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UNESCO proclaims 2016 the Aristotle Anniversary Year

23 December 2015 / 19:12:07  GRReporter
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UNESCO General Conference proclaimed 2016 the Aristotle Anniversary Year. The decision was taken during the 38th session of the Conference, which was held in Paris at the suggestion of the Greek National Commission.

The main reason is that the coming year will mark 2400 years since the birth of the ancient Greek philosopher. The anniversary will be celebrated with an international conference, which will be organized by the Interdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle Studies at THE Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in May. It is expected that the forum will bring to Greece the world elite of the modern philosophical thought.

Leading Aristotle researchers will present studies on his work, not only at  the university that is named after him but also in ancient Stagira of Halkidiki, where he was born in the year 384 BC as well as in ancient Mieza, where he taught Alexander the Great.

Aristotle and his teacher Plato were two of the most prominent representatives of the ancient philosophical thought. He received training at Plato's Academy in Athens for 20 years and left it after his teacher died. Following this training, Aristotle was initially influenced by Platonism but later turned to empiricism. For him, the ideas and knowledge of all peoples are based on how they perceive them.

After leaving Plato's Academy, Aristotle and Plato's other great student Xenocrates settled in Assos in the area of Troad in Asia Minor, where a philosophical school operated as a branch of the Academy.


Graffiti in the centre of Athens depicting Plato and Aristotle, photo: Anastasia Balezdrova

Aristotle taught there for three years and together with his friends, he managed to do what Plato was never able to achieve. They had such a significant influence on local ruler Hermias that his tyrannical regime became more moderate and fair.

In 342 BC, Aristotle was already on the island of Lesbos, when Philip of Macedonia invited him to Macedonia to undertake the training of his 13-year-old son Alexander. The philosopher was willing to undertake the education of the young heir to the throne and for that purpose used Homer’s epic works. Alexander’s training took place both in Pella and in Mieza - a city whose remains were discovered during archaeological surveys. It lay at the foot of the hills on which the modern town of Naoussa is built.

Aristotle remained in the Macedonian royal court for six years. When Alexander defeated the resistance of Thebans and restored the peace in southern Greece the philosopher went to Athens, where he founded his philosophical school in the area between Lycabettus Hill and the River Ilissos. The place was discovered a few years ago during the excavations for the construction of the new museum of the Goulandris Foundation, which will be located behind the Byzantine Museum on Rigilis street in Athens.

The training at the school was organized on the model of Plato's Academy. The classes of advanced students were held in the morning, following a purely philosophical teaching method whereas the classes of beginners took place in the afternoon.

The school had a large and very well organized library that later became the model for the construction of the libraries in Alexandria and Pergamon. Aristotle collected in it maps and diagrams for teaching physics lessons. In this way, the school quickly gained fame as a centre for research. The philosopher created the greater part of his works during the 13 years he spent in Athens.

When the news of Alexander the Great’s death spread in 323 BC, the anti-Macedonian attitudes in Athens intensified and Aristotle became one of their victims. He was accused of not honouring gods but because he was aware of the real motives for the persecution against him, before the trial he went to the house in Halkida, which he inherited from his mother. There he lived with his second wife Herpyllis and their children Nicomachus and Pitiada.
Aristotle died a natural death in Halkida in October 322 BC. His body was brought to his birthplace Stagira where he was buried with special honours. His school was headed by his student Theophrastus, who he himself had defined as his successor. Thus, the spiritual work of the philosopher continued after his death.

The 400 participants from 40 countries who have submitted reports for the international conference in Thessaloniki involve Harvard University Professor Emeritus Hilary Putnam who is one of the most important philosophers in the world and Professor Richard McKirahan from the same university.

Tags: PhilosophyThe year 2016 dedicated to AristotleUNESCOInternational conferenceInterdisciplinary Centre for Aristotle StudiesAristotle University of ThessalonikiAlexander the GreatPaltoPlato's Academy
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