Probably one of the most famous of all philosophers, everyone has read something of Aristotle’s philosophy.

Mentioned more times than any other philosopher and he seems to be the founder of just about everything. Yet, in 2018, how can we attribute all of our knowledge to the wisdom of just one man? What can Aristotle’s philosophy teach us today?

The influence of Aristotle’s philosophy lives on and his reputation remains untouched. Aristotle laid the groundwork for modern science and his concepts of morality are still used today. Named the founder of theology, physics and the father of politics as a practical science, to ignore the relevance of his work is to ignore the very basis of modern knowledge.

Aristotle may not seem so present in contemporary life because so much time has passed, but without him, life as we know it would be completely different.

Morality and Politics

Aristotle’s philosophy surrounding morality speaks much more to human nature and psychology as it considers the decision-making processes that we go through every day.

Taking into account the way that we reason out our decisions and how we make a moral judgement, Aristotle’s philosophy can be seen as the basis of some moral processes we use today.

The Selfishness of Morality

Aristotle held the belief that one should be good for one’s own sake, giving the responsibility of knowing right from wrong to the individual. Since humans have the ability to know right from wrong, we also have the power to control how we live and promote harmony.

How do we use it today?

This is true in all areas of morality and justice, as we hold individuals responsible for their own actions. We expect those who have done wrong to know better and for that, we see them as deserving of punishment.  This is what allows us to have processes for law and justice, as this method of reasoning decisions is true across different cultures. 

We Must Use Reason to Make Choices

In the same way, Aristotle made the virtue of being ‘good’ a slightly more selfish concept because it is the responsibility of the individual. As the creator of formalised Logic, Aristotle developed a formal system for reasoning. To constantly consider our options and decide what is right and wrong and this was carefully observed.

How do we use it today?

Reason helps us to feel we are making morally correct decisions. With this in mind, we can use Aristotle’s philosophy to make moral judgements. We try to avoid harming others not only to save their feelings but also to avoid feeling guilty or punishment.

The State Should Be A Moral Organisation

In Aristotle’s philosophy, politics and ethics were inseparable. Although we may not see this as the case in politics today, it is still how we wish for politics to be.

Aware that humans are social creatures, Aristotle viewed the community as an extension of the family. He taught that the state should be a genuinely moral organisation with the goal of advancing the community and bringing about the most good.

How do we use it today?

Without accepting the natural human process of reasoning before making a decision, our ethical practices would have been completely different. From these moral judgements, we have been able to develop legal justice systems, political frameworks, as well as our own moral compasses.

Education and Science

The First University

Aristotle had a profound influence on education. He was the first to establish an institution for higher education, Athens’ Lyceum. It was here that Aristotle taught the importance of discussion and teaching but also research and discovery.

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Plato and Aristotle in “The School of Athens” painting by Raphael
How do we use it today?

Lyceum was the very basis of universities and colleges today. Without higher education, we could not have made the advancements in knowledge and technologies that we enjoy today.

Empirical Research

Finally, Aristotle’s emphasis on empirical research and ideas of deduction changed the way we embark on scientific discovery. His emphasis on empirical discovery shaped the way we accept information to be true. We first look at Aristotle’s philosophy before making any scientific advancement, even if we don’t realise it.

How do we use it today?

Aristotle’s understanding of logic, induction and deduction have endlessly influenced science, despite the fact some of his works have been disproved. Without Aristotle’s philosophy, our education and scientific frameworks could have been completely different.

There are few philosophers who can boast the fame and acknowledgement of Aristotle, and even less who have influenced mode. Aristotle’s teachings are broad enough to touch almost all areas of modern life. With steady interest since first-century B.C.E, Aristotle’s philosophy has been adapted throughout the ages. Even today, philosophers look to Aristotle for guidance and inspiration in their own specific facets of philosophy.

It is impossible to escape Aristotle’s influence and it seems that this has always been the case. Aristotle created the fundamentals of what was to become modern science and moral philosophy.

Importance of individual study and education has now become ingrained in everyday life. It is unlikely that the importance, or relevancy, of Aristotle’s philosophy will diminish in centuries to come.



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