2 ARISTOTLE (384-322 B.C.) Born in Stagira, Greece (near Macedonia) Aristotle’s father introduced him to anatomy, medicine and philosophy – he was the court physicianAristotle became friends with the King’sson Philip.Parents died when he was 17Plato taught and mentored AristotlePlato was a leading thinker in Greece
3 Aristotle and Plato PLATO ARISTOTLE Plato can be understood as idealistic and rationalistic. He divides reality into two: On the one hand we have ideas or ideals. This is ultimate reality, permanent, eternal, spiritual. On the other hand, there’s phenomena, which is a manifestation of the ideal. Phenomena are appearances -- things as they seem to us -- and are associated with matter, time, and space.He focussed on the abstract, the world of ideas. Ideas are available to us through thought, while phenomena are available to us through our senses. So, naturally, thought is a vastly superior means to get to the truth.Senses can only give you information about the ever-changing and imperfect world of phenomena, and so can only provide you with implications about ultimate reality, not reality itself. Reason goes straight to the idea.ARISTOTLEHe looked at human experiences and the world of natureThrived on hands-on experience, observation and classification
4 Aristotle and Alexander Due to political unrest, Aristotle fled from Athens to Aegean where he married and had a daughterFled again to Macedonia and began to tutor King Philip’s son – Alexander (later known as the Great)Aristotle started a school (Lyceum)He wrote about logic, metaphysics, theology, history, politics and ethics and the basic foundations of many science disciplines
5 Leaving again...After Alexander the great died, there was more political unrestAristotle was charged with not respecting the gods of the state (he was friends with the King)Fled again, but died in a yearMuch of his work was lost the destruction of the great library of AlexandriaOnly 40 of 360 works survived to today
6 ARISTOTLE AND VIRTUE ETHICS The Pursuit of Happiness *Aristotle argues that all knowledge and moral purpose aspires to some good. And what according to Aristotle is the highest of all practical goods?HAPPINESS is the aim of a good lifeAristotle does not equate happiness with pleasure.
7 Happiness or Pleasure? Happiness Pleasure An enduring state It is the condition of the good person who succeeds in living well and acting well.Human life is about theCommunity, not the individual“if you are not part of the polis you are a beast or god”Only momentaryHedonism is a school of thought which argues that pleasure is the only intrinsic good.A Hedonist strives to maximize net pleasure
8 But what is the Good?In fact, Plato himself also had a high regard for the good. To him “the good” humans seek in life is in all things without being something itself. Nowhere do we find the good; we find only good things.Ex. Beauty is found everywhere and in all things but nowhere do we find beauty itself. There is no one embodiment of beauty.The closest we come to the good, according to Plato, is in contemplation. In contemplation we bask in the good and good enters into our knowing. As contemplatives of the good, philosophers are closest to the good. Plato argued that one could find the good through reason. They have chosen the best – the happiest. They are happy because they make true choices about the value and worth of their actions. All others are ruled by feelings. They measure their actions by how much they enjoy them, not by their value.
9 Like Plato, Aristotle was concerned with the short-sightedness of searching for happiness by following one’s instincts and sensual pleasures. But...Aristotle was more down to earth than Plato. He considered Plato’s idea of the good to be too abstract. Aristotle insisted that one’s search for the good must be identified with something real. The good, according to Aristotle, is to be found in God. God is the embodiment of the good and the good is inscribed by God into the nature of all created things. To search for the good is to go to each thing and discover its potential. In each case one needs to ask: What is the purpose of this thing and how can it best achieve its goal?According to Aristotle human beings can only be happy if they fulfill their basic human purpose or function. That is, humans can be happy only if they act as humans are specifically meant to act.
10 This is why we call Aristotle’s ethics: TELEOLOGICAL ETHICS TELEOLOGICAL: having to do with the design or purpose of something.A house is built to live inA clock is made to keep timeAccording to Aristotle, the “end” that human beings aspire to is happiness. Teleology is the good at which all things aimThe aim (goal) of human life is HAPPINESS Just likeThe aim of medicine is HEALTHThe aim of shipbuilding is a SHIPThe aim of any sports game is VICTORYThe aim of any domestic economy is WEALTH.The aim (goal) of human life is HAPPINESS
11 REASONFurthermore, Aristotle argued that humans will be happy only if they are able to act with reason in the various circumstances of life.Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions and beliefs. It is normally considered to be a definitive characteristic of human nature. The concept of reason is sometimes referred to as rationality.Above all else, we are intended to be rational. Our greatest capacity as humans and what sets us apart from animals is our intelligence and ability to reason. Humans are rational animals and we must base our actions on reasoning.To act ethically, therefore, is to engage our capacity to reason as we develop good character. This is the highest form of happiness.
12 VIRTUE: Human Excellences When people seek to become who they are intended to be, they develop habits that represent the best of what it means to be human. Aristotle calls these excellences Virtues.* habits that are formed in seeking the good become excellent virtues, an ultimately we become who we are intended to be
13 Ethics should look not only at how we are obligated to act, but also at the kind of being we ought to be.Many philosophers believe that morality consists of following precisely defined rules of conduct, such as “don’t kill,” or “don’t steal.” Presumably, I must learn these rules, and then make sure each of my actions live up to the rules.Virtue ethics, however, places less emphasis on learning rules, and instead stresses the importance of developing good habits of character, such as benevolence.
14 So what does it mean to have the virtue of using our ability to reason well in our lives? Where our desires, emotions and actions are involved, both going to excess and falling short are vices.We act well when we seek the midpoint between excess and deficiency (being moderate in what we desire, feel and do).We acquire the virtues of living reasonably when we acquire the various abilities needed to control our desires, emotions and actions so that they neither go to excess nor fall short
15 According to Aristotle VIRTUE is the mean (moderation) between extremes and having such virtues is the key to happiness since these virtues enable us to act as humans were meant to act.
16 The “Mean”We are not born with such abilities, but acquire them in youth by being trained repeatedly to respond to situations in a reasonable manner. We become virtuous by being trained to act virtuously in the appropriate situations until it becomes a habit. At first acting virtuously is difficult, but when we have acquired a virtue it becomes easy and pleasant.Our moral character is developed through the actions we choose and our character in turn influences the actions we choose. Through our actions we shape the kind of person we gradually become.* Aristotle stated that moderation was a key to happiness and virtuous character. “Find balance in our actions – be moderate in all things”
17 Example: By habituating ourselves to disregard danger and to face it, we become courageous, and it is when we have become courageous that we are best able to face danger.
18 Concluding idea…The test of the presence of a certain character trait is the pleasure or pain that accompanies our actions.Example: The person, who stands his ground against fearful things and takes pleasure in this, is courageous, while the person for whom this is painful is a coward.In conclusion according to Aristotle, to assess the moral rightness or wrongness of moral decision, then, we must look at the kind of character that the decision produces. If the decision tends to produce a virtuous character, then it is morally right; if it produces a vicious character, then it is morally wrong.