Aristotles Philosophy Of Mans Nature And The Government Philosophy Essay


Ancient Greek Philosophers sought after the fundamental causes and principle of the universe, explaining it and questioning regarding objects that cannot be recognized by senses such as gods and elements. Among them was Aristotle; he lived from 384 to 322 B.C.E. Aristotle was a student of Plato (427 to 322 B.C.E.) but not his disciple. He was a teacher of Alexander the Great (356 to 323 B.C.E.). Aristotle saw the same issues as important, but looked at them from another angle. He was more realistic than Plato who sought knowledge through reasoning. Aristotle applied logical reasoning to experience. His writings cover many subjects such as man's nature and government.

The Ancient Greek philosophers advocated that the soul was the basis of living things. They treated the soul as a separate element, which they fused together with the body without explaining in what way the two could be related. Aristotle gave an account of soul and its relation to the body applying the difference between form and matter. He defined soul as, "the form of a natural body having life potentially within it" (Lear). Aristotle claimed that soul was the nature of living objects. According to him, soul does not have any existence separate from the body because it does not survive the death of the body. Hence, the soul holds both actuality, potentiality, and is the ultimate basis of the body. Aristotle believed that the matter of anything must be understood in relation to the form. He stated that the matter "itself [has] certain organization" (Lear). For instance, matter according to Aristotle consisted of objects such as liver, bones, hands, and lungs structured by a principle into human form.

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Aristotle argued that mind is a unique part of the soul which is the living strength of the body. He pointed out that mind set apart a man as a logical individual with the ability to be aware of and distinguish self from other animals because he can understand his nature.

Aristotle believed in teleology; that is man's nature is to fulfill what he is expected to be. For instance, an acorn is supposed to be an oak tree. He used the principles of potentiality and actuality to clarify how a form changes from one stage to the other. Aristotle believed that the final stages of a human life is for a person to recognize his form to the fullest potential and he will achieve happiness. He suggested that, "if a man can recognize his desires to live a distinctively human life, and satisfy his organized desires [his soul will] be considered a happy life" (Lear).

Aristotle proposed that the orderliness of needs which makes a man to live a happy life is virtue. In Ancient Greek, "virtue meant excellence" (Lear). Virtue according to Aristotle "is stable states of the soul which enable a person to make the right decision [to act in accordance to the circumstances]" (Lear). Kraut states that Aristotle recognized two kinds of virtue: virtues of mind or intelligence and ethical virtues or virtues of personality. Aristotle believed that men were born with the ability to become fairly virtuous and wise. He continued to maintain that virtues are invested in man because of habits and nothing by nature.

When a child is growing up according to Aristotle, he must develop appropriate habits and then attain practical wisdom to determine between good and bad. He meant that "ethical virtue develop in combination of practical wisdom" (Kraut). Aristotle assumed that a person becomes righteous by doing fair acts. Hence, virtues are gained "by doing the acts that one would do if one already had the state of character" (Lear). He continued to claim that you can not reason with a child but develop a path he will follow.

Aristotle proposed that that man by nature is a political animal who can completely realize his nature only surrounded by a political civilization that support human happiness. He argued that the state has a function of providing its citizens happiness and moral development. He concluded that it was important to break down a society and study each separately to achieve an ideal constitution. Aristotle taught that political success was established by the happiness of the citizens of the people because they guide to the pleasure of the whole state.

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Through his studies, he defined six possible constitutions which had different types of rulers or leaders. Aristotle described two types of constitutions with one ruler, namely the monarch and tyranny. Tyranny was the corrupt government and monarch decent. Oligarchy and Aristocracy were the two foundations he defined with few rulers. Aristotle concluded that oligarchy was bad and aristocracy good. He also insisted other two types of constitution under the leader of many that were polity and democracy. Polity was upright and democracy unpleasant.

Aristotle concluded that polity was the best form of the constitution for the state because it consists of middle class citizens who are suitable as compared to the rich or poor to accomplish reasonably deeds. According to Miller, Aristotle chose polity as the best for the reason that it is "mean between the extremes of oligarchy (rule by the rich) and democracy (rule by the poor)." Aristotle maintained that middle class citizens are able to construct a government that is secure and fair. He claimed that the middle class citizens have wealth within limits; hence, it will be simple for them to "obey the rule of reason" (Miller).

The value of human quality led to his analysis of happiness and perfect society.