Aristotle By Vickie Chao

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By Vickie Chao

1     Back in the old days, there were three wise men in ancient Greece. These three wise men were from three different generations. Socrates was the oldest of the trio. He passed his knowledge to his student, Plato, who then passed it on to Aristotle. Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all great philosophers. Together, their schools of thought have since become the foundation of Western philosophy.
2     Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. His father, Nicomachus, was a court physician to the king of Macedonia. As the son of a doctor, Aristotle was no stranger to science. Growing up, he learned quite a bit about medicine and biology from his father. Later, after Nicomachus passed away, his guardian sent him to study in Plato's Academy in Athens. Aristotle was about eighteen years old then.
3     Plato's Academy was Europe's first university. It offered courses on various subjects. Shortly after Aristotle began his study there, he immersed himself in learning everything on the curriculum. He soon proved himself an excellent student. Because of his wide range of interests, Aristotle never limited his scope of education. As a result, he became the leading expert in many fields. Philosophy was simply one of them. Aristotle was in the Academy for nearly 20 years. He first joined as a student and then stayed on as a teacher. By the time that Plato died around 347 B.C., Aristotle had already built up a very good name for himself. Nonetheless, he did not get the job as the head of the Academy. That post went to Plato's nephew. Some scholars believed that Aristotle felt disgusted by the choice. But there is no proof to that theory. Regardless of what he had truly felt, Aristotle decided to leave Athens. So in 347 B.C., he quit the Academy and went to work for Hermeias, ruler of Atarneus, in Asia Minor (today's Turkey). Aristotle was not alone in this venture. He and another Academy member, Xenocrates, founded the Assus Academy. They taught there for several years. During his stay in Atarneus, Aristotle was on very good terms with Hermeias. He even married the man's niece, Pythias. Interestingly, when Aristotle later wrote his famous book, Politics, he said that the ideal ages for marriage was 37 for the husband and 18 for the wife. Given that Aristotle was 37 years old at the time, it is very likely that Pythias was 18.
4     In 344 B.C., Hermeias was killed in a riot. The unrest drove Aristotle to move again. This time, he took his family to a nearby island called Lesbos. After they settled down, Aristotle renewed his interest in biology. He did a lot of research on plant and animal life. Based on what he had found, he tried to apply it to establish the relation between the soul and the body. In his work, On the Soul, he defined the soul as the form of the body and the body as the matter of the soul. In short, Aristotle suggested that a person's soul is not an independent substance. This view was very different from Plato's, who believed that the soul could live separately from the body.
5     After spending about a year in Lesbos, Aristotle was called back to Macedonia. Its king, Philip II, had an important task for him. He wanted Aristotle to tutor his 13-year-old son. Aristotle accepted the position. He had no idea at the time that this young prince would one day build one of the world's largest empires! This student of his was none other than Alexander the Great! By all accounts, Alexander did not follow everything Aristotle had taught him. One particular example would be how to treat "barbarians" or non-Greeks. Aristotle believed that Greeks were far better than non-Greeks. Thus, he told his pupil that he should never co-mingle with non-Greeks. He should make them slaves. Alexander disagreed. He made clear of that later in his life by marrying a Persian princess and listening to advice given by non-Greeks.
6     Aristotle worked in King Philip's court for three years. After his brief stint as Alexander's teacher, he returned to his hometown and remained there for five years. When Alexander set out to invade Persia, Aristotle decided to leave Macedonia, too. He went to Athens in 335 B.C. and opened a school rivaling the Academy. The school was called the Lyceum. For the next twelve years, Aristotle wrote volumes of work. Sadly, a lot of them were lost forever. The few that have survived were mainly his lecture notes.
7     In July 323 B.C., Alexander died. When the news reached Athens, its citizens jumped at the chance. They longed to have their independence back. They wanted to kick out the Macedonians, who had ruled them since 338 B.C. Since anti-Macedonian tension ran high, Aristotle felt he was in grave danger. Everybody in Athens knew that he was Alexander's tutor. While his Macedonian connections served him very well in the past, they were certainly hindering him now. With that in mind, Aristotle left Athens. He reportedly said that he would not allow the Athenians to "sin twice against philosophy." The first sin he had in mind was Socrates. Back then in 399 B.C., the Athenians accused him of corrupting the youth and sentenced him to death. Aristotle did not care to be the second sin.
8     Aristotle spent his final days in his mother's country house at Chalcis on the island of Euboea. He died there on March 7, 322 B.C., from a stomach illness. The tale of him being poisoned or throwing himself into the sea because he could not explain the tides is what it is -- a tale.

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Which of the following about Aristotle is true?  Aristotle founded both the Assus Academy and the Lyceum.  Aristotle died the same year as Alexander the Great.  Aristotle was the head of the Academy for twelve years.  Aristotle accused Socrates of corrupting the youth.


Which of the following events took place first?  Aristotle retired in his mother's country house at Chalcis.  Aristotle resigned from the Academy.  The Macedonians conquered Athens.  Aristotle married Pythias.


In which of his works did Aristotle state the ideal ages for marriage?  Physics  Politics  On Philosophy  On the Soul


Why did Aristotle leave Athens shortly after Alexander died?  Because he was homesick  Because he felt unsafe living there  Because he was bankrupt  Because he wanted to attend Alexander's funeral


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Date ___________________



What is the biggest difference between Plato's and Aristotle's views on the soul?  Plato said that a person's soul is an independent substance, but Aristotle said it is not.  Plato said that there is no such thing as the soul, but Aristotle disagreed.  Plato said that a person's soul is a person's heart, but Aristotle disagreed.  Plato said that a person's soul is not an independent substance, but Aristotle said it is.


How old was Aristotle when he died?  79  57  48  62


Who of the following did not help to establish the foundation of Western philosophy?  Xenocrates  Socrates  Aristotle  Plato


Which of the following statements about Aristotle is correct?  Aristotle was an expert in many fields, such as philosophy and biography.  Aristotle spent the biggest part of his life running the Lyceum.  Aristotle was Socrates' student.  Aristotle believed that a man should get married at 18.


Aristotle - Answer Key

1  Aristotle founded both the Assus Academy and the Lyceum.
2  Aristotle resigned from the Academy.
3  Politics
4  Because he felt unsafe living there
5  Plato said that a person's soul is an independent substance, but Aristotle said it is not.
6  62
7  Xenocrates
8  Aristotle was an expert in many fields, such as philosophy and biography.

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