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Aristotle (384 BCE - 322 BCE)

Related: Greece - aesthetics - mimesis - representation - philosopy - The Poetica


Aristotle (Greek Aristotelēs) (384 BCE – March 7, 322 BCE) was a Greek scientist and philosopher. Along with Plato, he is often considered to be one of the two most influential philosophers in Western thought.--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle [Oct 2004]

Lai d' Aristote

Aristotle, supposed tutor and counselor to Alexander the Great, fell for the scheme of the youthful monarch's paramour. One of the best loved medieval tales, the so-called "Lai d' Aristote," presented a scandalous image of the great philosopher. The story of Aristotle's fall remained popular for more than 500 years. --http://education.umn.edu/EdPA/iconics/aristotle/default.htm [Jul 2004]

Alexander the Great

Then [344 BCE], one or two years later, Aristotle was summoned to his native Stageira by King Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor of Alexander the Great, who was then 13. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle [Oct 2004]

The Power of Women

The Housebook Master Middle Rhenish, active c. 1465/1500 Aristotle and Phyllis, c. 1485 drypoint Rijksprentenkabinet, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Part of a series known as the Power of Women, found in literature as well as other visual arts, this image recounts the late medieval legend that Aristotle tried to teach his protege Alexander about the dangers of love, only to fall prey to this humiliation himself. Consistent with both the courtly audience and the moralizing tone of prints by this multitalented, multimedia Rhenish artist.

Scholars were children of Jupiter, and Aristotle was one of the foremost scholars of antiquity. According to medieval legend he had urgently warned Alexander the Great to abstain from worldly pleasures, but this provoked Alexander's mistress Phyllis, who was determined to humiliate Aristotle and demonstrate the power of the flesh over the intellect. She accomplished this by seducing the great philosopher and then asking him to let her ride on his back. He consented, not realizing that Alexander had been invited to secretly witness this victory.


And so to Aristotle. Some 250 years after his death, Aristotle's manuscripts came into the hands of Andronicus of Rhodes, who edited them. Andronicus called one set of papers The Physics ( ), dealing as they did with natural science. Then he published a set of papers that he called The Metaphysics ( ), simply because it came after The Physics. However, because The Metaphysics dealt with what Aristotle called "primary philosophy," or ontology, metaphysics came to be misunderstood as "the science of that which transcends the physical."

As a result, the prefix meta- was then used to designate any higher science (actual or hypothetical) that dealt with more fundamental problems than the original science itself. This use first appeared in the early 17th century (John Donne, for example, writes about metatheology) but did not become really popular until the middle of the 19th century. Examples include metaethics (the study of the foundations of ethics, especially the nature of ethical statements) and metahistory (an inquiry into the principles that govern historical events).

Then, from about 1940, it became commonplace to prefix meta- to designate concern with basic principles. A metacriterion is a criterion that defines criteria. A metatheorem is a theorem about theorems. A metalanguage is a language that supplies terms for analysing a language; a metametalanguage does the same for a metalanguage. And Jean Tinguely described his machine-like sculptures as "metamechanical." (But a metaphysician is not a doctor's doctor.)

In these poststructuralist times we recognise many metaforms. Mantissa, a medical novel by John Fowles, is metafiction; Francois Truffaut's film La Nuit Amercaine is metacinema; several paintings by Magritte, notably La Condition Humaine, are meta-art; and John Cage's piano piece 4'33" is metamusic. --Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford http://www.imb-jena.de/jcb/bayat.pdf [Dec 2004]

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