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A pioneering philosopher and one of the most pivotal in a line of great men who informed our understanding of the world; here are 5 facts about Aristotle.
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1. Alexander the Great was his student
Out of his pupils, perhaps the most famous is Alexander of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great. Between the ages of 13 and 16, Aristotle schooled the future warlord in medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic and art, as well as instilling in him a passion for literature, most notably the works of Homer
2. His studies inspired chaos theory
Of all the various scientific and theoretic concepts that he devised, perhaps one of the more influential on future academia was the idea of causality: the relationship between cause and effect. Years later, this idea would mushroom into the study of dynamic behaviour that we know as chaos theory.
3. Master of many trades
It’s fair to say that Aristotle’s studies covered a wide breadth of subject matter. His knowledge encompassed – but was not limited to – physics, medicine, psychology, biology, geology, metaphysics, poetry, politics and government. Notably, he is also recognised as one of the founding fathers of western philosophy. This guy was busy.
4. The chicken and egg conundrum stumped him
Like many after him, he pondered the question of whether the chicken or egg came first without success, saying: “… there could not have been a first egg to give beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg.”
5. His life ended in exile
After Alexander’s death, the rekindled anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens saw Aristotle’s safety threatened. Mindful of Socrates’ execution in similar circumstances, he fled to his mother’s family’s estate in Chalcis. He died in the same year, and was buried next to his wife.
Top 10 Greatest Philosophers in History
This list examines the influence, depth of insight, and wide-reaching interest across many subjects of various &ldquolovers of wisdom&rdquo and ranks them accordingly. It should be noted, first and foremost, that philosophy in its traditional sense was science. Philosophers (like Aristotle) used rationality to come to scientific knowledge of the world around us. It was not until relatively modern times that philosophy was considered to be separate from the physical sciences.
From Aristotle to Linnaeus: the History of Taxonomy
The system that we still use today for giving scientific names to plants and animals has many founders, from the Greek philosopher Aristotle to the Swedish physician and botanist Carolus Linnaeus.
Taxonomy is the study of scientific classification, in particular the classification of living organisms according to their natural relationships. Taxonomy's first father was the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), sometimes called the "father of science." It was Aristotle who first introduced the two key concepts of taxonomy as we practice it today: classification of oranisms by type and binomial definition.
Aristotle was the first to attempt to classify all the kinds of animals in his History of Animals (Historia Animalium in Latin). He grouped the types of creatures according to their similarities: animals with blood and animals without blood, animals that live on water and animals that live on land. Aristotle's view of life was hierarchical. He assumed that creatures could be grouped in order from lowest to highest, with the human species being the highest. Subsequent commentators on Aristotle interpreted this as a "ladder of nature" (scala naturae) or a "Great Chain of Being," but these were not Aristotle's terms. His system of classification was not evolutionary, and the various species on the ladder had no specific genetic relationship to each other. Aristotle regarded the essence of species as fixed and unchanging, and this view persisted for the next two thousand years.
His other innovation was binomial definition. "Binomial" means "two names," and according to this system each kind of organism can be defined by the two names of its "genus and difference." The word "genus" comes from the Greek root for "birth," and among its meanings are "family" and "race." Aristotle's notion of definition was to place every object in a family and then to differentiate it from the other members of that family by some unique characteristic. He defined humans, for example, as the "rational animal." This, according to Aristotelian thought, defines the essence of what it is to be human, as opposed to such pseudo-definitions as "featherless biped."
But what Aristotle did not do was methodically use binomial definition in his system of biological classification. This innovation had to await the development of modern science after the Rennaissance.
Aristotle's influence was profound and long-lasting. Much of his work has not survived to the present day, so that we don't know the details of his study of plants, but his student Theophrastus (372-287 BC) continued it, becoming known as the "father of botany." He is believed to have planted the first botanical garden on the grounds of Aristotle's Lyceum. Most of the text of his two botanical works, On Plants (De Historia Plantarum) and The Causes of Plants (De Causis Plantarum) still exists, although only in Latin translations. The first describes the anatomy of plants and classifies them into trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and herbs. The second work discusses their propagation and growth and served in part as a practical guide to farmers and gardeners. However, he introduced no new principles of classification.
