ARISTOTELIAN BRANCHES OF PHYLOSOPHY 1
We hereby declare that the project entitled Aristotelian Branches of Philosophy is submitted
for the course Hum290 in is our original work and this project has not been submitted to this
institution for the fulfilment of the requirement of a course of study.
Ms. MANSI HANDA SIGNATURE
(Project Supervisor) FAROUQ UMAR IDRIS
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This is to certify that this project report “Aristotelian Branches of Philosophy” is a
genuine work done by Farouq Umar Idris who carried out the project under my supervision.
This project is done in 2013 in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of the
Degree of Bachelor of Science in Information technology and that the project has not formed
the basis for the award previously of any degree in Stratford University.
PARUL MALIK MANSI HANDA
(COLLEGE DEAN) (PROJECT SUPERVISOR)
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I take this opportunity to express my profound gratitude and deep regards to my
Faculty for her patience, hard work and constant encouragement throughout the period of this
project. The teachings and knowledge gained from her will take us thus far in our journey of
Lastly, I thank The Almighty God, our parents and loved ones who encouraged us and
also advised us, without them this project would not have been possible.
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TABLE OF CONTENT
2. What is philosophy
3. Branches of philosophy
4. Brief history of Aristotle
5. What is metaphysics
6. Aristotle and metaphysics
7. What is epistemology
8. Aristotle and epistemology
9. What is logic
10. Aristotle and logic
11. What is ethics
12. Aristotle and ethics
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WHAT IS PHILOSOPHY?
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected
with reality, existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is
distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally
systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument. In more casual speech, by
extension, "philosophy" can refer to "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an
individual or group".
The word "philosophy" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which
literally means "love of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and
"philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
BRANCHES OF PHILOSOPHY
1. Metaphysics (questions related to existence)
2. Epistemology (questions related to knowledge)
3. Logic (theory of correct reasoning)
4. Values (Ethics)
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Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and
teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects,
including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics,politics, gov
ernment, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato's teacher),
Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle's
writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy,
encompassing ethics,aesthetics, logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.
Metaphysics however (derived from the Greek words "ta meta ta physika biblia") - meaning
'the book that follows the physics book'. It was the way students referred to a specific book in
the works of Aristotle, and it was a book on First Philosophy. (The assumption that the word
means "beyond physics" is misleading) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned
with the study of "first principles" and "being" (ontology). In other words, Metaphysics is the
study of the most general aspects of reality, such as substance, identity, the nature of the
mind, and free will. In other way is a study of nature and the nature of the world in which
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Aristotle’s Metaphysics has as its central theme an inquiry into how substance may be
defined as a category of being. Aristotle defines substance as ultimate reality, in that
substance does not belong to any other category of being, and in that substance is the
category of being on which every other category of being is based. Aristotle also describes
substance as an underlying reality, or as the substratum of all existing things. He describes
substance as both formal and material reality, and discusses the relation between potentiality
and actuality. According to Aristotle, the being of any individual thing is primarily defined by
what it is, i.e. by its substance. Substance is both essence (form) and substratum (matter), and
may combine form and matter. Substance constitutes the reality of individual things. The
substance of each individual thing is the particular nature of that thing. The substance of each
individual thing is that which does not belong to other individual things, while the universal
(principle or element) of an individual thing is that which belongs to many individual things.
Aristotle differentiates between three kinds of substances, according to whether or not change
can occur in their actual or potential being. The first two kinds of substances are physical (or
material), and are ‘movable’ or ‘changeable.’ These physical substances are capable of
changing, or of being changed. They may be either:
1. Perishable, or
2. Imperishable (i.e. eternal).
The third kind of substance is non-physical, non-material, eternal, ‘immovable,’ and
'unchangeable.' Non-material substances may include:
1. Mathematical objects (such as numbers), and
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The elements of a substance may be singular (one) or multiple (many). A simple
substance may consist of only one element. A composite substance may consist of many
elements. The same elements may be shared by many different kinds of things. However,
Aristotle says that eternal substances do not consist of elements, because elements may not
always be the same in a substance, and because elements may not exist eternally.
Aristotle discusses the causes, principles, and elements of substances. According to Aristotle,
wisdom is knowledge of the causes and principles of things. Wisdom is a science of first
principles, and all knowledge is of universals. Substances are particular things, while
universal principles (elements or attributes) are common to many things.
Aristotle explains that there are four kinds of causes of things:
1. The substance or essence of a thing (the formal cause),
2. The matter and subject of a thing (the material cause),
3. The source of 'motion' or change in a thing (the efficient cause), and
4. The purpose for which a thing has being (the final cause).
Aristotle maintains that to know the truth of a proposition is to know what causes that
proposition to be true. The truth of a proposition may be caused by the truth of another
proposition. The truest proposition may be the proposition which is always true. The truest
proposition may also be the proposition which causes other propositions to be true, and which
does not depend on the truth of other propositions.
