Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 1.djvu/788

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714

ARISTOTLE


714


ABISTOTLE


Aristotle is informed concerning the doctrines of those who preceded hiiu, we are prepared to accept Strabo's assertion that he was the first who accu- mulated a great library. During the last years of Aristotle's Ufe the relations between him and his former royal pupil became very much strained, ow- ing to the disgrace and punishment of Callisthenes whom he had recommended to the King. Never- theless, he continued to be regarded at Athens as a friend of Alexander and a representative of the Macedonian dominion. Consequently, when Alex- ander's death became known at Athens, and the outbreak occurred which led to the Laraian war, Aristotle was obliged to share in the general unpop- ularity of the Macedonians, and the charge of im- piety, which had Ijeen brouglit against Anaxagoras and Socrates, was now, with even less reason, brought against him. He left the city, sajdng (according to many ancient aiithorities) that he would not give the Athenians a chance to sin a third time against philosophy. lie took up his residence at his country house, at Chalcis, in Euboea, and there he died the following year, 322 B. c. His death was due to a disease from which he had long suffered. The story that his death was due to hemlock poisoning, as well as the legend, according to which ne threw himself into the sea " because he could not explain the tides" are absolutely without historical foundation.

Very little is known about Aristotle's personal appearance except from sources manifestly hostile. There is no reason, however, to doubt the faithful- ness of the statues and busts coming down to us, possibly from the first years of the Peripatetic School, which represent him as sharp and keen of counte- nance, and somewhat below the medium height. His character, as revealed by his writings, his will (which is undoubtedly genuine), fragments of his letters, and the allusions of his unprejudiced contemporaries, was that of a high-minded, kind-hearted man, de- voted to his family and his friends, kind to his slaves, fair to his enemies and rivals, grateful towards his benefactors — in a word, an embodiment of tliose moral ideals which he outlined in his ethical treat- ises, and which we recognize to be far above the concept of moral excellence current in his day and among his people. When Platonism ceased to domi- nate the world of Christian speculation, and the works of the Stagirite began to be studied without fear and prejudice, the personality of Aristotle ap- peared to the Christian writers of the thirteenth cen- tury, as it had to the unprejudiced pagan writers of his own day, calm, majestic, untroubled by passion, and undimmed by any great moral defects, "the master of those who know".

Philosophy. — Aristotle defines pliilosophy in terms of essence, saying that philosophy is " the science of the universal essence of that which is actual ". Plato had defined it as the "science of the idea", meaning by idea what we should call the unconditional basis of phenomena. Both pupil and master regard phi- losophy as concerned with the universal; the former, however, finds the universal in particular things, and calls it the essence of things, while the latter finds that the univers,al exists npnrt frnm particular things, and is related to them as tlicir prototype or exemplar. For .\ristotlc, therefore, philosophic method implies the ascent from the study of particular phenomena to the knowledge of es.scnces, while for Plato philo- sophic metliod means the descent from a knowledge of universal icioas to a contemplation of particular imitations of those ideas. In a certain sen.se, Aris- totle's method is both inductive and deductive, while Plato's is essentially <leductive. In other words, for Plato's tendency to idealize the world of reality in the light of intuition of a higher world, Aristotle sub- stituted the scientific tendency to examine first the phenomena of the real world aroun 1 iiv mikI tliciice


to reason to a knowledge of the essences and laws which no intuition can reveal, but which science can prove to exist. In fact, Aristotle's notion of phi- losophy corresponds, generally speaking, to what was later understood to be science, as distinct from phi- losophy. In the larger sense of the word, he makes philosophy coextensive with science, or reasoning: " All science (Siivoia) is either practical, poetical, or theoretical." By practical science he understands ethics and politics; by poetical, he means the study of poetry and the other fine arts; while by theoretical philosophy he means physics, mathematics, and met- aphysics. The last, philosophy in the stricter sense, he defines as " the knowledge of immaterial being, and calls it "first philosophy", "the theologic science", or of " being in the highest degree of abstraction." If logic, or, as Aristotle calls it. Analytic, be re- garded as a study preliminary to philosophy, we have as divisions of Aristotelean philosophy (I) Logic; (II) Theoretical Philosophy, including Metaphysics, Physics, Mathematics; (III) Practical Philosophy; (IV) Poetical Philosophy.

I. Logic. — Aristotle's logical treatises, constitut- ing what was later called the "Organon", contain the first systematic treatment of the laws of thought in relation to the acquisition of knowledge. They form, in fact, the first attempt to reduce logic to a science, and consequently entitle their writer to be considered the foimder of logic. They are six in number and deal respectively with: (1) Classification of Notions, (2) Judgments and Propo.sitions, (3) the Syllogism, (4) Demonstration, (5) the Problematic Syllogism, and (6) Fallacies, thus covering practically the entire field of logical doctrine. In the first treat- ise, the "Categories", Aristotle gives a classification of all concepts, or notions, according to the classes into which the things represented by the concepts, or notions, naturally fall. These classes are sub- stance, quantity, relation, action, passion (not to be understood as meaning merely a mental or psychic condition), place, time, situation, and habit (in the sense of dress). They are carefully to be distin- guished from the Predicables, namely, genus, spe- cies (definition), difference, property, and accident. The latter are, indeed, cla.s.ses into which ideas fall, but only in so far as one idea is predicated of another. That is to say, while the Categories are primarily a classification of modes of being, and secondarily of notions which express modes of being, the Predicables are primarily a classification of modes of predication, and secondarily of notions or ideas, according to (he different relation in which one idea, as predicate, stands to another as subject. In the treatise styled "Analytica Priora", Aristotle treats the rules of syllogistic reasoning, and lays down the principle of induction. In the "Analytica Posteriora" he takes up the study of demonstration and of indemonstra- ble first principles. Besides, he treats of knowleilge in general, its origin, process, and development up to the stage of scientific knowledge. From certain well-known passages in this treatise, and from his other writings, we are enabled to sketch his theory of knowledge. As was remarked above. Aristotle anproaches the problems of pliilo.sojihy in a scientific frame of mind. He makes experience to be the true source of all our knowledij;(\ intellectual, as well as .sensible. "There is nothing in tlic intellect fliat was not first in the senses" is a fundamental principle with him, as it was later on witli (lie Schoolmen. All knowledge begins with scn.se-ex|)erience. which, of course, has for its object the concrete, partimlar. changeable phenomenon. But though intellectual knowledge begins with sense-experience, it does not end there, for it has for its object the abstract, uni- versal, immutable essence. This theory of cognition is, so far, summed up in the principles: Intellectual knowledge is essentially dependent on sense-knowl-