ARR-i-stə-TEE-lee-ə-niz-əm) is a tradition of philosophy that takes
its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. This school of
thought is in the modern sense of philosophy, covering existence,
ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy
included natural philosophy, which was replaced by modern science
during the Scientific Revolution. The works of
initially defended by the members of the
Peripatetic school and later
on by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's
writings. In the Islamic Golden Age,
the works of
Aristotle into Arabic and under them, along with
philosophers such as
Al-Kindi and Al-Farabi,
Aristotelianism became a
major part of early Islamic philosophy.
Aristotelianism from the Islamic scholars and
based his famous
Guide for the Perplexed
Guide for the Perplexed on it and that became the
basis of Jewish scholastic philosophy. Although some of Aristotle's
logical works were known to western Europe, it was not until the Latin
translations of the 12th century that the works of
Aristotle and his
Arabic commentators became widely available. Scholars such as Albertus
Thomas Aquinas interpreted and systematized Aristotle's
works in accordance with Christian theology.
After retreating under criticism from modern natural philosophers, the
distinctively Aristotelian idea of teleology was transmitted through
Wolff and Kant to Hegel, who applied it to history as a totality.
Although this project was criticized by Trendelenburg and Brentano as
non-Aristotelian, Hegel's influence is now often said to be
responsible for an important Aristotelian influence upon Marx.
Postmodernists, in contrast, reject Aristotelianism's claim to reveal
important theoretical truths. In this, they follow Heidegger's
Aristotle as the greatest source of the entire tradition
of Western philosophy.
Recent Aristotelian ethical and "practical" philosophy, such as that
of Gadamer and McDowell, is often premissed upon a rejection of
Aristotelianism's traditional metaphysical or theoretical philosophy.
From this viewpoint, the early modern tradition of political
republicanism, which views the res publica, public sphere or state as
constituted by its citizens' virtuous activity, can appear thoroughly
The most famous contemporary Aristotelian philosopher is Alasdair
MacIntyre. Especially famous for helping to revive virtue ethics in
his book After Virtue, MacIntyre revises
Aristotelianism with the
argument that the highest temporal goods, which are internal to human
beings, are actualized through participation in social practices. He
Aristotelianism with the managerial institutions of
capitalism and its state, and with rival traditions — including
the philosophies of Hume and Nietzsche — that reject
Aristotle's idea of essentially human goods and virtues and instead
legitimate capitalism. Therefore, on MacIntyre's account,
Aristotelianism is not identical with
Western philosophy as a whole;
rather, it is "the best theory so far, [including] the best theory so
far about what makes a particular theory the best one." Politically
and socially, it has been characterized as a newly "revolutionary
Aristotelianism". This may be contrasted with the more conventional,
apolitical and effectively conservative uses of
Aristotle by, for
example, Gadamer and McDowell. Other important contemporary
Aristotelian theorists include
Fred D. Miller, Jr.
Fred D. Miller, Jr. in politics and
Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.
1.1 Ancient Greek
1.2 Byzantine Empire
1.3 Islamic world
1.4 Western Europe
1.5 Modern era
1.6 Contemporary Aristotelianism
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Main article: Peripatetic school
The original followers of
Aristotle were the members of the
Peripatetic school. The most prominent members of the school after
Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus, who both
continued Aristotle's researches. During the
Roman era the school
concentrated on preserving and defending his work. The most
important figure in this regard was
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Alexander of Aphrodisias who
commentated on Aristotle's writings. With the rise of
the 3rd century, Peripateticism as an independent philosophy came to
an end, but the Neoplatonists sought to incorporate Aristotle's
philosophy within their own system, and produced many commentaries on
Aristotelianism emerged in the
Byzantine Empire in the form
of Aristotelian paraphrase: adaptations in which Aristotle's text is
rephrased, reorganized, and pruned, in order to make it more easily
understood. This genre was allegedly invented by
Themistius in the
mid-4th century, revived by
Michael Psellos in the mid-11th century,
and further developed by Sophonias in the late 13th to early 14th
Leo the Mathematician was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the
Magnaura School in the mid-9th century to teach Aristotelian logic.
