Aristotelian Logic: Aristotle's Central Concepts and Influence

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  • 0:07 Life of Aristotle
  • 2:06 Syllogism
  • 3:01 Causality
  • 3:48 Mean
  • 4:32 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Whittemore

Jessica has taught junior high history and college seminar courses. She has a master's degree in education.

This lesson will explore the life of the famous philosopher Aristotle. It will highlight his life in Northern Greece and Athens, as well as his interactions with Alexander the Great. It will also explain the main tenants of Aristotelian logic.

Life of Aristotle

Although they may have never opened up a single book about ancient Greece or darkened the door of a philosophy class, most people know the name Aristotle. They may not know the century in which he lived or the particulars of what he believed, but if given a multiple-choice test, a majority of folks could probably connect the name Aristotle to words like intelligent philosopher or keen mind. In doing so, they would only be scratching the surface of a man whose works continue to impact our modern world.

To dig a bit deeper than this, we're going to first take a look at Aristotle the man and then his teachings of logic and reasoning. Born to a wealthy family from Macedonia, or today's Northern Greece, Aristotle had at his disposal the best of education and the arts. In his late teen years, he traveled to Athens to study under the leading mind of the time, Plato himself, at the famous school of Athens, known as the Academy.

At the Academy, Aristotle spent many years first learning, then teaching, the arts of logic, reasoning and debate. However, his most famous student did not come from the halls of the Academy. Instead, Aristotle returned to his native lands of Northern Greece to tutor none other than Alexander the Great, the man who conquered the civilized world of his day and spread in his wake the teachings of his tutor, Aristotle!

After leaving Alexander the Great, Aristotle returned to Athens and founded his own school, known as the Peripatetic School, named not for any philosophical beliefs, but instead for Aristotle's propensity to walk around while teaching. Here Aristotle shared his wisdom, known to us as Aristotelian logic - the teachings of Aristotle and his deductive methods of logic.


The first of his teachings we'll seek to understand is probably his most popular. It is a type of logic reasoning, known today as a syllogism. In technical terms a syllogism is an argument which is based on two true statements making a third statement also true.

Since this technical term is hard to wrap our brains around, I'll give you an example: If A = B, and B = C, then C must also equal A. This is a syllogism. Now, for those of us who have never been fond of using letters as variables, I'll give you another one: If Sam likes everyone in his class, and Sarah is in his class, then we know that Sam likes Sarah. This is another syllogism, one of Aristotle's most famous forms of logical teaching.


Along with the use of syllogism, Aristotle believed in the idea of causality, or the relationship between two events. In Aristotle's logic, there can be more than one cause or relationship between events, and these causes can build on one another. For this one, let's use the old, 'Why did the chicken cross the road?'

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