Aristotelianism (/ˌærɪstəˈtiːliənɪzəm/ 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, in the modern sense of philosophy, covers existence, ethics, mind and related subjects. In Aristotle's time, philosophy included natural philosophy, which preceded the advent of modern science during the Scientific Revolution. The works of Aristotle were 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, Avicenna and Averroes translated 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.

Moses Maimonides adopted Aristotelianism from the Islamic scholars and based his famous 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 Magnus and 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 critique of 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 Aristotelian.

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 juxtaposes 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. in politics and Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.

Francesco Hayez 001
Aristotle, by Francesco Hayez


Ancient Greek

The original followers of Aristotle were the members of the Peripatetic school. The most prominent members of the school after Aristotle were Theophrastus and Strato of Lampsacus, who both continued Aristotle's researches. During the Roman era the school concentrated on preserving and defending his work.[1] The most important figure in this regard was Alexander of Aphrodisias who commentated on Aristotle's writings. With the rise of Neoplatonism in 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 Aristotle.

Byzantine Empire

Byzantine 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 centuries.[2]

Leo the Mathematician was appointed to the chair of philosophy at the Magnaura School in the mid-9th century to teach Aristotelian logic.[2] The 11th and 12th centuries saw the emergence of twelfth-century Byzantine Aristotelianism. Before the 12th century, the whole Byzantine output of Aristotelian commentaries was focused on logic.[2] 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 of Aristotle.[2]

Islamic world

Arabic aristotle
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.[3] Under the caliphs Harun al-Rashid and his son Al-Ma'mun, the House of Wisdom in Baghdad flourished. Christian scholar 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 Plato and Aristotle, into Syriac and Arabic.[4][5]

With the founding of House of Wisdom, the entire corpus of Aristotelian works that had been preserved (excluding the Eudemian Ethics, Magna Moralia and Politics) became available, along with its Greek commentators; this corpus laid a uniform foundation for Islamic Aristotelianism.[6]

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.[7] He incorporated Aristotelian and Neoplatonist thought into an Islamic philosophical framework. This was an important factor in the introduction and popularization of Greek philosophy in the Muslim intellectual world.[8]

The philosopher 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 (980–1037).[9] Avicenna was one of the main interpreters of Aristotle.[10] 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.[11]

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 commentaries by Averroes on the works of Aristotle have been identified.[12] Although his writings had only marginal impact in Islamic countries, his works would eventually have a huge impact in the Latin West,[12] and would lead to the school of thought known as Averroism.

Western Europe

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.[13] From that time until the end of the eleventh century, little progress is apparent in Aristotelian knowledge.[13]

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,[14] 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,[15] (c. 1114–1187), who translated 87 books,[16] 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 of Aristotle.[17]

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.[13] 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."[18] However, despite further attempts to restrict the teaching of Aristotle, by 1270 the ban on Aristotle's natural philosophy was ineffective.[19]

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 Politics (c. 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 Aristotelianism".[20]

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.[21] 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.[21] Magnus did not repudiate Plato. In that, he belonged to the dominant tradition of philosophy that preceded him, namely the "concordist tradition",[22] which sought to harmonize Aristotle with Plato through interpretation (see for example Porphyry's On Plato and 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. 5)

(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.[23] 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.[23] 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.[23]

Using Albert's and Thomas's commentaries, as well as Marsilius of Padua's Defensor pacis, 14th-century scholar Nicole Oresme translated Aristotle's moral works into French and wrote extensive comments on them.

Modern era

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.[24] Postmodernists, in contrast, reject Aristotelianism's claim to reveal important theoretical truths.[25] In this, they follow Heidegger's critique of Aristotle as the greatest source of the entire tradition of Western philosophy.

Contemporary Aristotelianism

Aristotelianism is understood by its proponents as critically developing Plato's theories.[26] 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 Aristotelian.

