Aristotelianism ( // ARR-i-stə-TEE-lee-ə-niz-əm) is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of thought, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school and later on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings. In the Islamic Golden Age, Avicenna and Averroes translated the works of Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with philosophers such as Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi, Aristotelianism became a major part of early Islamic philosophy.
Moses Maimonides adopted Aristotelianism from the Islamic scholars and based his Guide for the Perplexed on it and that became the basis of Jewish scholastic philosophy. Although some of Aristotle's logical works were known to western Europe, it was not until the Latin translations of the 12th century that the works of Aristotle and his Arabic commentators became widely available. Scholars such as Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas interpreted and systematized Aristotle's works in accordance with Catholic theology.
After retreating under criticism from modern natural philosophers, the distinctively Aristotelian idea of teleology was transmitted through Wolff and Kant to Hegel, who applied it to history as a totality. Although this project was criticized by Trendelenburg and Brentano as non-Aristotelian, Hegel's influence is now often said to be responsible for an important Aristotelian influence upon Marx.
Recent Aristotelian ethical and "practical" philosophy, such as that of Gadamer and McDowell, is often premissed upon a rejection of Aristotelianism's traditional metaphysical or theoretical philosophy. From this viewpoint, the early modern tradition of political republicanism, which views the res publica, public sphere or state as constituted by its citizens' virtuous activity, can appear thoroughly Aristotelian.
The most famous contemporary Aristotelian philosopher is Alasdair MacIntyre. Especially famous for helping to revive virtue ethics in his book After Virtue , MacIntyre revises Aristotelianism with the argument that the highest temporal goods, which are internal to human beings, are actualized through participation in social practices. He juxtaposes Aristotelianism with the managerial institutions of capitalism and its state, and with rival traditions — including the philosophies of Hume and Nietzsche — that reject Aristotle's idea of essentially human goods and virtues and instead legitimate capitalism. Therefore, on MacIntyre's account, Aristotelianism is not identical with Western philosophy as a whole; rather, it is "the best theory so far, [including] the best theory so far about what makes a particular theory the best one." Politically and socially, it has been characterized as a newly "revolutionary Aristotelianism". This may be contrasted with the more conventional, apolitical and effectively conservative uses of Aristotle by, for example, Gadamer and McDowell. Other important contemporary Aristotelian theorists include Fred D. Miller, Jr. in politics and Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.
The original followers of Aristotle were the members of the Peripatetic school. The most prominent members of the school after Aristotle were Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus, who both continued Aristotle's researches. During the Roman era the school concentrated on preserving and defending his work.The most important figure in this regard was Alexander of Aphrodisias who commentated on Aristotle's writings. With the rise of Neoplatonism in the 3rd century, Peripateticism as an independent philosophy came to an end, but the Neoplatonists sought to incorporate Aristotle's philosophy within their own system, and produced many commentaries on Aristotle.
Byzantine Aristotelianism emerged in the Byzantine Empire in the form of Aristotelian paraphrase: adaptations in which Aristotle's text is rephrased, reorganized, and pruned, in order to make it more easily understood. This genre was allegedly invented by Themistius in the mid-4th century, revived by Michael Psellos in the mid-11th century, and further developed by Sophonias in the late 13th to early 14th centuries.
Leo the Mathematician was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the Magnaura School in the mid-9th century to teach Aristotelian logic.The 11th and 12th centuries saw the emergence of twelfth-century Byzantine Aristotelianism. Before the 12th century, the whole Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries was focused on logic. However, the range of subjects covered by the Aristotelian commentaries produced in the two decades after 1118 is much greater due to the initiative of the princess Anna Comnena who commissioned a number of scholars to write commentaries on previously neglected works of Aristotle.
In the Abbasid Empire, many foreign works were translated into Arabic, large libraries were constructed, and scholars were welcomed.Under the caliphs Harun al-Rashid and his son Al-Ma'mun, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad flourished. Christian scholar Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809–873) was placed in charge of the translation work by the caliph. In his lifetime, Ishaq translated 116 writings, including works by Plato and Aristotle, into Syriac and Arabic.
With the founding of House of Wisdom, the entire corpus of Aristotelian works that had been preserved (excluding the Eudemian Ethics , Magna Moralia and Politics ) became available, along with its Greek commentators; this corpus laid a uniform foundation for Islamic Aristotelianism.
Al-Kindi (801–873) was the first of the Muslim Peripatetic philosophers, and is known for his efforts to introduce Greek and Hellenistic philosophy to the Arab world.He incorporated Aristotelian and Neoplatonist thought into an Islamic philosophical framework. This was an important factor in the introduction and popularization of Greek philosophy in the Muslim intellectual world.
