This cannot be explained by blatant nepotism, since Speusippus was a philosopher and mathematician of considerable talent. Perhaps, though, Aristotle was displeased by this turn of events, and, some suppose, because he was venal, he left when he was passed over for the headship. More probably he simply did not care for the increasingly mathematical direction the Academy was set to take under Speusippus. Independent of such possible internal considerations, there was also at the time a mild resurgence of an always-simmering anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens.
No less likely, however, is the suggestion that Aristotle was not pushed but pulled: the Aegean Coast of Asia Minor would have proven an ideal setting for his burgeoning interests in marine biology. We cannot access his actual motives. Whatever his motives for leaving Athens, Aristotle went to Assos and remained there for only three years.
During that time, he married the niece or adopted daughter or both of Hermeias. She was named Pythias,13 and with Aristotle she had a daughter, also named Pythias. After his three years there, probably because of the deposition of the tyrant Hermeias, Aristotle moved to the nearby island of Lesbos, to the town of Mytilene.
While the move was perhaps in some ways significant, it was geographically inconsequential: Lesbos is sufficiently close to Assos that it can be seen from its acropolis. Once he arrived there, Aristotle carried on his researches with another refugee from the Academy, Theophrastus, who was a native of Mytelene. It is likely that during his two or so years on Lesbos, Aristotle gave over a great Life and Works 19 deal of his energy to marine biological investigation. His activity on Lesbos was brought to an end when Aristotle was summoned home in by Philip of Macedon to serve as a tutor to his son Alexander, soon to be the Great.
Although it has proven irresistible to historians of all stripes to speculate about the interactions of this world historical pair, in fact we have no credible evidence regarding their contact with one another. Whatever influence Aristotle may have had was confined to just two or three years, beginning when Alexander was thirteen and ending when he was fifteen, at which age he was appointed a Regent before embarking on his Asiatic campaigns.
Theodor W. Adorno () was one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists of the post-war period. Crucial to the development of Critical Theory, his . Theodor W. Adorno () was one of the foremost philosophers and social theorists of the post-war Routledge, - Literary Criticism - pages.
He evidently remained in Macedon, still at the court of Philip or perhaps back in Stagira. The Roman encyclopaedist Pliny contends that Aristotle at this time benefited scientifically from his association with Alexander. His account has it that Alexander made available to Aristotle the services of all of his hunters, fishermen, and all those engaged in animal husbandry of any kind.
In the History of Animals, for example, Aristotle describes in minute detail, to take but a few examples, the habits, habitats, and patterns of reproduction and maturation of nine varieties of bees HA viii 40, b5—b23 ; the hunting techniques of a great variety of marine creatures, explaining, for instance, how the cuttlefish is the most cunning of the cephalopods, by dint of its ability to discharge its pigment for concealment HA ix 37, b10—a2 ; and the joint structures of the legs of such diverse animals as elephants, crocodiles, lizards, and seals HA ii 1, a1—b3.
The grain of the description tends to be at this level of exactness or higher: The seal is a kind of imperfect quadruped, for its front feet are placed just behind the shoulder-blade, resembling hands, like the front paws of the bear; for they are furnished with five toes, and 20 Aristotle each of the toes has three flexions and a nail of inconsiderable size. HA a32—b3 Or to take another example, also from the realm of marine biology: The fishing-frog hunts little fish with a set of filaments that project in front of its eyes; they are long and hair-like, being rounded at their tips; they lie on either side and are used as bait.
The animal stirs up a place full of sand and mud and having concealed itself, it raises the filaments, and when the little fish strike against them, it draws them in underneath into its mouth HA b13—19 Aristotle evidently compiled his massive descriptions of animal life and activity from close empirical observation augmented by the precise descriptions of those involved in animal husbandry made available to him. Upon his return, Aristotle set up his own school in an area dedicated to the god Apollo Lykeios, whence the name the Lyceum. In the thirteen years spent there before leaving Athens for his last time, Aristotle and his associates conducted research at a feverish pace.
It is likely, though the matter is disputed, that most of the philosophical works of Aristotle which survive today derive from this period. Aristotle and his colleagues, who included Theophrastus, Eudemus, and Aristoxenus, pursued research programmes inter alia into botany, biological taxonomy, music, mathematics, astronomy, Life and Works 21 medicine, cosmology, physics, the history of philosophy, the arts, psychology, ethics, rhetoric, and government and political theory.
