You’ve probably heard of the Aristotle, Plato and Socrates. I’m covering each briefly on the blog and will look more closely at their theories over time. This post/video is about Aristotle.

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher who is regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in Western history – of course you could safely say the same of each ancient Greek philosopher. Anyway, he was born in Stagira in 384 BCE. Aristotle’s dad was the personal physician to the King of Macedonia – so, a doctor. I’m not entirely sure how well ancient Greek doctors performed but I should imagine it was an important, if not a stressful role! But it meant Aristotle had access to education.

A genius all rounder.
At 17, Aristotle became a student of Plato’s Academy (remember that Plato was a student of Socrates). He shone and quickly became one of the most brilliant students, naturally gaining the respect of Plato who took him under the wing. He was blessed with an exceptional memory, a broad, encyclopaedic knowledge of science, maths, ethics and politics. The kind of kid who makes most normal people a little sick with envy. And he wasn’t even a geek – he was even witty apparently. He would probably excelled at the piano and tennis too if he was around today.
Greece or Macedonia was going through political and cultural turbulence. Kind of like what we’re experiencing in the world right now! Despite the trouble, he managed to make a name for himself as a philosopher, and scientist to becoming an “ancient world” renowned teacher.
After leaving Plato’s Academy, Aristotle traveled the Mediterranean, studying biology and natural philosophy.
He eventually settled in Athens, where he opened his own school, the Lyceum. It was here that Aristotle became known as one of the greatest teachers of his time, attracting students from all over the ancient Greek world.

So let’s take a brief look at the life and legacy of Aristotle. What made him such a unique and important figure in Western philosophy?

The Politics of Aristotle’s Time

As I said earlier, Aristotle lived during a time of great political upheaval in Greece. The city-state of Athens, where he spent much of his adult life, was a democracy, but it was also marked by political conflict and instability which was triggered, in part, by the political execution of Socrates who was famously “encouraged” to end his own life by eating hemlock. In addition, the Greek world was facing the expansion of the powerful Macedonian Empire, which threatened to upset the delicate balance of power in the region. When we compare human nature from then and now I realise nothing much has changed over nearly two and a half thousand years.
Despite these challenges of his time, Aristotle remained deeply committed to the study of politics and was a firm believer in the idea of a just and well-ordered society. He believed his role as a philosopher was to help guide and shape political discourse, and he devoted much of his writing to exploring the nature of political power, the ideal form of government, and the principles of justice. He was either extremely brave or ever so slightly narcissistic!

I’ll explore this further during our philosophical journey as I build this site and make videos about Aristotle’s philosophy. (Remember – I’m learning this as I go along – I’m not pretending to be an expert… yet 😉 I’ll touch on these a little now, though.

Aristotle’s Main Theories

As I said, Aristotle was sickeningly good at everything. His philosophical prowess was wide-ranging and covered a vast array of subjects, from ethics and metaphysics to biology and politics. Some of his most important theories include his ideas on causality, his concept of the “golden mean,” and his theory of the four causes. These theories have been studied widely and are still enormously influential in philosophy today.

One of Aristotle’s most famous ideas was his concept of the “golden mean.” Remember the “mean” in maths – the one in the middle? Now apply that to living virtuously. According to this theory, the path to a virtuous life lies in striking a balance between the extremes, all or nothing. For example, the virtue of courage lies between the extremes of reckless stupidity and cowardice. I suppose this is like when you have to make a potentially life changing or life threatening decision – the virtue lies in the reasoning behind the decision making process. But what is virtue here?
Another of Aristotle’s theorising was his emphasis on the importance of habit and practical wisdom in the development of moral character. He believed that moral virtues, such as honesty and compassion, could be developed through repeated actions and that the path to a virtuous life was a lifelong journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.
So here’s a couple of questions to ask… Has this concept led to the systematic brainwashing of people in society to make us all compliant, to pay our taxes and abide by the laws and social norms.
Are “fake it ’till you make it” and “keep telling yourself something and it will become so”, actually modern variations of ancient Greek wisdom?

So finally
Aristotle was a talented all rounder who was a brilliant philosopher, a gifted scientist, and an amazing teacher. Despite living in “dangerous” times, he bravely committed his life to seeking knowledge and understanding, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence us to this day. I can’t wait to explore his philosophies in more detail. So I hope you’ll join me on my forthcoming journey. Don’t forget to follow me (here) on Youtube, hit the like button and explore my blog site where transcripts are published along with other information about Philosophical Chat.

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Thank you for watching/reading you are appreciated. And remember… The greatest people successfully juggle passion and compassion.

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