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Theophrastus (c.372–c.287 BC)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-A115-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 16, 2019, from

Article Summary

Theophrastus, the pupil and successor of Aristotle, shared all the latter’s interests, and produced a large number of works on the same topics. Some, like the extant botanical works, went far beyond Aristotle, and Theophrastus is known as the Father of Botany; others amplified and criticized what Aristotle had done. The short Metaphysics, also extant, raises many questions about the nature and the possibility of metaphysics, but most of his work on logic, science, psychology, ethics, politics and religion survives only in fragments, some material coming from the Arabs, and some only from medieval Latin sources. His developments of modal logic and various forms of the syllogism were regarded as important, and his amplification of Aristotle’s account of the human intellect was studied in the Middle Ages in the West. His little Characters, an entertaining set of sketches of human peculiarities, has had considerable influence on later literature, and his surveys of earlier opinions, of which his On the Senses survives, influenced later doxographers. He was an older contemporary of Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, but his influence on Stoicism remains uncertain, and we also know little of his relationship with Epicurus.

Citing this article:
Huby, Pamela M.. Theophrastus (c.372–c.287 BC), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-A115-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2019 Routledge.

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