Aristotle was one of the most profound philosophers of all time. He was a pupil of Plato; he adapted many of Plato’s concepts into his own. Aristotle follows in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates idea of taking the virtues to be vital in a well-lived life. Based on the precise nature, true happiness can be found. In this paper, I will discuss Aristotle’s beliefs of human good and human flourishing. Aristotle’s most influential work was Nichomachean Ethics. No one is quite sure where Nichomachean Ethics originated from; they assume it is either, a combination of lecture notes from Aristotle or his students.
He believes that every human activity aims at some good; every human activity aims at some end. He believes that good equals end. Aristotle refers to good as being the object of an action. He believes people should be goal oriented no matter if the goal is morally good or bad. Aristotle thought that human actions are not haphazard, random, gratuitous, and purposeless. Otherwise, they’re relevance is the distinguishing mark of human rationality, as opposed to the instinctive ness of animal conduct or an unintentional sequence of natural events.
He believes that humans seek rational means to attain their goals. (Zunjic, Books 1 & 2) Aristotle was born in 384 BCE and later died in 322 BCE. He grew up in Stagirus, which was a small Greek colony. His father was a physician to King Amyntas of Macedonia. The Macedonia Court would influence Aristotle’s life, greatly. Aristotle’s father died while he was still a child. His guardian, Proxenus, sent him to Athens. While in Athens, he became a pupil of Plato; he attended Plato’s lectures for twenty years. He then began to lecture himself, particularly about rhetoric. Aristotle’s Biography) After Plato had died, Aristotle may have become the leader of the Academy, except his differences in teaching. They gave the leadership role to Plato’s nephew, Seusippus. Aristotle then left Athens and went to a different court. He married Pythias and then a short while after he moved to the island of Lesbos. Some years later, Aristotle was invited back to Macedonia by the King to tutor the young Alexander. Their ideas differed, which lead to an interesting relationship. (Aristotle’s biography) Aristotle taught and managed the Lyceum for twelve years, producing, during this time, his lecture notes.
Only a small amount of Aristotle’s works had survived over the years. Aristotle’s works included all the major areas of thought: logic, science, metaphysics, ethics, and politics. He developed a new theory of form that differed from Plato, created a system of deductive reasoning for universal and existential statements, and produced a theory of the universe, matter, life, and mind. (Aristotle’s Biography) Aristotle expanded his knowledge significantly when he studied under Plato, if his guardian had not sent him to Athens he probably would have never studied under Plato.
Though Aristotle learned a lot from Plato, his ideas also differed greatly, and he was a great thinker all on his own. Aristotle might not have been the great philosopher that he is without the guidance of Plato. “Aristotle’s style of lecturing involved walking around in in covered walkways, for which reason Aristotle was called ‘Peripatetic’ meaning walking around. ” (www. about. com) Greek influences helped shape what Aristotle believed. His education under Plato was also a huge influencing factor.
He believed that there were only two causes in the universe: form and matter; form and matter leads to intelligence. Aristotle was a firm believer that education and morality went hand in hand with each other. He thought it was the duty of the state to produce well rounded citizens who would lead good lives. The realization of oneself is the main way to reach goodness. Aristotle has been recognized as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. He has had essential time working with other top philosophers of his time. Years after his death, people still learn and adapt his beliefs.
Aristotle was a teleologist, meaning, he believed that all existing things have a purpose. Aristotle was way ahead of his time, in his thinking. Many of the ideas he had were completely baffling to others around him. They still take a great deal of thought to grasp what he means but it is worth examining. Aristotle believes in instrumental goods and self-sufficient goods. Multiple instrumental goods are needed to achieve ourselves; they include health, friendship, wealth, knowledge, and virtue. The ancient Greek word for virtue is, ‘Arete’ meaning excellence.
The excellence a person demonstrates when acting towards virtue. Virtue, when practice, begins to make us who we are. Aristotle believes that virtue must be practice habitually, so that everyone has the capacity to perfect their own character. (Aristotle Ethics Podcast 1) He believed that every idea can be traced back to the very beginning. This is known as finite regress: finite, meaning an end, and regress, meaning to trace back. Objects of thought can be traced back to the very beginning; many consequences lead to the knowledge of the object of thought.
He thought that the idea in your head can be traced back, because the idea in your head is a product of everything else, even what people earlier had in their head. Once the thought reaches the corner stone, you cannot go any farther, showing it has one clear beginning. He does not believe in infinite regress that would mean there would be no defined order. (Aristotle Ethics Podcast 2) Aristotle was not concerned with his own good but, rather, the good for all humans. He called this good, eudaimonia, meaning happiness. Eudaimonia serves as the one, final self-sufficient good.
He did not believe happiness was just a feeling; he believed it was also a way of living. Many have adapted this idea as human flourishing. Human flourishing involves achievement of excellence. He believes that everyone aims at some good, but different people have different ideas of what good is. The product of the activity should be better than the activity, says Aristotle. The end is the achievable good. (Kessler, 80-87) Aristotle’s beliefs can be used to view life today. His ideas of what a good is and how to reach human flourishing influence life today.
When examining any thought, it is almost possible to try and trace it back to where it originated. Aristotle showed that everything has a clear beginning and end, and that everyone should try to have a life full of virtues. Aristotle’s ideas influenced many other philosophers for years after his time. He was a great influence on medieval scholasticism: much of the Roman Catholic theology shows his ideas of teleology. It was also a big influence to biology; but it was banished from physics by the scientific revolution.
Aristotle is a firm believer that happiness is the most important thing in life. Ethics was the main topic Aristotle focused on, the difference between what is a right or wrong, good and evil, rule and virtues, character and vice, success and happiness.
“Aristotle – Greek Philosopher Aristotle. ” About. com Ancient / Classical History. N. p. , n. d. Web. 02 Dec. 2012. <http://ancienthistory. about. com/cs/people/p/aristotle. htm>. “Aristotle of Stagirus – Biography. ” Aristotle. N. p. , n. d. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www. egs. du/library/aristotle/biography/>. Flip4Learning. “Aristotle’s Ethics (Part One). ” YouTube. YouTube, 04 Mar. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2012. <http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=NbZ1qzcHo4g>. Flip4Learning. “Aristotle’s Ethics (Part Two). ” YouTube. YouTube, 04 Mar. 2012. Web. 03 Dec. 2012. <http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=A6Eq33EgMaM>. “Nicomachean Ethics. ” Nicomachean Ethics. N. p. , n. d. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www. uri. edu/personal/szunjic/philos/nicom. htm>. Kessler, Gary E. Voices of Wisdom: A Multicultural Philosophy Reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2010. Print.