Key words: ancient Greek philosopher scientist
Aristotle (384-322 bc), Greek philosopher and scientist, who shares with Plato and Socrates the distinction of being the most famous of ancient philosophers. He was born at Stagira, in Macedonia, the son of a physician to the royal court. At the age of 17, he went to Athens to study at Plato's Academy. He remained there for about 20 years, as a student and then as a teacher.
When Plato died in 347 bc, Aristotle moved to Assos, a city in Asia Minor, where a friend of his, Hermias, was ruler. There he counseled Hermias and married his niece and adopted daughter, Pythias. After Hermias was captured and executed by the Persians in 345 bc, Aristotle went to Pella, the Macedonian capital, where he became the tutor of the king's young son Alexander, later known as Alexander the Great. In 335, when Alexander became king, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his own school, the Lyceum. Because much of the discussion in his school took place while teachers and students were walking about the Lyceum grounds, Aristotle's school came to be known as the Peripatetic (“walking” or “strolling”) school. Upon the death of Alexander in 323 bc, strong anti-Macedonian feeling developed in Athens, and Aristotle retired to a family estate in Euboea (Évvoia). He died there the following year.
Perhaps because of the influence of his father's medical profession, Aristotle's philosophy laid its principal stress on biology, in contrast to Plato's emphasis on mathematics. Aristotle regarded the world as made up of individuals (substances) occurring in fixed natural kinds (species). Each individual has its built-in specific pattern of development and grows toward proper self-realization as a specimen of its type. Growth, purpose, and direction are thus built into nature. Although science studies general kinds, according to Aristotle, these kinds find their existence in particular individuals.
Science and philosophy must therefore balance, not simply choose between, the claims of empiricism (observation and sense experience) and formalism (rational deduction).
One of the most distinctive of Aristotle's philosophic contributions was a new notion of causality. Each thing or event, he thought, has more than one “reason” that helps to explain what, why, and where it is. Earlier Greek thinkers had tended to assume that only one sort of cause can be really explanatory; Aristotle proposed four. (The word Aristotle uses, aition,”a responsible, explanatory factor” is not synonymous with the word cause in its modern sense.)
元前384 年，亚里士多德生于富拉基亚的斯塔基尔希腊移民区。他的父亲是马其顿国王腓力二世的宫廷侍医，所以他的家庭应该属于奴隶主阶级中的中产阶层。亚里士多德于公元前367 年迁居到雅典，曾经学过医学，还在雅典柏拉图学院学习过很多年，是柏拉图学院的积极参加者。
当柏拉图到了晚年，他们师生间的分歧更大了，经常发生争吵。公元前347 年，柏拉图去世后，亚里士多德在雅典又继续呆了两年，此后他开始游历各地。公元前343 年，他受马其顿国王腓力二世的聘请，担任起太子亚历山大的老师。当时，亚历山大十三岁，亚里士多德四十二岁。