The 11th and 12th centuries saw the emergence and twelfth-century
Byzantine Aristotelianism. Before the 12th century, the whole
Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries was focused on logic.
However, the range of subjects covered by the Aristotelian
commentaries produced in the two decades after 1118 is much greater
due to the initiative of the princess
Anna Comnena who commissioned a
number of scholars to write commentaries on previously neglected works
An medieval Arabic representation of
Aristotle teaching a student.
In the Abbasid Empire, many foreign works were translated into Arabic,
large libraries were constructed, and scholars were welcomed. Under
Harun al-Rashid and his son Al-Ma'mun, the House of Wisdom
Baghdad flourished. Christian scholar
Hunayn ibn Ishaq
Hunayn ibn Ishaq (809–873)
was placed in charge of the translation work by the caliph. In his
lifetime, Ishaq translated 116 writings, including works by
Aristotle, into Syriac and Arabic.
With the founding of House of Wisdom, the entire corpus of
Aristotelian works that had been preserved (excluding the Eudemian
Magna Moralia and Politics) became available, along with its
Greek commentators; this corpus laid a uniform foundation for Islamic
Al-Kindi (801–873) was the first of the Muslim Peripatetic
philosophers, and is known for his efforts to introduce Greek and
Hellenistic philosophy to the Arab world. He incorporated
Aristotelian and Neoplatonist thought into an Islamic philosophical
framework. This was an important factor in the introduction and
Greek philosophy in the Muslim intellectual
Al-Farabi (872–950) had great influence on science
and philosophy for several centuries, and in his time was widely
thought second only to
Aristotle in knowledge (alluded to by his title
of "the Second Teacher"). His work, aimed at synthesis of philosophy
and Sufism, paved the way for the work of
Avicenna was one of the main interpreters of Aristotle. The school
of thought he founded became known as Avicennism, which was built on
ingredients and conceptual building blocks that are largely
Aristotelian and Neoplatonist.
At the western end of the Mediterranean Sea, during the reign of
Al-Hakam II (961 to 976) in Córdoba, a massive translation effort was
undertaken, and many books were translated into Arabic. Averroes
(1126–1198), who spent much of his life in Cordoba and Seville, was
especially distinguished as a commentator of Aristotle. He often wrote
two or three different commentaries on the same work, and some 38
Averroes on the works of
Aristotle have been
identified. Although his writings had only marginal impact in
Islamic countries, his works would eventually have a huge impact in
the Latin West, and would lead to the school of thought known as
Scholasticism and Protestant scholasticism
Although some knowledge of
Aristotle seems to have lingered on in the
ecclesiastical centres of western Europe after the fall of the Roman
empire, by the ninth century nearly all that was known of Aristotle
consisted of Boethius's commentaries on the Organon, and a few
abridgments made by Latin authors of the declining empire, Isidore of
Seville and Martianus Capella. From that time until the end of the
eleventh century, little progress is apparent in Aristotelian
The renaissance of the 12th century saw a major search by European
scholars for new learning. James of Venice, who probably spent some
years in Constantinople, translated Aristotle's Posterior Analytics
from Greek into Latin in the mid-twelfth century, thus making the
complete Aristotelian logical corpus, the Organon, available in Latin
for the first time. Scholars travelled to areas of Europe that once
had been under Muslim rule and still had substantial Arabic-speaking
populations. From central Spain, which had come under Christian rule
in the eleventh century, scholars produced many of the Latin
translations of the 12th century. The most productive of these
translators was Gerard of Cremona, (c. 1114–1187), who
translated 87 books, which included many of the works of Aristotle
such as his Posterior Analytics, Physics, On the Heavens, On
Generation and Corruption, and Meteorology.
Michael Scot (c.
