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Aristotle

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Aristotle is one of the most important philosophers in Western thought. He was one of the first to systematize philosophy and science. His thinking on physics and science had a profound impact on medieval thought, which lasted until the Renaissance, and the accuracy of some of his biological observations was only confirmed in the last century. His logical works contain the earliest formal study of logic known and were not superseded until the late nineteenth century. In the Middle Ages, Aristotelian metaphysics had a profound influence on philosophical and theological thinking in the Islamic and Jewish traditions, and on Christian thought, where its legacy is still felt in Christian theology, for example in Orthodox theology, and especially within the Catholic tradition shaped by scholasticism. All aspects of Aristotle's philosophy continue to be the object of active academic study today.

Aristotle was born in Stageira, Chalcidice in 384 BC. His father was the personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Aristotle was trained and educated as a member of the aristocracy. At about the age of eighteen, he went to Athens to continue his education at Plato's Academy. Aristotle remained at the academy for nearly twenty years, not leaving until after Plato's death in 347 BC.

Aristotle represents his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience. In Aristotle's terminology, "natural philosophy" is a branch of philosophy examining the phenomena of the natural world, and included fields that would be regarded today as physics, biology and other natural sciences. In modern times, the scope of philosophy has become limited to more generic or abstract inquiries, such as ethics and metaphysics, in which logic plays a major role. Today's philosophy tends to exclude empirical study of the natural world by means of the scientific method. In contrast, Aristotle's philosophical endeavors encompassed virtually all facets of intellectual inquiry. In the larger sense of the word, Aristotle makes philosophy coextensive with reasoning, which he also would describe as "science". Note, however, that his use of the term science carries a different meaning than that covered by the term "scientific method". For Aristotle, "all science is either practical, poetical or theoretical".

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