As humans, we have always struggled with making the best of our lives. The following Aristotle quotes show how a philosopher in ancient Greece coped with the problems of human existence.
Aristotle lived from 384—322 B.C.E. and is one of the most famous of Greek philosophers. He studied many areas of knowledge including logic and mathematics, physics and metaphysics, biology and botany, politics, agriculture, medicine and even dance and theater. In fact, Aristotle was the first to classify areas of study into disciplines such as mathematics, biology, and ethics. It is little wonder that Aristotle quotes cover so many areas of education and wisdom.
Aristotle wrote as many as 200 theses on various subjects though only 31 survive to this day. Even though so little of Aristotle’s philosophy survives, what we do have offers profound insights into his beliefs about the best way to live and act in this world. His quotes encapsulate his wisdom and can guide us to live a better life.
Aristotle was a student of Plato, who in turn was a student of Socrates. He took what he learned from these great thinkers and expanded on it.
Aristotle on reasoning and logic
He is most famous for his work in the field of logic. Aristotle emphasized the use of reasoning combined with the scientific method. These elements form the backdrop for virtually all his work.
He developed a system for reasoning that was completely new, though it may seem obvious to us today. He argued that the validity of any argument can be determined by its structure. As an example of this idea he states: All men are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is mortal. He believed that the truth of any argument could be determined by such logical questioning.
Aristotle deeply influenced all fields of study. His views influenced both scholarship and religion right up until the enlightenment. And much of what he had to say still has relevance for us today. His many teachings on happiness, wisdom, friendship, and politics can inspire us to live better and more fulfilled lives.
Aristotle quotes on happiness
Aristotle thought of happiness as a central purpose of human life. He believed that to be genuinely happy, one must have among other things, physical and mental well-being. In this way, he was the first to introduce a ‘science of happiness’. He did not view seeking happiness as selfish or greedy, but as a natural human state that should be aimed for. One of the ways he believed this was possible was for us to seek balance in our lives and not go to extremes. He also believed that our happiness was dependent on ourselves rather than others.
“Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life: the whole aim and end of human existence.”
“Our happiness depends upon ourselves.”
“Happiness is an expression of the soul in considered actions.”
Aristotle quotes on wisdom
Aristotle also spoke a lot about wisdom. However, he thought that knowing things was not enough. We have to use that wisdom to guide us in our actions and interactions in daily life. His advice suggests that we must understand ourselves fully, seek wisdom and then act on this knowledge no matter what others might think. If we do not use the wisdom we have gained then it serves no useful purpose.
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
“The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.”
Aristotle quotes on friendship
In his thoughts about friendship, Aristotle observed that there are three types of friendship: utility, pleasure, and virtue. A friendship of utility is based on providing some useful help, such as in business. A friendship of pleasure is based on enjoyment of each others company or doing pleasurable things in each other’s company. But a friendship of virtue is not based on what each person can get from the other but on goodness.
In addition, he noted that each person in a friendship must wish the other well and be aware that they are wished well in return. For Aristotle, the first two kinds of friendship are lower as they are based on what a person can get from the other person. A friendship of virtue is the highest kind because it is based on goodwill without expectation of help or pleasure. According to Aristotle, these are the strongest and most long lasting of friendships.
“My best friend is the man who in wishing me well wishes it for my sake.”
“Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
“Without friends, no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.”
Aristotle quotes on politics and peace
Aristotle’s philosophy contains much about the best kind of society. He believed that society should be organized so that each person could achieve his or her full potential. Aristotle believed that those who seek power for their own good will not bring about a peaceful and productive society. He was against tyranny in every form. While Aristotle saw business and even war as sometimes necessary, he thought that their ultimate aim should be to facilitate leisure and peace.
“Yes, the truth is that men’s ambition and their desire to make money are among the most frequent causes of deliberate acts of injustice.”
“Now it is evident that the form of government is best in which every man, whoever he is, can act best and live happily.”
“It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”
Aristotle quotes for dark times
The great philosopher, Aristotle, thought a lot about what makes for a just and happy society and how each person can create a meaningful and fulfilled life. But he also understood that everyone suffers hard times and misfortunes. He believed that we could learn from our difficult experiences, though. If you are going through a difficult period, then I hope that the following quotes may give you some comfort.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
“He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”
“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.”
Often we can find great wisdom in the thoughts of those who have gone before us. The wisdom of the ages is available to us if we seek to listen and understand. It is interesting that a philosopher from more than 2000 years ago had many of the same interests and preoccupations as we do today.
I hope these philosophical quotes have inspired you to live a happier and more fulfilled life. Or perhaps they have offered you some comfort in a difficult time. These are just a few of the many inspiring words of Aristotle.
Let us know what you think of these quotes, or what your favorite Aristotle quotes are in the comments below.