1175–1232) translated Averroes' commentaries on the scientific works
Aristotle's physical writings began to be discussed openly, and at a
time when Aristotle's method was permeating all theology, these
treatises were sufficient to cause his prohibition for heterodoxy in
the Condemnations of 1210–1277. In the first of these, in Paris
in 1210, it was stated that "neither the books of
Aristotle on natural
philosophy or their commentaries are to be read at
Paris in public or
secret, and this we forbid under penalty of excommunication."
However, despite further attempts to restrict the teaching of
Aristotle, by 1270 the ban on Aristotle's natural philosophy was
William of Moerbeke (c. 1215–1286) undertook a complete translation
of the works of
Aristotle or, for some portions, a revision of
existing translations. He was the first translator of the
1260) from Greek into Latin. Many copies of
Aristotle in Latin then in
circulation were assumed to have been influenced by Averroes, who was
suspected of being a source of philosophical and theological errors
found in the earlier translations of Aristotle. Such claims were
without merit, however, as the Alexandrian
Aristotelianism of Averroes
followed "the strict study of the text of Aristotle, which was
introduced by Avicenna, [because] a large amount of traditional
Neoplatonism was incorporated with the body of traditional
Albertus Magnus (c. 1200–1280) was among the first medieval scholars
to apply Aristotle's philosophy to Christian thought. He produced
paraphrases of most of the works of
Aristotle available to him. He
digested, interpreted and systematized the whole of Aristotle's works,
gleaned from the Latin translations and notes of the Arabian
commentators, in accordance with Church doctrine. His efforts resulted
in the formation of a Christian reception of
Aristotle in the Western
Europe. Magnus did not repudiate Plato. In that, he belonged to
the dominant tradition of philosophy that preceded him, namely the
"concordist tradition", which sought to harmonize
Plato through interpretation (see for example Porphyry's On
Aristotle Being Adherents of the Same School). Magnus famously wrote:
"Scias quod non perficitur homo in philosophia nisi ex scientia duarum
philosophiarum: Aristotelis et Platonis." (Metaphysics, I, tr. 5, c.
(Know that a man is not perfected in philosophy if it weren't for the
knowledge of the two philosophers,
Aristotle and Plato)
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), the pupil of Albertus Magnus, wrote a
dozen commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Thomas was
emphatically Aristotelian, he adopted Aristotle's analysis of physical
objects, his view of place, time and motion, his proof of the prime
mover, his cosmology, his account of sense perception and intellectual
knowledge, and even parts of his moral philosophy. The
philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work of Thomas
Aquinas was known as Thomism, and was especially influential among the
Dominicans, and later, the Jesuits.
After retreating under criticism from modern natural philosophers, the
distinctively Aristotelian idea of teleology was transmitted through
Wolff and Kant to Hegel, who applied it to history as a
totality. Although this project was criticized by
Trendelenburg and Brentano as un-Aristotelian,
Hegel's influence is now often said to be responsible for an important
Aristotelian influence upon Marx. Postmodernists, in contrast,
reject Aristotelianism's claim to reveal important theoretical
truths. In this, they follow Heidegger's critique of
the greatest source of the entire tradition of Western philosophy.
