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Diccionario filosófico
Voltaire. Complete edition.


Diccionario de Filosofía

Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


 A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms  Francis Garden


Biografías y semblanzas  Biographical references and lives of philosophers.


Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset


History of Philosophy Summaries


Historia de la Filosofía

Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises... 


Historia de la Filosofía

Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes


Historia de la Filosofía

 Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González


Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres

 Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos



Introductory Paragraph

Early Ionic Natural Philosophers

The Pythagoreans

The Eleatics


Later Natural Philosophers

General Character of the First Period in the History of Greek Philosophy

The Sophist


The Followers of Socrates

The Lesser Socratics

Plato. Life. Works

Plato. Philosophy

The Disciples of Plato

The Old Academy

Aristotle: Life and works

Aristotle: Theory of Knowledge

Aristotle: Metaphysics

Aristotle: Physics

Aristotle: Psychology

Aristotle: Practical Philosophy

Aristotle: Rhetoric and Poetic

Aristotle: Sources

Aristotle: Unity of Plato and Aristotle

Aristotle: result

The Peripatetic School

Three Leading Post-Aristotelian Schools

The Stoics and Stoicism

The Epicureans and Epicureanism

The Sceptics

The Common Ground of the Stoics, Epicureans, and Sceptics

Philosophy in Rome: Eclecticism

The Later Peripatetics

The Later Academics

The Later Stoics

General Character of the Second Period

Standpoint and Schools of the Third and Latest Period of Greek Philosophy

Jewish-Alexandrian School


The Eclectic Platonist

Neo-Platonism. Plotinus

Neo-Platonism. Porphyry. Jamblichus

Neo-Platonism. Proclus




B. C. BURT (1852-1915) - Table of contents                        




§ 14 - Aristotle


We have now to attempt an estimate of the worth of the leading features of Aristotle's philosophy. In general, it may be said that Aristotle carried the development of that conception of mind as absolute which Anaxagoras was the first to suggest, to the highest point possible under the circumstances of his age, and that he brought philosophy fully around to the opposite of the naïve naturalism with which it began.


That he (together with Plato) established a consistent universalistic idealism has often been doubted. God, in the system of Aristotle, is, it has been held, a deus ex machina, has but an idle, shadowy being, and the system ends in dualism. The immovableness of being, the transcendence of the Deity, or Thought of Thought, the separableness of reason in the soul from the other faculties seem, perhaps, to warrant such an assertion. 

But, on the other hand, to make God merely the bond of union (even though organic) among the parts of nature is to ignore the fact of a separable reason, and is to be satisfied with the purely naturalistic view of the world, —with the naturalistic instead of the spiritualistic conception of organic unity. Somehow immanent in the world God must be, but he is, also, transcendent. Aristotle's category was that of spirit, not life merely, and his conception of God, or a transcendent divine reason, seems to be an excellence, not a defect in his system. A great feature in the system of Aristotle is its conception of nature, defective as that conception in some respect no doubt is. From the standpoint of modern physical speculation, Aristotle's theory of nature falls below that of most of his predecessors, —Anaximander and other "evolutionists," the Pythagoreans (the centre of whose universe was not the earth but the  so-called "central fire"), the Atomists (who discovered by speculation something very like the modern atom, the hypothesis of which is at least accounted as an indispensable "working hypothesis"). But in that it demonstratively put matter under the sway of reason and kept the "object" within the sphere of the "subject" and thus made it organic, Aristotle's theory far surpassed in philosophic rightness that of any of the early nature-philosophers, and has hardly been surpassed by that of any of those who have succeeded him. That his theory of the soul, the kernel of his theory of nature, has stood the test of centuries hardly need be said: his conception of reason and sense as organically one is far in advance of widely prevailing mechanistic psychological theories of this moment. In Aristotle's ethical and political theories there is wanting, no doubt, the clearness and decision of Socrates's "All virtue is Knowledge," or Kant's "You ought, therefore, you can"; but there is a certain moral poise and health in the conception of a just synthesis of man's capacities in the right fulfilment of his function (έργον), and great strength and stability in the conception of virtue as a habit and fixed tendency, the foundation and moving force of which is eternal reason itself. There is, indeed, in the formula describing virtue a theoretical surd, or irrational "quantity," the idea of the "prudent man". But we may question whether, after all, moral activity is not such a surd, as involving something beside mere calculation, as being only semi-rational. Again, contemplation, the virtue of "the philosopher" in the Ethics has been felt to be unmoral in character; but here again we may question whether Aristotle is not substantially correct. He practically admits that such a virtue is beyond the reach of most men; is there not, nevertheless, a certain theoretical justice in holding it to be the most perfect virtue? Is Aristotle so very far from Socrates and Kant in this? Were not the ethical requirements laid down by them more "theoretical" than "practical"? The doctrine that man is a "political animal" can, it might seem, never be entirely supplanted. But it must not be forgotten that even Aristotle, as did Plato, put man the philosopher above man the citizen, and that, practically, at least, the notion of man as a political animal must, so to say, recede and give larger place to that of man as a perfectly self-conscious and self-determining being. Society is an organism, not for life merely, but for spirit, and spirit is not to be shut up in outward institutions.



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