After Aristotle, there was little innovation in the fields of the biological sciences until the 16th century AD. At this time, voyages of exploration were beginning to discover plants and animals new to Europeans, which excited the interest of natural philosophers, as scientists were then called. There was great interest in naming these new species and fitting them into the existing classifications, and this in turn led to new systems of classification. Many of the botanists of this period were also physicians, who were interested in the use of plants for producing medicines.
Andrea Cesalpino (1519-1603) was an Italian physician who created one of the first new systems of classifying plants since the time of Aristotle. He was a professor of materia medica, the study of the preparation of medicines from plants, at the University of Pisa, and was also in charge of the university's botanical garden. There, he wrote a series of works titled On Plants (De Plantis), detailing his system of classification. While his work was in large part based on the work of Aristotle and his successors, his innovation in basing his system of classifying plants on the basis of the structure of their fruits and seeds influenced subsequent scientists such as Linnaeus.
One botanist who was influenced by Cesalpino was Gaspard Bauhin (1560-1620), a Swiss physician and anatomist. In his 1623 Illustrated Exposition of Plants (Pinax Theatri Botanica), he described about six thousand species and gave them names based on their "natural affinities," grouping them into genus and species. He was thus the first scientist to use binomial nomenclature in classification of species, anticipating the work of Linnaeus.
By the time Carl (Carolus) Linnaeus (1707-1778) was born, there were many systems of botanical classification in use, with new plants constantly being discovered and named. This, in fact, was the problem &mdash there were too many inconsistent systems, and the same plant might have several different scientific names, according to different methods of classification.
During his childhood, Linnaeus was so fond of collecting plants that he was known as "the little botanist." He later became a physician, as so many other early taxonomists did, but returned to botany as his primary study.
He published his most innovative work as a young man in 1735. The System of Nature (Systema Naturae) is notable for an overall framework of classification that organized all plants and animals from the level of kingdoms all the way down to species. The full subtitle of its tenth edition was: System of nature through the three kingdoms of nature, according to classes, orders, genera and species, with characteristics, differences, synonyms, places. This system of classification, although greatly modified, is essentially the one we use today.
Linnaeus followed this work with The Genera of Plants and The Species of Plants, setting out a system of plant classification based on the structure of flower parts, in which he was influenced by Cesalpino. This method, in which plants were grouped together according to the number of stamens in their flowers, for example, was not accurate, but it was easy to use and thus readily adapted by scientists who were continually discovering more new varieties of plants. Linnaeus himself undertook much work in the field, and he was even more influential through his students, whom he sent around the world to gather specimens.
His major works went through a great deal of revision in his lifetime, eliminating errors and coming closer to the system that was eventually adopted by taxonomists worldwide. His methods of classifying plants have been completely superseded by a deeper scientific understanding. Originally, Linnaeus had only used binomial nomenclature to classify plants, but he later extended this system to include animals and even minerals. There were also errors, subsequently corrected. At first, for example, he had placed the whales among the fishes, but later moved them into the mammals. He was also the first taxonomist to place humans among the primates (or Anthropomorpha) and to give them the binomen Homo sapiens.
If Linnaeus is now considered the father of taxonomy, his success rested on the work of his predecessors. He was the first, in his System of Nature, to combine a hierarchical system of classification from kingdom to species with the method of binomial nomenclature, using it consistently to identify every species of both plants and animals then known to him.
While he continued throughout his lifetime to revise and expand this great work, so his successors have continued to revise the principles of taxonomy, now according to genetic principles, informed by the analysis of DNA. So it always is with science: we stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, always reaching higher.
Influential People in History
Aristotle was a philosopher and scientist born in 384 BCE in ancient Greece and is one of the most influential people in history. This is perhaps because the scope of his writings was very vast and most of the modern sciences and social sciences derive from his works at some stage. Even though many of these postulates and theories have been disproved by modern research, he was responsible for carving out separate disciplines where none existed and giving shape to scientific inquiry and thought. He was also the teacher of Alexander the Great, who went on to build an enormous empire spanning two continents.
2. Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ, the founder of the Christian religion has a direct influence on the 2 billion followers of Christianity in the world and is hence one of the most influential people in history. However, Aristotle and Plato have frequently been cited as being more influential since their ideas were not restricted by religious doctrines and are widely accepted by people of all faiths. Apart from the 2 billion followers, Jesus Christ has had a significant impact on the world as a whole since many Christian values have been universalized due to the conscious efforts of kingdoms and countries that accept the religion as the official religion.
3. Alexander the Great
One of the greatest and most successful military generals the world has ever seen, it is no surprise that Alexander the Great is one of the most influential people in history. With his strategic planning and effective use of his troops, he was able to amass a large empire and his life is now considered a whole era – the Hellenistic period. He also spread the influence of Greek culture throughout the world and was undefeated for a long time. He was however forced to return from the shores of Indus as he could not defeat the armies of mainland India.
4. Leonardo da Vinci
Born in Florence at the height of the Renaissance, this man is frequently regarded as the personification of the world genius because of his mastery of multiple fields spanning the whole spectrum of human understanding. Da Vinci was a prolific inventor and was famous during his time for being an artist, sculptor, painter, mathematician, physicist, anatomist and architect. He conceptualized contraptions that were far ahead of his time including the aeroplane and parachute and thus had a lasting impact on science. We also recommend you to read about archaeological discoveries which rewrote history.
5. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar is, according to many scholars of Roman History, one of the most influential people in the world. As the Emperor of one of the largest empires on Earth, he had enormous power which he combined with his military acumen and strategy to expand its boundaries. He belonged to the aristocratic class but made many enemies among the ruling elite with his ideas of social equality and this is frequently cited as the reason for his assassination.
Homer is perhaps the most well-known western author and poet which makes him one of the most influential people in the world. His two works – Iliad and Odyssey are landmarks in western literature and have defined style, vocabulary, and content for centuries after. Till today, they are studied at various levels in school, have been made into plays, movies and have inspired countless other poets and authors. The characters of Homer’s compositions are now mythical heroes and have acquired cult status. The principles, ideas, and arguments put forward by Homer in his works are very powerful and influential people even today.
Given the title of the “Godfather of Invention”, Archimedes was a very talented and multifaceted scientist and mathematician. His contributions to geometry revolutionized the subject and his methods influenced every mathematician and inventor who followed including Leonardo da Vinci, Newton, and Leibniz. Apart from his contributions to pure mathematics, he also wrote about nature and the physical universe and principles of physics.
8. Wolfgang Mozart
Mozart’s short life was a tragedy for the world, but this child prodigy did in his thirty years that most others cannot do in double that time. Mozart started composing at the age of five and by the time he was thirty-five, he had already composed six hundred masterpieces. Even today, his melodies continue to influence and inspire other composers of western classical music. At the time of this death, it was said that the world will not see such talent for the next hundred years, but it has been over two hundred and no one has come close to the genius of Mozart, making him one of the most influential people in the world.
The most well-known artist of the Renaissance behind his contemporary Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo is renowned not just as a painter but also as an architect and sculptor. His most famous work is the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City and the famous sculpture David is also sculpted by Michelangelo. His style of painting and sculpting, as well as the subjects he chose, have influenced artists for many centuries, making him one of the most influential people in the world.
10. Isaac Newton
The discoverer of gravity, Newton is most well known for his work in pure physics and thermodynamics and is one of the most influential scientists in the world. He devised many experiments to prove the principles of gravity and also devised the three laws of motion. The Heliocentric model of the solar system was also popularized by this man and for that he was severely punished by the Church, being put under house arrest for the remainder of his life. He is considered a key figure in the Scientific Revolution and has influenced many later scientists including Einstein.
11. Galileo Galilei, Astronomer
The great Italian scientist was born in Pisa, Italy, on the 15th of February 1564 and later he died on the 8th of January 1642. One of the most influential men on Earth has groundbreaking efforts in astronomer, physicist, mathematician, philosopher and inventor. He is the one who invented telescopes, the compass and the thermometer. The great scientist has a medical degree at the University of Pisa, howvever it was not finished because he was interested in mathematics.
