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Aristotle

Aristotle (/rsttl/; Greek: [aristotls], Aristotls; 384


322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the city
of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece. His
father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, whereafter Proxenus of
Atarneus became his guardian. At eighteen, he joined Plato's Academy in
Athens and remained there until the age of thirty-seven (c. 347 BC). His
writings cover many subjects
including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic,
ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theater, music, rhetoric, linguistics, politics and
government and constitute the first comprehensive system of Western
philosophy. Shortly after Plato died, Aristotle left Athens and, at the request
of Philip of Macedon, tutored Alexander the Greatstarting from
343 BC. According to the Encyclopdia Britannica, "Aristotle was the first
genuine scientist in history ... [and] every scientist is in his debt."
Teaching Alexander the Great gave Aristotle many opportunities and an
abundance of supplies. He established a library in the Lyceum which aided in
the production of many of his hundreds of books. The fact that Aristotle was
a pupil of Plato contributed to his former views of Platonism, but, following
Plato's death, Aristotle immersed himself in empirical studies and shifted
from Platonism to empiricism. He believed all peoples' concepts and all of
their knowledge was ultimately based on perception. Aristotle's views
on natural sciences represent the groundwork underlying many of his works.
Aristotle's views on physical science profoundly shaped medieval
scholarship. Their influence extended into the Renaissance and were not
replaced systematically until the Enlightenment and theories such
as classical mechanics. Some of Aristotle's zoological observations, such as
on the hectocotyl (reproductive) arm of the octopus, were not confirmed or
refuted until the 19th century. His works contain the earliest known formal
study of logic, which was incorporated in the late 19th century into
modern formal logic.
In metaphysics, Aristotelianism profoundly influenced Judeo-Islamic
philosophical and theological thought during the Middle Ages and continues
to influence Christian theology, especially the scholastic tradition of
the Catholic Church. Aristotle was well known among medieval Muslim
intellectuals and revered as "The First Teacher" (Arabic: ) .

His ethics, though always influential, gained renewed interest with the
modern advent of virtue ethics. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue
to be the object of active academic study today. Though Aristotle wrote many
elegant treatises and dialogues Cicero described his literary style as "a
river of gold" it is thought that only around a third of his original output has
survived.

HYLEMORPHISM
Hylomorphism (or hylemorphism) is a philosophical theory developed
by Aristotle, which conceives being (ousia) as a compound
of matter and form.
The word is a 19th-century term formed from the Greek words hyle,
"wood, matter" and , morph, "form."
Hylomorphism, (from Greek hyl, matter; morph, form), in
philosophy, metaphysical view according to which every natural body
consists of two intrinsic principles, one potential, namely, primary matter,
and one actual, namely, substantial form. It was the central doctrine
of Aristotlesphilosophy of nature. Before Aristotle, the Ionian philosophers
had sought the basic constituents of bodies; but Aristotle observed that it
was necessary to distinguish two types of principles. On the one hand, one
must look for the primordial elementsi.e., for bodies that are not derived
from others and of which all other bodies are composed. He found his
solution to this question in Empedocles doctrine of the four elements: earth,
water, air, and fire. On the other hand, one must look for the intrinsic
conditions whereby a body is or comes to be what it is understood to be, and
to answer this question he proposed his hylomorphic doctrine. The primordial
elements correspond in a sense to those of modern physics insofar as the
single elements can have independent existence or activity of their own and
can therefore be known directly by way of experiment. Matter and form,
however, are not bodies or physical entities that can exist or act
independently: they exist and act only within and by the composite. Thus,
they can be known only indirectly, by intellectual analysis, as the
metaphysical principles of bodies.

Aristotle based his argument chiefly on the analysis of becoming, or


substantial change. If a being changes into another being, something
permanent must exist that is common to the two terms; otherwise there
would be no transformation but merely a succession by the annihilation of
the firstterm and the creation of the second. This permanent and common
something cannot itself be strictly a being because a being already is and
does not become, and because a being in act cannot be an intrinsic part of
a being possessing a unity of its own; it must therefore be a being in
potency, a potential principle, passive and indeterminate. At the same time,
in the two terms of the change, there must also be an actual, active,
determining principle. The potential principle is matter, the actual principle,
form. Phenomenological arguments for hylomorphism have also been
proposed.

