Study Guide

Aristotle Files

Selections from Aristotle's Personal Diary

August 14th

(I'd state the year, but how am I supposed to guess how many years it is until Jesus is around? I'm a scientist, not a psychic!)

I'm going to keep this short and to the point. Not like those lecture notes I've been keeping. I must have 10 books worth of material there!

My latest research program has to do with the behavior of bees. What fascinating creatures! The organization of a bee colony is very complex, and of course I describe it in great detail—do I offer any other kind of description?—in my lecture notes. Still, some things I'm not so sure of: I believe that bees do not give birth but rather pick up their young from flowers. I'd double-check that one if I could, but I'm kind of tired of getting stung.

October 12

So I'm talking with my neighbor, Jorgos. "Jorgos," I say, "did you know that the earth is the center of the universe?" "Nope," he says, "and I don't care either."

"Did you know that the earth is spherical in shape?"

"Nope, and I don't care."

"Did you know that the sun, moon, and the stars move around the earth in a circle?"

"Whatever."

"Now why do you think the earth is spherical and the heavenly bodies move in circles?"

"No idea."

"Why because the circle is the most perfect shape, so of course this is the movement those more perfect bodies will follow. I explain all of this in my On the Heavens."

"I'm sure I won't be reading it, Professor. Why waste my time with stuff that don't matter none?"

I tried one more time to get through to him. "But, my good man, this is knowledge and all men by nature desire to know."

And would you believe it? All of a sudden a light turned on in his head. "You're right! I need to find out more about this wonderful, mysterious world we live in. What was the name of that book again?"

Unbelievable! I have to be sure to remember what I said to Jorgos: "All men by nature desire to know." Maybe I'll use it in one of my books.

November 10

I just got back from seeing a production of one of my favorite plays—Sophocles' Oedipus the King. Marvelous! Besides, going out gave me a chance to show off my finest duds and, yes, to wear even more rings than usual on my fingers! I am so stylin'. Plato never looked half this good.

But what was so good about the play? It aroused in me the emotions of pity and fear. But normally I don't like to feel those things. So why do I like it in a play? Hmmm. It must be, yes, the sense of…catharsis. Yes, that's it! When we see a great play like Oedipus the King, afterwards we feel purified, cleansed of those negative emotions.

I think I'm on to something here. Note to self: work these ideas out at length and record them for posterity.

January 4

I don't know if someone slipped me some ergot or something, but I'm feeling kind of cosmic tonight. I keep thinking about all this wild stuff—about life and death and…God. What is God, anyway?

I mean, I know there has to be a God as a prime mover, as the originator of motion. I've established that already. But what does he, like, do all day? It seems to me that the highest activity is thought, so God has to spend his time thinking.

But he can't think about regular things—about bees and Star Wars. No, he can only think about the highest object, which, of course, is thought itself.

That's what God does and that's what he is, as the most perfect activity. So I guess what I'm saying here is that God is…thought thinking itself.

Trippy.