12. Christopher Columbus, Explorer
The Italian explorer Christopher Columbus is one of the most influential men on Earth who discovered “New World” of the Americas that we see today. At that time, he was on the expedition that was done by the King Ferdinand of Spain in 1492. The explorer and navigator in 1492, sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain in the Santa Maria along with the Pinta and with his Niña ships and working on to find a new route to India. Later, between the years, 1492 and 1504, he made a total of four voyages to the Caribbean and South America and has been credited for the work, however, he was also blamed for the opening up the Americas to European colonization.
13. Hippocrates, Physician
He was an ancient Greek physician who was born in the year 460 BC on Cos, an Aegean island. There are many researchers and scientists who consider them as the “Father of Medicine” because of his efforts on the transformation of Greek medicine. He has a belief that the diseases in the human are caused by some natural action instead because of the spirits of the gods. Later, he was considered as one of the most influential men on Earth and his parents are Praxithea and Heracleides. He received a good education and studied medicine under his father.
14. Sigmund Freud, Psychologist
One of the most famous thinkers and an infuential man on Earth who played a major role in the development of psychology. He was born in the Sigismund Schlomo Freud on May 6, 1856. The family includes his father who was a 41-year-old wool merchant and has two more children from his previous marriage. The mother was 20 years younger than her husband. The theories of Freud served as the foundation for a school of psychology that would later dominate the field of science related to mind and behavior.
15. Charles Darwin, Biologist
Charles Darwin, the English naturalist who changed the thoughts of humans for changing the ideas on evolution and natural selection. He was born in England on the 12th of February 1809 and later died in on the 19th of April 1882. The most famous work of Charles Darwin is one of the natural selection that consists of the idea that life has evolved over time from common ancestors. Apart from this, he also presented detailed research that includes a five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. He also visited ecologically diverse regions such as Brazil, Chile, Australia, the Falkland Islands and the Galapagos Islands.
Do you agree with our list? Who according to you are the most influential people in history?
Aristotle was born on the Chalcidic peninsula of Macedonia, in northern Greece. His father, Nicomachus, was the physician of Amyntas III (reigned c. 393–c. 370 bce ), king of Macedonia and grandfather of Alexander the Great (reigned 336–323 bce ). After his father’s death in 367, Aristotle migrated to Athens, where he joined the Academy of Plato (c. 428–c. 348 bce ). He remained there for 20 years as Plato’s pupil and colleague.
Many of Plato’s later dialogues date from these decades, and they may reflect Aristotle’s contributions to philosophical debate at the Academy. Some of Aristotle’s writings also belong to this period, though mostly they survive only in fragments. Like his master, Aristotle wrote initially in dialogue form, and his early ideas show a strong Platonic influence. His dialogue Eudemus, for example, reflects the Platonic view of the soul as imprisoned in the body and as capable of a happier life only when the body has been left behind. According to Aristotle, the dead are more blessed and happier than the living, and to die is to return to one’s real home.
Another youthful work, the Protrepticus (“Exhortation”), has been reconstructed by modern scholars from quotations in various works from late antiquity. Everyone must do philosophy, Aristotle claims, because even arguing against the practice of philosophy is itself a form of philosophizing. The best form of philosophy is the contemplation of the universe of nature it is for this purpose that God made human beings and gave them a godlike intellect. All else—strength, beauty, power, and honour—is worthless.
It is possible that two of Aristotle’s surviving works on logic and disputation, the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations, belong to this early period. The former demonstrates how to construct arguments for a position one has already decided to adopt the latter shows how to detect weaknesses in the arguments of others. Although neither work amounts to a systematic treatise on formal logic, Aristotle can justly say, at the end of the Sophistical Refutations, that he has invented the discipline of logic—nothing at all existed when he started.
During Aristotle’s residence at the Academy, King Philip II of Macedonia (reigned 359–336 bce ) waged war on a number of Greek city-states. The Athenians defended their independence only half-heartedly, and, after a series of humiliating concessions, they allowed Philip to become, by 338, master of the Greek world. It cannot have been an easy time to be a Macedonian resident in Athens.