In all these areas, the Lyceum sought to collect manuscripts, assembling, according to Strabo,17 the first great library in antiquity. We know, for example, that in politics alone the Lyceum undertook the task of collecting the constitutions of some cities,18 evidently in an effort to arrive at a comprehensive description of political arrangement, with the further goal of determining what the ideal constitution might be, but then also, more practically, which sorts of governments would be best suited to which forms of material and social circumstances.
After thirteen years in Athens, Aristotle again found cause to retire from the city. It seems reasonable to conclude that prudence once more played its part. His second and final departure from Athens was probably hurried along by a resurgence of anti-Macedonian sentiment. After Alexander succumbed to disease in in Babylon, Athens had greater latitude to vent its long-simmering anti-Macedonian sentiment. The hymn, which survives,21 compares Hermeias, a eunuch and one-time slave, in glory to various Greek heroes, a coupling perhaps likely to offend common Greek sentiment though hardly impious.
Finding no special reason to defend himself against such transparently trumped-up charges, 22 Aristotle Aristotle withdrew directly to Chalcis, on the large island of Euboea, remarking, as an ancient legend has it, that he was compelled to go lest Athens be permitted to sin twice against philosophy.
Stories abound as to their subsequent disposition. A once well-received story, that his writings were for the most part neglected until recovered in a damp chest by Andronicus of Rhodes in the second century AD, is difficult to credit, since it relies on sources which are otherwise mainly unreliable.
Scholars wrangle about their relative datings, in some cases about their authenticity, and in many, many instances, about the appropriate constitution of the texts themselves. That is, the translations we read today are provided from texts which have only recently — within the last century or two — been put into anything like authoritative versions.
All modern translations derive in one way or another from the monumental Prussian Academy edition of Immanuel Bekker, whose pages and columns provide the standard reference numbers for all modern texts and translations, including those employed in the current volume. The process is ongoing. As will be evident to anyone reading Aristotle for the first time, whether in the original Greek or in translation, his writing can be extraordinarily difficult to understand. Most students encounter Aristotle after having been introduced to the supple, engaging, and highly literary dialogues of Plato.
Where in Plato a novice reader will find humour, vivid characterization, and striking deployment of imagery, all often advanced in nimble banter and draped in lilting prose, in Aristotle Life and Works 23 the same reader confronts terse, crabbed, and gritty prose, much of it ungainly in syntax, often littered with unexplained technical jargon, and sometimes veering into the impenetrable. At a first pass, even a generous reader is bound to be perplexed by such arid observations as: For if A belongs to no B but to every C, e.
The case is the same if A belongs to every B but to no C; for we shall have the same deduction. The current Aristotelian corpus comprises some thirty-one works, with occasional overlap of closely parallel passages.
Unfortunately, we do not possess these works, although fragments of a few dialogues written by Aristotle survive and in them we do encounter some arrestingly lovely prose. It is also occasionally possible to get a glimpse of the style which so impressed Cicero in the main surviving works, but only very rarely. For the most part, what we read is syntactically kinked and simply not pretty.
Key to making progress with his texts is understanding some features of his method.
When confronted with a philosophical problem, Aristotle characteristically begins by stating it as crisply as possible. To take just one illustration, we may be confronted with a problem as to whether human beings can be akratic, or weak-willed EN vii 3. We take it as an obvious datum of our lives that we sometimes decide to pursue a course of action, perhaps to better ourselves by initiating an exercise programme, but then fail to implement our plans, only later to engage in regret and self-recrimination.
We thus take it as obvious that akrasia is possible, because we recognize it with lamentable frequency in our own conduct. Then, however, we learn that Socrates has given a surprisingly compelling reason for doubting that such akrasia is possible. As he suggests, if people always pursue their own perceived interests and forever try to maximize their own well-being, then a failure to implement an exercise programme when planned must reveal not weakness, but an unvoiced belief to the effect that such activity is not really the best course of action, all things considered.
It must be the case, as Socrates seems to suggest, that if we know that exercise really is good for us, and we in fact want what is good for us, as we say we do, then our failure to exercise must stem not from weakness but from a cognitive error of some sort.
