Aristotle Biography

Aristotle was born in northern Greece in 384 BCE. As the son of a doctor, Aristotle became interested in nature and anatomy. He valued education and the arts.

As a youth, Aristotle’s tutors taught him about the Greek gods, philosophy, and mathematics. At seventeen he traveled to Athens to study philosophy and logical thinking at Plato's Academy and stayed there for nearly 20 years. At Plato's Academy the students challenged each other with questions and lengthy debates.

Then Aristotle traveled throughout Greece and Turkey. He wrote several works including The Natural History of Animals, the Reproduction of Animals, and The Parts of Animals.

Aristotle had new ideas on how the world should be studied. He liked to take notes and record what he saw, including dissecting animals to learn more about their anatomy. Until then, Greek philosophers and educators did all their work in their mind, thinking about the world, but not observing it. In this way Aristotle laid the foundation of science today. Aristotle spent a lot of time learning about biology. He was the first to classify animals into different groups. He made drawings of different animal parts and tried to determine the function of different organs.

In 343 BCE, Philip II of Macedonia asked Aristotle to tutor his son Alexander. As a reward, King Philip II of Macedon rebuilt Aristotle's hometown and freed the inhabitants from slavery.

After tutoring Alexander, Aristotle returned to Athens and opened the Peripatetic School, teaching logic, physics, public speaking, politics, and philosophy.

Aristotle's most famous ideas:

  • Syllogism reasoning – Say you have three categories of things: A, B, and C. If all the As are Bs and all the Bs are Cs, then all the As are Cs.
  • Five elements – At the time, people believed that everything was made of four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Aristotle proposed a fifth element called aether, which is what makes up the heavenly bodies such as the stars and planets.
  • Four causes – Everything that happens can be explained by one of four causes: material cause, formal cause, efficient cause, and final cause.
  • Astronomy – Aristotle correctly determined that the Earth was round, although he thought that the Earth was stationary and the center of the universe.
  • The "mean" – The best way for people to behave is to avoid any extremes.

Source: Aristotle Biography
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