Man is a strange creature. Sometimes he takes years in learning and studying and still does not gain knowledge, while some men are born enlightened without receiving any formal education.
In Ancient Greece, a wise man was born over 2000 years ago known as Aristotle. Regarded as one of the great philosophers of all time, Aristotle had vast knowledge of modern concepts of his era that shaped philosophy and continue to be read today with keen interest.
Born in 384 BC in the Macedonian region of Greece in the small city of Stagira, Aristotle was sent to Athens at about the age of eighteen to study in Plato’s Academy. He remained associated with the Academy until Plato’s death in 347 BC and then embarked a philosophical journey.
Despite being under Plato’s tutelage, Aristotle has often criticized him and founded flaws in his ideology. Aristotle left a great body of work, perhaps as many as 200 treatises, from which approximately thirty-one survive, and continued to be studied by experts even today.
Aristotle’s writings span a wide range of disciplines, from logic, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, political theory, aesthetics and rhetoric, and non-philosophical fields as empirical biology, where he excelled at detailed plant and animal observation and description.
Aristotle’s theories have provided illumination, met with resistance, sparked debate, and stimulated interest even today. Alexander the Great, the warrior who created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, was his student before embarking on a military campaign.
Even Aristotle’s philosophy and concepts have their flaws. Aristotle conceives of God as an unmoved mover, the primary cause responsible for the shaping motion in the natural order, and as divine nous, the perfect actuality of thought thinking itself, which exercises influence on natural beings as their final cause.
These aspects of God reflect the two defining aspects of Classical Greek Philosophy but contradict Islamic concepts that emerged over seven centuries later stating that God is not the name of a force but rather controls all other forces. Aristotle attempted to view God from a scientific point of view but this would imply that the universe was moving in a single direction.
In the 17 Century, Newton developed the principles of modern physics, including the laws of motion which state that a body will stay constant unless an external force is applied to it and that for every action is an equal and opposite reaction.
Aristotle believed man was a ‘social animal’ because he has the power of speech and moral reasoning. However, he suggested that moderation is the best approach which is also viewed by modern-day philosophers.
Another theory of Aristotle was that God is transcendent and is indifferent to human needs and desires. He is beyond Paradise or Hell, good or evil or other worldly activities. This has been widely accepted by Islamic thinkers and scholars.
Since Women’s Day is being observed today, I would like to mention Aristotle saw women as inferior to men, higher than slaves and lacking authority. He believed the husband should exert political rule over his wife. He viewed women as more impulsive, compassionate, complaining, and deceptive. These views would shape women’s history.
Aristotle died on this day in 322 BC aged around 62. More than 2300 years after his death, Aristotle remains one of the most influential people who ever lived and continues to be remembered even today.