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I am studying philosophy this year and in many courses we are speaking of Aristotle.

As I understood it, we are first not sure about the aim, period or even authenticity of all the writings we found from him.

Then, actual commentators do not always agree on the interpretation of some parts of his philosophy, such as his metaphysics I believe.

But still he has a more than prominent place in today's study of philosophy. I was thus wondering if there was among the Aristotle experts, or more generally among today philosophers, a consensus on what would be the most important/interesting question to ask him, supposing we won't have any issues getting understood.

If not, what do you think should be such a question?

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  • I suppose I would ask him if he considered a fifth cause in his model of explanation using material, formal, efficient and final causes. Having questions to ask a philosopher are ways to position oneself to get more understanding. Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 16:21
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    Since it was Aristotle who gets credit for the distinction between potential and actual infinity, I'd ask Ari what he thinks of Cantor's set theory and the axiom of infinity. Also, what's it like to be dead?
    – user4894
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 17:09
  • Would he be proud of or dismayed by the poster on my professor's door that read: "Philosophy ends with Aristotle"? Commented May 20, 2018 at 0:38
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    I'd ask him what was in the 'river of gold', his exoteric works, all lost to us en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristotle#Loss_and_preservation
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Oct 15, 2021 at 10:26

4 Answers 4

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I would ask him why (if he knows) we have two ethical texts, the Nicomachean Ethics and the Eudemian Ethics, with three shared books. And as a related rider, which represents most accurately his settled views.

I might also ask how he found Alexander (the future Great) as a pupil.

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We know that Aristotle was a student of Plato. But Aristotle emancipated from his teacher. Aristotle in his Metaphysics, Book 1, Chapter 6 and 9, critizises Plato's theory of forms. And also most distinctly (Analytica posteriora, Book 1, Chap. 22):

The Forms we can dispense with, for they are mere sound without sense.

Aristotle was 37 when Plato died. At this time, both were active 20 years in Plato's academy. I would ask Aristotle:

How did Plato respond to your objections against his theory of forms?

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Use the virtue of either “temperance” or “courage” to illustrate Aristotle’s connection of the moral virtues to the ideas of eudaimonia, hexis and the mean. I want to understand this.

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I would probably ask Aristotle why he was not appointed by Plato to serve as the successive Dean/Headmaster/Senior Instructor of The Academy. I realize that when he founded The Lyceum, it would serve as a type of twin (or rival) to The Academy. However, what was the real reason for not having been appointed to supervise and teach at The Academy (in 347 BC/BCE)? Aristotle was Plato's best and most gifted student. Yet, to the best of my knowledge Aristotle was not Plato's successor at The Academy. Why?

Aristotle began tutoring Alexander when he was around 13 years old-(circa 343 BC/BCE), which was about 4 years after Plato's death. If my memory is correct, Aristotle spent some time working as a Biologist and Naturalist on the Aegean island of Lesbos shortly before founding his Lyceum. But what could have been the real reason as to why Plato passed him over as his successor at The Academy?

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