXistence
of ccrtain dlitics 0 r d"IVlne
powers; and then If at some
of Ih e eart h






were opened and they were able to escape from their hidden abode and to come forth into the region.'i which we inhabit; when they suddenly had sight of the earth and the
seas and the sky, and came to know of the vast clouds and
mighty winds, and hcheld the sun, and realized not only its
size and beauty but also its potency in causing the day by
shedding light over all the sky and, after night had darkened the earth, they then saw the whole sky spangled and
adorned with stars, and the changing phases of the moon's
light, now waxing and now waning, and the risings and settings of all these heavenly bodies and their courses fIXed
and changeless throughout all eternity,-when they saw
these things, surely they would think that the gods exist
and that these mighty marvels are their handiwork'" (Cicero in 28 Volumes, 19: 215-17).
Such reasonings are only natural for a philosopher who
deems eternal and pure Mind to be the prime mover of
the universe. At the bottom of the scale for him is matter,
which is not yet the being but the possibility of any being,
and at the top is divine Mind, which although immobile itself moves absolutely everything down to the least trifle;
moreover, separated though it be from. matter, Mind
.pours itself forth into matter and. creates lis many gradations while matter does not remam only at the bottom but
is al;o the principle of the endlessly varied actualizations
of divine Mind. The result is unquestionably a complete
unity, or a kind of moo ism, where the topmost gr~dually
passes into the lowest and.the lowest gradually and 10 endlessly varied ways passes m~o the. supreme. The a,~parent
simplieity of this scheme gives flse to so-called eternal
As we have seen, Aristotle is a merciless reailst, who
keenly and fundamenlally ~"perlences liFe with all .ltS Imperfections, with all its ugliness a~d even monstrosity. No
lion arises where nature and hfe arc full of beauty: su~~~~e reason with all its Ideas. is simply embodied to its
full extent in matter and there IS no g~oun~ for ~ny du~l
ism here. But su~h is only. the cosmos, IR whle~ Mmd at I~S
ost is materially realized and matter at Its utmost IS
u~;;(ca/lY shaped. There arises the eternal and beautiful
Cl C.' n of the sky with ils regularly rising and setting lumimo llO












I I,







, ~~


, , I , . '--

oarics; it is bcaUliful, and the cos m o~ is the ~urrcmc work

of art. Bul wha! is man 10 do with his earthl y affaifs?
The earth is in the eenler of the universe, and around it
e(ernally and ideally revolves the indestructible sky. BUI
the sky ....ilh all its heavenly spheres I!' aoove the onc in
which the moon, the luminary closest to the earth, rcvol ....es. It turns oul that the entire sublunar region is full of
disorder. of births and deaths, of joy and suffering, .. 11
kinds of perfection and all kinds of hideousness. How can
onc justify this perpetual chaos of sublunar being?
Aristotle does nOI like to speak of fate, insofar as pure
Mind knows everything, future and past, and contains
within itself eternity. Nothing exists for it besides itself,
hence fate does not exist. As we saw earlier, fate for Aristotle is always only chance, only necessity outside meaning,
an irrational and antirational force. However, although he
does not adduce any arguments about fate in the mythological sense of the word, Aristotle constantly reasons
about matter. But matter is precisely the extra-eidelic fact
of the realization of eidos outside meaning. And everything that is outside meaning can never realize eidos in its
full meaningful significance but only in a partial and hence
imperfect, hence even distorted sensc.
To answer thc question of how onc might justify the hideousness o f life, o nc would need to grasp the full naturalness and the full primacy Aristotle ascribed to the eidos of
each individual thing, and all the more so to all the ideas
taken together, i.e., the supreme reason of the universe.
For matter is only possibility. It can exist, and it can not
exist. And if it does exist and, being the incarnation of an
eidos, it embodies it misshapenly, the eidos is so powerful
that it is nevertheless unaffected by any distortions in its
incarnation. It would be more correct to say, according to
Aristotle, that the eidos is not only unaHeeted by these deformities but on the contrary becomes richer, more saturated and energetic. The more intensely mattcr Operates
the richer its eidos becomes.
Hence arises
on the
on the otherlO
. human
witfldrawatln(o oneselt, in
, 11
Would seem that the two are


