Guest Author - Alegra Bartzat
It is hard to define the true father of biology, as I am confident humans have been inclined to study the world around them since they had the power to perceive and to think. However, the *academic* study of life is the most accurate meaning of "biology." "Bio" means "life," and "-ology" is "the study of," both taken from the Greek. This is an appropriate place to start, as the formal study of life is typically traced back to the Greek academy.
Many consider Aristotle to be the Father of Biology. Aristotle was a great Greek philosopher of the third century BC. Alexander the great supported Aristotle’s work and sent Aristotle plant and animal samples from the entire Mediterranean region from the armies that were exploring and conquering. Aristotle founded the Lyceum School, where he orchestrated many exotic gardens and allowed his students the opportunity to observe and study in these gardens. From these gardens and from the myriad samples from abroad, Aristotle created records of observations that many consider the first rigorous study of life.
But yet, Aristotle was greatly influenced by his father Nicomachus, who was a doctor. His father is believed to be have been physician to one of the Grecian rulers of the time, and these high social connections allowed Aristotle access to an excellent education and gave him time to ponder the world around him. This upbringing certainly shaped the future of this great scholar. If Nicomachus was the father of the father of biology, was he really the father of biology?
Aristotle was also a student of Plato, with whom he studied philosophy and logic. At the Athens Academy, Plato studied for several years and began work on a comprehensive encyclopedia of knowledge. If not for the influence of Plato and the Academy, certainly Aristotle would not have been the scholar he became. So perhaps Plato should be considered the father of biology.
Aristotle later tutored Alexander of Macedon, who became the ruler of the known world Alexander the Great. As already mentioned, it was Alexander the Great who sponsored Aristotle later in his life and supported his works both financially and with samples of flora of fauna, leading to the most comprehensive study of life forms at the time.
The great encyclopedia of knowledge created by Aristotle changed the course of academics around the world. Though many others influenced the work of Aristotle it was he who put together this collection and can be credited as the father of biology.