Aristotle (384-322 BC)

Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) was a student of Plato whose writings about science, politics, the humanities, and rhetoric, among many other topics, transformed Western thought. The tutor of Alexander the Great, Aristotle established a great library in the Lyceum, the school he founded in Athens and the location from which he delivered the majority of his lectures. Aristotle's philosophy, like Plato's in that it concerns the universal, focuses more on the particular than the abstract. 

Aristotle and the Modernist Poets Edit

Critics have acknowledged Aristotle's influence upon modernist poet T.S. Eliot, though connections between Stevens and Aristotelian concepts seem initally obscure, if not entirely absent. However, recent criticism suggests that, in his connection to Symbolism, Stevens "reaffirms...the Aristotelian notion of the art object as a self-subsistent entity that is identical with its effect." [1]

Aristotle and Stevens Edit

In "Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit," Stevens refers both to Aristotle and his teacher Plato: 

If there must be a god in the house, must be, Saying things in the room and on the stair,

Let him move as the sunlight moves on the floor, Or moonlight, silently, as Plato’s ghost

Or Aristotle’s skeleton. Let him hang out His stars on the wall. He must dwell quietly.

Stevens suggests in this poem that god, clearly secular in nature, has a rather ghost-like quality similar to the ghost of Aristotle. For Stevens, god is distant and unhuman, even as Aristotle has been made an unhuman cultural monument through death. 


1. Rosenthal, Edna. Aristotle and Modernism: Aesthetic Affinities of T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and Virginia Woolf. Sussex Academic P, 2008. Page 46.