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Aristotle. Some Facts about Aristotle. Lived from 384-322 Plato’s best student at the Academy Father was a physician —presumably taught Aristotle to examine the natural world for the causes of things Tutor to the young Alexander the Great Founded the Lyceum in Athens in 334

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some facts about aristotle
Some Facts about Aristotle
  • Lived from 384-322
  • Plato’s best student at the Academy
  • Father was a physician—presumably taught Aristotle to examine the natural world for the causes of things
  • Tutor to the young Alexander the Great
  • Founded the Lyceum in Athens in 334
  • Followers called “Peripatetics” for the peripatoi, or covered walkways (colonnades) in the Lyceum, where they would stroll and philosophize.
some differences between plato and aristotle
Some differences between Plato and Aristotle
  • For Plato, true knowledge does not rely on the senses
  • For Aristotle, knowledge begins with sense perception
    • Aristotle is an early empiricist
some differences between plato and aristotle1
Some differences between Plato and Aristotle
  • Plato focuses on mathematics as a way to guide people into thinking about philosophy
  • Aristotle focuses on biologyand


  • Observation,not theory,

is the starting point for Aristotle

some differences between plato and aristotle2
Some differences between Plato and Aristotle
  • For Plato, the Forms are separately, transcendently existing realities
  • For Aristotle, forms they do not have a separate existence beyond inhering in specific material things
aristotle s revision of plato
Aristotle’s revision of Plato
  • For Plato the ever-changing phenomenal world is separate from the true and eternal world of Forms
    • A thing participates in its eternal Form
  • Aristotle suggests that the form is found “inside” the phenomena, the universals “inside” the particulars.
aristotle s revision of plato1
Aristotle’s revision of Plato
  • Aristotle thought Plato’s separation of sensible things and their forms to be nonsense.
  • He called the form of something its essence, that which gives shape, form or purpose to something
  • The opposite of essence he called matter
  • Essence without matter is perfect, complete and ideal, but has no substance or solidity (and certainly no independent existence
  • Matter without essence is formless stuff, not actual but pure potential
  • Essence “realizes” (makes real) matter.
entelechy potentiality becomes actuality
Entelechy: Potentiality becomes Actuality
  • Aristotle thought that things “participating” in the Forms was insufficient to explain their existence
  • How did they becomewhat they are? Aristotle believed that nature provided the answer
  • An acorn becomes an oak over time, but has no choice but to be an oak!(In other words, it cannot be a pine, or a birch) The potential to be an oak is in the acorn, and this potential is actualized when the acorn becomes an oak.
  • The essence, which exists potentially, of something is actualized in the thing’s matter.
  • This process of actualization or becoming is called entelechy
the four causes
(Okay, got all that?
    • (Good, because it gets better)
  • Aristotle believed that the entelechy of a thing could be explained in four ways
  • That is, there are four causes of a thing, or four answers to the question, why is a thing what it is?

1.  The material cause: what something is made of.

2.  The formal cause: the thing’s shape, form, or essence; its definition.

3. The efficient cause: the motion or energy that changes matter.

4.  The final cause: its reason, its purpose, the intention behind it.

The Four Causes
the four causes1
The material cause: the bronze
  • The formal cause: the shape of the statue the sculptor had in made
  • The efficient cause: the heat, the forge, the tools, the sculptor
  • The final cause: to decorate a temple or a palace, to venerate Zeus, to give people something to pray to

Statue of Zeus or Poseidon, Athens

The Four Causes
the soul
The Soul
  • Aristotle’s main work on the soul is De Anima (Latin for Par Psyche, “About the Soul”)
  • For Aristotle, the soul is the “first entelechy” of the body, the force that moves it to fulfill its potential
    • The soul animates (gives life to), or realizesa body
  • Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed the soul and the body cannot exist separately from each other
  • Unlike Plato, Aristotle did NOT believe in the soul’s immortality. When the body dies, the soul dies.
the soul of a human
The Soul of a Human
  • Unlike Plato, Aristotle did not believe in a personal or unique soul. All living things have different souls, but soul does not account for their differences.
  • LIKE Plato, Aristotle believed in a three-part division of the soul. UNLIKE Plato, Aristotle’s divisions were functional:
    • The nutritive soul: The souls of all living things (plants, animals, and humans) have this function in common. It is the driving force toward growth
    • The sensitive soul: Only the souls of animals and humans have this in common. It is the ability to sense one’s surroundings and have feelings
    • The rational soul: Only humans have this ability to think, reason, and gain abstract knowledge. Only humans can be logical, creative, and imaginative
human nature
Human Nature
  • For Plato, a human being is an immortal soul trapped in matter, whose true nature is to be one with the Forms
  • For Aristotle, a human being is a rational animal, that is, an animal that reasons
  • For both, REASON is what separates humans from all living things.
  • Functional argument:
    • It is the nature of a knife to cut (its final cause), it is proper for a good knife to cut well
    • It is the nature of a fish to swim, and proper for a good fish to swim well
    • Just so it is the nature of a human to reason, and proper for a good human to reason well!