Aristotle (Ἀριστοτέλης, 384322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato's, and either the second or third (after Plato and, depending on who you're asking, Xenophon) from whom we have complete works. He was the first philosopher to write treatises addressing the subjects of his philosophy directly; Plato had been rather more indirect, preferring to write dialogues involving Socrates instead. Aristotle was also the first philosopher to attempt a complete survey of human knowledge (except for mathematics), making him an Omnidisciplinary Scientist.
Of particular note to tropers is that he wrote the Poetics, studying tragic plays, making him the first troper of whom we have knowledge, and many tropes were first diagnosed by him.
Aristotle is also important within science. His work of categorizing plants laid much of the foundation for today's biology. He also tried himself at physics, and his theories were commonly accepted for almost two thousand years — until people started to actually test them, and found many of them to be completely wrong. For example, Aristotle used logic to determine that if two objects with similar form and volume but different mass are dropped simultaneously, the heaviest one will land first. Medieval natural philosophers started to realize that this was wrong, and later disproved it by actually dropping two objects with said qualities, and finding that they landed at the same time.
Works of Aristotle which have their own pages:
Tropes featured in his other works:
- Acceptable Breaks from Reality: He practically invented the concept, as quoted above, in his Poetics: it doesn't matter if story elements are accurate or possible, only that the audience can accept them.
- Beige Prose: Compared with Plato, Aristotle's stuff is very dry and difficult to read. This is partially because most of his finished works were lost after the Fall of Rome, and what we have available today is essentially his lecture notes. However, many people find that the simplicity of Aristotle's words make his works delightful reads. Cicero described Aristotle's literary style as being "a river of gold."
- Contemplate Our Navels: Aristotle encouraged his readers to devote as much time to this as possible, considering philosophical contemplation the highest aspiration of humankind.
- Democracy Is Bad: Just like his teacher, he used "democracy" as a term of art for what happens when a popular government goes bad.note He maintained, however, that a government where the multitude have power is just as valid as one where a select few or a single person has power, as long as it is done correctly. His ideal government combines traits of all three.
- For Happiness: According to Nichomachean Ethics, this is the end for which justice and virtue are the means.
- Golden Mean Fallacy: Later Aristoteleans originated this fallacy through incomplete or overly simplistic readings of his definition of virtue as a mean between excess and deficit. Aristotle himself explicitly defied this in his Nichomachean Ethics: he admonishes that virtue is proportionate to the context, not a midpoint between two arbitrary extremes. For example, what would be courageous for one person in one situation would be cowardly for another in the same situation or the same person in a different situation. Additionally, some vices — such as envy, murder, and adultery — don't have counterparts for which a mean can be judged, and therefore are always bad.
- Good Feels Good: He takes this position in his Nichomachean Ethics: virtue and happiness are inseparable, and the greatest happiness is in the greatest virtue.
- He-Man Woman Hater: He considered women to be naturally inferior to men, was opposed to women's education (in contrast with Plato), did not believe women should be afforded the same nourishment as men, and believed that they should be ruled over as only slightly better than slaves and children. Artistotle was also opposed to the way Sparta treated women (Spartan women enjoyed far more rights than Athenian women did) and believed this would cause the downfall of Spartan society. However, in his Rhetoric and Oikonomios, he advocates treating women kindly and valuing their happiness.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: In his Nichomachean Ethics, he discusses this, suggesting that it is impossible to live a fully happy and virtuous life without having close friends.
- Measuring the Marigolds: In his Metaphysics, Aristotle cautions against this attitude, stating that there are some questions that physical science simply can't answer.
- Plato Is a Moron: Done in a roundabout way in Nichomachean Ethics when he explains that he will not use his teacher's Theory of Forms because his own philosophy is more practical. Aristotle's scientific works also fell victim to this during the Renaissance, with a new generation of scientists dethroning him from his dominant role in the Western intellectual tradition.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: For centuries Aristotle's major claim to fame was his scientific theories, which are nowadays mostly debunked by scientists in the centuries after him actually putting them to the test. So today he is more famous as a philosopher, whose theories are still taught in universities.
- Take a Third Option: In his Rhetoric. His teacher Plato despised sophistry, considering it a distortion of truth; the Sophists disdained philosophy because they thought it was meaningless navel-gazing. Aristotle considered philosophy and rhetoric parts of the same whole and synthesized them. He still has some pretty harsh words for the Sophists, though.
- Word Salad Philosophy: His Metaphysics had this reputation among Medieval scholars. It was a difficult book to begin with, and only got more incoherent in translation.
Aristotle in popular culture:
- He is mentioned in the "Bruces Song", aka "Philosopher's Song" by Monty Python, a comedy song featured on The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief, the live album Monty Python Live at Drury Lane and in their Concert Film Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl.
- He's also the number 3 jersey of the Greek team, in the "Internationale Philosophie" football game, from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
- The lost second part of his Poetics, addressing the nature of Comedy, features prominently in The Name of the Rose, as the MacGuffin whose existence the murderer has been trying to hide.