Within the Academy, however, relations seem to have remained cordial. Aristotle always acknowledged a great debt to Plato he took a large part of his philosophical agenda from Plato, and his teaching is more often a modification than a repudiation of Plato’s doctrines. Already, however, Aristotle was beginning to distance himself from Plato’s theory of Forms, or Ideas (eidos see form). (The word Form, when used to refer to Forms as Plato conceived them, is often capitalized in the scholarly literature when used to refer to forms as Aristotle conceived them, it is conventionally lowercased.) Plato had held that, in addition to particular things, there exists a suprasensible realm of Forms, which are immutable and everlasting. This realm, he maintained, makes particular things intelligible by accounting for their common natures: a thing is a horse, for example, by virtue of the fact that it shares in, or imitates, the Form of “Horse.” In a lost work, On Ideas, Aristotle maintains that the arguments of Plato’s central dialogues establish only that there are, in addition to particulars, certain common objects of the sciences. In his surviving works as well, Aristotle often takes issue with the theory of Forms, sometimes politely and sometimes contemptuously. In his Metaphysics he argues that the theory fails to solve the problems it was meant to address. It does not confer intelligibility on particulars, because immutable and everlasting Forms cannot explain how particulars come into existence and undergo change. All the theory does, according to Aristotle, is introduce new entities equal in number to the entities to be explained—as if one could solve a problem by doubling it. (See below Form.)
Aristotle married Pythias, for the ones who don’t know who she is, she was the adoptive daughter of Hermias. They had a daughter together who they also named Pythias.
Aristotle is known to have had a son named Nicomachus who unfortunately died in a battle while still a young boy. Word says it that The Nicomachen Ethics, which is a compilation of Aristotle’s lecture notes, was probably dedicated and named after him.
6. Great Military Tactician
Alexander had great presence of mind when it came to military warfare. He was a cunning tactician who would devise ways to defeat his enemies with his superior strength in terms of soldiers and weapons. Alexander inherited a well-trained army from his father, and further improved their skills. The size of his army never exceeded 50,000 at any point because Alexander valued military speed, skill, and agility far more than the number of men.
Alexander is also attributed with mastering the unique Macedonian battle technique known as the phalanx. It was a formation developed by his father, but Alexander turned it into a powerful war technique. His soldiers would attack in a formation of 8 to 32 men, each of them wielding a 12- to 18-foot Cornelian wooden spear. Alexander had a formidable force at his disposal.
#6 His writings on ethics were critical in the development of modern philosophy
Ethics is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. It offers a rational response to the question of how humans should best live. Virtue Ethics is an approach to Ethics that emphasizes on individual’s character as the key element of ethical thinking rather than acting in order to bring about good consequences. Virtue Ethics originated with Socrates and was developed further by Plato and Aristotle. In the view of Aristotle, when a person acts in accordance with virtue he will do good and be content. On the other hand, doing wrong would lead to unhappiness, frustration, failed goals and a poor life. Therefore to lead a good life, it was essential for a person to act in accordance with virtue. The Nicomachean Ethics is the best known work by Aristotle on ethics. It is widely considered as one of the most important philosophical works. Moreover, it had an immense impact in the west being critical in the development of modern philosophy as well as European law and theology.
Aristotle’s claim to be the founder of logic rests primarily on the Categories, the De interpretatione, and the Prior Analytics, which deal respectively with words, propositions, and syllogisms. These works, along with the Topics, the Sophistical Refutations, and a treatise on scientific method, the Posterior Analytics, were grouped together in a collection known as the Organon, or “tool” of thought.
The Prior Analytics is devoted to the theory of the syllogism, a central method of inference that can be illustrated by familiar examples such as the following:
Every Greek is human. Every human is mortal. Therefore, every Greek is mortal.
Aristotle discusses the various forms that syllogisms can take and identifies which forms constitute reliable inferences. The example above contains three propositions in the indicative mood, which Aristotle calls “propositions.” (Roughly speaking, a proposition is a proposition considered solely with respect to its logical features.) The third proposition, the one beginning with “therefore,” Aristotle calls the conclusion of the syllogism. The other two propositions may be called premises, though Aristotle does not consistently use any particular technical term to distinguish them.
