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Aristotle's life and works
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DescriptionAristotles life and works
"We must not listen to those who urge us to think human thoughts since we are human, and mortal thoughts since we are mortal; rather, we should as far as possible immortalise ourselves and do all we can to live by the finest element in us — for if it is small in bulk, it is far greater than anything else in power and worth."
Aristotle: His Importance and Reputation
Who was this ancient Greek philosopher, and why should anyone care today?
Aristotle was no disembodied intellect, indifferent to the passions of life or to the problems of his time. He was a loving husband, the parent of two children, a devoted friend, and a committed teacher.
Aristotle did more to put both philosophy and science on a systematic footing than any thinker before him — and more than any thinker to come after him for many, many centuries. It could reasonably be said that while the Greeks provided the intellectual foundations for western civilisation, Aristotle provided much of the foundation for the Greeks themselves.
Apart from such human and historical considerations, one of the best reasons to read Aristotle is for the excitement of seeing a great mind come to grips with many of the problems that have troubled people from his day to ours. Aristotle shows us vividly both how to do philosophy, and what can be expected to come of it.
Of course, some of Aristotle's writing has now dated, and some of his views, such as those regarding non-Greeks, strike us as offensive today. Given the passage of some 2,500 years, this is hardly surprising. What perhaps is surprising is that such works as his Nicomachean Ethics , which defends a Perfectionist ethical theory, remain as sensible and important today as the day they were written. And to whatever extent some of his attitudes may offend us now, they were much the same as those of any educated Greek of his time. It is difficult for any thinker to entirely throw off his cultural baggage.
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