The Philosopher, Aristotle


Joe Rinzel

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle was an amazing individual who
possessed a multitude of talents ranging from mastery of rhetoric to interest
in physiology. Aristotle lived during the fourth century B.C. in ancient Greece.
The culture of the Greeks during this time differs greatly from our present day
life and times. Aristotle came into contact with many great men of history,
from Plato his instructor and mentor to Alexander the Great, conquerer and ruler
of the east. The works of Aristotle have left many after him to contemplate his
theories and attitudes toward life and his Realism movement.
The time in which Aristotle lived was one where to be heard one had to
possess a loud voice and master the art of persuasion, or rhetoric. This was the
case throughout Greece, specifically in Athens, where Aristotle spent the major
part of his life. The law in Athens came from a group of about five thousand
men who were the land holders in the city. In this group an individual must be
heard in order to defend himself and others in need. This was accomplished by
those trained in rhetoric. Therefore those who taught this art stood to obtain
a lot of wealth from their endeavors. These were known as sophists with whom
much contempt was held by such philosophers as Socrates. "The greatest school
of Rhetoric in all Greece was at this period held in Athens by the renowned
Isocrates, who was at the zenith of his reputation."(Collins p. 11) A competitor
with this school was Plato\'s Academy of philosophy which is where Aristotle
arrived at in the year 367 B.C.. Plato became Aristotle\'s teacher and soon
realized the massive potential and sheer intellect that Aristotle possessed.
Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. in a town just outside the borders of the
Macedonian Empire, called Stageira. He was rumored to have been raised in the
customs of the Asclepiad. "It was the custom in Asclepiad families for the boys
to be trained by their father in the practice of dissection just as regularly as
boys in other families learn to read and write."(Collins p. 3) When Aristotle
turned seventeen his father, Nicomachus died and he was put under the care of
Proxenus of Atarneus, who sent him to Athens to further his education under the
tutorship of the great philosopher, Plato.
It was at Plato\'s Academy that Aristotle was realized for his potential
and was able to grow in knowledge and understanding of philosophy. It was not
long before Aristotle became known as "the Mind of the School" and he stayed
there for about twenty years. During this time Aristotle became well known and
respected as a writer and orator. His philosophy however grew to differ greatly
from that of his mentor\'s, as well as against those of the previously mentioned,
Isocrates. In fact his orations "during his earlier residence at Athens show
him somewhat petulantly attacking both Plato and Isocrates."(Collins p. His
arguments against his teacher\'s philosophies were centered on the Platonic
theory of Forms. Aristotle started the Realism movement which objected to the
idea that the material world is unimportant and a shadow of existence. He
disagreed with the belief that the true reality existed through universal ideas,
truths, and forms. He had no room in his views for imagination and what he saw
as guesses at truths. When Plato died in 347 B.C., Aristotle was thought to be
the natural person to take over his work. Plato\'s nephew, Speusippus, however
was named to run the Academy.
Aristotle and some of his followers left Athens and traveled to the town of
Atarneus where he lived with the ruler, Hermeias for three years. Aristotle was
married and appeared happy until Hermais was murdered and caused him to flee
with his wife to Mitylene. There he lived for three years until he joined the
court of King Philip of Macedonia to engage in tutoring the young Alexander.
This continued until the year 336, when Phillip died and Alexander was crowned
king of the Macedonia. Aristotle remained in the area as he was in a position
of substantial power. There are rumors of Alexander doing favors for Aristotle
and indeed using his forces to help Aristotle in his researches and quests for
knowledge.
Aristotle eventually found his way back to Athens where another follower
of Plato, Xenocrates, had taken over control of the Academy at the death of
Speusippus. Aristotle founded and developed a rival school of philosophy in the
city using his new influence with the Macedonian empire which had taken control
of