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C'mon, seriously. What the hell is this? Our article on arguably the most important European philosopher is one sentence plus a rant about how poor Mr. A. fails to live up to a 20th century worldview? --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 16:54, 11 February 2008 (EST)

I rather like our article. You state the very problem with Aristotle. He is held as such an incredibly important philosopher and, until people came to their senses, scientist. I find Aristotle offensive. Had it not been him, it might have been someone else, but it just could possibly have been a much better world sooner without him. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 17:56, 11 February 2008 (EST)
Leave it to RationalWiki to poo poo the guy who invented formal logic and one of the greatest and most influential thinkers ever. Lurker 18:07, 11 February 2008 (EST)
Edgerunner, that is - frankly - possibly one of the most misguided opinions I have ever heard, and I am baffled at how you managed to arrive at it. As Lurker points out, he basically created formal logic. He was, as far as we know, one of the first to write extensively about biology based on observations. He believed that the proper study of natural philosophy was the essences of things themselves, rather than the Platonic supernatural ideals. He more or less established the concept of causality as we know it (which is much more complex than is claimed here). And this barely even scratches the surface of what he did. Fundamentally, Aristotle did not hinder modern science, he made modern science possible. Sure, he was also wrong about a lot of things - he was, after all, a rationalist rather than an empiricist - but it is hardly rational to expect a guy from the 4th century BC to live up to epistemological standards that were only developed two millennia later. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 18:23, 11 February 2008 (EST)
I'm not so sure I buy this article. I'd like a refund. 18:31, 11 February 2008 (EST)
Why is it that when Aristotle is wrong, it's because he lived 2400 years ago? But, when he is right, it's tremendous insight? I'd like to think that it wouldn't have taken two millenia to get here if it weren't for Aristotle's influence. --Edgerunner76 Buddy christ.jpg 08:23, 12 February 2008 (EST)
"But, when he is right, it's tremendous insight?" Because he lived 2400 years ago. NightFlareSpeak, mortal 09:31, 12 February 2008 (EST)
Edgerunner, this has nothing to do with being right or wrong, but with trying to understand the way members of a specific culture, in Aristotle's case 4th century BC Hellenic Greece, think about, perceive, and interpret the world they live in. For instance, when Aristotle spends so much time talking about final causes and such, it is because the search for fundamental principles in the world was as important, if not more important, a part of Hellenic natural philosophy as was description of it. To bash him for thinking about the world in the terms that were reasonable for his culture, rather than ours, seems more than a little intellectually indefensible. I mean, imagine this guy sitting around in the 41st century: "Seriously, what was up with those people back in the 21st century? Can you believe they didn't even realize that a 12th-dimensional universe operating under the influences of a dynamic Platinga constant causes all matter to divide their Q-essences into Blaffer categories! How irrational is that? Just think about what we could have achieved by now if they hadn't been so stupid! Anyway, got to go, I have to clean my pocket universe." Don't know about you, but I think that'd make me a bit miffed.
Also, I'm more than a little puzzled about who exactly is supposed to have been responsible for this huge scientific (and rationalistic?) leap forward that might have happened if Aristotle hadn't been around. The Pythagoreans and their mystical-religious worship of geometry? Plato and his "everything physical is a reflection of the ideals"? Or maybe "Love and Strife" Empedocles? You have to help me here, because I can't honestly see what makes any of these more "scientific" than Aristotle. -AKjeldsenGodspeed! 10:32, 12 February 2008 (EST)


I agree, this article is rather poopy.

Not only does it utterly fail to describe the man and his philosophy, but it's poorly written.

Salvage attempts should be embarked upon forthwith by all concerned ratwikians! humanUser talk:Human 22:26, 17 February 2008 (EST)

Maybe more {{fact}} tags? NightFlareSpeak, mortal 22:32, 17 February 2008 (EST)
Or fewer, depending on the goal. humanUser talk:Human 00:11, 18 February 2008 (EST)

Fact Soup[edit]

I have removed the following from the article.

Negative influence on mathematics and science[edit]

Wherein a Pythagorist blames all the ills of the dark ages on our boy under consideration.

