Aristotle Aim of Man

Aristotle Aim of Man - ARISTOTLE The Aim of Man From the...

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ARISTOTLE The Aim of Man From the Nichomachean Ethics. Translated by Martin Ostwald. ARISTOTLE (384-322 B.C.) is the great inheritor of Plato's influence in philosophical thought. He was a student at the Academy of Plato in Athens from age seventeen to thirty-seven, and by all accounts he was Plato's most brilliant pupil. He did not agree with Plato on all issues, however, and seems to have broken with his master around the time of Plato's death (347 B . C .). In certain of his writings he is careful to disagree with the Platonists while insisting on his friendship with them. In the Nichomachean Ethics, for example, the most difficult section (omitted here} demonstrates that Plato is not correct in assuming that the good exists in some ideal form in a higher spiritual realm. One interesting point concerning Aristotle's career is that when he became a teacher, his most distinguished student was Alexander the Great, the youthful ruler who spread Greek values and laws throughout the rest of the known world. Much speculation has centered on just what Aristotle might have taught Alexander about politics. The emphasis on statecraft and political goals in the Nichomachean Ethics suggests that it may have been a great deal. A surviving fragment of a letter from Aristotle to Alexander suggests that he advised Alexander to become the leader of the Greeks and the master of the barbarians. The Nichomachean Ethics is a difficult document. Aristotle may have written it with an eye to tutoring his son, Nichomachus, but it is also meant to be read by those who have thought deeply about human ethical behavior. "The Aim of Man" treats most of the basic issues raised in the entire document. It is difficult primarily because it is so thoroughly abstract. Abstract reason was thought to be the highest form of reason, because it is independent of sensory experience and because only human beings can indulge in it. Aristotle, whose studies included works on plants, physics, animals, law, rhetoric, and logic, to name only some subjects, reminds us often of what we have in common with the animal and vegetable worlds. But because he values abstract thought so much, his reasoning demands unusual attention from contemporary readers. Moreover, because he wrote so much on scientific subjects — and, unlike Plato, emphasized the role of sensory perception in scientific matters — he is careful to warn that reasoning about humankind cannot entail the precision taken for granted in science. That warning is repeated several times in this selection. The study of humankind requires awareness of people's differences of background, education, habit, temperament, and other, similar factors. Such differences will impede the kinds of precision of definition and analysis taken for granted in other sciences.
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This note was uploaded on 10/12/2009 for the course ENGL English1 taught by Professor Caggiano during the Summer '09 term at Santa Monica.

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Aristotle Aim of Man - ARISTOTLE The Aim of Man From the...

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