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."[27] 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.[28] Other important contemporary Aristotelian theorists include Fred D. Miller, Jr.[29] in politics and Rosalind Hursthouse in ethics.[30]

In metaphysics, an Aristotelian realism about universals is defended by such philosophers as 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 points:[31]

  1. 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.[32] 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 it impossible to have a correct theory of the number one.[33]
  2. The syllogism is overvalued in comparison to other forms of deduction. For example, syllogisms are not employed in mathematics since they are less convenient.[33]

In addition, Russell ends his review of the Aristotelian logic with these words:

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 he reads 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.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Furley, David (2003), From Aristotle to Augustine: Routledge History of Philosophy, 2, Routledge
  2. ^ a b c d Ierodiakonou, Katerina; Bydén, Börje. "Byzantine Philosophy". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  3. ^ [1]Gaston Wiet, Baghdad: Metropolis of the Abbasid Caliphate Retrieved 2010-04-16
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Lindberg, David C. The Beginnings of Western Science: Islamic Science. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 2007. Print.
  6. ^ Manfred Landfester, Hubert Cancik, Helmuth Schneider (eds.), Brill's New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Classical tradition, Volume 1, Brill, 2006, p. 273.
  7. ^ Klein-Frank, F. Al-Kindi. In Leaman, O & Nasr, H (2001). History of Islamic Philosophy. London: Routledge. p 165
  8. ^ Felix Klein-Frank (2001) Al-Kindi, pages 166–167. In Oliver Leaman & Hossein Nasr. History of Islamic Philosophy. London: Routledge.
  9. ^ "Avicenna (Ibn Sina) (c.980–1037)". The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2007-07-13.
  10. ^ "Avicenna (Abu Ali Sina)". Archived from the original on 11 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-19.
  11. ^ "Avicenna". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  12. ^ a b Edward Grant, (1996), The foundations of modern science in the Middle Ages, page 30. Cambridge University Press
  13. ^ a b c Auguste Schmolders, History of Arabian Philosophy in The eclectic magazine of foreign literature, science, and art, Volume 46. February 1859
  14. ^ L.D. Reynolds and Nigel G. Wilson, Scribes and Scholars, Oxford, 1974, p. 106.
  15. ^ 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."
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Christoph Kann (1993). "Michael Scotus". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 5. Herzberg: Bautz. cols. 1459–1461. ISBN 3-88309-043-3.
  18. ^ Edward Grant, A Source Book in Medieval Science, page 42 (1974). Harvard University Press
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ Schmölders, Auguste (1859). "'Essai sur les Ecoles Philosophiques chez les Arabes' par Auguste Schmölders, (Paris 1842)" [Essay on the Schools of Philosophy in Arabia] (full–text/pdf). In Telford, John; Barber, Benjamin Aquila; Watkinson, William Lonsdale; Davison, William Theophilus (eds.). 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-Platonism was incorporated with the body of traditional Aristotelianism, so as to take them sometimes far astray from their master's track.
  21. ^ a b Fhrer, Markus. "Albert the Great". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  22. ^ Henricus Bate, Helmut Boese, Carlos Steel, On Platonic Philosophy, Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1990, p. xvi.
  23. ^ a b c McInerny, Ralph. "Saint Thomas Aquinas". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  24. ^ For example, George E. McCarthy (ed.), Marx and Aristotle: Nineteenth-Century German Social Theory and Classical Antiquity, Although many disagree Rowman & Littlefield, 1992.
  25. ^ For example, Ted Sadler, Heidegger and Aristotle: The Question of Being, Athlone, 1996.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Alasdair MacIntyre, 'An Interview with Giovanna Borradori', in Kelvin Knight (ed.), The MacIntyre Reader, Polity Press / University of Notre Dame Press, 1998, p. 264.
  28. ^ Kelvin Knight, Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre, Polity Press, 2007.
  29. ^ Fred D. Miller, Jr., Nature, Justice, and Rights in Aristotle's Politics, Oxford University Press, 1997.
  30. ^ Rosalind Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics, Oxford University Press, 1999.
  31. ^ Russell (1967), Chapter XXII Aristotle's Logic
  32. ^ Russell (1967, p. 197)
  33. ^ a b Russell (1967, p. 198)
  34. ^ Russell (1967, p. 202)

