For Aristotle, philosophy is the love of wisdom, and involves the search for “knowledge of things human and divine".
In Aristotle’s philosophy the drive to know is fundamental to human nature, and happiness is to be found through indulging this drive by pursuing philosophy. So, for Aristotle, philosophy is the royal road to self-realization and flourishing.
Aristotle: Philosophy: Ethics
The Nicomachean Ethics is the most important work on Ethics left to us by Aristotle. Philosophy, Aristotle argues in this work, is more likely to lead to sustained happiness than other activities.
Aristotle: Philosophy: Method
There are two views of Aristotle’s philosophical method:
- Aristotle the systematic thinker who views each science as autonomous but interrelated. He suggests each science should be developed through axioms 'in the geometrical manner'.
- Aristotle the puzzle solver who starts with the details and works piecemeal using methods that vary with the topics.
Aristotle's scientific ideas are never presented using axioms. They are presented as connected sequences of problems and attempted answers. Systematization remains an unachieved ideal.
Plato’s impact on Aristotle’s philosophy
Science for Plato was not the random amassing of facts, it was the organization of facts into a coherent account of the world. Aristotle adopted this vision of a unified theory of science.
Plato, following Socrates, was a dialectician—a believer in questioning and debate as the best method for discovering truth. He looked at the structure of propositions and their use in arguments. This laid the foundation for Aristotle’s invention of formal logic
Plato was also an ontologist, a metaphysician concerned with determining the fundamental entities of which the world consists. Plato's theory of Ideas or Forms determined his ontology. His fundamental entities were abstract universals. He held that the Form of Man is a fundamental entity, but the individual man is not.
Aristotle did not accept the theory of Forms. He was most concerned with science, which is about real things. For him, ontology was about asking what things are real.
Plato was also an epistemologist, someone concerned with knowing how we know. He asked questions like: What is it to know something? How can we acquire knowledge? Do we know anything at all? Answering such questions is crucial to science. For Plato, science was the search for explanation.To him, science was not mere observation and recording. Aristotle inherited This approach was inherited by Aristotle. Philosophy, he decided, must assume that:
- Knowledge is systematic and unified.
- The structure of knowledge is given by logic.
- The unity of knowledge rests on ontology.
- Knowledge explains.
- Knowledge poses deep philosophical problems.