The Beginning of Physics: Aristotle, The Philosopher

(Last Updated On: August 19, 2019)


The most influential thinker of all times is considered by many, to be Aristotle. He was a pioneer in many fields in science and a great philosopher. We will talk about him, and his philosophical differences with Plato’s ideas.

Aristotle’s youth

Aristotle was likely born in the year of 384 B.C in the town of Stagira, in Macedonia. His father was the court physician to the Macedonian’s King, Amyntus II. He had a brother and a sister, both older than him, who would raise Aristotle, due to their parents early deaths.

At the age of 17 Aristotle was sent to Athens, in Greece, to study at the Academia. Here he would study Philosophy, Math and Astronomy with his teacher Plato. Aristotle would spent 20 years here, advancing from student to teacher. He would develop a close friendship with Plato, and became his brightest student. They did however have some philosophical differences. As a result, when Plato died, the Academia’s directorship would fall on Speusippus shoulders, instead of Aristotle’s. Probably this annoyed Aristotle, and so he left the Academy.

Resultado de imagem para plato and aristotlePlato and Aristotle

The creation of a new field

After Aristotle left the Academia, he was invited to live in Assos, where he became the leader of a group of philosophers. Here and in a nearby island, Lesbos, he intensively studied marine life, and divided the animals he found in groups, according to their characteristics. This gave rise to a whole new field, Biology. This resulted in the publication of three books which minutely detailed living things. So minutely that some of the discovery’s he made weren’t verified until the 1800’s!

Alexander and the Lyceum

In 343 B.C. Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to educate his son, Alexander (later, Alexander , The Great). Alexander was known to be a ‘savage’ warrior and resisted his teachers, but Aristotle was patient, and Alexander was inevitably conquered by Aristotle reasoning. Aristotle also encouraged the prince to conqueror the barbarians lands to the East when he became the ruler.

Resultado de imagem para aristotle and alexanderAristotle teaching Alexander

After Philip’s II death Alexander would become the ruler of Macedon, and one of his first acts was to conquer Athens. This made the return of Aristotle to Athens possible, where he would create the Lyceum. The Lyceum was very different from Plato’s Academy.  First, the school was in a groove of trees outside the city (which was once a wrestling school). Unlike the Academy, the Lyceum wasn’t a private club: half of the day he would tech is most advance students and at the afternoons anyone who wanted to attend could do so free of charge.

His school was called the Peripatetic, or “people who wonder about”, due to the unique style of teaching by Aristotle. He would teach his students while they wandered around the gardens of the school.

Aristotle ideas

Aristotle ideas about the physical Universe were pretty important. They lasted 2000 years, that should be something. Most of then might be wrong yes, but that is part of the process. Aristotle believed in the same 5 elements of Plato and used them to explain everything. The earth was the heaviest, followed by water, air, fire, and the Eather (the cosmic stuff of the Universe). He arrived at this ideas via empirical evidence, and so his theories made more common sense then Plato’s.

Resultado de imagem para aristotle earth, water, air, fire, earthall materials want to get back to “their natural state”

This ideas would endure and be used by the christian church for centuries. But they failed to listen to some very VERY important words from Aristotle: Regardless of what theories you may hold, if observation proved them wrong you must have the humility to discard them, and go with the evidence.

Baltas Cruz

Baltas Cruz

He is a 15-year-old Portuguese with pretensions to becoming a theoretical physicist. He is also a chess player with some prizes in local competitions as well as a runner in a local team. Basically, a young man that loves life and lots of interesting stuff like PHYSICS.

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