Further reading

  • Chappell, Timothy (ed.), Values and Virtues: Aristotelianism in Contemporary Ethics, Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Ferrarin, Alfredo, Hegel and Aristotle, Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  • Kenny, Anthony, Essays on the Aristotelian Tradition, Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Knight, Kelvin, Aristotelian Philosophy: Ethics and Politics from Aristotle to MacIntyre, Polity Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7456-1976-7.
  • 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 Aristotelians; 2. Aristotle Against Some Modern Aristotelians', in MacIntyre, 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. Sharples.
  • 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, 1994.
  • Sharples, R. W. (ed.), Whose Aristotle? Whose Aristotelianism?, Ashgate, 2001.
  • Shute, Richard, On the History of the Process by Which the Aristotelian Writings Arrived at Their Present Form, Arno Press, 1976 (originally 1888).
  • 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.

External links

Aristotelian theology

Aristotelian theology and the scholastic view of God have been influential in Western intellectual history.


Averroism refers to a school of medieval philosophy based on the application of the works of 12th-century Andalusian Islamic philosopher Averroes, a Muslim commentator on Aristotle, in 13th-century Latin Christian scholasticism.

Latin translations of Averroes' work became widely available at the universities which were springing up in Western Europe in the 13th century, and were received by scholasticists such as Siger of Brabant, Boetius of Dacia who examined Christian doctrines through reasoning and intellectual analysis.The term Averroist was coined by Thomas Aquinas in the restricted sense of the Averroists' "unity of the intellect" doctrine in his book De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas.

Based on this, Averroism came to be near-synonymous with atheism in late medieval usage.As a historiographical category, Averroism was first defined by Ernest Renan in Averroès et l'averroïsme (1852) in the sense of

radical or heterodox Aristotelianism.The reception of Averroes in Jewish thought has been termed "Jewish Averroism".

Jewish Averroist thought flourished in the later 14th century, and gradually declined in the course of the 15th century.

The last representative of Jewish Averroism was Elia del Medigo, writing in 1485.

Commentaries on Aristotle

Commentaries on Aristotle refers to the great mass of literature produced, especially in the ancient and medieval world, to explain and clarify the works of Aristotle. The pupils of Aristotle were the first to comment on his writings, a tradition which was continued by the Peripatetic school throughout the Hellenistic period and the Roman era. The Neoplatonists of the late Roman empire wrote many commentaries on Aristotle, attempting to incorporate him into their philosophy. Although Ancient Greek commentaries are considered the most useful, commentaries continued to be written by the Christian scholars of the Byzantine Empire and by the many Islamic philosophers and Western scholastics who had inherited his texts.


Hexis (Ancient Greek: ἕξις) is a relatively stable arrangement or disposition, for example a person's health or knowledge or character. It is an Ancient Greek word, important in the philosophy of Aristotle, and because of this it has become a traditional word of philosophy. It stems from a verb related to possession or "having", and Jacob Klein, for example, translates it as "possession". It is more typically translated in modern texts occasionally as "state" (e.g., H. Rackham), but more often as "disposition".


In philosophy, hyle (; from Ancient Greek: ὕλη) refers to matter or stuff. It can also be the material cause underlying a change in Aristotelian philosophy. The Greeks originally had no word for matter in general, as opposed to raw material suitable for some specific purpose or other, so Aristotle adapted the word for "wood" to this purpose. The idea that everything physical is made of the same basic substance holds up well under modern science, although it may be thought of more in terms of energy or matter/energy.

Joachim Ritter

Joachim Ritter (German: [ˈʁɪtɐ]; April 3, 1903 – August 3, 1974) was a German philosopher and founder of the so-called Ritter School (German: Ritter-Schule).

Michael III of Constantinople

Michael III of Anchialus (Greek: Μιχαὴλ Γ´), (? – March 1178) was Patriarch of Constantinople from January 1170 to March 1178.

