- Probably studied in Plato's Academy and was Plato's student
Ideas and Contributions
- 347-344 B.C.E., teacher, writer, scientific collector at Assus (Asia
- 344-342 B.C.E., same at Mitylene (Lesbos)
- 342-336 B.C.E., tutor of Alexander the Great at Pella (Macedonia)
- 335-323 B.C.E., in Athens, established his school, the Lyceum, completed
most of his psychological writings
Aristotle is often regarded as the father of psychology, and his book,
De Anima (On the Soul), the first book on psychology. He was concerned
with the connection between the psychological processes and the underlying
physiological phenomenon. Many believe he contributed more to prescience
psychology than any other person, both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Although Aristotle attended Plato's Academy, he became convinced of the
need for empirical observations and criticized many of Plato's philosophies.
Plato and Aristotle "represent a basic divergence in the way man and the
world may be viewed, a modern parallel being the difference between the
clinical and the experimental psychologist. (Zusne, p. 8)"
Aristotle postulates that the body and the mind exist as facets of the
same being, with the mind being simply one of the body's functions. He
suggests that intellect consists of two parts: something similar to matter
(passive intellect) and something similar to form (active intellect).
Aristotle says that intellect "'is separable, impassible, unmixed, since
it is in its essential nature activity. . . . When intellect is set free
from its present conditions, it appears as just what it is and nothing
more: it alone is immortal and eternal . . . and without it nothing thinks
(Britannica Online, "Physiological Psychology")."
Aristotle described the psyche as a substance able to receive knowledge.
Knowledge is obtained through the psyche's capability of intelligence,
although the five senses are also necessary to obtain knowledge. "As Aristotle
describes the process, the sense receives 'the form of sensible objects
without the matter, just as the wax receives the impression of the signet-ring
without the iron or the gold.' (Britannica Online, "Physiological
Psychology")." Sensitivity is stimulated by phenomenon in the environment,
and memory is the persistence of sense impressions. He maintained that
mental activities were primarily biological, and that the psyche was the
"form" part of intellect. Aristotle insisted that the body and the psyche
form a unity. This idea is known as hylomorphic.
Aristotle believed that thinking requires the use of images. While some
animals can imagine, only man thinks. Knowing (nous) differs from thinking
in that it is an active, creative process leading to the recognition of
universals; it is akin to intuition, it does not cause movement, and it
is independent of the other functions of the psyche. (Zusne, pp. 8-9)
Thomas Aquinas based many of his ideas on those of Aristotle, metaphysically
interpreting them to make them fit his Christian theological framework.
Thomistic psychology is still taught in Catholic schools today.
Publications (largely in the form of lecture notes made by his students)
- Organum (tretises on logic)
- Physics; Metaphysics; Ploitics; De Poetica; and Rhetoric
- Nicomachean Ethics and Eudemian Ethics
- De Anima, Parva Naturalia (includes "On the Senses and the
Sensible," "On Memory and Reminiscence," "On Sleep and Sleeplessness,"
and "On Dreams)
- "On Youth and Old Age, On Life and Death"
Britannica Online. (1994-1997). The history of epistemology: Ancient
philosophy. Retrieved 1997 from http://www.britannica.com
Zuzne, L. (Ed.) (1957). Names in the history of psychology. New York:
John Wiley & Sons.
Image courtesy of The National Library of Medicine
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