Opposed to hylomorphism are atomism, mechanism, and dynamism, all of


which deny the intrinsic composition of metaphysical principles in bodies and
recognize only physical principles, such as corpuscles, pure mathematical
extension, or forces and energies. These theories agree also in denying the
hylomorphists claim that intrinsic change can occur in the ultimate realities
of which the physical world is composed and, further, in reducing the
phenomenon of becoming to a simple local movement or to purely accidental
changes of a single selfsame reality.
Doctrine of the Mean
The doctrine of the mean is a central concept in Aristotles virtue ethics.
According to the doctrine of the mean, virtue is a mean state between
extremes of excess and deficiency. Aristotle describes this mean state as an
intermediate relative to us. To find the mean relative to us is to find the
state of character that correct reason requires.
Within the scholarly literature, the doctrine of the mean has been subject to
wide-ranging interpretations. James Urmson (1973) called it, at the very
leasta substantial doctrine worthy of Aristotles genius, while Rosalind
Hursthouse (2006) stated that it was not only a false doctrine, but a silly
one, and hence should not be ascribed to Aristotle.
The diversity of interpretations is largely due to the ambiguity that Aristotle
himself acknowledges in Book VI of the //Nicomachean Ethics where he
states that his account is true, but not at all clear (EN VI 1138b26).

Core Aspects of the Doctrine


Gottlieb (2009) identifies the three core aspects of the doctrine of the mean.
First, virtue, like health, is produced and preserved by avoiding extremes.
Second, virtue is a mean relative to us. Third, each virtue is a mean between
two vices, one of excess and one of deficiency.
Of the three elements, it is the second the mean relative to us -- that,
according to Gottlieb, is most commonly misunderstood. Here, Aristotle does
not offer a precise quantitative test to help determine the mean either
generally or for specific cases. Indeed, he does not believe that virtue can be
captured by rules or universal principles. Rather, the virtuous person uses
reason to determine the correct action at the time. This correct action is the
mean relative to us and is not to be confused with moderation. For
example, correct reason may require extreme anger at extreme injuries and
slight anger at a trivial offence. According to the doctrine of the mean,
moderate anger would be wrong in both instances. Furthermore, there is no
"correct" degree of anger to be displayed under all conditions or under all
conditions of a particular type.

The Virtuous Person


According to the doctrine of the mean, virtuous individuals act in a way that
lies in a mean between extremes, as when a person of courage, when faced
with danger, chooses to take the course of action that is neither cowardly nor
foolhardy. For the virtuous person, this mean (e.g. courage) is the state in
which feelings are neither indulged without restraint nor entirely suppressed.
However, such a state does not come naturally. Instead, it requires habitual
training and rational control of one's feelings. Through practice, a balanced
disposition -- characteristic of the virtuous person -- can eventually be
achieved.
The doctrine of the mean also assumes a unity of virtues such that it is
impossible for two virtues to conflict with each other. For example, courage
never calls for one to act in a way that is unjust.
Annas (2011) is among the virtue ethicists who distinguish between full or
perfect virtue and the enkratic or self-controlled. The fully virtuous take the
correct action without any struggle against contrary desires. The enkratic, on
the other hand, must control a desire or temptation in order to do so. While
the enkratic may act rightly in doing what is tactful, courageous or just, he
fails to act virtuously since he does not experience the correct emotions.

Aristotles Causes
"Four causes" refers to an influential principle in Aristotelian thought
whereby explanations of change or movement are classified into four
fundamental types of answer to the question "why?" Aristotle wrote that "we
do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to
say, its explanation." While there are cases where classifying an explanation
is difficult, or in which classes of explanation might merge, Aristotle was
convinced that his four classes of explanation provided an analytical scheme
of general applicability.
Aitia, from Greek was the word that Aristotle used to refer to the
concept of explanation. Traditionally in academic philosophy it has been
translated as cause, but this tradition uses the word 'cause' in a peculiar way
that is obsolete, or highly specialized and technical in philosophy, not in its
most usual current ordinary language usage. The translation of
Aristotle's that is nearest to current ordinary language is 'explanation'.
Aristotle held that there were four kinds of answers to 'why' questions
(in Physics II, 3, and Metaphysics V, 2): In this article, the peculiar
philosophical usage of the word 'cause' will be exercised, for tradition's sake,
but the reader should not be misled by confusing this peculiar usage with
current ordinary language.

A change or movement's material cause is the aspect of the change


or movement which is determined by the material that composes the
moving or changing things. For a table, that might be wood; for a statue,
that might be bronze or marble.

A change or movement's formal cause is a change or movement


caused by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing
or moving. Aristotle says for example that the ratio 2:1, and number in
general, is the cause of the octave.

A change or movement's efficient or moving cause consists of things


apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be
an agency of the change or movement. For example, the efficient cause
of a table is a carpenter, or a person working as one, and according to
Aristotle the efficient cause of a boy is a father.

An event's final cause is the end toward which it directs. That for the
sake of which a thing is what it is. For a seed, it might be an adult plant.

For a sailboat, it might be sailing. For a ball at the top of a ramp, it might
be coming to rest at the bottom.