Aristotle and Christian Theology • Thomas Aquinas • R.C. Sproul • Norm Geisler
Aristotle’s Life • 384 BC – Aristotle is born in Stagira in Thrace, near Macedonia • Father is court physician to King Amyntas, grandfather of Alexander the Great • 367 BC – Aristotle comes to Athens to study at Plato’s academy • Plato refers to Aristotle as the Nous of the Academy • Aristotle builds an impressive personal library, Plato refers to Aristotle’s home as the “house of the reader”
Ancient Gossip • Rumor …. Aristotle said to have hinted that “wisdom would not die with Plato.” And Plato said to have referred to his student as a foal that kicks his mother after draining her dry.
347 BC – Plato dies. After 20 years of study, Aristotle leaves Athens, travels to Asia Minor and marries. • 342 BC – Aristotle has stayed in touch with friends in Macedonia via Facebook. Receives 140 character Tweet from Phillip inquiring if he would be interested in returning to Macedonia for a sweet job.
Alexander’s Three Tutors • Leonidas, a kinsman of Olympias • Training was like Marine bootcamp • As an adult Alexander’s endurance was almost superhuman • Lysicmachus • Referred to Alexander as Achilles • Fed the stories Olympias had told Alexander about his conception
Conception of Alexander • Olympias – a priestess of Dionysus • Adept at trancelike state of possession • In trance is impregnated by celestial fire • Philip sees her snuggling with a snake while asleep and is told by Oracle of Delphi that he has witnessed her sleeping with a god and that it will cost him an eye
342 BC – Aristotle returns to Macedonia to tutor Alexander • Most esteemed philosopher of his day • Childhood friend of Phillip • Enduring relationship • Different political philosophy
Aristotle tutored Alexander, for 5 years until Phillip dies and Alexander assumes the throne. • Alexander goes on to conquer the world • Alexander had his men collect flora and fauna from every region of the world and send to Aristotle • Led to Aristotle having the first zoo
Aristotle tutors Alexander for 5 years until Phillip dies and Alexander assumes the throne. • 336 BC Aristotle leaves Macedonia • 334 BC Aristotle establishes his own university, the Lyceum • Named the Lyceum, as it was adjacent to the temple to the god Apollo Lyceus -- protector of the flock against the wolf [lycos]. • Morning serious lectures - - Evening public lectures • Students had their meals with Aristotle • Peripatetic style of teaching
323 BC Alexander the Great dies, Aristotle leaves Athens “lest Athens sin twice against philosophy” • Demosthenes had kept the independent minded Athenians stirred up about their Macedonian conquerors • Conquered by Phillip • Forced to stay in Corinthian League (remember Thebes?) • 322 BC Aristotle Dies
Aristotle’s Library Is Buried • After his death Theophrastus buries Aristotle’s library in an effort to preserve it. • Lost and forgotten for about 100 years and then it is dug up, bad shape, a definitive edition of his collected works eventually put together from fragments and his student’s lecture notes. • Some ancient historians credit him with having written a thousand books (probably an exaggeration) • We have about 30
Important But Difficult • Many, if not most, of his writings are dense and not all that interesting. • Arabian philosopher Avicenna said that he had read Aristotle’s Metaphysics 40 times without understanding it.
Logical works Collected by the later Peripatetics under the title of Aristotle’s Organon) • Categories • Topics • Prior • Posterior Analytics • Propositions • Sophistical Refutation
Scientific Works • Physics • On the Heavens • Growth and Decay • Meteorology • Natural History • On the Soul • The Parts of Animals • The Movement of Animals • The Generation of Animals
Esthetic Works • Rhetoric • Poetics
Philosophical Works • Ethics • Politics • Metaphysics
Encyclopedia Aristotlica • How is he able to write so diversely? • It should be noted that his works are full of errors and absurdities. • He believed that everything could be explained in as a consequence of four causes . . .
Four Causes • Everything can be explained as a consequence of • Material cause – what is it made of? • Formal cause – what kind of thing is it? What is its essence, its “ness”. • Efficient cause – what produced it? • Final cause – what is its purpose?
What are the Four Causes? A Statue of Socrates Material Cause: Marble Formal Cause: Statueness of Socrates Efficient Cause: Sculptor Final Cause: To honor Socrates
A Shirt Material Cause: Fabric Formal Cause: Shirtness Efficient Cause: Shirt Maker Final Cause: To keep someone warm. A Wig Material Cause: Real or synthetic hair Formal Cause: Wigness Efficient Cause: Wig Maker Final Cause: To make someone look and/or feel better.
Ancient Philosophy & Four Causes • First book of Metaphysics explains all philosophy prior to Aristotle in terms of the four causes. • “I am the first to recognize all four causes.” • Can you refute Aristotle?
Aristotle’s Doctrine of Substances • Substance – for Aristotle anything that exists • Every substance is composed of two things • Hule = matter • Morphe = form • What makes wood a chair rather than a bat?
Some Contributions of Aristotle • Logic • Syllogisms • Law of Non-Contradiction • Opponent of Plato’s Dualism • Unmoved First Mover • Rhetoric • Ethics
Syllogism • The key component of Aristotelian logic is the syllogism. Typical format: • Major premise – a general truth, or observation • Minor premise – a particular fact, or specific observation • Conclusion – an inference implied by the two premises together
The classic example of the syllogism: • Major premise: All men are mortal. • Minor premise: Socrates is a man. • Conclusion: Socrates is mortal. In other words, what applies to all members of a group applies to each and everymember.
Law of Non-Contradiction • More than just a law of thought it is a law of being • Contrary properties cannot belong to the same thing, at the same time, and in the same sense. • A cannot be both B and –B at the same time and in the same relationship. • A proposition cannot be both True and False at the same time and in the same sense • Square Circle
You assume the law of non-contradiction every time you take an action, think a thought, or speak a sentence. • You would have to presuppose the law to try to contradict it. • Aristotle said that if the law of contradiction does not exist then there is no difference between coming to hear me speak, and taking a dose of Hemlock.
A Cannot Be Not-A For Christians • Without the law of contradiction (1) significant thinking is impossible, (2) significant action is impossible, (3) significant speech is impossible • No difference between sin and non-sin • Words may have a number of meanings but not an infinite number of meanings. There may be chair sense 1, chair sense 2, chair sense 3, but a chair is not a cat.
The Trinity • Don’t Christians break the Law of Non-Contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity?
Aquinas – According, Contrary, Beyond human reason • Trinity, Hypostatic Union, Election
Aristotle vs. Plato • Rejects Plato’s metaphysical dualism • doctrine of two worlds • Rejects Plato’s epistemological dualism • Rationalism vs. empiricism • Rejects Plato’s anthropological dualism • Body and soul • holism
When you engage in rhetoric, you are related to the audience and your subject. A well-balanced argument gives attention to all three points of the triangle, establishing your authority (ethos), drawing the audience emotionally (pathos), and doing justice to the facts (logos). However, if you give too much emphasis to facts, you can fall into a kind of distortion: making the subject seem cold and abstract. If you lean too much toward the audience, you can start to create propaganda. And if you put to much emphasis on your own character and values, you will seem egotistical. The Rhetorical Triangle Possible Distortion: Abstraction Logos Subject Speaker Audience Ethos Pathos Possible Distortion: Propaganda Possible Distortion: Egotism