Aristotle Golden Mean
Aristotle (384-322 BC) was one of the famous ancient philosophers. Some scholars considered him to be the first scientist in the world for Aristotle’s discoveries and research works in the field of such sciences as physics, linguistics, zoology, geology, medicine, biology, psychology, and philosophy. In fact, they outlasted centuries to become a solid basis for the further development of the world’s sciences. Aristotle was the most prominent follower of Plato; at the age of eighteen, he went to Plato’s Academy and studied there for over nineteen years. Of course, Aristotle was one of the prominent teachers, who even established a school of philosophy, Lyceum. He educated Alexander the Great, the first ruler, who attempted to create the global society under the influence of Aristotle’s philosophy. Thus, Alexander the Great saved national traditions, customs, religions, and languages of all conquered peoples from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River. Unfortunately, the untimely demise of Alexander the Great caused the collapse of both his empire and Aristotle’s philosophical school, which could have helped to establish the first global ancient society at that time. The goal of the paper is to prove that such Aristotle’s philosophical studies about the Golden Mean and virtual development were the first democratic philosophy in the world. His statements of the necessity to educate people about the way to live in peace and be happy and that any human society could not be prosperous and happy while suffering women from various ill treatments, oppressions, and domestic enslavement arise out of his philosophical study of the Golden Mean and virtual development.
Aristotle’s statement of the Gold Mean is considered one of the first major philosophic research works in the world of the way to improve human society for the further happy life. Thus, he claims the human society to be happy if everybody could follow the Golden Mean in the life as the major philosophical virtue. As Christopher Shields states, Aristotle defined happiness as “an activity of the soul expressing reason in a virtuous manner” (322). According to Aristotle, only human beings possess such abilities as to reason and think and the human function, which is the soul, as Aristotle it considers, to be characterized by the abovementioned abilities. Therefore, if a human being leads his or her life well, then he or she will be happy. At the same time, Aristotle states that without practical wisdom nobody could gain happiness, as a purpose of life, because nobody would be able to make a right choice of the way to behave or act in some particular situations. In this case, both excessive and deficient measures could do harm. Therefore, Aristotle emphasizes the role of emotions in it and calls for controlling them.
Aristotle was a great psychologist and could give brilliant evidences of his rightness; thus, he compares excess and deficiency on the example of a human body, when a person overeats or does not eat enough. In the result, it will cause illnesses and ruin his or her health; moreover, Aristotle connects both happiness and human function with a physical state of the body, stating that health was one of the major conditions for happiness. He recommended avoiding the extremes while eating, drinking, or making physical trainings. At the same time, there are some particular cases, when such an extreme as a hunger therapy can be helpful in the healthcare. In fact, human beings could use extremes to gain the certain balance, the Golden Mean, broken in the result of the overeating. Therefore, Aristotle connects various extremes with morality, stating a moral person to avoid extremes because they spoil character. Thus, continuous overeating can cause the emergence of such vices as greed, indifference, pettiness, and egoism. An individual with such vices demonstrates parochialism, which could turn into laziness and cowardice. Money for such people is means for getting pleasure in the form of overeating. Of course, such individuals will never be happy because they will never have friends, help anybody, who suffers from poverty or diseases.
As Aristotle states, any virtue is somewhere in the middle between two extremes, two vices; thus, he considers courage the virtue because a courageous person will never be afraid of anybody, and at the same time, he or she will never rush weaponless into the battle. A real courageous man will think of how to win first thus, he will act according to practical wisdom, so did Alexander the Great defeating his enemies, who often outnumbered his troops. At the same time, a courageous person can give his or her life defending his homeland. They prefer death to captivity, and so did three hundred of Spartans fighting against large troops of Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. Of course, they all perished, but it gave Greece the opportunity to collect forces and defeat Persians. In addition, Aristotle considers angry as vice. Of course, this statement is correct concerning everyday life as each individual should control his emotions because fury leads to grief. Thus, an intemperate individual can offend his relatives or even ruin the family. At the same time, such feelings as anger help sportsmen or soldiers to gain victory. It is correct concerning the sense of danger, which helps an individual muster all strength to gain victory.
Of course, courage is the virtue for a good individual, but it gives the opportunity to a scoundrel for committing crimes; therefore, the human beings judge an individual according to his actions first. If this person makes somebody happier by acting courageously in the particular situation, of course, this is a good man deserving every award according to his action. According to Aristotle, each person acquires virtues with the help of education, and they become a part of his habitual behavior. Of course, this statement of Aristotle became a major point for the further development of the modern philosophical study of behaviorism. At the same time, this observation on the nature of the human characters helped him develop ethics as a new science on the problems of human doings. Thus, Aristotle states that each person possessing virtues should act according to them during the whole life irrespective of the place, time, and circumstances. The philosopher considers friendship one of the major conditions to be happy; thus, he states that real friends share their successes and failures supporting each other by material and physical aids, taking care of each other, and celebrating prominent dates and holydays. Friendship makes life more thoughtful, jollier, and happier.
Aristotle also considers pleasure one of the major conditions for happiness. At the same time, he warns about the certain dependence on pleasure, which turns a human being into a slave of his desires for the sake of pleasure. Therefore, pleasure can never be a purpose of life. For example, if a person is fond of football, he can turn into a fan of any football team; of course, every game will bring him pleasure, but it does not mean that he will be happier. Life is more complicated than it could seem. As Aristotle states, it is necessary to support the Golden Mean for happy life and take care of success of relatives, friends, and peers. At the same time, an individual cannot be happy if anyone of his friends, relatives, or even pets will suffer from diseases. In this case, one cannot have any pleasure watching a favorite football game. In fact, an individual should be educated how to gain success and happiness in life; therefore, making people happier makes a person happier, as well. Of course, it is real virtue, and Aristotle is right stating that the purpose of life is to gain success, flourishing, and happiness.
Aristotle’s study of the Golden Mean is a real successful explanation of the way to improve life of the human society. He considers a human life from the point of view of philosophy, determining all major conditions for happiness. At the same time, money, pleasure, controlling emotions, supporting the Golden Mean, taking care of relatives, friends, peers, and pets can make life happier if a person possesses them all. At the same time, a person should behave in a proper way irrespective of circumstances, places, or time. Only good education can improve an individual and his character for gaining happiness, as a major goal of his life. Of course, any family cannot lead happy life when its women are unhappy; moreover, nobody can gain happiness without love. Unfortunately, Aristotle did not determine love as an integral condition for happiness. In fact, this great philosopher lived in the epoch, when the slave-owning system existed in the world; of course, nobody considered a woman an equal person to a man. Thus, in his works, Aristotle advised to take care of women. At the same time, his philosophical study about the Golden Mean was the first democratic approach to the problems in the human society. Moreover, Aristotle defines that acquiring virtues is a major task of each individual to be happy.
- Shields, Christopher. Aristotle. New York: Routledge, 2007. Print.
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