", t

, ,


/! '






cntire Njcomac/lrtJlI Etllin i\ devotcd to c1as...-.irying virtues

;IS "thcorctic,,]"', i.c., purely contcmpl.ltivc, and "practicar'. And althouAh the praclic<ll virtut!S procure inncr ~~
Isfaction, plca\urc and happiness, ncvcrtheleM true happIness is wisdom wwpped up in itself and withdrawn from
all priletical activity. This view i\ not very comprehensible
to people today. But for A.ri~t~tle ~uch a s~ate ~ the absolute foundation for experrenemg and lOVing hfe and for
vital activity.


It is worth recollecting here what wc said earlier concerning the corrcl[ltion of eidos and matter. On the one
hand they arc quite different aspects ofbcing. And on the
othc; hand, thcy arc completely identical. Not only a.rc
they identical, but out of their identity is born ~hat Ans- )
totlc calls life. Hence it becomes clear why the Imperfection of life is quite justified by the eidos of life: they are
after all one and the same-materially realized eidos and
eidos itself. But one more step is now necessary to conclude our description of the complete material and eidetic
unit y of life.
If eidos, as the ~upreme foundatIon of .lrfe which Justifies all its imperfections, becomes all the rrcher for t.hem,
then any imperfection of life only confirm.s the plenrtude
and variety of life. Life!s a tragedy.. For In a tragedy all
sorts o f mistakes and eVils are committed and all so.r~ of
failures and downfalls arc depicted, but all these tragIc Imperfections and the death of. thc her~s only <:<>nfirm ~n,d
reveal the lofty meaning of hfe. TragiC purgatlo~ con~lSs
in the heroes' death arousing in us a sense of a hIgher Justice. The heroes die, bUI thanks 10 their dcath wc fe.ellhe
breath of the laws of life manircsling themselves m the
fates of the heroes. Thus, the identicalness of eidos and
maller is not just simply a r ation~1 inf~r~~ce on ~ur part. It
is the tragedy of life itself. A~d I.f we Imtlally saId that the
identity of eidos and maller IS life and ~hen sho~ed th~t
life is a work of art, the .
accordln~ to Arrstotle, IS
10 recognize that
!:I.nl~ersally huma.n..
work of
us that this is the ulphilosophy viewcd as a





, -' ,




I ,

I i




~ N.G. 01l:myslle...sl;y, Compftlt Workt, Mosrow

1lle tJnan~~rrtd,
but Mo.,t Imporlitnt Question

1949 2' 10

As quoted by PlulaKII in lIi5 "T bl T lle

a e- a (VIII, 10, 1),P4I1arch 5

These quotes, which rorm part of r

~Moral &say!;ft (I 9 2 and III J

Heinemann Ltd.,

L.o~don, 1970, 'I:


