Aristotle’s Theories Of Happines And Friendship

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Aristotle was born in Stagira, Greece (which is now known as Macedonia), and is seen as one of the greatest philosophers and psychologists to this day. He was a student of Plato, and a teacher of Alexander the Great. He was most intrigued by the way things work, such as what makes our lives and societies the best they can be. He explored the answer to several different questions regarding our lives and how vast each one’s potential is.

One concept Aristotle investigated deeply was what made people happy. He tried to understand which variables contributed to someone having a good life, and wrote about it in one of his books called the Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle stated that everyone who achieved great things and led good lives shared 11 distinctive ‘virtues’: “courage, temperance, liberality, magnificence, magnanimity, pride, patience, truthfulness, wittiness, friendliness and modesty”. His idea was that all 11 virtues were what he called a ‘golden mean’, and there were specific attributes that were ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ of each virtue. Using wittiness as an example, too much would be ‘buffoonery’ where a person tries too hard and is too desperate to try and make everyone laugh. But on the other end of the spectrum someone may instead have too little wittiness, leading them to be ‘boorish’, take everything too seriously and be without any kind of humor. Because Aristotle understood that nobody was able to adapt these desirable virtues with the snap of their fingers, he believed people who didn’t have that perfect medium virtue shouldn’t be insulted or made to feel like bad people. Instead, he suggested they be inspired to become better through their role models and mentors.

Aristotle also considered tragedy to be something that proves bad things can happen to anyone at any time, and that we should therefore treat anyone going through it with kindness rather than harshness. Additionally, he examined what the purpose of art was, and came to the conclusion that it should be able to illustrate the significant truths of life in the most impressionable manner. Another aspect Aristotle dove into was what the purpose of a friend is. He classified 3 types of relationships amongst friends: the strategic business-like or beneficial friendship, the friend who simply supplies the fun times, and the true friend who cares deeply about you and your wellbeing, and with whom you share all the sad and happy moments. He saw this last form of friendship, the truest form of it, to be the best part of life (The Book of Life).

Strengths & Weaknesses

Aristotle’s theories have many strengths, especially regarding ethics. His opinion that people should be kinder to those going through a tough time or who’re very clearly not perfect is one that should be applied to everyone in our world today too. Not only do we all have a chance of facing tragedy (and should therefore try to be understanding when coming across people who do), but we’re all also incredibly flawed and shouldn’t be so quick to judge people when they’re not as successful or great as someone else may appear to be. On the contrary, Aristotle’s theories are similar to Plato’s in that he only made assumptions based off observations of people in Greece. This is a significant cultural weakness of Aristotle’s, as his research results may very well have only applied to people within the country, and have nothing to do with the those outside of Greece, as he presumed they did.

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