The philosopher Al-Farabi (872–950) had great influence on science and philosophy for several centuries, and in his time was widely thought second only to Aristotle in knowledge (alluded to by his title of "the Second Teacher"). His work, aimed at synthesis of philosophy and Sufism, paved the way for the work of Avicenna (980–1037).Avicenna was one of the main interpreters of Aristotle. The school of thought he founded became known as Avicennism, which was built on ingredients and conceptual building blocks that are largely Aristotelian and Neoplatonist.
At the western end of the Mediterranean Sea, during the reign of Al-Hakam II (961 to 976) in Córdoba, a massive translation effort was undertaken, and many books were translated into Arabic. Averroes (1126–1198), who spent much of his life in Cordoba and Seville, was especially distinguished as a commentator of Aristotle. He often wrote two or three different commentaries on the same work, and some 38 commentaries by Averroes on the works of Aristotle have been identified.Although his writings had only marginal impact in Islamic countries, his works would eventually have a huge impact in the Latin West, and would lead to the school of thought known as Averroism.
Although some knowledge of Aristotle seems to have lingered on in the ecclesiastical centres of western Europe after the fall of the Roman empire, by the ninth century nearly all that was known of Aristotle consisted of Boethius's commentaries on the Organon , and a few abridgments made by Latin authors of the declining empire, Isidore of Seville and Martianus Capella.From that time until the end of the eleventh century, little progress is apparent in Aristotelian knowledge.
The renaissance of the 12th century saw a major search by European scholars for new learning. James of Venice, who probably spent some years in Constantinople, translated Aristotle's Posterior Analytics from Greek into Latin in the mid-twelfth century,thus making the complete Aristotelian logical corpus, the Organon, available in Latin for the first time. Scholars travelled to areas of Europe that once had been under Muslim rule and still had substantial Arabic-speaking populations. From central Spain, which had returned to Christian rule in the eleventh century, scholars produced many of the Latin translations of the 12th century. The most productive of these translators was Gerard of Cremona, (c. 1114–1187), who translated 87 books, which included many of the works of Aristotle such as his Posterior Analytics , Physics , On the Heavens , On Generation and Corruption , and Meteorology . Michael Scot (c. 1175–1232) translated Averroes' commentaries on the scientific works of Aristotle.
Aristotle's physical writings began to be discussed openly, and at a time when Aristotle's method was permeating all theology, these treatises were sufficient to cause his prohibition for heterodoxy in the Condemnations of 1210–1277.In the first of these, in Paris in 1210, it was stated that "neither the books of Aristotle on natural philosophy or their commentaries are to be read at Paris in public or secret, and this we forbid under penalty of excommunication." However, despite further attempts to restrict the teaching of Aristotle, by 1270 the ban on Aristotle's natural philosophy was ineffective.
William of Moerbeke (c. 1215–1286) undertook a complete translation of the works of Aristotle or, for some portions, a revision of existing translations. He was the first translator of the Politics (c. 1260) from Greek into Latin. Many copies of Aristotle in Latin then in circulation were assumed to have been influenced by Averroes, who was suspected of being a source of philosophical and theological errors found in the earlier translations of Aristotle. Such claims were without merit, however, as the Alexandrian Aristotelianism of Averroes followed "the strict study of the text of Aristotle, which was introduced by Avicenna, [because] a large amount of traditional Neoplatonism was incorporated with the body of traditional Aristotelianism".
Albertus Magnus (c. 1200–1280) was among the first medieval scholars to apply Aristotle's philosophy to Christian thought. He produced paraphrases of most of the works of Aristotle available to him.He digested, interpreted and systematized the whole of Aristotle's works, gleaned from the Latin translations and notes of the Arabian commentators, in accordance with Church doctrine. His efforts resulted in the formation of a Christian reception of Aristotle in the Western Europe. Magnus did not repudiate Plato. In that, he belonged to the dominant tradition of philosophy that preceded him, namely the "concordist tradition", which sought to harmonize Aristotle with Plato through interpretation (see for example Porphyry's On Plato and Aristotle Being Adherents of the Same School). Magnus famously wrote:
"Scias quod non perficitur homo in philosophia nisi ex scientia duarum philosophiarum: Aristotelis et Platonis." (Metaphysics, I, tr. 5, c. 5)
(Know that a man is not perfected in philosophy if it weren't for the knowledge of the two philosophers, Aristotle and Plato)
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the pupil of Albertus Magnus, wrote a dozen commentaries on the works of Aristotle.Thomas was emphatically Aristotelian, he adopted Aristotle's analysis of physical objects, his view of place, time and motion, his proof of the prime mover, his cosmology, his account of sense perception and intellectual knowledge, and even parts of his moral philosophy. The philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work of Thomas Aquinas was known as Thomism, and was especially influential among the Dominicans, and later, the Jesuits.
Using Albert's and Thomas's commentaries, as well as Marsilius of Padua's Defensor pacis , 14th-century scholar Nicole Oresme translated Aristotle's moral works into French and wrote extensive comments on them.