Michael was appointed patriarch by the Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos, culminating what had been a highly distinguished intellectual and administrative career. Before becoming Patriarch, Michael III had held a progression of important church administrative offices, including referendarios, epi tou sakelliou, and protekdikos, the last of which was in charge of the tribunal which adjudicated claims for asylum within the Great Church. The most important of his appointments before receiving the Patriarchal throne was the office of hýpatos tōn philosóphōn (ὕπατος τῶν φιλοσόφων, "chief of the philosophers"), a title given to the head of the imperial University of Constantinople in the 11th–14th centuries. In this role he condemned the neoplatonist philosophers, and encouraged study of Aristotle's work on the natural sciences as an antidote. As Patriarch, Michael III continued to deal with the theological issue of the relation between the Son and the Father in the Holy Trinity. The issue was created due to the explanation that one Demetrius of Lampi (in Phrygia) gave to the phrase of the Gospel of John «ὁ Πατήρ μου μείζων μου ἐστίν», which means my Father is bigger than me (John, XIV.29). Michael acted as the Emperor's chief spokesman on this issue. Michael also ordered a review of Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical and imperial laws and decrees by Theodore Balsamon known as the "Scholia" (Greek: Σχόλια) (c. 1170).

Michael's patriarchy was marked by the Emperor Manuel's attempts to forge a union with the Catholic Church. Continuing a longstanding papal policy, Alexander III demanded recognition of their religious authority over all Christians everywhere, and wished themselves to reach superiority over the Byzantine Emperor; they were not at all willing to fall into a state of dependence from one emperor to the other. Manuel, on the other side, wanted an official recognition of his secular authority over both East and West. Such conditions would not be accepted by either side. Even if a pro-western Emperor such as Manuel agreed to it, the Greek citizens of the Empire would have rejected outright any union of this sort, as they did almost three hundred years later when the Orthodox and Catholic churches were briefly united under the Pope. In existing correspondence Michael presents a deeply courteous but unbending position on the authority of his Church. The correspondence also show a good working relationship with the Emperor.

Some of Michael III's correspondence with Manuel I survive, as does his inaugural address as hýpatos. Other documents including correspondence with Pope Alexander III have been attributed to him, though they are more likely later apocryphal creations of the 13th century. Michael III can also take credit for acting as patron to the young Michael Choniates, who composed an encomium in his honour, still extant.


Mimesis (; Ancient Greek: μίμησις mīmēsis, from μιμεῖσθαι mīmeisthai, "to imitate", from μῖμος mimos, "imitator, actor") is a term used in literary criticism and philosophy that carries a wide range of meanings which include imitatio, imitation, nonsensuous similarity, receptivity, representation, mimicry, the act of expression, the act of resembling, and the presentation of the self.In ancient Greece, mimesis was an idea that governed the creation of works of art, in particular, with correspondence to the physical world understood as a model for beauty, truth, and the good. Plato contrasted mimesis, or imitation, with diegesis, or narrative. After Plato, the meaning of mimesis eventually shifted toward a specifically literary function in ancient Greek society, and its use has changed and been reinterpreted many times since.

One of the best-known modern studies of mimesis, understood as a form of realism in literature, is Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature, which opens with a famous comparison between the way the world is represented in Homer's Odyssey and the way it appears in the Bible. From these two seminal texts, the Odyssey being Western and the Bible having been written by a variety of Mid-Eastern writers, Auerbach builds the foundation for a unified theory of representation that spans the entire history of Western literature, including the Modernist novels being written at the time Auerbach began his study. In art history, "mimesis", "realism" and "naturalism" are used, often interchangeably, as terms for the accurate, even "illusionistic", representation of the visual appearance of things.

Mimesis has been theorised by thinkers as diverse as Plato, Aristotle, Philip Sidney, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Adam Smith, Gabriel Tarde, Sigmund Freud, Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, Erich Auerbach, Paul Ricœur, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Derrida, René Girard, Nikolas Kompridis, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Michael Taussig, Merlin Donald, and Homi Bhabha.

