Book Review: “Aristotle in 90 Minutes” by Paul Strathern

Something read in 90 minutes sounds very good. Who wouldn’t want to learn about a great person in 90 minutes. Of course, this book can only serve as an introduction due to its limited space and the Domino-Pizza promise.

Surprised to know that Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great, who did not pay much respect to his teacher. Aristotle is famous for his founding of “logic” and he first used the Arabic numbers, which helped to advance the math science.

Born rich in 384 B.C., Aristotle was a student of Plato and a graduate of the Academy. Disappointed by not being nominated to head up the Academy and his eventual branch off from Plato’s philosophy, he later found several of his own schools including Lyceum, MIT of the era. Where Plato’s approach to the world was essentially religious, Aristotle’s tended toward the scientific. He has a profound understanding of politics, this led him to adopt a pragmatic approach to politics, basically of moderation virtues or middle of the extremes.

The ironic thing is that his ideas were widely adopted by Islamic world, while the Western world sank into the Dark Ages. The Islamic world absorbed almost all of Aristotle’s teachings which became Islamic philosophy. He was wrong about the earth being the center of the universe and the world was made of 4 primary elements: earth, air, fire and water. But the bottom line is that there is no one true way to viewing the world, either scientifically or philosophically.

Aristotle later escaped to a small island after the death of Alexander to avoid the wrath of the mob. He died in Chalkis 30 miles north of Athen at the age of 62.

This is a decent “cheat sheet” on Aristotle. I enjoyed the ease-to-understand stories of Aristotle and it actually took me just about 90 minutes, give or take.