One of the greatest philosophers of all time was a man named Aristotle, the ancient greek philosopher. He was practically influenced every area of conceptual modern thinking. His mind set was in terms of materialism, which he essentially viewed substance on Earth before ideas and qualities. He genuinely believed in the notion of analyzing compounds and characteristics of people and their actions. Aristotle, who was a student of Plato, believed in “virtue of character and thought”, which means that virtue results from teaching, experience, and habits rather than Plato’s idealism notions of ideas and qualities (pg.265-266).
He believed that peoples noble actions would lead to virtue and that all things in life had an end. That all ends must result in something good, an example would be an acorn, the end of an acorn would be an acorn tree. Aristotle believed that it was inevitable for humans to obtain happiness over a course of time and that this was the end for a human being. He believed that in order to be virtuous, one must first avoid temperance and deficiency. Aristotle also claims that justice can mean both lawfulness and fairness or injustice can mean unlawfulness and unfairness.
His notion was that the law encouraged people to pursue virtue, therefore, the lawful person would result to being virtuous. In essence, he claims that people who pursue virtue will be just and those who do not pursue virtue will be unjust. He believed that sensory perceptions in the human soul are reflections of objects, and thoughts in consciousness are based on what we have already seen. Plato believed that the average person could not see the truth, therefore, the noble lie was essential to get people to pursue their natural form or task.
A simple ascetic city with the notion of everyone having natural abilities to do a certain job was justice for Plato. In contrast, Aristotle, did not believe that humans had access to these perfect forms in their minds as a way to reach justice and the perfect city. He argues that justice is a complete virtue when exercising virtue in relation to others and that it requires intellectual virtue. That a virtuous person should pursue the most pleasant and happy life, which is the philosophical life of contemplation and speculation.
The highest good for Aristotle is the end of a human, which is gained through virtuous action over their course of a life time. In order to live a life of virtue according to Aristotle, one must find the mean or good actions, which finding the mean is virtuous actions. By exercising virtue in relations to others is a good thing that will lead to a virtuous happy life and this will inevitably lead to an end of a human being, which is happiness. He was not a hedonist, his highest good reflected on reason, virtue, and experience that gains practical wisdom and that people learn from mistakes.
This notion of a human gaining happiness by living a virtuous life reflects on his notion of a content society. Aristotle’s perception of justice was similar to Plato’s in the way that virtue related to both temperance and courage, but in all other aspects they were completely in contrast. Virtue consisted of habits and making right choices for the individual to be just, according to Aristotle. Virtue of temperance and courage causes people to be in a “good state” and to perform their “functions” well (pg. 269).
Therefore, in order to acquire justice in Aristotle’s perception, virtue would have to take place within the individual’s state of character and reason for the whole in order to pursue virtue. Equality being about justice and exercising freedom was permissible according to Aristotle. He was really about diversity, but not a feminist, he clearly reduced the women’s roles in society, which was normal due to an era of sexism. There where three forms of happiness according to Aristotle- a life of pleasure and enjoyment, a life of free and responsibility, and a life as a thinker and philosopher.
He rejected the imbalance of these premises and it was essential in human relationships. Therefore, finding the mean and his example of not to be cowardly or impulsive, but courageous. Aristotle believed in the mixture of constitutions, which means that if you mix “oligarchy” and “democracy”, which would be essentially “polity”; bringing a large middle class, then there can be more equality and justice among the citizens (pg. 403). He described democracy as a form of government that would overthrow the rich. Therefore, where the poor are predominant, there will be democracy.
He’s implying that there is a better way; modern way to conduct a government where the people are not ruled by a monarch or tyranny. This means that if you rely on one type of constitution, then it would inevitably lead to depravity by changing into a bad constitution. An example would be if monarchy was established, then it would lead to tyranny or aristocracy to oligarchy. Aristotle’s notion was that in order to have equality, then a mixture of constitutions was necessary for justice. He he elaborates on constitutions, he is indicating the system of government that should be established.
This relates to virtue because in order to be virtuous depravity must be impermissible and having a mixture of constitutions brings a balance to good. He advocates on having a massive middle class would be essential in order to have a balance of equality and fairness. He supports on having this large middle class because it will genuinely bring a balance in society and impact on politics according to Aristotle. The virtue of justice belongs to the city, a self-determination of what is just. He advocates on the art of acquisition; that wealth should have a limit.
He does not seem to like people who are upset with moneymaking. He emphasized on that a democracy was essentially the worse type of government; just as a tyranny. If there is no large middle class, then democracy denounces to rule by the poor and Aristotle believed that it should be the rule of everyone or the many. Therefore, the mixture of democracy and oligarchy was essential to Aristotle for the sake of polity. Being a just person can lead to a life of virtue, which is acquired by noble actions and experience, in contrast with Plato’s ideology of perfect forms in the human mind being to abstract and delusional.
However, Aristotle’s notion is to pursue a virtuous life by making right choices and learning from mistakes, which is very good because human beings are not perfect. Happiness would be considered the end of a human being and it’s acquired by virtue according to Aristotle and making choices on whether to be or not to be a just person. His perspective revolved around people living in communities or political communities and that politics was a characteristic for the well-being.
He also incorporated public education being the means of a community and through the development of practical wisdom because he wanted people to learn from their mistakes, stating that there is no perfect idea of a society. When an individual acquired happiness, which was the highest good over their course of life, it was done by pursuing virtue and noble actions. Therefore, Aristotle’s theory involves a fair political view where there is a higher class, lower class, but more importantly, a massive middle class where everyone must participate in politics.
In accordance to Aristotle’s and its success can be determined by the happiness of the citizens. Where each citizen has acquired the point of where they derive in moderation and are capable of distinguishing the means and the extremes and the good of society. He criticized Sparta on their austere culture and the citizen structure of a military society because he genuinely believed that it was not a content community. He did not lack humane values and he emphasized on how people should exercise virtue in relations to others. In essence, Aristotle’s theory offers a well established broad and fair view of a justice for a society and politics.