His Life, Cosmology, and Poetics
Aristotle and His Legacy
Aristotle (384-322 BC) is one of the most famous and influential philosophers of Ancient Greece. The only other one with equal reputation is Plato, who was Aristotle's teacher. But their philosophies differ greatly.
Aristotle is the father of cause and effect, leading their links all the way back to a first cause, a Primus Motor, which we are still to find. Aristotle also wrote the bible of narration and dramaturgy: The Poetics, still setting the rules for drama on stage as well as in the movies. The webpages below present Aristotle's life and work, his cosmology, and The Poetics.
It's almost impossible to overestimate the influence of Aristotle on human thought ever since the time of his own life in Ancient Greece. His basic principle of cause and effect is the rule also for science today, from cosmology down to particle physics - although discoveries within quantum physics seem to challenge it in parts.
But Aristotle's importance extends over other fields of thought with the same lasting dominance. That goes for his ethics, his observations in biology, and his priniciples for the structure of drama and storytelling, just to mention a few fields in which Aristotle made the very foundation for all the following generations to start from.
That was also true, though indirectly, during the more than one thousand years Aristotle's texts were lost to the Western world. In that long period, Aristotle's thoughts were only known through fragments, quotes, and comments in old texts by others. Not until the late Middle Ages were his texts recovered - from Arabia, where they had been carefully preserved. When they reached Europe, they spread like modern bestsellers and revolutionized human thought and science, to the extent that they played a significant part in sparking the Renaissance.
There's another obstacle in regard to Aristotle's texts than the long time they spent in obscurity. They're not written in an immediately readable style. All the Aristotle texts we have are in the form of notes - whether by Aristotle himself in preparation for his teaching or by students in his classes is unknown to us. This comprised style of writing makes them very hard indeed to interpret and translate in a meaningful way, but it also makes them easily adaptable to each era of human civilization reexamining them. Because they need so much editing to be readable, they automatically become updated by each translation.
On the other hand, that also makes it almost impossible to assert exactly what Aristotle actually had in mind.
Plato and Aristotle. Detail from School of Athens, by Raphael.
The Life of Aristotle
I've written a rather extensive biography of Aristotle, included on this website. It tells the story of his life and presents his literature - what's known of it and what happened to it. It also says a few things about Aristotle's posterity, mainly what happened to Lyceum, his school in Athens, and it gives a comprised timeline, a chronology for Aristotle as well as significant events prior to his life and after it. Click the header to read it.
Aristotle with a bust of Homer, by Rembrandt 1653.
Being a writer myself, I'm particularly fascinated by Aristotle's text on narration and the principles of the drama: The Poetics. The basics Aristotle advocates in this text are still revered and obeyed almost like a constitution by playwrights, screenwriters, directors, and actors. It's just as applicable to modern Hollywood movie productions as it has always been to plays performed at theaters. Aristotle has a splendid way of getting to the core structure of any storytelling and setting the necessary rules for it.
My text on Aristotle's Poetics presents the text and the principles for drama it contains. I've also written about the influence of The Poetics on drama and playwriting after the time of Aristotle. So far, I've only reached the Renaissance, but I hope to complete the history eventually. Click the header to read my texts on the Poetics of Aristotle.
Parthenon in Athens.
As part of my research into creation myths and the thought patterns they reveal, I wrote a text about the Greek philosophers' views on cosmology and mythology. It has also become a book. My intention was primarily to examine to what extent the philosophers believed in the gods and myths of the Ancient Greece to which they belonged. I found that most of them questioned mythology and sought laws for the cosmos basically with little or no need of any deities. Click the header to read my text about Aristotle's thoughts on the matter.
© Stefan Stenudd
The Greek Philosophers
Cosmos of the Ancients - the Book
The material on this website about the Greek philosophers and what they thought about cosmology, myth, and the gods, is now a book. It can be ordered at the Internet bookstores - printed or as a Kindle ebook. Both contain the footnotes with additional explanations as well as literary sources. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.
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I'm a Swedish writer
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