" ,

ragment SO, are rrom Seneca's

III IQ VO/uma, Wil1iam


At the end of our book onc final question is lerl: what is

the relation of Aristotle's philosophy to hi.~ life and fate?
In ancient Greeee there does not seem to have been a
philosophcr with a more encyclopedic scope than Aristotle. Hc was a man who alwa}'lllooked first and foremost
for the meaning of reality and formulated the truths he
discovered as' broai1ly and deeply as pos~ible. In his
zoologlcaTtreallseshe cstaoTiSlicd and {lescnbCd over four
hundred species of animals. In his socio-political writings
he described 158 different Greek and non-Greek legal systems. The entire fifth book of his fundamental work Me/aplrysics is specially devoted to philosophical terminology,
and each term appears with two or three and sometimes
even five or six meanings.
His search for the meaning of life brought him at the
tender age of eighteen to the richest, most developed and
at the time most elevated philosophical sehool- Plato's
Academy. At the Academy Aristotle mastered Plato's
philosophy, but here, too, he did not in the least remain
passi ...e. He very soon developed a quite critical attitude to
Platonism, whose achievements he was able to perceive as
well as its shorteomtn~.
- -- ~ - In Anstotle, the brtlliant philosopher was united with a
political activist. Aristotle was infinitely devoted to the intereslS of his native Greece, and with all his might wanted
to preserve it the way it had been in its heyday. But he was
to encounter a tragic fate.
The classical Greek polis was headed toward inevitable
ruin. Aristotle was not a passive observer, and hoped the
freedom of the independent city-states could be retained
under the rule of the humane Macedonian kings. This
dream had been frustrated because the Macedonian kings
were in reality despots, desiring not a freely flourishing,
democratic Greece, but its servile submission.
Having completely lost faith in the Macedonian rulers
whom he had sympat hized with and whose humanity he
had believed in for a long time, Aristotle wanted to act.
Onc cannot dose onc's eyes to the facl Ihat the legend of
Alexander the Great's poisoning by Aristotle may be true.

Perhaps Aristotle mCllitated pui~\\Oing hun .... hl'n he I'lW

how soon he had turned fwm a phillb\lphi/ inl-: lIlunarrh
and respectful pupil into <t cruel l'unqllt'r\lr alld Irrant
The problems which were t\lTmt:ntin~ Ari~"llk llid nnl
\';Inish with Alexander'!; death, What w;\\ 10 I'll- llllnc'! } I.'
could still join Ihe patrinb fightin~ ag;lin~1 Philip and
Alexander and ....;th thelll l'ome 10 the ddcnl'C Ilf Ihc
ancient ideals. But herl' he met with ,I erud di~ .lpPl'in t.
ment as well, He had lust faith ill the pH)~I'lCeb which Macclloni:m dominion seemed tll offer (i rcece, but reality destroyed all his rem.lining illm.ions. He lost faith in anythinR
constant, noble and reasonahlc. For the en lightened philosopher the Greek patriots were useless conservatives,
and for their pari they saw Aristotle only as an alien and
enemy and were ready to deal with him as fittingly as they
had dealt with the too clever Socrates.
Aristotle was a strong person, And when it turned out
that there was nowhere else to go, he presumably took
poison and thus rid himself of insoluble problems.
Thus ended Aristotle's life. Yet all his probings and his
entire life testify to the unprecedented staunchncss of this
great man, for whom even death itself was an act of wisdom and imperturbable serenity.
In studying Aristotle'S biography in detail, onc cannot
fail to be amazed at how consistently and naturally his
philosophy coincided with his life activities. As we know,
his philosophy advances the theory of the four-principle
structure of all being, or in other words, the ultimate
identicalness of the eidos and matter of a thing. This coincidence of the two enriches not only matter, which without
eidos would be merely empty possibility and not reality,
but cidos as well, which without matter, i,e., without its actual realization, would also remain empty possibility.
Life is tragic. But the tragedy of life can be understood
only by onc who secs the eidetir;, or J4!!aGcality in tile
depths of this tragedy. The fate o f the heroes in a Greek
tragedy ~ttests to the existence of Ih~ .supreme life principles! which al~:)Oe arc capable of smng meaning to this
tr.agic fate',ATlstot,le p,roved a.s m~ch both in his philosophical theones and III h~s pracllcal hre and public activity.
The reader has a nght to wonder whether the relation
of theory 10 practice found in Aristotle's life is the only or


