Aristotle is one of the most well-known philosophers. His views on the idea of metaphysics have been upheld for hundreds of years, he truly seemed to be a man with a wisdom that transcends time. Metaphysics is the study of theory or reality. Sometimes the term is also used in relation to transcending reality of the physical world. Metaphysics is the search to look beyond what we see to discover the reason for existence. This topic is one of great interest to Aristotle. While both have great insight into metaphysics the essential disagree on all theories. By looking at the theories of Aristotle, we can gain a better insight into moral, scientific, and philosophic concepts.
Aristotle was greatly influenced by his predecessor, Plato. To understand their theories one must first know a little about both Plato and Aristotle (“Aristotle”). Plato lived between 427 and 347 BC, and Aristotle lived between 384 and 322 BC (“Aristotle”). Aristotle had learned much from Plato but as a free thinker we went on to develop his own ideas. The two had very different though processes. Plato liked to first think of a theory and then discover how it relates to the outside world. Aristotle did the opposite, he liked to take the reality of the outside world then develop his theories on it. Plato usually took his stance based on what transcended nature while Aristotle took them from reality itself. In many ways this pair were opposites, yet they often shared a common basis for their theories. Aristotle lived most of his life in Athens, Greece where he set up his own school (“Aristotle”). Aristotle’s school taught a very wide range of subjects from biology to mathematics (“Aristotle”). He died in 322, but left behind a great wealth of knowledge (“Aristotle”).
Aristotle and the Concept of Souls
Aristotle believed that the soul is connected to the body but that things can affect the body also affect the soul inside (“Aristotle”). Aristotle stresses that happiness comes from our psychic being within our control. Here I must agree with Aristotle as I feel that it is up to us to make our happiness a reality. Many may find solace in the belief of another realm, but unless we make things happen in the real world can one truly find happiness? In current surveys it has been found that most people in modern society side more with Aristotle’s perception of the soul.
Aristotle on Form
Aristotle did not hold Plato’s views on the duality of form; his analysis of form was based on what he could see. He proposes four questions when describing form. What is the form? What is it made of? What made it? What is the thing? These four questions are called the formal cause, material cause, efficient cause, and the final cause.
In today’s society filled with technology and ways of measuring form, I think most would relate to Aristotle’s theories. Aristotle’s theories have a logical measurable way of describing form. We know if we plant a rose brush a rose form will grow. The ultimate nature of the form comes from its potential as a rose bush. In essence, Aristotle argues that a form is what it is and nothing more. Aristotle’s theory is very straight forward and easy to understand. Reality is what is in front of us (“Aristotle”).
Aristotle’s Theory of Ethics
For centuries man has been trying to determine what makes a person moral. Some have theorized that babies are born with an innate sense of morality while others debate this theory with their own beliefs that human ethics are molded by their environment. Aristotle was one of the first to address the theory of ethics, and according to some it is still one of the foremost theories on the subject of virtue. Aristotle listed ten virtues in his writing that he saw as being most important in becoming an ethical person (“Aristotle”). He also had a view that dualism existed between the body and the soul. He feels that God lives through us as stated in Genesis 2:7 The “breath of life” that God is described as breathing into Adam’s nostrils is not a soul but the gift of life itself (Stevenson & Haberman, pg. 75).
The highest fulfillment of human life was only attainable to those that gained rational knowledge, human morality is part of a personal transcendent of God.( Stevenson & Haberman, pg. 76) Aristotle also believes that the highest form of morality and goodness is happiness. He saw happiness is the ultimate end for human beings and happiness alone makes life worth living.
“To be virtuous is to be a good human being; it is enough to know what human virtue is.”(Stevenson & Haberman, 95) The virtuous person, according to Aristotle, makes a person superior to others, where deliberation may defeat them in control of their actions. To Aristotle, the basis of all virtue is the same, and that one can’t have one virtue without the others. Wisdom and knowledge are highly emphasized as being the best way to develop virtues. Self-control and reason are both factors in maintain morality under this concept. (Stevenson & Haberman, 95)
In this concept, “the soul is a kind of “harmony” of the functioning body, like the music made by an instrument when properly tuned and played.”(Stevenson & Haberman, pg. 96) In dualist theory the soul is non-material and can exist apart from the body (Stevenson & Haberman, pg. 96)
In summary, Aristotle was able to develop theories and schools of thought that are still relevant to today’s society. Despite his lack scientific evidence, his philosophical teachings speak of humanity and life in complex yet relatable ways. He approaches each concept with reason. Aristotle was greatly influenced by Plato, even though he challenged many of his theories. His ideas about virtue, ethics, and mortality are some of his most well-known theories. His ability to explain concepts that transcend normal schools of thought is impressive. (“Aristotle”).
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