The propositions in the example above begin with the word every Aristotle calls such propositions “universal.” (In English, universal propositions can be expressed by using all rather than every thus, Every Greek is human is equivalent to All Greeks are human.) Universal propositions may be affirmative, as in this example, or negative, as in No Greek is a horse. Universal propositions differ from “particular” propositions, such as Some Greek is bearded (a particular affirmative) and Some Greek is not bearded (a particular negative). In the Middle Ages it became customary to call the difference between universal and particular propositions a difference of “quantity” and the difference between affirmative and negative propositions a difference of “quality.”
In propositions of all these kinds, Aristotle says, something is predicated of something else. The items that enter into predications Aristotle calls “terms.” It is a feature of terms, as conceived by Aristotle, that they can figure either as predicates or as subjects of predication. This means that they can play three distinct roles in a syllogism. The term that is the predicate of the conclusion is the “major” term the term of which the major term is predicated in the conclusion is the “minor” term and the term that appears in each of the premises is the “middle” term.
In addition to inventing this technical vocabulary, Aristotle introduced the practice of using schematic letters to identify particular patterns of argument, a device that is essential for the systematic study of inference and that is ubiquitous in modern mathematical logic. Thus, the pattern of argument exhibited in the example above can be represented in the schematic proposition:
If A belongs to every B, and B belongs to every C, A belongs to every C.
Because propositions may differ in quantity and quality, and because the middle term may occupy several different places in the premises, many different patterns of syllogistic inference are possible. Additional examples are the following:
Every Greek is human. No human is immortal. Therefore, no Greek is immortal.
Some animal is a dog. Some dog is white. Therefore, every animal is white.
From late antiquity, triads of these different kinds were called “moods” of the syllogism. The two moods illustrated above exhibit an important difference: the first is a valid argument, and the second is an invalid argument, having true premises and a false conclusion. An argument is valid only if its form is such that it will never lead from true premises to a false conclusion. Aristotle sought to determine which forms result in valid inferences. He set out a number of rules giving necessary conditions for the validity of a syllogism, such as the following:
At least one premise must be universal.
At least one premise must be affirmative.
If either premise is negative, the conclusion must be negative.
Aristotle’s syllogistic is a remarkable achievement: it is a systematic formulation of an important part of logic. From roughly the Renaissance until the early 19th century, it was widely believed that syllogistic was the whole of logic. But in fact it is only a fragment. It does not deal, for example, with inferences that depend on words such as and, or, and if…then, which, instead of attaching to nouns, link whole propositions together.
Isabella of Castile: Top 5 facts about Spain’s Inquisitor Queen
Spanish Inquisition founder, unifying force of Spain and defender of the Catholic faith, here are the Top 5 Facts on Isabella of Castile.
1. She helped discover America
It was with Isabella’s backing that Christopher Columbus was able to afford his voyage to the New World. Not only did this bring wealth to Spain, but the lands discovered were now owned by Castile. When Native Americans were brought back as slaves, Isabella demanded that they be set free.
2. She created the Spanish Inquisition
Isabella and her husband Ferdinand II established the Spanish Inquisition to ensure that Jews and Muslims, who had converted to Christianity, were keeping to their new faith. She also commanded that all Jews and Muslims in Spain that refused to convert to Christianity be exiled. Whether she purposely intended to influence the famous Monty Python sketch is still up for debate…
3. She was the first woman on a US coin
In 1893, 400 years after Columbus’s fateful voyage, a coin was issued in the United States that featured Isabella’s image. That same year she also became the first woman featured on a commemorative US postage stamp, when she was featured alongside Columbus on the eight-cent stamp.
4. She had a famous daughter
Of her five children, only three outlived Isabella, one of which was Joanna, nicknamed ‘Joanna the mad’ for her mental instability. However, her daughter Catherine of Aragon went on to become the first wife of Henry VIII, making Isabella the grandmother of Mary I of England.
5. She was a mature student
Isabella championed education, making sure both her sons and her daughters received a full education. She also set up many educational institutions and amassed a large art collection. Widely read, Isabella continued her own studies well into adulthood and learned Latin when she was 35 years old.
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