Aristotle. The Lyceum.

Aristotle. 384 - 322 BCE

Aristotle's followers were called Περιπατητικοί (Peripatētikoi) because he discussed philosophy while he was walking and his students were following him in the περίπατος or "covered walk" of the Lyceum.

The Lyceum (Λύκειον) was the site of Aristotle's school.

"The associates of Aristotle were called the Peripatetics, because they used to debate while walking in the Lyceum (Cicero, Academica I.4.17).

Peripateticus is the Latin translation of Περιπατητικός.
Aristotle belongs to the Period of Schools. His school is the Lyceum.

Aristotle is the first great Platonist and Plato's first great critic. He accepts the broad framework of Plato's views, but he rejects and tries to correct what he regards as its excesses and mistakes.

The Aristotelian Corpus

After Aristotle's death in 322 BCE, the history of his corpus is uncertain. The books showed up in Rome after Sulla sacked Athens in 86 BCE. There, the books eventually came into the hands of Andronicus (first century BCE) of Rhodes. He edited them and became the eleventh successor to Aristotle as head of the Lyceum.

The Aristotelian corpus as we now have it seems to originate with Andronicus. The books in the corpus are arranged systematically. The logical works are first. They are followed by the physical and the ethical works.

Aristotle's works are not dialogues. Nor do the works have a traditional chronological ordering.

Aristotelis Opera, Immanuel Bekker.

First page of Aristotle's Physics. In the Bekker numbering, this work begins page 184, line 10 of the "a" column. Page from 1831 Bekker edition

"From Scepsis [a center of learning in the Attalid dynasty of Pergamum] came the Socratic philosophers Erastus and Coriscus and Neleus the son of Coriscus, this last a man who not only was a pupil of Aristotle and Theophrastus, but also inherited the library of Theophrastus, which included that of Aristotle. At any rate, Aristotle bequeathed his own library to Theophrastus, to whom he also left his school; and he is the first man, so far as I know, to have collected books and to have taught the kings in Egypt how to arrange a library. Theophrastus bequeathed it to Neleus; and Neleus took it to Scepsis and bequeathed it to his heirs, ordinary people, who kept the books locked up and not even carefully stored. But when they heard how zealously the Attalic kings to whom the city was subject were searching for books to build up the library in Pergamum, they hid their books underground in a kind of trench. Much later, when the books had been damaged by moisture and moths, their descendants sold them to Apellicon of Teos for a large sum of money, both the books of Aristotle and those of Theophrastus. Apellicon was a bibliophile rather than a philosopher; and therefore, seeking a restoration of the parts that had been eaten through, he made new copies of the text, filling up the gaps incorrectly, and published the books full of errors. The result was that the earlier school of Peripatetics who came after Theophrastus had no books at all, with the exception of only a few, mostly exoteric works, and were therefore able to philosophise about nothing in a practical way, but only to talk bombast about commonplace propositions, whereas the later school, from the time the books in question appeared, though better able to philosophize and Aristotelize, were forced to call most of their statements probabilities, because of the large number of errors. Rome also contributed much to this; for, immediately after the death of Apellicon, Sulla, who had captured Athens, carried off Apellicon’s library to Rome, where Tyrannion the grammarian, who was fond of Aristotle, got it in his hands by paying court to the librarian, as did also certain booksellers who used bad copyists and would not collate the texts—a thing that also takes place in the case of the other books that are copied for selling, both here [in Rome] and at Alexandria. However, this is enough about these men" (Strabo, Geography XIII.1.54).

"Sulla seized for himself the library of Apellicon of Teos, in which were most of the treatises of Aristotle and Theophrastus [the second head of the Lyceum], at that time not yet well known to the public. But it is said that after the library was carried to Rome, Tyrannio the grammarian arranged most of the works in it, and that Andronicus the Rhodian was furnished by him with copies of them, and published them, and drew up the lists now current. The older Peripatetics were evidently of themselves accomplished and learned men, but they seem to have had neither a large nor an exact acquaintance with the writings of Aristotle and Theophrastus, because the estate of Neleus of Scepsis, to whom Theophrastus bequeathed his books, came into the hands of careless and illiterate people" (Plutarch, Life of Sulla 26.1).
The modern editions of the works in the Aristotelian corpus are in the Oxford Classical Texts library. These editions include Bekker numbers that refer to the edition Immanuel Bekker produced in the 19th century CE.

Translations into English

Translations are more of a problem for Aristotle then they are for Plato.

The Perseus Digital Library has some of the works in the Aristotelian corpus.

The Loeb Classical Library (available through the library at ASU with an ASURITE ID) has all the major works in translation with facing Greek texts (but without links to a dictionary).

The standard collection of English translations is The Complete Works of Aristotle volume 1 and 2, edited by Jonathan Barnes (available through the library at ASU with an ASURITE ID).

The best translations are in the Oxford Clarendon Aristotle Series.

Textual Evidence for Aristotle

Aristotle's works are difficult to understand, and it is not feasible to read them in their entirety with any care in the short time allotted in a semester class. In the next section, there are selections of some of the more important passages. Read the context in which these passage occur as time allows.

The Categories is the first work in in the logical works. It is a discussion of terms.

Prior Analytics
The Prior Analytics is in the logical works. It is a discussion of deduction.

Posterior Analytics
The Posterior Analytics is in the logical works. It is a discussion of demonstration.

The Physics is the first work of the physical works. The physical works follow the logical works. In the Physics, Aristotle discusses the existence of natural bodies as forms in matter.

On the Soul
On the Soul is in the physical works. Aristotle discusses the soul as the form of the living natural body.

The Metaphysics sits between the physical works and the ethical works.

Nicomachean Ethics
The Nicomachean Ethics is the first of the ethical works. It is a discussion of the good life for a human being.

Sets of Selected Texts

The selection of texts that follow are organized by topic. Read the lectures first.

Deduction, Demonstration, and Knowledge

Aristotle's theory of the syllogism is a theory of logical deduction. Aristotle thinks that some deductions are demonstrations and that someone who grasps a demonstration has knowledge.

Induction, Experience, Reason

Aristotle thinks that reason is not inborn but develops naturally in human beings as they become adults. The process in which it develops is induction. This is a causal process that involves perception, memory, and experience.

The Existence of Natural Bodies

Aristotle thinks that natural bodies have a "nature" (φύσις) and that this nature is a form. He thinks that these forms exist "in matter" and are only "separate in account."

Thinking about Substances

In the central books of the Metaphysics, Aristotle thinks about the "being" of substances.

The Good Life for a Human Being

Aristotle thinks about the good life for a human being.

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