After retreating under criticism from modern natural philosophers, the distinctively Aristotelian idea of teleology was transmitted through Wolff and Kant to Hegel, who applied it to history as a totality.[ citation needed ] Although this project was criticized by Trendelenburg and Brentano as un-Aristotelian,[ citation needed ] Hegel's influence is now often said to be responsible for an important Aristotelian influence upon Marx. Postmodernists, in contrast, reject Aristotelianism's claim to reveal important theoretical truths. In this, they follow Heidegger's critique of Aristotle as the greatest source of the entire tradition of Western philosophy.
Aristotelianism is understood by its proponents as critically developing Plato's theories. [ citation needed ] From this viewpoint, the early modern tradition of political republicanism, which views the res publica, public sphere or state as constituted by its citizens' virtuous activity, can appear thoroughly Aristotelian.[ citation needed ]Recent Aristotelian ethical and 'practical' philosophy, such as that of Gadamer and McDowell, is often premised upon a rejection of Aristotelianism's traditional metaphysical or theoretical philosophy.
The contemporary Aristotelian philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre is specially famous for helping to revive virtue ethics in his book After Virtue . MacIntyre revises Aristotelianism with the argument that the highest temporal goods, which are internal to human beings, are actualized through participation in social practices. He opposes Aristotelianism to the managerial institutions of capitalism and its state, and to rival traditions—including the philosophies of Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche—that reject its idea of essentially human goods and virtues and instead legitimize capitalism. Therefore, on MacIntyre's account, Aristotelianism is not identical with Western philosophy as a whole; rather, it is "the best theory so far, [including] the best theory so far about what makes a particular theory the best one."Politically and socially, it has been characterized as a newly 'revolutionary Aristotelianism'. This may be contrasted with the more conventional, apolitical and effectively conservative uses of Aristotle by, for example, Gadamer and McDowell. Other important contemporary Aristotelian theorists include Fred D. Miller, Jr. in politics and Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.
In metaphysics, an Aristotelian realism about universals is defended by such philosophers as David Malet Armstrong and Stephen Mumford, and is applied to the philosophy of mathematics by James Franklin.
Bertrand Russell criticizes Aristotle's logic on the following points:
In addition, Russell ends his review of the Aristotelian logic with these words:
I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if he reads Aristotle or any of his disciples. Nonetheless, Aristotle's logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as authoritative. By the time that logical originality revived, a reign of two thousand years had made Aristotle very difficult to dethrone. Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the opposition from Aristotle's disciples.
We have said already that the most interesting and important of the Arabian schools is that which was the simple expression of Alexandrian Aristotelianism, the school of Avicenna and Averroes; or, as the Arabians themselves called it par excellence, that of the 'philosophers.' In no material point did they differ from their master, and, therefore, an exposition of their doctrines would be useless to those who know anything of the history of philosophy; but, before the strict study of the text of Aristotle, which was introduced by Avicenna, a large amount of traditional Neo-Platonism was incorporated with the body of traditional Aristotelianism, so as to take them sometimes far astray from their master's track.
Ibn Sina, also known as Abu Ali Sina, Pur Sina (پورسینا), and often known in the west as Avicenna was a Persian polymath who is regarded as one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, thinkers and writers of the Islamic Golden Age, and the father of modern medicine. Avicenna is also called "the most influential philosopher of the pre-modern era". He was a peripatetic philosopher influenced by Aristotelian philosophy. Of the 450 works he is believed to have written, around 240 have survived, including 150 on philosophy and 40 on medicine.
Ibn Rushd, often Latinized as Averroes, was a Muslim Andalusi philosopher and judge who wrote about many subjects, including philosophy, theology, medicine, astronomy, physics, Islamic jurisprudence and law, and linguistics. His philosophical works include numerous commentaries on Aristotle, for which he was known in the West as The Commentator. He also served as a judge and a court physician for the Almohad Caliphate.
Islamic philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition. Two terms traditionally used in the Islamic world are sometimes translated as philosophy—falsafa, which refers to philosophy as well as logic, mathematics, and physics; and Kalam, which refers to a rationalist form of Islamic theology.
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH. The period is known as the Islamic Golden Age, and the achievements of this period had a crucial influence in the development of modern philosophy and science. For Renaissance Europe, "Muslim maritime, agricultural, and technological innovations, as well as much East Asian technology via the Muslim world, made their way to western Europe in one of the largest technology transfers in world history.” This period starts with al-Kindi in the 9th century and ends with Averroes at the end of 12th century. The death of Averroes effectively marks the end of a particular discipline of Islamic philosophy usually called the Peripatetic Arabic School, and philosophical activity declined significantly in Western Islamic countries, namely in Islamic Spain and North Africa, though it persisted for much longer in the Eastern countries, in particular Persia and India where several schools of philosophy continued to flourish: Avicennism, Illuminationist philosophy, Mystical philosophy, and Transcendent theosophy.
