Aristotle was born in Greece approximately 384 B. C. , to parents Nicomachus and Phaestis. His father Nicomachus was physician to King Amyntas of Macedon, and his mother was of a wealthy family from the island of Euboea. When he was 17 he went to study at Plato’s Academy in Athens, where he stayed for around 20 years. Aristotle did very well at the Academy, but when Plato died he was not chosen to be among the leaders. Soon after Plato’s death he left to tutor Prince Alexander, later to be known as Alexander the Great. Aristotle later returned to Athens to open his own school which is known as the Lyceum.
Aristotle was more interested in science than other philosophers in his time, maybe because his father was a doctor. He’s sometimes referred to the father of science. One of Aristotle’s most important contributions was sorting and classifying the various knowledge of science into branches. He thus laid the foundation of science today. Aristotle is also thought to be the father of the scientific method. In ancient times, gods were thought to be the cause of events in nature. Early Greek philosophers questioned the roles of gods as the cause of these events. If the gods weren’t the cause of these events, who was?
Philosophers advanced explanations based on philosophical principles and mathematical forms. Aristotle found that unsatisfactory. He was the first to realize the importance of empirical measurement (measurement based on observation and experience), believing that knowledge could only be gained from building on what was already known. Aristotle’s contributions were measurement and observation, which is what science, is built upon. He was the first to propose the idea of induction as a tool to gaining knowledge, and understood that theoretical thought and reasoning had to be supported by real world findings.
His method is summarized as follows; Study what others have written about the subject, look for the general consensus about the subject, and perform a systematic study of everything even partially related to the topic. This is the very first sign of a scientific method. Aristotle loved categorizing and organizing things. For instance, with the soul he thought it was composed of two components: a rational and irrational part. The rational half was subdivided into “scientific” and “calculative” sections, and the irrational half was made up of a “desiderative” (desire) part and a “vegetative” part.
A person operates by combining all the workings of these parts. The vegetative part may be hungry. The desiderative part may want lots of candy instead of, say, vegetables, but the scientific part knows candy will be bad for teeth and weight. The calculative part will then try to work out a compromise. Problem solved! Aristotle assumed that there must be some basic commodities that combine to make all things. These basic four groups are, earth, water, air and fire, and each of these are a combination of two of four opposites, hot and cold, and wet and dry.
For example, fire is hot and dry. He claimed that all materials were made from various combinations of these elements. His love of categories also led him to divide people into three groups. The big group, who loved pleasure, a smaller group -includes politicians- that love honor, and the smallest, but most elite group, who love contemplation. The latter were the philosophers. Aristotle’s next task was to find the key reason that separated humans from animals. His answer was our ability to reason. Aristotle’s really great contribution was that of biology.
Having established the division between humans and animals he set out categorizing all he could of the biological world. He grouped animals with related characteristics into genera and then divided these genera into species. This same process is used today, though subsequent research has caused some of the individuals to be moved around. He wrote in detail about five hundred different animals in his works, including a hundred and twenty kinds of fish and sixty kinds of insect. He was the first to perform dissections on living things, so he could try to make sense of how they worked.
He described how a chick develops within an egg and realized that dolphins and whales were different from fish. He noted that ruminant animals, like cows, had multi-chambered stomachs, something that separated them from simple-stomached animals. Not only did he study large animals, but small ones as well, such as bees. He also made lead way in botany. He attempted to classify over 500 plants into trees, shrubs, and herbs and, while he was not entirely successful in this, he certainly understood which features of plants were necessary for making distinctions.
This time he has earned the title of father over botany. Aristotle made many other contributions to science, one of which was proving the Earth was a sphere, although he wrongly thought that Earth was the center of the universe. Plato disagreed with this theory; he sided with Copernicus who rightly thought the sun was the center of the universe. Aristotle also studied physics. He did not have many tools for experimentation so he could not measure time or speed. He did not allow for invisible forces, so he did not study gravity. Things fell to Earth and the moon circled the earth because that’s what they did.
In spite of his limitations, Aristotle made some remarkable contributions to physics and laid the groundwork for Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. He reasoned that infinite velocities could not exist, that time and movement are continuous and inseparable, and that time was even flowing, infinite, and the same everywhere at once. These are all true, and are part of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. That’s amazing considering the limitations he had to work with. Anti-Macedonian feeling broke out in Athens around 323 BC. The Athenians accused Aristotle of irreverence.
He chose to flee, so that the Athenians might not “twice sin against philosophy” (by killing him as they had Socrates). He fled to Chalcis on the island of Euboea. Aristotle died in 322 BC. After he died a lot of his work and research was lost. It is thought that today we only have about 1/3 of what he had originally written. Aristotle was an amazing scientist, but even he was not without mistakes. For example, he wrongly assumed that force is required to keep an object moving at constant speed. This error held progress back for years. He also, as I stated before, thought the Earth was the center of the universe.
But, really isn’t that what science is about? Trial and error, make mistakes then learn from them, that’s how you make real progress in science. Aristotle is proof of this. Look at all the progress we have made today, from his mistakes. Bibliography Bibliography 1. http://www. ucmp. berkeley. edu/history/aristotle. html 2. http://www. enotes. com/topics/aristotle 3. http://www. philosophypages. com/ph/aris. htm 4. http://jcmooreonline. com/2010/12/28/aristotles-enduring-contribution-to-scien ce-education-and-physics/ 5. http://www. iep. utm. edu/aristotl/ 6. http://galileo. phys. virginia.
edu/classes/109N/lectures/aristot2. html 7. http://www. valpo. edu/geomet/histphil/test/aristotl. html 8. http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/aristotle-biology/#LifWor 9. http://leavis. tripod. com/science. htm 10. http://www. experiment-resources. com/history-of-the-scientific-method. html 11. http://www. sciencekids. co. nz/sciencefacts/scientists/aristotle. html 12. http://www. historyforkids. org/learn/greeks/philosophy/aristotle. htm 13. http://www. mlahanas. de/Greeks/AristotleBiol. htm 14. http://www. thocp. net/biographies/aristoteles. html 15. Info from class 16. Physical Science Book.