Aristotle is one of the “big three” in ancient Greek philosophy along with Plato and Socrates. Socrates tought Plato who in turn instructed Aristotle, who eventually became the teacher of the famous pupil Alexander the Great of Macedon.
Aristotle (Greek Aristoteles) was born at 384 BC at Stragira Mecedon. He was a Greek philosopher and polymath – his writings cover many subjects including metaphysics, physics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates, Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. His writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy encompassing morality, and aesthetics, logic, and science, politics and metaphysics.
Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander the Great in 343 BC. He was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon – during that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings of Macedon: Ptolemy and Cassander.
In his Politics, Aristotle states that only one thing could justify monarchy, and that was if the virtue of the king and his family were greater than the virtue of the rest of the citizens put together. Aristotle wrote many dialogues, but, only fragments have survived. Some of the most important works that survived are, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Politics. He not only studied almost every subject possible at the time, but made significant contributions to most of them. In physical science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy, he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, philosophy, rhetoric and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.
It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.
Here are some of Aristotle’s most famous quotes:
We are what we repeatedly do.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Law is mind without reason.
We make war so we can live in peace.
Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
All human actions have one or more or these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire.
We must as second best…take the least of the evils.
A whole is that which has beginning, middle and end.
The gods too are fond of a joke.
Hope is a waking dream.
Well begun is half done.
To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence.
It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.
Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.
For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.
They should rule who are able to rule best.
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
All men by nature desire knowledge.
It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.
Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.
With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have use it.
It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.
One swallow does not make a summer.
Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law, and without justice.
Again, men in general desire the good, and not merely what their fathers had.
Nature does nothing uselessly.
The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.
Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.
In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities.
To perceive is to suffer.
Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.
It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.
Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.
Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way…you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.
Dignity consists not in possessing honor, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.
Aristotle inspired and encouraged Alexander the Great toward eastern conquest, and his attitude towards Persia was unabashedly ethnocentric. In one famous example, he counsels Alexander to be a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as with beasts and plants. Alexander’s reply was his famous quote:
I am not interested in the descendance of the citizens or their racial origins. I classify them using one criterion: their virtue. For me every virtuous foreigner is a Greek and every evil Greek worse than a barbarian.
How Great was Alexander the Great!
Near the end of Alexander’s life, Alexander began to suspect plots against himself, and threatened Aristotle in letters. Aristotle had made no secret of his contempt for Alexander’s pretense of divinity, and the king had executed Aristotle’s grandnephew Callisthenes as a traitor. A widespread tradition in antiquity suspected Aristotle of playing a role in Alexander’s death, but there is little evidence for this.
Aristotle’s contribution to us is priceless…and Alexander’s achievements were enchanced and fueled by his great teachings and wisdom. Knowledge is power!
I rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.
I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well. Alexander the Great King of Macedon
Image above. Alexander the Great
I will be back with more details about the Alexander the Great Charity I am trying to create whose objective is to enhance education to everyone especially young men and women.