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									Aristotle and Christian Theology
 Thomas Aquinas
 R.C. Sproul
 Norm Geisler
Aristotle’s Life
 384 BC – Aristotle is born in Stagira in Thrace, near
   Father is court physician to King Amyntas, grandfather
    of Alexander the Great
 367 BC – Aristotle comes to Athens to study at Plato’s
   Plato refers to Aristotle as the Nous of the Academy
   Aristotle builds an impressive personal library, Plato
    refers to Aristotle’s home as the “house of the reader”
Ancient Gossip
 Rumor ….

Aristotle said to have hinted that “wisdom would not die
 with Plato.”

And Plato said to have referred to his student as a foal
 that kicks his mother after draining her dry.
 347 BC – Plato dies. After 20 years of study, Aristotle
  leaves Athens, travels to Asia Minor and marries.
 342 BC – Aristotle has stayed in touch with friends in
  Macedonia via Facebook. Receives 140 character Tweet
  from Phillip inquiring if he would be interested in
  returning to Macedonia for a sweet job.
Alexander’s Three Tutors
1) Leonidas, a kinsman of Olympias
    Training was like Marine bootcamp
    As an adult Alexander’s endurance was almost
2) Lysicmachus
    Referred to Alexander as Achilles
    Fed the stories Olympias had told Alexander about his
Conception of Alexander
 Olympias – a priestess of Dionysus
 Adept at trancelike state of possession
 In trance is impregnated by celestial fire
 Philip sees her snuggling with a snake while asleep and
  is told by Oracle of Delphi that he has witnessed her
  sleeping with a god and that it will cost him an eye
342 BC – Aristotle returns to
Macedonia to tutor Alexander
 Most esteemed
  philosopher of his
 Childhood friend of
 Enduring
 Different political
 Aristotle tutored Alexander, for 5 years until Phillip
  dies and Alexander assumes the throne.
 Alexander goes on to conquer the world
 Alexander had his men collect flora and fauna from
  every region of the world and send to Aristotle
   Led to Aristotle having the first zoo
Aristotle tutors Alexander for 5 years until Phillip
dies and Alexander assumes the throne.

 336 BC Aristotle leaves Macedonia
 334 BC Aristotle establishes his own university, the
    Named the Lyceum, as it was adjacent to the temple to the god Apollo
     Lyceus -- protector of the flock against the wolf [lycos].
    Morning serious lectures - - Evening public lectures
    Students had their meals with Aristotle
    Peripatetic style of teaching
 323 BC Alexander the Great dies, Aristotle leaves
 Athens “lest Athens sin twice against philosophy”
   Demosthenes had kept the independent minded
    Athenians stirred up about their Macedonian
       Conquered by Phillip
       Forced to stay in Corinthian League (remember Thebes?)
 322 BC Aristotle Dies
Aristotle’s Library Is Buried
 After his death Theophrastus buries Aristotle’s library
  in an effort to preserve it.
 Lost and forgotten for about 100 years and then it is
  dug up, bad shape, a definitive edition of his collected
  works eventually put together from fragments and his
  student’s lecture notes.
 Some ancient historians credit him with having
  written a thousand books (probably an exaggeration)
 We have about 30
Important But Difficult
 Many, if not most, of his writings are dense and not all
  that interesting.
 Arabian philosopher Avicenna said that he had read
  Aristotle’s Metaphysics 40 times without
  understanding it.
Logical works
Collected by the later Peripatetics under the title of
 Aristotle’s Organon)
   Categories
   Topics
   Prior
   Posterior Analytics
   Propositions
   Sophistical Refutation
Scientific Works
 Physics
 On the Heavens
 Growth and Decay
 Meteorology
 Natural History
 On the Soul
 The Parts of Animals
 The Movement of Animals
 The Generation of Animals
Esthetic Works
 Rhetoric
 Poetics
Philosophical Works
 Ethics
 Politics
 Metaphysics
Encyclopedia Aristotlica
 How is he able to write so diversely?
   It should be noted that his works are full of errors and
 He believed that everything could be explained in as a
  consequence of four causes . . .
Four Causes
• Everything can be explained as a consequence of
1. Material cause – what is it made of?
2. Formal cause – what kind of thing is it? What is its
   essence, its “ness”.
3. Efficient cause – what produced it?
4. Final cause – what is its purpose?
          What are the Four Causes?

