We have seen that ultimate reality for Aristotle in one sense is the single word “Being” and in another sense a mélange: first with substrate and form as adaptations of the thinking of the atomists and Plato, and second with change as motion and actualization of potentiality combined with constancy as substance and identity as accommodating the extremes of Heraclitus and Parmenides. To these he adds an eternal universe, a timeless first mover, and final cause or essence as foundational to all particular entities.

The “science’ of Aristotle seems static when compared to our modern understanding, however I believe he would say he bestowed a foundation on which future great minds could build, although of course his preeminence and supposed authority unfortunately suppressed innovative thinking for nearly 2000 years. However, even today, his perspective is viable, especially if we switch the word “explanations” for “causes.” Likewise, perhaps the unmoved first mover continues in the concept of the quantum flux of modern physics (the most viable theoretical origin of the universe), which itself borders on immateriality. More importantly his approach to interaction with ultimate reality, as study of the material world plus contemplation still seems entirely correct.

This incredibly abbreviated description of the mind of Aristotle is by no means sufficient for the reader’s full understanding, and thus I urge consulting the original texts where time spent will be well rewarded. In the words of Louise Ropes Loomis, the great 20th century classics scholar, “Remembering that his surviving works are condensed and often disjointed summaries of academic lectures, which he certainly never expected would outlast him…” we see “the encyclopedic scope of his activity and the tireless power of his mind, that penetrated so far into so many subjects of human thought and knowledge, in the brief space of the thirteen years at the Lyceum.”9


9Loomis, Louise Ropes, On Man in the Universe. Walter J. Black, Inc., Roslyn, New York, 1943 (Classics Club®). Pages xxxvii-xxxviii.

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