Aristotelianism is understood by its proponents as critically
developing Plato's theories. Recent Aristotelian ethical and
'practical' philosophy, such as that of Gadamer and McDowell, is often
premised upon a rejection of Aristotelianism's traditional
metaphysical or theoretical philosophy. From this
viewpoint, the early modern tradition of political republicanism,
which views the res publica, public sphere or state as constituted by
its citizens' virtuous activity, can appear thoroughly
The contemporary Aristotelian philosopher
Alasdair MacIntyre is
specially famous for helping to revive virtue ethics in his book After
Virtue. MacIntyre revises
Aristotelianism with the argument that the
highest temporal goods, which are internal to human beings, are
actualized through participation in social practices. He opposes
Aristotelianism to the managerial institutions of capitalism and its
state, and to rival traditions—including the philosophies of Hume,
Kant, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche—that reject its idea of essentially
human goods and virtues and instead legitimize capitalism. Therefore,
on MacIntyre's account,
Aristotelianism is not identical with Western
philosophy as a whole; rather, it is "the best theory so far,
[including] the best theory so far about what makes a particular
theory the best one." Politically and socially, it has been
characterized as a newly 'revolutionary Aristotelianism'. This may be
contrasted with the more conventional, apolitical and effectively
conservative uses of
Aristotle by, for example, Gadamer and
McDowell. Other important contemporary Aristotelian theorists
include Fred D. Miller, Jr. in politics and
Rosalind Hursthouse in
In metaphysics, an Aristotelian realism about universals is defended
by such philosophers as
David Malet Armstrong
David Malet Armstrong and Stephen Mumford, and
is applied to the philosophy of mathematics by James Franklin.
Bertrand Russell criticizes Aristotle's logic on the following
The Aristotelian system allows formal defects leading to "bad
metaphysics". For example, the following syllogism is permitted: "All
golden mountains are mountains, all golden mountains are golden,
therefore some mountains are golden", which insinuates the existence
of at least one golden mountain. Furthermore, according to
Russell, a predicate of a predicate can be a predicate of the original
subject, which blurs the distinction between names and predicates with
disastrous consequences; for example, a class with only one member is
erroneously identified with that one member, making impossible to have
a correct theory of the number one.
The syllogism is overvalued in comparison to other forms of deduction.
For example, syllogisms are not employed in mathematics since they are
In addition, Russell ends his review of the Aristotelian logic with
I conclude that the Aristotelian doctrines with which we have been
concerned in this chapter are wholly false, with the exception of the
formal theory of the syllogism, which is unimportant. Any person in
the present day who wishes to learn logic will be wasting his time if
Aristotle or any of his disciples. Nonetheless, Aristotle's
logical writings show great ability, and would have been useful to
mankind if they had appeared at a time when intellectual originality
was still active. Unfortunately, they appeared at the very end of the
creative period of Greek thought, and therefore came to be accepted as
authoritative. By the time that logical originality revived, a reign
of two thousand years had made
Aristotle very difficult to dethrone.
Throughout modern times, practically every advance in science, in
logic, or in philosophy has had to be made in the teeth of the
opposition from Aristotle's disciples.
Commentaries on Aristotle
Wheel of fire
^ Furley, David (2003), From
Aristotle to Augustine: Routledge History
of Philosophy, 2, Routledge
^ a b c d Ierodiakonou, Katerina; Bydén, Börje. "Byzantine
Philosophy". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford Encyclopedia of
^ Gaston Wiet, Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate Retrieved
^ Opth: Azmi, Khurshid. "Hunain bin Ishaq on Ophthalmic Surgery."
Bulletin of the Indian Institute of History of Medicine 26 (1996):
69–74. Web. 29 Oct. 2009
^ Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science: Islamic
Science. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2007. Print.
^ Manfred Landfester, Hubert Cancik, Helmuth Schneider (eds.), Brill's
New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Classical tradition,
Volume 1, Brill, 2006, p. 273.
^ Klein-Frank, F. Al-Kindi. In Leaman, O & Nasr, H (2001). History
of Islamic Philosophy. London: Routledge. p 165
^ Felix Klein-Frank (2001) Al-Kindi, pages 166–167. In Oliver Leaman
& Hossein Nasr. History of Islamic Philosophy. London: Routledge.
Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (c.980–1037)". The Internet Encyclopedia of
Philosophy. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
Avicenna (Abu Ali Sina)". Sjsu.edu. Archived from the original on
11 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
^ "Avicenna". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
^ a b Edward Grant, (1996), The foundations of modern science in the
Middle Ages, page 30. Cambridge University Press
^ a b c Auguste Schmolders, History of Arabian
Philosophy in The
eclectic magazine of foreign literature, science, and art, Volume 46.