hCM Jlu~iht... oni Ther" Can 'le )nly onc answer 10 thi.\
'1Uco... t;'.n. Ali~tot1c, c)I.lmp1c L'I far from .being the only
possible I1m: IOf U' Ind C3n h.lrdl), he con!.lden:d the he...t.
Bul hl/w j !IlK to liv!"' where is mu; 10 seck the meaning of
life. how i" unc 10 Ihml':! \{c"li'Y i .. full of rontradictions.
Wh;lt is (mc In du, Vih n Ihese C :'11 ,Jiclions Item pc:rpetu .. I'!
All we Gill say III " sp' ,I, ~ IS th t Ihe point of our bou~
j ... hI put Ihi'o quc.... ti"n j,oldly "nd t:incuely. If the readca
h,lve 'aken it ~cri()u~ly, Vie have achieved our goal.
For us Ari\totlc rcprescnh un unt'Hmpromwng and
courageous am,weT to thc que!.tion (If th~ meaning of Ii~e.
But it is c1c;.lr that everyone has to ~~ck hiS own way. Anstotle said that Plato was his friend, hut the truth wa...
dearer to him . Ari~wtlc is our fritnd. As for what route to
take in sea rching for the truth and, surmount i~g life's contradictions, everyone must figure Lt out for ~Imself. Each
person must find the meaning of life by hi!. own effort,
through suffering.

Nl.lme Index

Achillcs- 20,67,99
Aclian - 23,30, 100, 132

Acschincs-34, 125, 128
Alexander of Aphrodisias-40
Alexander of Maccdon 16,20,22, 34, 52, 65-73,
75, 77, 81, 82, 10001,
1O~-06, 110-19, 121-130,
Hl-35, ]89, 190
Alexander, the Iyr<lnl or
Phcrac -45
Amyntas 11 -20, 21

Crates of Thcbcs

Artcmon -103
Aulus Gc11ius-73

Bias -61
Bion - 78
Bocthius 40,50

ncphcw- 78, 111, J 14-J7
Capaneus - 18
Anaxagoras- 54, 87, 91
Carncades - 34
ChcrnYlohcvsky, NikolaiAnaximcncs-91
Andronicus of Rhodcs-40
Ant;patcr-22,77, 118, 122, Chiron-18,20
Hermann- 37
Apollo- 17,18,78, SO, 131
Cicero, Marcus Tullius Apollodorus-75,114
40,42, 43, 45, SO, 60, 79,
98, lOS, 121, 175, 184
Arimncsla, Aristotle's sis- Circe-77
Aristotle's Clcobulus-61
hrother- 21
Cleopatra, Philip of MaceAristoclcs-26, 30, (;2
don's wifc-l26
Aristogiton - 135
Climent of Alexandria-72
Coriscus - 64
Coronis- 17, 18



Cyrus- 71

Demetrius- 102,103
Demochares - 35
Democritus -86, 87, 91,
Demosthenes-35,65, 125,
127, 128, 133
Dio Chrysostomus 68, 73,


Diodorus Sieulus 133

Diogencs Laertius U, 12,
29,30, 34, 43, 61, 73-77,
84, 102, 129-35
Diogenes of A.pol1onia-91
Diogenes of Slnope- 71
Dion Cassius - 111
Dion of Syracuse-~5,103
Dionysius of Hahcarnassus- 73, 134
Dionysius the Elder-28
Dionysius the Younger 28
Dionysus- 124
Duns ScotuS, John - 179

Empedoc1cs - S6 ,89,91
Eos - 122
Epicurus - 26,79
Epione - 18
Erastus - 63,64
EratosthcncS- 73
Eubuiides of Mllet us - 30
Eudcrn us - 45 .
Eudoxus of C01dos - 28, ),
Eurnclus - 134

Euripides - 69
Eurymedon - 129
Eusebius of Caeseria - 26,
Macrembolites- 134


Gaea 20
Gohlke, Paui-37
Gorgon -98, 99

Hcgcl, Georg Wilhelm
Friedrich - 9
Herac1cs -122
Hcrmcias of Atarncus-21,
35, 63-66, 102, 114, 13033
Hcrmippus- 134
Hcrmodorus - 56
Hcrpyllis, AristOlle's wifc64, 136
Hcsychius of Alcxandria12






Hipparchus - 135
Hippocralcs -20
Homer-lB. 77, 98, 99, 116


, ,

. i:

. ..

