It’s safe to say that it would be pretty hard to find an individual over the age of 5 that hasn’t heard of Aristotle. He was truly one of the great minds of his time. I think if most people laid claim to even one of the things Aristotle was able to do, they would pack it up and call it a pretty good career. Yet, despite the ubiquity of his name, I was actually pretty surprised to learn how little I knew about his accomplishments. I’ve decided to put together a little top 5 list as I’m sure there are others out there that are in the same position as I found myself. Atleast, I’m hoping that’s the case…

1. I’ll start with the biggies. He is credited as being the father of modern logic. His work entitled Prior Analytics is the first documented work on deductive reasoning. Although it was later found to be slightly flawed, his insight is still used as a backbone in the field thousands of years later.

2.. Aristotle also made significant findings in the field of Zoology. He accurately recorded the embryological development of a chick, and correctly separated dolphins and whales from fish. He also believed that plants had a lower form of soul than humans did, but hey, I guess you can’t always be right.

3. He was a major influence in the field of Virtue ethics. Under this school of thought, one should focus on the decision to do something, rather than the outcome that that decision produces or the consequences it may have.

4. He invented the precursor to the camera. In his 350 B.C. work Probelmata, Aristotle outlined his concept for the Camera Obscura.

5. He was also deeply interested in the field of Psychology. One idea that he has been credited with is that of passion. Yes, Aristotle was one of the first to write about passion. Sounds like a pretty cool area of study to me.

So although this is clearly not an exhaustive list of all the things Aristotle did in his life time, I hope I was able to bring up some interesting points about a man that still influences our everyday life in many ways.

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3 responses »

  1. Kate says:

    Another interesting fact about Aristotle is that he wrote Poetics, the earliest-surviving work of dramatic theory. Scholars to this day are still trying to define a key concept within Poetics, catharsis, which is most often defined as the “purging” of the emotions of pity and fear that occurs when we witness a tragedy. Scholars are still debating over the subject, matter, and nature of catharsis because a wide range of interpretations have already been produced. I find it cool that modern day scholars are still talking about Aristotle’s work thousands of years later.

  2. Connie says:

    Aristotle is so universally known, yet I’m sure most of us couldn’t even tell you a fraction of what he has accomplished. I know I sure couldn’t. As someone who has a keen interest in photography, I actually had no idea that Aristotle played a key role in the evolution of cameras, albeit very early on. I think the fact that amazes me the most about Aristotle is the vast number of fields and subjects his writings cover. Basically, Aristotle had to have at least some significant knowledge on topics such as physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, AND zoology. And here WE are… Some of us struggling to even decide which one or two majors we want to pursue. Of course, he wasn’t right about every single thing, like you mentioned. In fact, some people debate whether or not his influence has actually hindered science substantially. Nevertheless, it is hard to argue that Aristotle is one of the most influential thinkers ever.

  3. People tend to make mistakes, which has been Aristotle’s biggest criticism within his writings. As Connie has mentioned, some people even go as far as to blame him for spreading incorrect wisdom in the scientific world. But doesn’t wrong knowledge inspire those to pursue the truth? One of the biggest things that made Aristotle great was that he tried to grasp the untouchable, such as feelings and passion as Zach had mentioned. I think the scary thing is, how much of information he was able to understand and accurately predict, whether that would be logic, government procedures, etc. It’s been 2000 years, yet his thoughts are still prevalent today.

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