^ L.D. Reynolds and Nigel G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars, Oxford,
1974, p. 106.
^ C. H. Haskins, Renaissance of the Twelfth Century, p. 287. "more of
Arabic science passed into Western Europe at the hands of Gerard of
Cremona than in any other way."
^ For a list of Gerard of Cremona's translations see: Edward Grant
(1974) A Source
Book in Medieval Science, (Cambridge: Harvard Univ.
Pr.), pp. 35–8 or Charles Burnett, "The Coherence of the
Arabic-Latin Translation Program in Toledo in the Twelfth Century,"
Science in Context, 14 (2001): at 249-288, at pp. 275–281.
^ Christoph Kann (1993). "Michael Scotus". In Bautz, Traugott.
Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 5.
Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1459–1461. ISBN 3-88309-043-3.
^ Edward Grant, A Source
Book in Medieval Science, page 42 (1974).
Harvard University Press
^ Rubenstein, Richard E. Aristotle's Children: How Christians,
Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the
Middle Ages, page 215 (2004). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
^ Schmölders, Auguste (1859). "'Essai sur les Ecoles Philosophiques
chez les Arabes' par Auguste Schmölders, (
Paris 1842)" [Essay on the
Philosophy in Arabia] (full–text/pdf). In Telford, John;
Barber, Benjamin Aquila; Watkinson, William Lonsdale; Davison, William
Theophilus. The London Quarterly Review. 11. J.A. Sharp. p. 60.
We have said already that the most interesting and important of the
Arabian schools is that which was the simple expression of Alexandrian
Aristotelianism, the school of
Avicenna and Averroes; or, as the
Arabians themselves called it par excellence, that of the
'philosophers.' In no material point did they differ from their
master, and, therefore, an exposition of their doctrines would be
useless to those who know anything of the history of philosophy; but,
before the strict study of the text of Aristotle, which was introduced
by Avicenna, a large amount of traditional Neo-
incorporated with the body of traditional Aristotelianism, so as to
take them sometimes far astray from their master's track.
^ a b Fhrer, Markus. "Albert the Great". In Zalta, Edward N. Stanford
Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
^ Henricus Bate, Helmut Boese, Carlos Steel, On Platonic Philosophy,
Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990, p. xvi.
^ a b c McInerny, Ralph. "Saint Thomas Aquinas". In Zalta, Edward N.
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
^ For example, George E. McCarthy (ed.), Marx and Aristotle:
Nineteenth-Century German Social Theory and Classical Antiquity,
Although many disagree Rowman & Littlefield, 1992.
^ For example, Ted Sadler, Heidegger and Aristotle: The Question of
Being, Athlone, 1996.
^ For contrasting examples of this, see Hans-Georg Gadamer, The Idea
of the Good in Platonic-Aristotelian
Philosophy (trans. P. Christopher
Smith), Yale University Press, 1986, and Lloyd P. Gerson, Aristotle
and Other Platonists, Cornell University Press, 2005.
^ Alasdair MacIntyre, 'An Interview with Giovanna Borradori', in
Kelvin Knight (ed.), The MacIntyre Reader, Polity Press / University
of Notre Dame Press, 1998, p. 264.
^ Kelvin Knight, Aristotelian Philosophy:
Aristotle to MacIntyre, Polity Press, 2007.
^ Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's
Politics, Oxford University Press, 1997.
^ Rosalind Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, Oxford University Press,
^ Russell (1967), Chapter XXII Aristotle's Logic
^ Russell (1967, p. 197)
^ a b Russell (1967, p. 198)
^ Russell (1967, p. 202)
Chappell, Timothy (ed.), Values and Virtues:
Contemporary Ethics, Oxford University Press, 2006.
Ferrarin, Alfredo, Hegel and Aristotle, Cambridge University Press,
Kenny, Anthony, Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition, Oxford
University Press, 2001.