Averroism refers to a school of medieval philosophy based on the application of the works of 12th-century Andalusian philosopher Averroes, a commentator on Aristotle, in 13th-century Latin Christian scholasticism.
Virtue ethics are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind, character and sense of honesty. Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems which focuses on the consequences of action. These include how virtues are acquired, how they are applied in various real life contexts, and whether they are rooted in a universal human nature or in a plurality of cultures.
The Organon is the standard collection of Aristotle's six works on logic. The name Organon was given by Aristotle's followers, the Peripatetics. They are as follows:
The Peripatetic school was a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece. Its teachings derived from its founder, Aristotle, and peripatetic is an adjective ascribed to his followers.
Alasdair Chalmers MacIntyre is a Scottish philosopher, primarily known for his contribution to moral and political philosophy, but also known for his work in history of philosophy and theology.
Phronesis is an ancient Greek word for a type of wisdom or intelligence. It is more specifically a type of wisdom relevant to practical action, implying both good judgement and excellence of character and habits, sometimes referred to as "practical virtue". Phronesis was a common topic of discussion in ancient Greek philosophy.
On the Heavens is Aristotle's chief cosmological treatise: written in 350 BC it contains his astronomical theory and his ideas on the concrete workings of the terrestrial world. It should not be confused with the spurious work On the Universe.
Early Islamic law placed importance on formulating standards of argument, which gave rise to a "novel approach to logic" in Kalam However, with the rise of the Mu'tazili philosophers, who highly valued Aristotle's Organon, this approach was displaced by the older ideas from Hellenistic philosophy, The works of al-Farabi, Avicenna, al-Ghazali and other Persian Muslim logicians who often criticized and corrected Aristotelian logic and introduced their own forms of logic, also played a central role in the subsequent development of European logic during the Renaissance. The use of Aristotelian logic in Islamic theology again began to decline from the 10th century, with the rise of Ashʿari theology to the intellectual mainstream, which rejects causal reasoning in favour of clerical authority.
After Virtue is a book on moral philosophy by Alasdair MacIntyre. MacIntyre provides a bleak view of the state of modern moral discourse, regarding it as failing to be rational, and failing to admit to being irrational. He claims that older forms of moral discourse were in better shape, particularly singling out Aristotle's moral philosophy as an exemplar. After Virtue is among the most important texts in the recent revival of virtue ethics.
Commentaries on Aristotle refers to the great mass of literature produced, especially in the ancient and medieval world, to explain and clarify the works of Aristotle. The pupils of Aristotle were the first to comment on his writings, a tradition which was continued by the Peripatetic school throughout the Hellenistic period and the Roman era. The Neoplatonists of the late Roman empire wrote many commentaries on Aristotle, attempting to incorporate him into their philosophy. Although Ancient Greek commentaries are considered the most useful, commentaries continued to be written by the Christian scholars of the Byzantine Empire and by the many Islamic philosophers and Western scholastics who had inherited his texts.
Commentaries on Plato refers to the great mass of literature produced, especially in the ancient and medieval world, to explain and clarify the works of Plato. Many Platonist philosophers in the centuries following Plato sought to clarify and summarise his thoughts, but it was during the Roman era, that the Neoplatonists, in particular, wrote many commentaries on individual dialogues of Plato, many of which survive to the present day.
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy that existed through the Middle Ages, the period roughly extending from the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century to the Renaissance in the 15th century. Medieval philosophy, understood as a project of independent philosophical inquiry, began in Baghdad, in the middle of the 8th century, and in France, in the itinerant court of Charlemagne, in the last quarter of the 8th century. It is defined partly by the process of rediscovering the ancient culture developed in Greece and Rome during the Classical period, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to integrate sacred doctrine with secular learning.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy that examines right and wrong moral behavior, moral concepts and moral language. Various ethical theories pose various answers to the question "What is the greatest good?" and elaborate a complete set of proper behaviors for individuals and groups. Ethical theories are closely related to forms of life in various social orders.
A Short History of Ethics: A History of Moral Philosophy from the Homeric Age to the Twentieth Century is a 1966 book on the history of moral philosophy by the Scottish philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre. It is the first of a series of books by MacIntyre on the history and development of ethics.
The unity of the intellect is a philosophical theory proposed by the Muslim medieval Andalusian philosopher Averroes (1126–1198), which asserted that all humans share the same intellect. Averroes expounded his theory in his long commentary of On the Soul to explain how universal knowledge is possible within the Aristotelian theory of mind. Averroes' theory was influenced by related ideas by previous thinkers such as Aristotle, Plotinus, Al-Farabi, Avicenna and Avempace.