2nd century AD copy of a 4th cent. BC sculpture of Aristotle, which Alexander the Great commissioned from the sculptor Lysippus.

Aristotle: The Man Who Needs No Introduction

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Before embarking on our journey to character and (self) leadership, we should briefly discuss the life and work of Aristotle, the man and the philosopher - he who needs no introduction.

Aristotle’s Life

Aristotle was born at Stagira, in northern Greece. His father Nicomachus was a doctor at the court of King Amyntas III of Macedon, father of Philip II, and grandfather of Alexander the Great. At the age of seventeen, Aristotle went to Athens, the intellectual and cultural center of the time, to complete his education.

Statue of a young Aristotle.

Statue of a young Aristotle . (Rama/ CC BY 2.0 fr )

He joined Plato’s Academy where he stayed for twenty years, studying, writing, debating and eventually teaching, especially rhetoric. Aristotle left Athens when Plato died probably because he diverted from his teacher’s thought and so wasn’t chosen as his successor at the Academy. On another account, he left because Macedonia had subjugated Athens and so anti-Macedonian feelings could lead to his persecution due to his association with the court, an association that would influence his life considerably.

Plato’s Academy: The School of Athens by Raphael (1509–1510), fresco at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City.

Plato’s Academy: The School of Athens by Raphael (1509–1510), fresco at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City. ( Public Domain )

After spending almost five years in philosophical activity and empirical research first in Assos in the northern Aegean and then on the nearby island of Lesbos, Aristotle went to Macedonia as the personal tutor of young Alexander. He returned to Athens in 335 and founded his own school, the Lyceum, in an area dedicated to the god Apollo Lykeios, in the center of the city. The Lyceum was a public place where he taught, researched, and wrote. (The Lyceum was excavated and opened in Athens for the public in 2014 and can be visited daily).

His school became known as “ Peripatetic” because of the covered courtyard or colonnade ( peripatos) in the area of the school. The name may also have been given because Aristotle used to walk with his students when he lectured, advanced students in the morning, and the general lovers of knowledge in the evening. For him, teaching was the most important manifestation of knowledge, and as he said, claiming to know means being able to teach.

School of Aristotle in Mieza, Macedonia, Greece.

School of Aristotle in Mieza, Macedonia, Greece . (Jean Housen/ CC BY SA 4.0 )

Aristotle stayed in Athens until 323 when Alexander the Great died. He was accused of impiety, just like Socrates had been around 75 years before him. Unlike Socrates, however, he chose to leave Athens so that the city didn’t sin against philosophy for a second time, as he said. He died a year later in Chalcis, on the island of Euboea.

Aristotle’s Work

One of the most famous figures in the history of western thought, Aristotle was mainly concerned to discover the truth and increase knowledge because he believed that, by nature, human beings desire to know. For him, a fully human life is a life of intellectual activity. His emphasis on good reasoning and the scientific method characterizes most of his work.

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition.

Bust of Aristotle. Marble, Roman copy after a Greek bronze original by Lysippos from 330 BC; the alabaster mantle is a modern addition. ( Public Domain )

Aristotle was a prolific writer. He wrote extensively on numerous topics, but only around one-fifth of his works survives - containing samples from the different areas he studied. Although he is said to have been praised for his style of writing, his surviving works are mostly in the form of notes, probably for his own use rather than intended for publication. So, at times they are obscure, repetitive, and a challenge to follow, and we should probably read them as the lecture notes they were rather than as systematic treatises.

We could think of Aristotle as a polymath. He wrote on mathematics, logic, animal biology, the soul, rhetoric, tragic drama, poetry, political theory, philosophy of science, metaphysics. He also wrote on ethics, with the Nicomachean Ethics being his seminal text.

Aristotle was especially influenced by his research in animal biology. The other most significant influence on him was Plato (427?–347 BC). The teacher had a significant impact on the student: on the topics he studied, the search for knowledge, the value of explanation, or the method of building an argument. For example, as Socrates started a dialogue with the opinion of his student on a given topic, in the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle starts his inquiry with the endoxa, or the most popular opinions on a subject, believing that most people, the laymen, the educated or the wise, can’t be wholly mistaken - and he wished to build on existing knowledge. He used this method because he also wanted to examine the world people knew, the culture they lived in, and the individual behaviors they could observe. Then, he criticized, adapted, or rejected the opinions he didn’t agree with before presenting his own.

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Human Origins

Photo of Zecharia Sitchin (left)(CC0)Akkadian cylinder seal dating to circa 2300 BC depicting the deities Inanna, Utu, and Enki, three members of the Anunnaki.(right)
In a previous 2-part article (1), the authors wrote about the faulty associations of the Sumerian deities known as the Anunnaki as they are portrayed in the books, television series, and other media, which promotes Ancient Astronaut Theory (hereafter “A.A.T.”).

Ancient Places

Opinion

Hopewell mounds from the Mound City Group in Ohio. Representative image
During the Early Woodland Period (1000—200 BC), the Adena people constructed extensive burial mounds and earthworks throughout the Ohio Valley in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Many of the skeletal remains found in these mounds by early antiquarians and 20th-Century archaeologists were of powerfully-built individuals reaching between 6.5 and eight feet in height (198 cm – 244 cm).

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The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

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By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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