            A Statue of Socrates

Material Cause: Marble
Formal Cause: Statueness of Socrates
Efficient Cause: Sculptor
Final Cause: To honor Socrates
                 A Shirt
Material Cause: Fabric
Formal Cause: Shirtness
Efficient Cause: Shirt Maker
Final Cause: To keep someone warm.

                 A Wig
Material Cause: Real or synthetic hair
Formal Cause: Wigness
Efficient Cause: Wig Maker
Final Cause: To make someone look and/or
feel better.
Ancient Philosophy & Four Causes
 First book of Metaphysics explains all philosophy prior
  to Aristotle in terms of the four causes.
 “I am the first to recognize all four causes.”
 Can you refute Aristotle?
Aristotle’s Doctrine of Substances
 Substance – for Aristotle anything that exists
 Every substance is composed of two things
    Hule = matter
    Morphe = form
 What makes wood a chair rather than a bat?
Some Contributions of Aristotle
 Logic
    Syllogisms
    Law of Non-Contradiction
 Opponent of Plato’s Dualism
 Unmoved First Mover
 Rhetoric
 Ethics
 The key component of Aristotelian logic is the

Typical format:
 Major premise – a general truth, or observation
 Minor premise – a particular fact, or specific
 Conclusion – an inference implied by the two premises
 The classic example of the syllogism:
    Major premise: All men are mortal.
    Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
    Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

In other words, what applies to all members of a group
  applies to each and everymember.
Law of Non-Contradiction
  More than just a law of thought it is a law of being
  Contrary properties cannot belong to the same thing, at
   the same time, and in the same sense.
  A cannot be both B and –B at the same time and in the
   same relationship.
  A proposition cannot be both True and False at the same
   time and in the same sense
  Square Circle
 You assume the law of non-contradiction every time
  you take an action, think a thought, or speak a
 You would have to presuppose the law to try to
  contradict it.
 Aristotle said that if the law of contradiction does not
  exist then there is no difference between coming to
  hear me speak, and taking a dose of Hemlock.
A Cannot Be Not-A For Christians
 Without the law of contradiction (1) significant
  thinking is impossible, (2) significant action is
  impossible, (3) significant speech is impossible
 No difference between sin and non-sin
 Words may have a number of meanings but not an
  infinite number of meanings. There may be chair
  sense 1, chair sense 2, chair sense 3, but a chair is not a
The Trinity
 Don’t Christians break the Law of Non-Contradiction
 in the doctrine of the Trinity?
 Aquinas – According, Contrary, Beyond human reason
 Trinity, Hypostatic Union, Election
Aristotle vs. Plato
 Rejects Plato’s
  metaphysical dualism
   doctrine of two worlds
 Rejects Plato’s
  epistemological dualism
   Rationalism vs.
 Rejects Plato’s
  anthropological dualism
   Body and soul
   holism
The Rhetorical Triangle
                                                        When you engage in rhetoric, you
                                                         are related to the audience and
                                                         your subject. A well-balanced
                                Possible Distortion:     argument gives attention to all
                                Abstraction              three points of the triangle,
                                                         establishing your authority
                    Subject                              (ethos), drawing the audience
                                                         emotionally (pathos), and doing
                                                         justice to the facts (logos).
                                                        However, if you give too much
                                                         emphasis to facts, you can fall into
                                                         a kind of distortion: making the
                                                         subject seem cold and abstract. If
    Speaker                        Audience
                                                         you lean too much toward the
                                                         audience, you can start to create
  Ethos                                    Pathos        propaganda. And if you put to
                                                         much emphasis on your own
 Possible Distortion:           Possible Distortion:     character and values, you will
 Egotism                        Propaganda               seem egotistical.
Nicomathean Ethics

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