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To make a true statement is to say of what is, that it is, or to say of what is not, that it is
not. To make a false statement is to say of what is not, that it is, or to say of what is, that it is
not. According to Aristotle, ‘that which is’ cannot simultaneously be ‘that which is not.’
Being and non-being (or existence and non-existence) cannot be predicated of the same
subject at the same time in the same respect.
Although a proposition may potentially be either true or false, it cannot be both true and
false at the same time in the same respect. A proposition may appear to be true, and yet may
be false. A proposition may appear to be false, and yet may be true. If a proposition is not
necessarily false, then it may possibly be true. If a proposition is not necessarily true, then it
may possibly be false. A proposition which is necessarily true cannot possibly be false. A
proposition which is necessarily false cannot possibly be true.
The appearance of something may differ from the true reality of that thing. Moreover, the
appearance of something may be relative to the position of an observer, and may depend on
the opinions and attitudes of the observer. Things may not appear the same to everyone, and
may have contradictory appearances. Aristotle claims that the causes of things are not
infinite, and that there must be a first cause, or a first principle of all things. All things may
have the same first cause, or may have the same things as their first causes. Causes may be
potential or actual, necessary or accidental. Things may be classified as prior or posterior to
other things, in terms of their potentiality and actuality.
According to Aristotle, a change must occur in something for its potentiality to become
an actuality. The potentiality of something may include its capability to change, or its
capability to be changed, or both. Potentiality may be innate or acquired, actual or non-actual.
The potentiality of something may also be a capability to act or to be acted upon, to be active
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The potentiality of a cause-and-effect relationship to occur between one thing and another
thing may include the potentiality of an effect to be produced by a cause and the potentiality
of a cause to produce an effect. Different effects may be produced by different causes, and
different causes may produce different effects. If something necessarily exists, then it cannot
be other than it is, but must exist in the way that it does exist. Things which exist necessarily
are not merely potentially existent, but must be actually existing things. The logically
necessary existence of some things also provides a logical foundation for other (contingent)
things to exist actually or potentially.
According to Aristotle, actuality is prior to potentiality, in that potentiality can only occur if
there is some actually existing thing which is capable of becoming another thing. There must
be an actual potentiality for an event to occur if its potentiality is to become an actuality.
Aristotle also says that eternal or imperishable things are prior in substance and in being to
perishable things, because eternal things have no beginning or end. Non-eternal or perishable
things have a beginning and an end.
Furthermore, essential causes and principles are prior to accidental causes and
principles. Events cannot happen accidentally unless there are essential reasons or principles
while allow them to happen that way. Aristotle explains that while physics (or natural
science) is concerned with things which are ‘movable’ or ‘changeable,’ metaphysics is
concerned with things which are ‘immovable’ or ‘unchangeable.’ Metaphysics is a ‘first
philosophy’ in that it is concerned with defining the nature of being, while the other branches
of science and philosophy are concerned with defining the classes (genera and species) of
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Ethics is a general term for what is often described as the "science (study) of
morality". In philosophy, ethical behaviour is that which is "good" or "right." The Western
tradition of ethics is sometimes called moral philosophy.
ARISTOTLE AND ETHICS
Aristotle considered ethics to be a practical rather than theoretical study, i.e., one
aimed at becoming good and doing good rather than knowing for its own sake.
Aristotle taught that virtue has to do with the proper function of a thing. An eye is only a
good eye in so much as it can see, because the proper function of an eye is sight. Aristotle
reasoned that humans must have a function specific to humans, and that this function must be
an activity of the soul in accordance with reason. Aristotle identified such an optimum
activity of the soul as the aim of all human deliberate action, eudaimonia, generally translated
as "happiness" or sometimes "well being". To have the potential of ever being happy in this
way necessarily requires a good character (ēthikē aretē), often translated as moral (or ethical)
virtue (or excellence).
Aristotle taught that to achieve a virtuous and potentially happy character requires a first
stage of having the fortune to be habituated not deliberately, but by teachers, and experience,
leading to a later stage in which one consciously chooses to do the best things. When the best
people come to live life this way their practical wisdom (phronesis) and their intellect (nous)
can develop with each other towards the highest possible human virtue, the wisdom of an
accomplished theoretical or speculative thinker, or in other words, a philosopher.
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Epistemology, from the Greek words episteme (knowledge) and logos (word/speech) is a
branch of philosophy that deals with the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge and love.
Aristotle defines soul as the Form of a natural body that has the potential to possess life. This
body then must be furnished with organs: lungs, stomach etc. Life then is the process of
growth and nutrition.