The Pythagoreans had a doctrine that can be paraphrased as follows: “All things have form, all things are form, and all form can be defined by number.” This doctrine allowed for Democritus to propose an atomic theory of matter, Empedocles to put forth the notion that all matter is composed of four basic elements and Plato proposed that the universe is subject to mathematical law. However upon Aristotle’s arrival to the philosopher arena the next 1600 years were riddled with little progress in the sciences and mathematics due to Aristotle’s explanation by final cause. For example, to the question: Why does a rock fall to earth? An Aristotelian would respond: Because it seeks its natural place in the center of the universe which is the earth. Another example question: Why does rain fall? Answer: To water man’s crops. Thus one always asks why? And the answer is given in terms of an end, a purpose, or a final cause. This hindered progressive science and mathematics due to the lack of modeling of the natural processes. The question of “why” became more important than the question of “how”.

According to E.A. Burtt in Aristotle’s study of motions on earth, “The analysis being intended to answer the question why they moved rather than how they moved was developed in terms of the substances concerned in any given motion, hence the prominence of such words and phrases as action, passion, efficient cause, end, natural place.”<ref>Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science, p.91</ref>

It was not until the 13th century that alternatives to Aristotle started to emerge. The appearance of Kepler and Galileo and the revival of Pythagorism and Platonism, in the 1600’s, forced the Aristotelian grip on science and mathematics to be eased.

Why the section above is hilarious[edit]

The one thing we need to understand about the Pythagoreans is that they were fundamentally mystics. We're not just talking about a club of mathematicians sitting around and thinking up useful theorems and formulas. They were a religious group who believed in transmigration of souls (a sort of reincarnation), and that numbers defined not only form, but essence - the mystical essence of things. As far as we know, this was all combined in a cosmology ruled by maths and geometry. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that the extensive work they did on maths and geometry was not just for the sake of their practical applications; rather, they were most likely looking for mystical insights in the divine nature of the multiverse.

It is left as an exercise to the reader to imagine how a scientific system based on these principles instead of Aristotle's might have turned out.

This could do with being sorted pronto. Does anyone have any particular interest in the subject? Scarlet A.pngbomination 00:49, 18 February 2010 (UTC)

Whoever removed it is correct. The Final Cause is not often invoked by Aristotle (it's really a teleology, and he doesn't really like those all too much) and "blaming" him for the Middle Ages is not only false, it's simply irrational. It's good for late night (drunk) discussion, but never yields real progression. We know Aristotle was wrong on spheres. Good. Let's leave them behind. The Pythagoreans did not have much influence on the Middle Ages. Fine. That doesn't mean we would be living The Jetsons if they had their manuscripts available in that time period. In fact, may have been worse; rather fundamentalist eating habits and all.

For the most part, Aristotle leaves the field of Mathematics to others except for a few notes on interpretation. --Asklepius (talk) 04:54, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

This sounds familiar...[edit]

A book is written(by Aristotle) that has complete nonsense(such as insects having four legs, horse hairs turning into eels), yet loads of people believe in it blindly, without finding out for themselves.--Thedoctor80 (talk) 11:47, 5 January 2011 (UTC)

The real Aristotle[edit]

Wikipedia Jealousy aside, we could profit from reading the article about Aristotle there.

Aristotle the biologist is modern. He is quite outstanding and uses modern taxonomical and anatomical principles.

Aristotle the philosopher is a pretty obsolete rejection of the Platonic unsound philosophical principles. Aristotle there makes an improvement from the utter horrors of Platonism to something awkwardly workable. Among the bad parts is his causality types, foremost teleology, and some kind of requirement of deeper logical reason which is not accepted today.

Aristotle the physicist is unbelievably idiotic. Thrown items are going in the "propelled" direction in straight lines, until the "force of propulsion" is superseded by the gravitation; then it falls in a straight line downwards to the item's "natural place" which is the center of earth. To his defence, it is often claimed that he just reiterated the physics of other natural philosophers of his time. Rursus dixit (yada³!) 11:08, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

It seems to me that we shall swap the talk page and the article. The article doesn't make sense, while the talk notes (including mine of course) are usable and relevant. Rursus dixit (yada³!) 11:16, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Recent Additions[edit]

I added quite a bit about his philosophy. To be perfectly honest, I am somewhat an Aristotelian, with mixed gratitude and digust for the Heideggerian revival of his work, though I am by far not a Thomist or a Catholic. I basically did Biology for a few years and switched to Humanities. But this is not about me, this is about Aristotle. So here we go...