. '-

.".:,.- ~-' ....


nephew -21, 64, 65,136
Nicomachus Ill, Aristotlc's
father, son of Nicomachus 11 -16, 17, 20-23,


Macedon's tutor-72
Loscv, Alexei-13
Lycurgus - 78




Lysimachus of Acarnania72
Machaon -18, 20
Marsyas of Pella - 71





Kanl,lmmanuel -59

Lenin, V.I.-9, 10
Leonardo Aretino - 134
Leonidas, Alexander of

- "


Jacgcr, Werner-37

Nicomachus IV, Aristotle's


Olympias, Alexander of
Macedon's mother-72.


lamblichus - 50
Isocrates - 24, 25, 41-43, 48,

Panacca - 18
Parmenides-54, 91,139
Pausanias, bodyguard-l26
hIStorian - 20,
Periander - 61
Pericles- 78
Philip of Maccdon-16, 20,
21, 34, 35, 42, 62, 65, 66,
68, 71, 73, 75, 77, 78, 81,
106, 107, 114, 115, 118,
119,121, 123-28
Philo of Alexandria-40
Philodemus of Gadara-41
Philoponus - 33
Philoxenus - 69







,-' ' ,,

Phyllis -62
Plato-B, 9, 21, 23-25, 2735, 37-48, 50-60, 62-65,
67-70, 72-73, 76, 7980,
82-91, 102-03, 108, 128,
138-42, 146, 150, 152,
154,171-73, 189, 190
Pliny the Elder-81-82, 110
Plutareh-40, 56, 68-70, 72,
Praxiteles - 84
Proclus-40, 50, 56
tutor-21, 23,65, 136
Pythagoras-54, 99, 100
Pythias, Aristotle's wife64,136
Ouintilian - 43, 67, 72, 73

Rose, Valcntin-61

Saint Augustinc-40, 50
Saint Justin Martyr -108,


Scncca- 44,174
ScxtuS Empiricus-21
Silcnus- 47


, ,





, ,




-- \l

Simplicius - 44, 104

Socratcs-38, 40, 51, 54, 56,
74,91,132, 178, 179, 190
Sophocles-42, 69, SO, 123
Spcusippus-29-31, 34, 56,
Sulla- 78
Synesius - 44

Takho-Godi, Aza-13
Thcilcr, Willy - 37
Thcodcctes- 70
Thcrsitcs - 46
(Tbeophrast05)-64, 67, 68, 79, SO,
102, 105, 108, 115

Uran05 -18, 20

Xcnocrates-29, 30, 33, 34,
63, 68, 72, 76-78, 131
Xcnophon- 71, 78, 91

Zeno of Citium-40
Zcus-1S, 19, 122. 123, 136
Zoroastcr - 56


, ,

. '





), I

Subject Index

Chaos ofbcing-174
Cognition - 53, 95
Cosmos-8, 57, 59, 86, 87,
Creativity-l34, 135, 162
Customs of Baroanalls,

Academy, Plato's-23-25,
Activity_92, 93, 134, 135,
Aeconomicus - 98
Aesthetic philosophy of nature - l66
Aesthetic principle -I64_
68. Sce also Pnnciple of
universal aestheticity
Aesthetics - 179
Aim (of a thing) - 157, 163
Alexander the Great and

Aristotelianism (Aristotle's
philosophy) -82,
135, 141 , 142, 146, 173,

Dialectical materialism_
152, 153
Disharmony - 46
Divinity, God-58
Dualism - 140-42

General-9, 142, 144

Good, supreme-47, 96
-and Macedonia-I2529
G'yll/s, or 011 Rhetoric - 39

Basic principle of Aristotle's philosophy -7
Beautiful -8
Beauty-l71, 184, 185

Categories- 46, 92
- opcrativc- 159,
Chancc- ISO-53


Eidetic - J44, 148, 149

Eidos-I38, 139, 142-53,
158-61, 163, 165, 167-71,
- and matter - l70, 187.
Sce also Form (of a
thing); Idea of the
EI/dell/iall Ethics - 91
El/del1l11S, or 011 the 5011139,44-48
Expcdicncy_ 159