Knight, Kelvin, Aristotelian Philosophy:
Aristotle to MacIntyre, Polity Press, 2007.
Knight, Kelvin & Paul Blackledge (eds.), Revolutionary
Aristotelianism: Ethics, Resistance and Utopia, Lucius & Lucius
(Stuttgart, Germany), 2008.
Lobkowicz, Nicholas, Theory and Practice: History of a Concept from
Aristotle to Marx, University of Notre Dame Press, 1967.
MacIntyre, Alasdair, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, University
of Notre Dame Press, 1984 / Duckworth, 1985 (2nd edn.).
MacIntyre, Alasdair, Whose Justice? Which Rationality?, University of
Notre Dame Press / Duckworth, 1988.
MacIntyre, Alasdair, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry:
Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition, University of Notre Dame
Press / Duckworth, 1990.
MacIntyre, Alasdair, 'The Theses on Feuerbach: A Road Not Taken', in
Kelvin Knight (ed.), The MacIntyre Reader, University of Notre Dame
Press / Polity Press, 1998.
MacIntyre, Alasdair, Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need
the Virtues, Open Court / Duckworth, 1999.
MacIntyre, Alasdair, 'Natural Law as Subversive: The Case of Aquinas'
and 'Rival Aristotles: 1.
Aristotle Against Some Renaissance
Aristotle Against Some Modern Aristotelians', in
Ethics and Politics: Selected Essays volume 2, Cambridge
University Press, 2006.
Moraux, Paul, Der Aristotelismus bei den Griechen, Von Andronikos bis
Alexander von Aphrodisias: Vol. I: Die Renaissance des Aristotelismus
im I. Jh.v. Chr. (1973); Vol. II: Der Aristotelismus im I. und II.
Jh.n. Chr. (1984); Vol. III: Alexander von Aphrodisias (2001) –
Edited by Jürgen Wiesner, with a chapter on
Ethics by Robert W.
Riedel, Manfred (ed.), Rehabilitierung der praktischen Philosophie,
Rombach, volume 1, 1972; volume 2, 1974.
Ritter, Joachim, Metaphysik und Politik: Studien zu Aristoteles und
Hegel, Suhrkamp, 1977.
Russell, Bertrand (1967), A History of Western Philosophy, Simon &
Schuster, ISBN 0671201581 *Schrenk, Lawrence P. (ed.),
Aristotle in Late Antiquity, Catholic University of America Press,
Sharples, R. W. (ed.), Whose Aristotle? Whose Aristotelianism?,
Shute, Richard, On the History of the Process by Which the
Aristotelian Writings Arrived at Their Present Form, Arno Press, 1976
Sorabji, Richard (ed.),
Aristotle Transformed: The Ancient
Commentators and Their Influence, Duckworth, 1990.
Stocks, John Leofric, Aristotelianism, Harrap, 1925.
Veatch, Henry B., Rational Man: A Modern Interpretation of
Aristotelian Ethics, Indiana University Press, 1962.
The Rediscovery of the
Corpus Aristotelicum and the Birth of
Aristotelianism with an annotated bibliography
Clayton, Edward. (2005) Political
Philosophy of Alasdair MacIntyre,
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
International Society for MacIntyrean Enquiry
Theology (unmoved mover)
Ideas and interests
Correspondence theory of truth
Virtue ethics (golden mean)
Philosophy of nature (sublunary sphere)
Potentiality and actuality
Universals (substantial form)
Substance (hypokeimenon, ousia, transcendentals)
Category of being
On the Soul
Alexander the Great
Commentaries on Aristotle
Recovery of Aristotle
Views on women
Aristotle's wheel paradox
Philosophy of psychiatry
Philosophy of perception
Space and time
Schools of thought
Acintya bheda abheda
Foundationalism / Coherentism
Internalism and Externalism
Ordinary language philosophy
Rationalism / Reasonism
Philosophy by region
Women in philosophy