Home Philosophy The handy philosophy answer book
What are some of Aristotle's works and what are they about?
Aristotle's Organon consists of six early works: Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics, and Sophistical Refutations. These, together with the Physics and the Metaphysic, address logic, language, the nature of scientific inquiry, and what philosophers have since called ontology, which is the study of things that are real or things that exist.
These works demonstrate a systematic philosophic method of analysis and provide the results of that method in general areas of human knowledge. More specific scientific accounts are found in Aristotle's On Generation and Corruption, On the Heavens, and Meteorology. On the Soul deals with the general functions of the mind, which in Aristotle's Parva Naturalis are applied to specific functions, such as remembering, dreaming, sleeping, and waking. Aristotle's works on biology include the History of Animals, Parts of Animals, and On the Generation of Animals. The Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics constitute Aristotle's theory of moral virtue, whereas his political philosophy is put forth in the Politics. The Rhetoric discusses oratory and persuasion, and the Poetics contains his theory of tragedy as an art form.
What was most important about Aristotle's work?
To encourage the development of certain knowledge, Aristotle produced a theory of the rules of correct thought in his development of syllogistics, a form of logic that dominated the field until the modern period. Regarding science, Aristotle's theory of causation was meant to show how things could come into existence and change, without reliance on Plato's idea of a more real but hidden world. Aristotle, furthermore, advocated and practiced observation and classification in all fields.
Aristotle's sense of ethics was also more down-to-earth than Plato's. He believed that happiness was an appropriate and universal goal for human beings and that it could be attained by developing and practicing virtues, which were inclinations to behave in certain ways.
Unlike Plato, Aristotle did not have an idea of a utopian form of government, but rather claimed that government arises naturally from organizations of families, clans, and villages. The purpose of government, according to Aristotle, is to support individual well-being and self-sufficiency.
While Aristotle agreed with Plato that the arts were a form of imitation, he showed that they did not necessarily falsify reality, because they could be about universal human truths, rather than mere distorted copies of actual people and events.
What is a syllogism?
According to Aristotle, a classic syllogism has a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. If the major and minor premises are true, then it is not possible for the conclusion to be false; the conclusion must be true. For example, "All men are mortal" is a major premise. "Socrates is a man" is a minor premise. And "Socrates is mortal" is the conclusion.
How did Aristotle's main ideas compare to Plato's?
Aristotle rejected Plato's claim that only the forms are real and that there is another world of forms outside of the world that we perceive in ordinary life. But he agreed with Plato that knowledge must have certainty. Therefore, his main philosophical task was to describe what made objects real in this world and explain how we can have certain knowledge about them. He also developed a system of logic, or rules of thought, that would guarantee certainty if one began with premises that were certain.
What are Aristotle's 10 categories of existing things?
Aristotle posits 10 categories of existing things: substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, doing, having, and being affected. Each of these terms was defined by Aristotle in pretty much the same way we would define it today, the one exception being substance. For Aristotle there were primary and secondary substances. A primary substance was a whole thing, such as a man or a dog. A secondary substance was a quality of that thing, such as rationality or loyalty.
To take the rest in turn: quantity is the number of something, a mathematical amount or measure; relation is a connection or comparison between things, such as above, below, before, or after; place refers to where a physical thing is; time is both the passage of events and a specific time on a clock or a calendar; position refers to how something is oriented, for example, right side up or upside down; doing refers to action, such as playing the harp or curing the sick; having refers to both the possession of a thing other than the possessor (for example, your wallet), or to something that is happening to you, such as having a good time; being affected refers to the effect of one thing on another, for example, your being affected by heat when you put your hand in the flame of a candle.
Aristotle's main unit of existence was primary substances. A primary substance is a specific thing, such as a cow in a field, a dog, or a tree outside the Lyceum. Secondary substances are the groups to which the primary substances belong, such as bovines, canines, or plants. Primary substances have accidents—which are changing qualities that we would call attributes—that can only exist in them; for example, tallness, fatness, furriness, or greenness. Our scientific knowledge is all about secondary substances, which have no real existence of their own but are abstractions in our mind based on the common nature of members of groups of similar primary substances.
|< Prev||CONTENTS||Next >|