Tagged: Aristotle

Erich Fromm: Humanistic Ethics (1947)

If we do not abandon, as ethical relativism does, the search for objectively valid norms of conduct, what criteria for such norms can we find? The kind of criteria depends on the type of ethical system – the norms of which we study. By necessity, the criteria in authoritarian ethics are fundamentally different from those in humanistic ethics.

In authoritarian ethics an authority states what is good for man and lays down the laws and norms of conduct; in humanistic ethics man himself is both the norm giver and the subject of the norms, their formal source or regulative agency and their subject matter.

Three Perspectives on Political Theory

What is the main task for any state? Providing security, creating a diverse and stable reform-oriented middle class, or unifying the citizenship through education into a strong community? These three views on political theory can be correlated with the names of Machiavelli, Aristotle, and Plato. I will discuss them briefly.

1. Security first: political realism and the role of power (Machiavelli, Hobbes.)
2. Diversity and freedom: stability and reform (Aristotle, Locke)
3. Community, unity, and vision (Plato, Rousseau.)

Plato and Aristotle

Plato lived from 428/427 or 424/423 BCE  to 348/347 BCE. He was born and died in Athens, and reached 80. He was a student of Socrates, and started a school of philosophy, the Academy, when he was around 40. Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was born in Stagirus, northern Greece. His father died when Aristotle was a child. At eighteen, he joined Plato’s Academy in Athens and remained there until he was 37. He then went to Lesbos, married, and had a daughter. In 343 BCE, he became the tutor of Alexander the Great. In 335 BCE, Aristotle returned to Athens and established his...

Aristotle: On Memory and Reminiscence. 350 B.C.

This is a short treatise by Aristotle, written approximately around 350B.C. It was originally published in: Ross, W. D. (Ed.) (1930). The works of Aristotle (vol. 3). Oxford: Clarendon Press. Translated by J. I. Beare. Part 1 We have, in the next place, to treat of Memory and Remembering, considering its nature, its cause, and the part of the soul to which this experience, as well as that of Recollecting, belongs. For the persons who possess a retentive memory are not identical with those who excel in power of recollection; indeed, as a rule, slow people have a good memory, whereas...

Aristotle – Metaphysics

This text is a foundational text of Western philosophy; it was written in 350 B.C.E. In it, Aristotle defines the nature of philosophy in relation to scientific knowledge. He starts with human curiosity – the desire to know does not need any further explanation.His approach differs from Plato: knowledge starts with the senses, but the senses do not tell us the “why” of anything. Wisdom is not just experience or knowledge about things in the world, it is knowledge about the principles and causes of things. Here is the beginning of Metaphysics: Book I: Part 1 “ALL men by nature...

Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

It’s one of the classics of Western Philosophy. You can find the full text at the Internet Classics Archive, here. Quotes from the Nicomachean Ethics (c. 325 BC): We are not studying in order to know what virtue is, but to become good, for otherwise there would be no profit in it. (NE 2.2) If there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, clearly this must be the good. Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim...

Aristotle: Politics

Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics addresses the character and the behavior of the individual (virtue ethics.) At the end of this book, he declares that the inquiry into ethics necessarily leads to politics, and his book Politics therefore deals with the “philosophy of human affairs” in the city.  The city is for him a natural community, therefore he is not concerned with questions that were raised by later philosophers, like what is the basis of the “social contract.”  Aristotle considers the city or the “political community” (koinōnia politikē) to be the basic unit of the social field, prior to the family, and...

Aristotle – Biography

Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.) is one of the greatest philosophers of all time. Together with Plato, he shaped Western philosophy for two millenia, and his ideas and concepts are still discussed today. He wrote about two-hundred treatises, but we currently know only about 31. He writes about logic, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, ethics, political theory, aesthetics and rhetoric. The following short biography is quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Shields, Christopher, “Aristotle”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2011/entries/aristotle/>.) Aristotle’s Life Born in 384 B.C.E. in the Macedonian region of northeastern Greece in the small...