I added a severe simplification, as I find most people here don't have a long attention span for speculative Philosophy. The parts about Aquinas are kind of important, because I find we're too often stuck with a cartoon picture of the Middle Ages populated by strawmen, whereas the real thing is cartoony because of its novelty. The twelfth century revival did fuel the Renaissance and Enlightenment, even if the values of all those periods were not exactly friends.--Asklepius (talk) 21:01, 5 December 2012 (UTC)


You know, for people who fancy themselves empiricists, one would think you all would be inclined to not make demonstrably false claims:

"At the height of European stupidity even Aristotle's claim of four legged flies was never challenged by counting the legs of flies."

" if we were to accept as the definition of some creature, 'a four-footed flying beast,' for there is no such animal."
—Summa Theologica I:58:5

Never change, RationalWiki— Unsigned, by: ‎ / talk / contribs

Never change quote miners. It's pretty obvious when you take it form the middle of the passage, but there's a good bit more that you ignored to select that out. Here, let me actually source that for you to read the entirety of the passage. :-) -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 15:45, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
Do you know what quote mining even is? Nothing in that passage suggests that Aquinas meant anything other than what the excerpt I cited suggests. It's okay to be wrong, you know.— Unsigned, by: ‎ / talk / contribs
Okay chief, whatever you say.  :-) Can't really argue with someone who thinks they are right and everyone else is wrong because, well, they really believe so but can't explain it. Like how it doesn't reference Aristotle at all, how it talks about composition/decomposition and the mind of the angel (which seems to switch to divine wisdom the paragraph after), and understanding the essence versus the composition. Just the little things not mined in your quote :-) -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 16:34, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
Okay but he explained why he was right and the passage was wrong. Passage says Middle Ages did not question that flies have four legs, Aquinas, who is THE Medieval philosopher, says that no flying animals have four legs. Therefore the passage is wrong. This isn't rocket science. The context doesn't even matter because it's not like he's saying that flying animals DO have four legs anywhere else in the passage. (talk) 03:25, 12 March 2016 (UTC)

bad philosophy indeed[edit]

O noes Aquinas said a thing. (see above thread) FᴜᴢᴢʏCᴀᴛPᴏᴛᴀᴛᴏ, Esϙᴜɪʀᴇ (talk/stalk) 17:54, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

The quote the BoN and /r/badphilosophy are complaining about was introduced relatively recently, less than two weeks ago, by Pizzameister. The Reddit thread also contains this link: --AndYourFoesShallRejoice... (talk) 18:50, 12 March 2016 (UTC)
He still was wrong about very close to everything. And far too seldom questioned by medieval people... Pizzameister (talk) 18:56, 12 March 2016 (UTC)
Yet shouldn't Aristotle's natural philosophy, which, though it might from a modern standpoint contain some massive flaws, be seen as a product of its times? And perhaps in spite of its flaws it can be seen as an almost Copernican turn in the approach to the world and the truth in the world. And even when one disregards Aristotle's natural philosophy, claiming he's "wrong about very close to everything" would discount his immense influence on the development of western philosophy and science through his logic which was seen by such greats as Kant as the be-all end-all of logic! Through is Politika and the Ethica Nichomachea Aristotle has shown himself to be one of the first and most influential ethical and political philosophers whose virtue ethics, in my view, are the most suitable alternative to the strict Kantian deontology and Millsian consequentalism. It is is remarkably close-minded view to claim that one of the most important philosophers in Western Philosophy was "wrong about very close to everything" and I strongly urge you to explore Aristotle apart from his influence on later Christian writers.
Kant was a fucking cunt who never got out of Königsberg, one of the most provincial and backwoods city in the then German speaking world. And he was a racist to boot. Pizzameister (talk) 18:10, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

Reworking this Article[edit]

I could update this page so that it does a bit more justice to Aristotle, and also clears up misconceptions about him, though I'm sure this would be contentious with some people. ZB (talk) 00:44, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Please do. I've been slowly working on Socrates. These old bastards need some attention. Petey Plane (talk) 01:42, 15 January 2017 (UTC)
They do need a lot more attention. Keep in mind, however, that we are not an encyclopedia. Focus on debunking stuff like crank usage of them, religious appropriations of their work, misconceptions about their history and their abuse by anti-empicirists. Etc. Reverend Black Percy (talk) 09:16, 15 January 2017 (UTC)