Minima naturalia

Minima naturalia ("natural minima") were theorized by Aristotle as the smallest parts into which a homogeneous natural substance (e.g., flesh, bone, or wood) could be divided and still retain its essential character. In this context, "nature" means formal nature. Thus, "natural minimum" may be taken to mean "formal minimum": the minimum amount of matter necessary to instantiate a certain form.

Speculation on minima naturalia in late Antiquity, in the Islamic world, and by Scholastic and Renaissance thinkers in Europe provided a conceptual bridge between the atomism of ancient Greece and the mechanistic philosophy of early modern thinkers like Descartes, which in turn provided a background for the rigorously mathematical and experimental atomism of modern science.


Neo-Aristotelianism is a view of literature and rhetorical criticism propagated by the Chicago School — Ronald S. Crane, Elder Olson, Richard McKeon, Wayne Booth, and others — which means.

"A view of literature and criticism which takes a pluralistic attitude toward the history of literature and seeks to view literary works and critical theories intrinsically"

Neo-Artistotelianism was one of the first rhetorical methods of criticism. Its central features were first suggested in Herbert A. Wichelns' "The Literary Criticism of Oratory" in 1925. It focused on analyzing the methodology behind a speech's ability to convey an idea to its audience. In 1943, Neo-Aristotelianism was further publicized, gaining popularity after William Norwood Brigance published A History and Criticism of American Public Address.Unlike rhetorical criticism, which concentrates on the study of speeches and the immediate effect of rhetoric on an audience, Neo-Aristotelianism "led to the study of a single speaker because the sheer number of topics to cover relating to the rhetor and the speech made dealing with more than a single speaker virtually impossible. Thus, various speeches by different rhetors related by form of topic were not included in the scope of rhetorical criticism."

Peripatetic school

The Peripatetic school was a school of philosophy in Ancient Greece. Its teachings derived from its founder, Aristotle (384–322 BC), and peripatetic is an adjective ascribed to his followers.

The school dates from around 335 BC when Aristotle began teaching in the Lyceum. It was an informal institution whose members conducted philosophical and scientific inquiries. After the middle of the 3rd century BC, the school fell into a decline, and it was not until the Roman era that there was a revival. Later members of the school concentrated on preserving and commenting on Aristotle's works rather than extending them; it died out in the 3rd century.

The study of Aristotle's works continued by scholars who were called Peripatetics through Late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the works of the Peripatetic school were lost to the Latin West, but in the East they were rediscovered and incorporated into early Islamic philosophy, which would play a fundamental role in the revival of Aristotelian philosophy in Europe through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Rational animal

The term rational animal (Latin: animal rationale or animal rationabile) refers to a classical definition of humanity or human nature, associated with Aristotelianism.

Recovery of Aristotle

The "Recovery of Aristotle" (or Rediscovery) refers to the copying or re-translating of most of Aristotle's books (of ancient Greece), from Greek or Arabic text into Latin, during the Middle Ages, of the Latin West. The Recovery of Aristotle spanned about 100 years, from the middle 12th century into the 13th century, and copied or translated over 42 books (see: Corpus Aristotelicum), including Arabic texts from Arabic authors, where the previous Latin versions had only two books in general circulation: Categories and On Interpretation (De Interpretatione). Translations had been due to several factors, including limited techniques for copying books, lack of access to the Greek texts, and few people who could read ancient Greek, while the Arabic versions were more accessible. The recovery of Aristotle's texts is considered a major period in mediaeval philosophy, leading to Aristotelianism. Because some of Aristotle's newly translated views discounted the notions of a personal God, immortal soul, or creation, various leaders of the Catholic Church were inclined to censor those views for decades, such as lists of forbidden books in the Condemnations of 1210–1277 at the University of Paris. Meanwhile, Thomas Aquinas (c.1225–1274), at the end of that time period, was able to reconcile the viewpoints of Aristotelianism and Christianity, primarily in his work, Summa Theologica (1265–1274).

