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Aristotle and the humanities - Research Paper Example

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The Greek philosopher Aristotle made contributions to the humanities through his ideas about art, as well as philosophy, specifically through his ideas regarding ethics and politics.When it came to art,Aristotle’s Poetics was an answer to Plato’s accusation against the artists for their alleged destruction of rational harmony…
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Aristotle and the humanities
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Download file to see previous pages The Greek philosopher Aristotle made contributions to the humanities through his ideas about art, as well as philosophy, specifically through his ideas regarding ethics and politics. When it came to art, Aristotle’s Poetics was an answer to Plato’s accusation against the artists for their alleged destruction of rational harmony, as stated in the Republic (Wolff 64). In the field of ethics, Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics provided the basis for showing how to live one’s life in the virtuous way and helped people of his times decide on which things were more important in their lives and what they could do to make them better.Lastly, it is a fact that ancient Greece during Aristotle’s time was a period of confusion – a time of war among city-states who fought for territorial expansion, a time for poverty and slavery, and a time when the nobility never shared their power with their constituents (“Explore Greece”). In order to address the current situation and the pressing need for “order, security and peace” amidst “the turmoil and disaster that had come out of Athenian democracy” (Durant 80), Aristotle wrote his Politics. Aristotle is relevant to the humanities because his works helped address the aesthetic, ethical and political dilemmas surrounding the Greek society in the 4th century BC, and helped shaped the thinking of the Greeks during his time as well as that of the world at present. Aesthetics: Poetics Aristotle’s rationale as to aesthetics is that “art takes us closer to essential form, not farther away” (Wolff 65). He means here that through the study of art and through the study of the works of man, man himself is able to learn a great deal not only about himself but also about his essence. Wolff’s statement further implies that people who observe art, according to Aristotle, may just be observing certain specific things but through which, they can “grasp the real nature of things.” (65) The Poetics also tells the reader about Aristotle’s theory of catharsis, which means that “art has a psychologically healthy effect on the spectator” (64). According to Wolff, this statement implies that art is an effective means of self-expression and one which brings not only wisdom but also release (64). However, these principles contradict those of Plato. In the Republic, Plato criticizes art as something that destroys the rational capacity of man and something that leads him away from the world of forms, which, according to Plato was the real world (64). However, Aristotle maintains that not only does art promote a healthy psychological make-up but that it also leads one to a realization of his essence. These teachings of Aristotle has remained helpful not only to the Greeks of his time but even to the world at present, thus Aristotle’s relevance to the humanities. Ethics: The Nichomachean Ethics Aristotle’s contributions to aesthetics cannot, however, equal those he gave ethics. It is a fact that the ideas of right and wrong, of good and evil, and of morality itself can never be derived from scientific inquiry but only through the humanities, specifically through ethics. Aristotle’s glorious masterpiece on ethics, the Nichomachean Ethics, has provided people the guidelines on how to live a virtuous life since the time of 4th century BC Greece until now. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle makes it clear that “the good for man is an activity of the soul in accordance with virtue [or] the best and most perfect [virtue]” (Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, I.7). This virtue, or moral virtue, that Aristotle has ascribed most of his ethical principles on is “the submission of one’s feelings and outward acts to reason (Kilcullen) since “man, in the Aristotelian system, is a rational animal” (Durant 59). The key words therefore are “rational” and “reason” and it follows that one who abides by the dictates of his reason is one is who is virtuous. This simply means that if one does ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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