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Provides information on Aristotle's Theory.

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Aristotle proposed theories on different dimensions (tragedy, ethics, political, form, etc.).

I located an excellent article that touched on some of the theories to get you started. The article begins by explaining how science began in Athens through Socrates and Plato, who was Aristotle's teacher. I also attached an article on Aristotle's theory of ethics.

I included other links as well that you may want to check out.

ARTICLE: By Michael Fowler, U. Va. Physics, 9/3/2008


Beginnings of Science and Philosophy in Athens

Let us first recap briefly the emergence of philosophy and science in Athens after around 450 B.C. It all began with Socrates, who was born in 470 B.C. Socrates was a true philosopher, a lover of wisdom, who tried to elicit the truth by what has become known as the Socratic method, in which by a series of probing questions he forced successive further clarification of thought. Of course, such clarity often reveals that the other person's ideas don't in fact make much sense, so that although Socrates made a lot of things much clearer, he wasn't a favorite of many establishment politicians. For example, he could argue very convincingly that traditional morality had no logical basis. He mostly lectured to the sons of well-to-do aristocrats, one of whom was Plato, born in 428 B.C. Plato was a young man when Athens was humiliated by Sparta in the Peloponnesian War, and Plato probably attributed the loss to Athens' being a democracy, as opposed to the kind of fascist war-based state Sparta was. Plato founded an Academy. The name came (at least in legend) from one Academus, a landowner on whose estate Plato and other philosophers met regularly. The important point is that this was the first university. All the people involved were probably aristocrats, and they discussed everything: politics, economics, morality, philosophy, mathematics and science. One of their main concerns was to find what constituted an ideal city-state. Democracy didn't seem to have worked very well in their recent past. Plato's ideas are set out in the Republic.

Plato's Idea of a Good Education

What is interesting about the Republic from our point of view is the emphasis on a good education for the elite group in charge of Plato's ideal society. In particular, Plato considered education in mathematics and astronomy to be excellent ways of sharpening the mind. He believed that intense mental exercise of this kind had the same effect on the mind that a rigorous physical regimen did on the body. Students at the Academy covered a vast range of subjects, but there was a sign over the door stating that some knowledge of mathematics was needed to enter-nothing else was mentioned! Plato in particular loved geometry, and felt that the beauty of the five regular solids he was the first to categorize meant they must be fundamental to nature, they must somehow be the shapes of the atoms. Notice that this approach to physics is not heavily dependent on observation and experiment.

Aristotle and Alexander

We turn now to the third member of this trio, Aristotle, born in 384 B.C. in Stagira, in Thrace, at the northern end of the Aegean, near Macedonia. Aristotle's father was the family physician of King Philip of Macedonia. At the age of eighteen, Aristotle came to Athens to study at Plato's Academy, and stayed there twenty years until Plato's death in 348 B.C. (Statue is a Roman copy of a Greek original, in the Louvre, photographer Eric Gaba (User:Sting), July 2005.)

Five years after Plato's death, Aristotle took a position as tutor to King Philip of Macedonia's thirteen year old son Alexander. He stayed for three years. It is not clear what impact, if any, Aristotle's lessons had, but Alexander, like his father, was a great admirer of Greek civilization, even though the Athenians considered Macedonia the boondocks. In fact, when his father Philip died in 336 B.C., Alexander did his best to spread Greek civilization as far as he could. Macedonia had an excellent army, and over the next thirteen years Alexander organized Greece as a federation of city states, conquered Persia, the Middle East, Egypt, southern Afghanistan, some of Central Asia and the Punjab in India.

The picture below (see http://galileoandeinstein.physics.virginia.edu/lectures/aristot2.html) is a fortress built by Alexander's army in Herat, Afghanistan, and still standing. (Picture from http://flickr.com/photos/koldo/67606119/ , author koldo / Koldo Hormaza .)

He founded Greek cities in many places, the greatest being Alexandria in Egypt, which in fact became the most important center of Greek science later on, and without which all of Greek learning might have been lost. The Greek cities became restless, predictably but rather ungratefully, when he demanded to be treated as a god. He died of a fever at age 33.

Aristotle Founds the Lyceum

Aristotle came back to Athens in 335 B.C., and spent the next twelve years running his own version of an academy, which was called the Lyceum, named after the place in Athens where it was located, an old temple of Apollo. (French high schools are named lycee after Aristotle's establishment.) Aristotle's preferred mode of operation was to spend a lot of time walking around talking with his colleagues, then write down his arguments. The Aristotelians are often called the Peripatetics: people who walk around.

Aristotle wrote extensively on all subjects: politics, metaphysics, ethics, logic and science. He didn't care for Plato's rather communal ...

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