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Born in Northern Greece- in 384 BC.
The most famous student of Plato- attended Plato’s Academy for around 20 years.
His main disagreement with Plato was on his theory of Forms.
Plato believed that the ‘idea’ world contained the forms of all things we see in the physical realm.
Aristotle taught that substance itself was the main thing- that the forms of what we see in the natural realm come from matter itself.
He spoke about Potentiality and Actuality- that is the material things have in ‘seed’ form the final product.
The acorn has the Potential of becoming a tree- the fetus has the Potential of becoming a man- etc.
The form is already embedded in the thing itself- it does not exist in the ‘idea’ world of Plato.
Aristotle loved and admired his teacher- yet Plato had somewhat of a disdain for his most famous student.
Plato passed over Aristotle to head up the Academy- twice.
As things go- Aristotle went and started his own school- called the Lyceum.
Aristotle did not just teach Philosophy- but Biology- Logic- Ethics- Rhetoric.
Some refer to him as the first real scientist.
His development of the laws of Logic- Cause and Effect- play a key role in the Scientific Method till this day.
Aristotle taught that the main way we gain knowledge is thru sense perception and experiment.
As we study the natural order of things themselves- we gain understanding from them.
What we refer to as the Empirical method- knowledge gained thru the observation and experimentation of things.
He referred to God as the Final Cause- not the First Cause.
He believed in God [some debate this- Aristotle himself called him God in his work on Metaphysics] and called him the Prime Mover.
As I said before- a big thing with the early thinkers was the origin of Motion- who started the ball rolling- so to speak.
Aristotle credited the source of all motion to an ‘un- moved Mover’.
He gave the attributes of God to his Mover- said he had no beginning- was not material- an eternal and imperishable substance.
So- why the Final Cause?
He said God attracts all things to himself- so in his mind- motion started by attraction- not by a ‘push’ so to speak.
This is interesting indeed- in modern physics we see that the universe is undergoing a continual expansion- heading somewhere- of course we believe this somewhere is God himself- the source of all things.
Isaac Newton agreed with Aristotle on this point- he referred to it in his 3rd law of Physics.
The medieval Muslim thinkers called him ‘The First Teacher’- and Kant [who we will get to later in this study] credits him with the bulk of what we know today as the Laws of Logic.
Aristotle taught that the main activity of God was thought.
The bible says that thru Wisdom and Understanding God made things [‘Wisdom builds the house- Understanding establishes it- and thru Knowledge it’s rooms are filled with all pleasant and precious riches- Wisdom is profitable to direct- the words of the wise are like nails fastened by the masters of assemblies- as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation’- various bible verses found in Proverbs- Ecclesiastes and Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth] – in a way Aristotle was right.
One of his key contributions was the Syllogism- you start with a Logical argument- you engage in Deductive reasoning- and come to a Conclusion.
A famous example would be ‘All men are mortal- Plato is a man- Plato is mortal’.
Aristotle did not believe that something comes from nothing- a phrase that will come up a lot as we progress in this study is ‘ex nihilo nihil fit’- meaning Nothing comes from Nothing.
He was also what we refer to as a Teleolologist- he believed that there was design and purpose in the created order of things.
He saw design in the universe- world.
Many today embrace an idea that there is no purpose or design- that the design we see in the material world is by accident- and furthermore some say all that we see- CAME FROM NOTHING.
I can’t stress enough that this is simply not possible- I don’t say this from the Christian view point alone- but from a scientific one.
Science deals with the observation and testing of things- we look into the material world and come to certain conclusions based on what we see- observe.
One of the most fundamental observations that science SEES- is what I quoted above- NOTHING COMES FROM NOTHING.
That is- every effect has a cause.
This is important for our day- because many have capitulated to the view that all things CAME FROM CHANCE.
Not only is this statement illogical [chance is simply a word- this statement ascribes Ontological status to a word- which is impossible].
But it is scientifically not true.
Because science shows us that things do not ‘pop into existence’ without a cause- from nothing.
True science in no way contradicts belief in God- no- it backs it up.
Aristotle- as well as most of the great thinkers we shall cover- came to the conclusion that there had to be some immaterial thing [being] that was the cause of all other things.
Now- why did he argue for a PRIME MOVER?
Because he believed that the universe was eternal- if there ever came a time when science showed us that the universe had a beginning point- then the argument would be over.
The Theists [those that believe in God] would win.
Sure enough- in the 20th century that’s exactly what happened.
Today Physics teaches us that time- space- matter did indeed have a beginning point- what we refer to as the Big Bang Theory.
If the early thinkers had this knowledge- then the argument for a Prime Mover would be moot- because instead we would have a Prime Starter- see?
Aristotle is credited with writing the second greatest work on Ethics from the ancient period- called Ethics [the first one being Plato’s Republic].
He wrote on political theory- believed that Aristocracy [rule by the excellent] was the best form of government [sort of like Socrates Philosopher Kings].
Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great.
During Alexander’s conquests- he took a huge team of scientists with him- they collected all types of specimens from these conquests- and Alexander brought them back to Athens and they were used at the Lyceum for further study.
It has been said that this was the most expensive scientific enterprise up to the day of the modern space program.
He taught that the intellectual virtues can be taught directly- but the moral ones HAD TO BE LIVED FIRST.
The bible says ‘the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom’.
Proverbs 3:19 The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
Proverbs 3:20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
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