Aristotle 384 321 bce
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Aristotle (384-321 BCE). Biography. Studied at Plato ’ s Academy Founded the Lyceum Tutored Alexander the Great Classified and mapped out knowledge Logic, physics, rhetoric, ethics, metaphysics, etc. “ Everyone is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian ”. Aristotelian Favor the concrete

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  • Studied at Plato’s Academy

  • Founded the Lyceum

  • Tutored Alexander the Great

  • Classified and mapped out knowledge

    • Logic, physics, rhetoric, ethics, metaphysics, etc.

Everyone is either a platonist or an aristotelian
Everyone is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian”


  • Favor the concrete

  • Wants to gather knowledge of actual things


  • Favor the abstract

  • Favor Truth and logic

  • Wants to attain perfect knowledge and ideals

Aristotelian metaphysics
Aristotelian Metaphysics

  • Aristotle’s Metaphysics: the study of substance

    • Substance: a unity of form and matter

    • Hylomorphic Composition: everything is made of BOTH matter and form

  • Criticizes Plato’s forms

    • Forms can’t explain change

    • Forms can’t relate the visible and intelligible worlds.

Aristotle unites plato s visible and intelligible world and explains change
Aristotle unites Plato’s visible and intelligible world and explains change

  • Matter: Potentiality

  • Form: Actuality

    Matter + Form = Substance

Potentiality and actuality
Potentiality and Actuality

Acorn Sapling Young Tree Mature Tree

Potentiality Actuality

(matter) (form)


Aristotle s causes
Aristotle’s Causes

  • Material Cause: determines what a thing is made of

  • Formal Cause: determines what a thing is or will be

  • Efficient Cause: determines the process by which it was made or where it came from

  • Final Cause: determines the purpose for which it was made

More metaphysics
More Metaphysics

  • Teleology: everything has an end or purpose

    • Living things (substances) have ends

      • Inherent in their Formal and Final Cause

        • A dog’s end is to more fully be a dog

    • Non-living things (artifacts) have purposes

      • Imposed upon them from outside

        • A knife’s purpose is to cut things

What came first the chicken or the egg
What came first, the Chicken or the Egg?

“In arguing that actuality is more fundamental than potentiality, Aristotle effectively argues that the chicken comes before the egg, as one commentator puts it. He is telling us that an object can only be a potential something if there is already an actual something for that object to become. This claim has the paradoxical result that, for instance, the chicken must already exist for the egg to be a potential chicken. Of course, it is obviously false that individual chickens precede individual eggs: every chicken that now exists must have been an egg at some point. However, according to book Zeta, individual chickens are not substances. The species of chicken is a substance, and there can be no chicken eggs until there is a species called “chicken” for those eggs to become. After all, we cannot point to an object and say, “that is a chicken egg” if there is no such thing as a chicken. Substance is the most fundamental thing there is, so substance must be an actuality. Since, as Aristotle has argued earlier, nothing can exist unless substance exists, that means that potentialities cannot exist unless their actualities as substances already exist.”

More of aristotle s metaphysics
More of Aristotle’s Metaphysics

  • The universe is mechanical

  • The “Unmoved Mover”

    • God is Pure Form

    • Cosmological: God is the first cause in a chain of causes

    • Teleological: defined in terms of cause or purpose. God is the first cause or purpose.

      • All objects have a final cause

Aristotle s epistemology
Aristotle’s Epistemology

  • We understand when we know both the material and formal causes

  • “Experience, not authority, should be taken as the ultimate standard of judgment.”

  • Organized logic as a system of argumentation

    • Syllogism

Aristotle s axiology
Aristotle’s Axiology

  • What is happiness/the good?

    • The “mean”

    • Rational, objective, and relative

    • The life of contemplation

Aristotle s legacy
Aristotle’s Legacy

  • Foundation of science and astronomy until the 16th century

  • Foundation of Christian doctrine

    • Fused Aristotle with the Bible