Sensation requires an external stimulus, to move the potentiality to an actuality. In this case,
the perceptive organ, i.e. the eye, is potentially what the object is actually. When having a
sensation, the eye, which is only logically distinct from the “seeing” of the eye, is one in
quality with the object of sight. So when looking at a green wall, the eye becomes
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Logic (from Classical Greek λόγος (logos), originally meaning the word, or what is spoken,
but coming to mean thought or reason) is most often said to be the study of arguments,
although the exact definition of logic is a matter of controversy amongst philosophers (see
below). However the subject is grounded, the task of the logician is the same: to advance an
account of valid and fallacious inference to allow one to distinguish good from bad
The definition of Logic by Aristotle
Logic, from Classical Greek (logos), means originally the word, or what is spoken, (but
comes to mean thought or reason). The exact definition of logic is a matter of controversy
among philosophers, but It is often said to be the study of arguments. However the subject is
grounded, the task of the logician is the same: to advance an account of valid and fallacious
inference to allow one to distinguish well from bad arguments.
Traditionally, logic is studied as a branch of philosophy. Since the mid-1800s logic has been
commonly studied in mathematics, and, even more recently, in computer science. As a
science, logic investigates and classifies the structure of statements and arguments, both
through the study of formal systems of inference and through the study of arguments in
natural language. The scope of logic can therefore be very large, ranging from core topics
such as study of fallacies and paradoxes, to specialist analyses of reasoning such as probably
correct reasoning and arguments involving causality.
For Aristotle the name logic is unknown, his own name for this branch of knowledge, or at
least the study of reasoning is ‘analytics’, which primary refers to the analysis of reasoning
into the figures of syllogism, but into it may be included the analysis of the syllogism into
propositions and of the proposition into terms. The term logic he reserved to mean dialectics.
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Aristotle divides sciences in three groups:
He sees that the primary purpose of all of them is to know, but knowledge, conduct and the
making of beautiful or useful objects become the ultimate objects.
If one would try to enter logic into these groups, it would respectfully belong to the group of
theoretical sciences, but according to Aristotle the only theoretical sciences are mathematics,
physics and theology or metaphysics, and logic cannot belong to any of these. Thus logic is
not a substantive science but a part of general culture which anyone should undergo before he
studies any science, and which alone will enable him to know for what sorts of proposition he
should demand proof and what sorts of proof he should demand for them.
Aristotle failed to understand the importance of his written work for humanity. He thus never
published his books, except from his dialogues. Most of Aristotle's work is probably not
authentic, since students and later lecturers most likely edited it. Aristotle's works on logic,
are the only significant works of Aristotle that were never "lost"; all his other books were
"lost" from his death, until rediscovered in the 11th century.
The Organon was used in the school founded by Aristotle at the Lyceum, and some parts of
the works seem to be a scheme of a lecture on logic. So much so that after Aristotle's death,
his publishers (e.g. Andronicus of Rhodes in 50 BC) collected these works. In these works we
can find the first ontological category theory (relevant in some branches of intensional logic),
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the first development of formal logic, the first known serious scientific inquisitions on the
theory of (formal and informal) reasoning, the foundations of modal logic, and some
antecedents of methodology of sciences.
The logical works of Aristotle were grouped into six books by he ancient commentators at
about the time of Christ. They all go under the title Organon ("Instrument").
In his logic, Aristotle explicitly established three laws of logical thought:-
LAW OF IDENTITY:
“each thing is inseparable from itself and its being one just meant this”. A thing is just itself
and not something else: e.g. a soccer ball is a soccer ball and not a kitchen stove.
First then this at least is obviously true, that the word 'be' or 'not be' has a definite meaning,
so that not everything will be 'so and not so'. Again, if 'man' has one meaning, let this be 'two-
footed animal'; by having one meaning I understand this:-if 'man' means 'X', then if A is a
man 'X' will be what 'being a man' means for him. (It makes no difference even if one were to
say a word has several meanings, if only they are limited in number; for to each definition
there might be assigned a different word.
THE LAW OF CONTRADICTION:
“the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in
the same respect”. E.g. my cup cannot be blue and not-blue at the same time.
one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same
time".(note Aristotle's use of indices:’ respect' and 'time')
"It is impossible, then, that 'being a man' should mean precisely not being a man, if 'man' not
only signifies something about one subject but also has one significance
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THE LAW OF THE EXCLUDED MIDDLE OR EXCLUDED THIRD :
“there cannot be an intermediate between two contradictories, but of one subject we must
either affirm or deny any one predicate [statement]” (Metaphysics 4, 7).
A statement about a topic must either be true or false. It cannot be both, i.e. there is no middle
between them. It cannot be neither true nor false.
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This project was compiled by us within three weeks and took a lot of hard work to get
it compiled. We learned a lot of things we didn’t know about our culture through research
and studying during the compilation of the project.
Finally I would like to thank Stratford University and all my faculties for helping me
to attain this level.