Aristotle Aspects of Philosophy

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      The following is a brief account of Aristotle's views on state, God, Universe, ethics, government, and morality: On the Universe. Aristotle's universe is a dynamic one; his world is in the process of becoming. The nature of each thing is potentiality, moving through a process of development to a reality - the perfect and final nature. This conception governs not only the sphere of organic nature but also the constructions in the area of art.

      On God. God is conceived of as a Cause of the motion of the Universe, not as its creator. He is the Mover of the Universe, not its Maker. He himself is moved by nothing, and He is the slave of no master. Every other thing in the world, person, object, or thought, is a moved mover. The Aristotelian God is 'perfect'; He is not interested in the world, though the world is interested in Him. It is a cold, impersonal God. He is like the Primal Energy of scientists.

      On Goverment. In Politics, Aristotle presents an analysis of 158 constitutions and considers the relative merits of different forms of government. He considers a Dictatorship to be the worst form, for in it the wishes of many are subject to those of one. He favors that type of government which enables each man to exercise his best abilities and to live his days pleasantly. Such a government would be run on the basis of a constitution, for a government without a constitution would be a tyranny. Dictatorship by a class was no better than dictatorship by one man.

      Aristotle also demands that the rulers satisfy the ruled. Justice can achieve such satisfaction. Revolution can then be avoided, for it is an unjust government which leads to it. In this sense, a democracy is a suffer form of government. The ruling class must oversee the good education of those who are ruled. The education should be ideal as well as practical.

      On Communism. Aristotle is not in favor of communism because of a practical reason. He feels that it is not conducive to individual responsibility, but will lead people to shirk their responsibility. He favors the development of individual character and private ownership of property.

      Public Welfare. Aristotle does not want a clearcut demarcation between the ruler and ruled. All citizens, he feels, should take a turn at governing, within the general principle that "the old is more fitted to rule, the young to obey". It is the legislator's business to provide public interests to the public. The main aim of the government is to ensure public welfare. The state exists for man, and not vice versa.

      Happiness. Politics is translated into ethics for Aristotle. Man is born to be happy. Happiness, that pleasant state of being, is brought about by continual good deeds. Happiness also involves having gOod birth, good looks, fortune, and good friends. A long life is also needed & to achieve happiness. Virtue. The noble man can be happy even in the course of a short life. The noble soul can cultivate an insensibility to pain; this itself is happiness. A man of virtue will act virtuously, and happiness lies. in the performance of good deeds.

      The Greek meaning of 'virtue' had a wider range than the modern sense. Virtue implied excellence of any sort, or technical skills of any variety. A person who possessed physical power, or technical skill, or mental strength, was virtuous in the Greek sense. To Aristotle, 'virtue' also meant 'moral nobility. We must remember this wide sense of the term when we come to Aristotle's statement in the Poetic, that the tragic character must be good.

      The 'gold mean'. Aristotle held that moderation should be the watchword in every sphere of activity. The middle course between the two extremes should be adopted. Neither should one do too little, nor too much. The rational way lay in being moderate. The virtuous man would always preserve the golden mean, which was the right way. "For the golden mean is the royal road to happiness. The ideal man. The ideal man is one who does not unnecessarily expose himself to danger, but one who would not hesitate to give his life in a crisis. He is pleased to do a favor to others, but feels ashamed of receiving them. He is good because it is profitable. "The ideal man is altruistic because he is wise.

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