Informative only: 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.

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.

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.

In conclusion, Aristotle is one of the most studied and famous philosophers that has ever lived, and he believed in a virtuous life that would eventually lead us to happiness.

Categories: Western Civilization 1 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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