Aristotle was a prominent scientist and philosopher from ancient Greece. He is believed to have lived between 384 BC and 322 BC. The writings of this great philosopher have covered various subjects including ethics, poetry, linguistics, zoology, biology, physics, government, politics, music, theater, etc. His ethics, in addition to being extremely influential, have been a subject matter of interest for modern philosophers and other observers. Though the philosopher has written several elegant dialogues and treatises, only a third of it is believed to have been preserved till date.
The psychology as proposed by Aristotle, also available in his treatise “On the Soul”, indicates there are three types of soul – the rational soul, the sensitive soul and the vegetative soul. The philosopher also believed ethics to be a practical phenomenon rather than a theoretical concept. Several ethics have been complied by him during his lifetime, most of which are seen in his books including “the Nicomachean Ethics”.
Popular quotes from Aristotle:
1. “Contemplation is both the highest form of activity, and also it is the most continuous, because we are more capable of continuous contemplation than we are of any practical activity.”
Meaning: According to the Greek philosopher, the greatest human function, if ever there is one, has to be contemplation. At the end of the day, contemplation is what helps humans distinguish themselves from animals. It is our intelligence that helps us think about nature, god and philosophy.
2. “The good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue, of if there are more kinds of virtue than one, in accordance with the best and most perfect kind.”
Meaning: This quote highlights the connection between virtue and happiness and good life. Here, the term “activity” does not merely signify physical activity but also mental activity. Leading a good life cannot be considered as an end state. Instead, it should be the way we lead our life.
3. “Between friends there is no need for justice, but people who are just still need the quality of friendship; and indeed friendliness is considered to be justice in the fullest sense. It is not only a necessary thing but a splendid one.”
Meaning: Friendship and justice are connected in more than one ways. For example, your friend can give you only as much as he has received from you. As it is impossible to lead a life in solitude, it is important that friendliness and justice are maintained between citizens.
4. “So virtue is a purposive disposition, lying in a mean that is relative to us and determined by a rational principle, by that which a prudent man would use to determine it.”
Meaning: According to the Greek philosopher, virtue can be defined as an arrangement between deficiency and excess. It is called “purposive” because virtue cannot be considered as an arrangement we deal with day in and day out, but is a force that leads to virtuous activities.