n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Reading between the lines : Aristotle's views on religion

Volume 53, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The article attempts to deduce Aristotle's views on religion. The information we have on these views from Aristotle's treatises is incomplete, particularly since he believed that perplexity on issues concerning piety should be resolved by law rather than argument, a view comparable to that of his master Plato. Aristotle's belief in a supreme God is well known, but the article suggests that Aristotle's God is not a 'heavenly narcissist', but exercises some divine providence over the universe. The article looks at the hymn Aristotle wrote on the death of his friend Hermias and suggests possible reasons for the charge of impiety Aristotle faced in relation to that hymn. The article adopts the view that Aristotle believed in personal immortality, and notes that he possessed some respect for Homer and the tradition of Greek religion. He also seems to have given religious significance to the life of philosophical contemplation, for he taught that it was lived in virtue of something divine within us.

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