Aristotle (384–322 BC)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A022-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved October 18, 2018, from

1. Life

Aristotle was born in 384 bc, in the Macedonian city of Stagira, now part of northern Greece. In his lifetime the kingdom of Macedon, first under Philip and then under Philip’s son Alexander (‘the Great’), conquered both the Greek cities of Europe and Asia and the Persian Empire. Although Aristotle spent much of his adult life in Athens, he was not an Athenian citizen. He was closely linked to the kings of Macedon, whom many Greeks regarded as foreign invaders; hence, he was affected by the volatile relations between Macedon and the Greek cities, especially Athens.

Aristotle was the son of Nicomachus, a doctor attached to the Macedonian court. In 367 bc Aristotle came to Athens. He belonged to Plato’s Academy until the death of Plato in 347; during these years Plato wrote his important later dialogues (including the Sophist, Timaeus, Philebus, Statesman, and Laws), which reconsider many of the doctrines of his earlier dialogues and pursue new lines of thought. Since there was no dogmatic system of ‘Platonism’, Aristotle was neither a disciple of such a system nor a rebel against it. The exploratory and critical outlook of the Academy probably encouraged Aristotle’s own philosophical growth.

In 347 bc Aristotle left Athens, for Assos in Asia Minor. Later he moved to Lesbos, in the eastern Aegean, and then to Macedon, where he was a tutor of Alexander. In 334 he returned to Athens and founded his own school, the Lyceum. In 323 Alexander died; in the resulting outbreak of anti-Macedonian feeling in Athens Aristotle left for Chalcis, on the island of Euboea, where he died in 322.

Aristotle married Pythias, a niece of Hermeias, the ruler of Assos. They had a daughter, also called Pythias. After the death of his wife, Aristotle formed an attachment to Herpyllis, and they had a son Nicomachus.

Citing this article:
Irwin, T.H.. Life. Aristotle (384–322 BC), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A022-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2018 Routledge.

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