Aristotle and His “Ideas”

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Aristotle was one of the most significant Greek philosophers. He was one of the first to systematize philosophy and science. Many of the concepts and much of the language of western philosophy derives from him. He eventually influenced the way of thought of Islamists, Jews, and Christians, but I believe he also influenced the rest of the world. (I recommend reading this essay: Ancient Greece’s Contribution). Today, he is still praised by many, and studied by many others. The majority of the people living in today’s society live by what he said and thought, some have even come to the conclusion that there is no God, and that everything can be solved and discovered by human reason. Eventually, this has taken our society to be more focused on what our vain knowledge and reason can tell us, than on what God says and thinks. So, we have come to the conclusion that we don’t even know what to think. Some people say they believe in God, but their deeds show the opposite, others say they don’t believe in God, but are eager to find the truth, because apparently their science and human reason hasn’t given them that answer. Even the “great” philosophers themselves sought the truth, but none of them were able to give a specific and assuring answer of what it was. All they were able to contribute was how a man should live. For example, Aristotle said that a man lived a good life by being a virtuous person, and that involved doing the right thing, and doing the right thing involved doing virtuous things. Nevertheless we never see a specific definition of truth.

Now, others have argued for liberty on the basis of Aristotle’s “ideas”. This means that Aristotle did have a notion for individual rights. He said that it was wrong for you to do certain things to people; people therefore have rights not to have those things done to them. He also said that it was the state’s obligation to protect these rights, and to ensure they are protected, the state should be arranged constitutionally in a way to provide checks on government power. Legitimate political authority rests on consent of the government, and if a government does not respect its citizens’ rights, it may legitimately be overthrown. “Aristotelian Liberals” have used this in their favor, and even though Aristotle didn’t specifically mention the words “individual rights” he did say it in another way.

“Aristotelian liberalism” is based on rights, and these rights are based on requirements of eudaimonia. Eudaimonia is a Greek word that is commonly translated as “happiness”. However, Aristotle understood it as a virtuous exercise of what is specifically human i.e. reason. He said that happiness is not found in anything but in virtue. Virtue is essential to human flourishing according to Aristotle. People should make their own judgments regarding his own flourishing, so they can be self-directed. He said that no one can possess the virtues unless he is self-directed, and the virtues must be desired and freely chosen for the right reasons. He also said that we must refrain from initiating force and deal with others on the basis of reason and persuasion.

As I said before, reason CANNOT give us the answer to everything, and whenever we use it something is always wrong. We, humans, were made by a stronger and mightier power, God. This means God made us dependent on Him, that is why He is the only one that can bring the dead back to life, heal the sick, make the blind see, set the captives free, just how Luke 4:18 says. We cannot self-direct ourselves; we are dependent on Him, on His Spirit. Self-direction will eventually lead us to error. If reason were the solution to our problems, then our world would be the most peaceful, healthy, loving, happy, powerful, etc. society of all times. We need to stop believing in our own hand, and start realizing and recognizing the hand of the Almighty!

Categories: Western Civilization 1 | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Aristotle and His “Ideas”

  1. Pingback: Seneca and The Coliseum | JADAS BLOG

  2. Pingback: No Intermediate Phase | JADAS BLOG

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