An ethics is not what should be , or a clear-cut opposition between what is and what should be. Note, however, that if there is no highest prime, then this fact no cannot be merely contingently true. It can serve not only as an instance of the dialectic of Enlightenment, but also as a challenge to critique. Hence, it is not possible to think non-being. This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. In doing so, I have tried to keep the needs of Greekless English readers in mind, while simultaneously striving not to offend the demands of legitimate fidelity. It serves the interests of no-one to foist facile views upon Aristotle or any other great philosopher merely for the satisfaction of short-term self-promotion.
In general, if some course of action a is good for us, and we in fact want what is good for us, but yet do not pursue a, then we must not have grasped the relevant fact, namely that a is what is good for us. When Aristotle approaches this sort of puzzle, he begins by pausing to reflect upon the character of the puzzle he means to address.
Do we want to prove that akrasia is after all possible?
Or are we assuming that akrasia is actual and so possible, and hence really only interested in explaining what must be true about our access to our own psychological states when we act in self-undermining ways? Or is it our goal rather to explain how akrasia might seem possible when we know, on the basis of a proof, that it really is anything but? We will make progress, contends Aristotle, in this as in other philosophical puzzles, only if we first set out the problem to be tackled in clear-headed terms.
In ordinary Greek, a man who is endoxos is someone of high repute or an honoured citizen. Aristotle thinks it salutary to collect endoxa for two distinct, though continuous reasons. First, there is the obvious point that it is a waste of time to re-invent the wheel; where progress has already been made, it is otiose to begin afresh, ignoring the advances made by predecessors.
This, it should be stressed, is not for Aristotle merely a form of pietistic rhetoric. He thinks that we have something to learn from our predecessors, as often by their mistakes as by their accomplishments, and so we should not waste our own intellectual resources by ignoring them. Second, as often as not, our predecessors had good reason to formulate problems in the manner they did.
We can accordingly learn something about the texture of the problems that confront us by paying attention to the terms in which our predecessors have cast them. In this way, philosophical progress is possible.
More generally, Aristotle thinks that we begin in philosophy precisely where we are: we begin with how things appear to us — we begin, that is, by stating the appearances, the phainomena, of which the endoxa form a subclass EN b3—8. They form a subclass when they serve as the starting points of dialectic, the form of argument appropriate to non-scientific frameworks APr 46a17—27; PA b5—10; EN b2— It appears, for example, that we are sometimes weak-willed. It also appears, in a different domain, that every physical event has a cause, for example that a billiard ball does not move unless something causes it to move.
Of course, such appearances may be deceiving; or they may be accurate. Scholars divide on the question of the degree to which Aristotle maintains that appearances should constrain us in our philosophizing. Often enough, Aristotle suggests that we should do what we can to preserve appearances, where possible; yet he stands ready to abandon them whenever science or philosophy demands Meta. Thus, for example, if it appears to us that the universe is geocentric, then we will be foolish to insist that appearance and reality match if it is subsequently shown that the heavens do not rotate around the earth as their midpoint.
Still, it is difficult to state in abstract and exceptionless terms when appearances should be respected and when they may be abandoned. Perhaps this is a general worry in philosophy, but it Life and Works 27 has a special focus in Aristotle, because he has a methodological precept of beginning a discussion by collecting the phenomena and surveying the endoxa.
For the novice reader, it merits mentioning only that Aristotle will often begin a discussion by collecting the appearances and the credible beliefs only to test them in order to determine their worth. Generally, when dealing with Aristotle, we must proceed as we do in English, by gleaning his meaning from context.
Most importantly, though, we should not prejudge whether he intends to endorse or discard a reputable opinion endoxon or appearance phainomenon upon its first mention in the setting out of a problem aporia. Mainly, though, this is a somewhat unstable generalization, Aristotle tends to be neutral at the moment of introducing a credible belief or appearance, and while he respects the phenomena and the endoxa, he does not regard himself as beholden to them.
Appearances and reputable opinions may crumble in the face of sustained scrutiny. Still, he does often enough begin with the presumption that credible beliefs are credible for a reason and that appearances often track the truth — if not the surface truth presented by the appearance, then a discoverable truth whose relation to our initial appearance becomes clear upon investigation and analysis. In fact, these are but two examples among many, central, to be sure, but none too exceptional.