Fate- 151-53, 186

Form (of a thing)-145.
146, 148, 152-54, 159,
161, 163
-and matter-l48-SO
_ final (materialized)161
Formal principle-l48
Four principles (causes) of
a thing-147-SO. S~e ~iso
structure of

_ Plalonic-l40
Ideas, theory of - 53, 54
Infinitely small -9O

Knowledge - 47
_ empirical-89

Lctlers, Aristotle's-102-08
Life-9, 10, 47, 48, 97, 16668, 178, 183-85, 187
Logical structu re-l48
Lyceum- 41,78-82

Mogian -43
Mag1la Mora/io -91, 153
163, 165-67, 169, 170,
ISO, 185, 186
_ and chance - ISO, 152
- and form-149
Meaning of life-183, 184,
Happiness, bliss- J87
Harmony -45.46
Mcasure - 157-58, 163,164
Hero worship-I23
Medicine, Greek - 20
Historia Allimaiillm - J04
Mcgara School-l40
Historical Notes - 101
MCllexelles - 39
Historicism - 91-92
Metaphysics -31, 32, 44, SO57, 91, m, 168, 173,
Mcthod of exhaustion (exIdea -8, 9
haustive method) -87Idea of the thing -87, 89-91
Ideal and material -87
Ideal ism-9



Mind - 44, 152, 153, 167-7 1,

17" , 176, 178-80, IR5,




ancient 15,1
Part and whole 142
Particular 142. 144
Peculiarity 145
Pi'plos --IO I
Perception, sensory 1".1
Pc rip:ltc tics - 40
Philosophy-50, 53, 54, 95,
- and life-IO-l2, 35, 36,
69, 190
- as \)c<l uly-95-97
Phroll esis-5 1, 52, 55
Physics- l04 , .154
Plat o and Aristo tlc-28-3l,

- three conceptions of
- and personality 172,
Motion - 1S1-5S,172
- dircctc dncss of - 155,
Mythology - 175, 176, 178

Nature - l66-68
Necessary and

Republic, ideal 27,2X

R/lc/Oric 2", :'1, 42 HI, '17,

c hance-



Platonism -82, 14' , 142.

See also Idealism, Plato nic
Polis, Greek - 189
Politics - 39, 93, 104, 120,
121, 157
Posterior Allolyfics-143
Practical activity and contemplatio n -92-94
- of fragmentatio n of
- of unive rsal aestheticit y-8, 9. See also
Aesthetic principle
Prolrepliclls - 39, 40, 48-55

Nicomac!lcGlI Elhics - 31,

51, 52, 91, 9395, 134,

Nonsense - 18-'

Old age- 182-84
Olympiad - 16
011 the Good - 33, 92
011 lite Heal'ells -92, 10 1,
152, 172, 180
011 lit e Ideas - 33
011 Jllstice - 39
011 Magic - 43, 44
011 ti,e PaffS of Allimals%
011 Philosophy -39-41 , 55-

60, 184

Re/I/faliOllS -96
011 Ihe SOIlI- 32, 99, 166,
011 lite Virtues alld Vices-


Real ity- 151,1 52

Reason - 92-%,174
- d octrineof- 175, 176
Rel igion - 58
- Aris!otle's- 173, 177-

Organism-147, 148





Scholasticism 9,10
S(.:ience, scholar~hip 97,
141, 144
Selfmobility- 155
Sensations 93,94
SCI'ell Sages - 56
Sky, heaven 164, 1/,5, 179,
180, 186
Sophisl -- 39
Soul- 45-48, 54, 166, 16R,


_ immortality of 47,4R
Suicide, Arislot1c's-133-35



four-principle structure
of 147-50, 158-63
Thinking- 170, 171, 177,
Topics - 24, 92, %
Tragedy of life- 187, 190,


Value of life - l64
Virtuc-46, 47, llB, 119,
131, 186,187

Whole-144-48. See also

integralness, integrity _
Will and testamenl, Artstotlc's - 13537
Works, AristotIe's-14
World soul-171, 172

T e1cology-l66