Sage (philosophy)

A sage (Ancient Greek: σοφός, sophos), in classical philosophy, is someone who has attained the wisdom which a philosopher seeks. The first to make this distinction is Plato, through the character of Socrates, within the Symposium. While analyzing the concept of love, Socrates concludes Love is that which lacks the object it seeks. Therefore, the philosopher (Ancient Greek: φιλόσοφος, meaning lover of wisdom) does not have the wisdom sought, while the sage, on the other hand, does not love or seek wisdom, for it is already possessed. Socrates then examines the two categories of persons who do not partake in philosophy:

Gods and sages, because they are wise;

Senseless people, because they think they are wise.The position of the philosopher is between these two groups. The philosopher is not wise, but possesses the self-awareness of lacking wisdom, and thus pursues it.

Alternatively, the sage is one who lives "according to an ideal which transcends the everyday." Plato is also the first to develop this notion of the sage in various works. Within The Republic, Plato indicates that when a friend of a sage dies, the sage "will not think that for a good man... death is a terrible thing." In the Theaetetus, Plato defines the sage as one who becomes "righteous and holy and wise."The term has also been used interchangeably with a 'good person' (Ancient Greek: ἀγαθός, agathos), and a 'virtuous person' (Ancient Greek: σπουδαῖος, spoudaios).

Substantial form

A theory of substantial forms asserts that forms (or ideas) organize matter and make it intelligible. Substantial forms are the source of properties, order, unity, identity, and information about objects.

The concept of substantial forms dominates ancient Greek philosophy and medieval philosophy, but has fallen out of favour in modern philosophy.

The idea of substantial forms has been abandoned for a mechanical, or "bottom-up" theory of organization. However, such mechanistic treatments have been criticized for the same reasons atomism has received criticism, viz., for merely denying the existence of certain kinds of substantial forms in favor of others (here, that of atoms, which are then thought to be arranged into things possessing accidental forms) and not denying substantial forms as such, an impossible move.

Summum bonum

Summum bonum is a Latin expression meaning "the highest good", which was introduced by the Roman philosopher Cicero, to correspond to the Idea of the Good in ancient Greek philosophy. The summum bonum is generally thought of as being an end in itself, and at the same time containing all other goods.

The term was used in medieval philosophy. In the Thomist synthesis of Aristotelianism and Christianity, the highest good is usually defined as the life of the righteous and/or the life led in communion with God and according to God's precepts. In Kantianism, it was used to describe the ultimate importance, the singular and overriding end which human beings ought to pursue.

Treatise on Law

Treatise on Law is St. Thomas Aquinas' major work of legal philosophy. It forms questions 90–108 of the Prima Secundæ ("First [Part] of the Second [Part]") of the Summa Theologiæ, Aquinas' masterwork of Scholastic philosophical theology. Along with Aristotelianism, it forms the basis for the legal theory of Catholic canon law.


Virtue (Latin: virtus, Ancient Greek: ἀρετή "arete") is moral excellence. A virtue is a trait or quality that is deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. In other words, it is a behavior that shows high moral standards. Doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong. The opposite of virtue is vice.

The four classic cardinal virtues in Christianity are temperance, prudence, courage, and justice. Christianity derives the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love (charity) from 1 Corinthians. Together these make up the seven virtues. Buddhism's four brahmavihara ("Divine States") can be regarded as virtues in the European sense. The Japanese Bushidō code is characterized by up to ten virtues, including rectitude, courage, and benevolence.

Virtue ethics

Virtue ethics (or aretaic ethics , from Greek ἀρετή (arete)) are normative ethical theories which emphasize virtues of mind and character. Virtue ethicists discuss the nature and definition of virtues and other related problems. These include how virtues are acquired, how they are applied in various real life contexts, and whether they are rooted in a universal human nature or in a plurality of cultures.

Ideas and interests
Corpus Aristotelicum
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