Who is Theophrastus?June 26, 2021
Greek philosopher. Theophrastos, born on the island of Lesbos, or Lesbos, as it is known today, was Aristotle’s most famous student and a philosopher from the Peripatetics.
He studied in Athens, first with Plato and then with Aristotle. When Aristotle had to leave Athens and go to Chalcis, he became the head of Lykeion, which he founded. During his thirty-five years of rule, he trained more than two thousand students at the school.
Theophrastos was called Theophrastos, which means “divine speech” by Aristotle, although his real name was Tyrtamos because he was a very good orator, just as Plato, whose real name was Aristocles, was given the name Plato because of his broad shoulders, and after that his name was called Theophrastos.
Theophrastos fully adopted Aristotle’s views on many subjects such as metaphysics, physics, physiology, zoology, botany, ethics, politics and cultural history. In general, he tried to provide a systematic unity among these subjects and to purify Aristotelianism from its Platonic elements.
“Peri Phyton Historia (On the History of Plants)”, which is his most important work, consists of nine books and “Peri Phyton Aition (On the Causes of Plants)” consists of six books. One of his important works, “Kharakteres Ethikoi (Characters of Peoples)” consists of 30 character descriptions based on Aristotle’s works for ethical and rhetorical purposes. His work “Physikon Doksai (The Laws of the Physicists)”, which is an important source on ancient Greek philosophy, was recompiled by Herman Diels in 1789 as “Doksographoi Hellenikon (Opinions of the Greeks)”.
Theophrastus is first and foremost a “scholar”. It is quite natural to have such knowledge from Aristotle’s school. Theophrastus is the greatest “botanist” of the First Age. Aristotle systematically classified the animal world. Theophrastus, on the other hand, applied this classical classification to the world of plants. Apart from his “Plants”, some introductory articles containing his metaphysical views have survived to the present day. In these writings, “Are there forces in nature that have a purpose?”, which is also an important topic for Aristotle. works on the question.
Theophrastus also has a small but remarkable psychology book. In this little book, Theophrastus classifies human ‘characters’ and tries to show model examples for them. His master, Aristotle, also mentioned dramatists in his book called Poetics and touched on the subject of characters. In another matter, Theophrastus follows in the footsteps of his master Aristotle: He is also a valuable historian of philosophy. While examining a philosophy subject, Aristotle tried to determine what his predecessors thought about it. Theophrastus also wrote a history of philosophy by applying the same method. In this history of philosophy, the views of philosophers on various subjects were systematically arranged. In the Antiquity, this work served as a widely used “source”.
Many of our views on a particular period of Greek philosophy are based on Theophrastus’ “History of Philosophy”. However, our information about his work has been obtained indirectly. Because his work has not reached us. We only know of other sources that have benefited from this work. The ancient Greeks treated the source differently than today. In ancient Greek texts, sources are not usually cited. As a matter of fact, the philosophical selections called “Florileqium (Selected Flowers)”, which were written later, were compiled from Theophrasetan and the sources that benefited from it, not directly from the original texts.
Theophrastus is known as an observer and collector rather than being a systemist like his teacher Aristotle. A naturalist, philosopher, who made important determinations mostly in the field of botany, he showed the morphological features of nearly 500 plants of Theophrastus, who had a great knowledge of morphology, by illustrating many of them, and he grew medicinal plants in a botanical garden in Athens. He extended Aristotle’s classification of the animal world to include plants as well.
Theophrastos is seen as someone who prepared the way to Stoic and Epicureanism, as he made important contributions to the field of logic by giving the formulas of hypothetical and discrete syllogisms.
Theophrastus introduced the concept of grass, bush, semi-bush by looking at the outward appearance of plants. Some of the terms he used in botany are still used (Vessel = channel, karpos = fruit). Theophrastus also divided plants as monocotyledonous (moncotyledonous) and dicotyledonous (dicotyledonous). He said that in the pollination biology of flowers, pollination cannot occur unless male and female individuals come together. Theophrastus is considered the father of botany. He died in the city of Myra. He died in Myra after being bitten by a venomous animal.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” D