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Famous Philosophers: What Did Aristotle Believe?



Eudaimonia - A Successful/Flourishing Life

  • Aristotle was practical and dealt with the question of 'how should we live our lives?'
  • Aristotle believed that every person seeked "eudaimonia" as the ultimate goal in their life.
  • He believed that every action that a person takes is taken in the belief that it will bring him closer to eudaimonia.
  • Eudaimonia is essentially the state of having lived a successful life - it is a way of living rather than a mental state of absolute happiness.
  • In order for us to know if someone was ever in the state of eudaimonia we have to consider everything that happened in their life and so it is only after they are dead that we can really know if we have lived a eudaimonian life.
  • Aristotle also believed that certain things after death affect whether or not we can call someone's life eudaimonian or not. For example, he considers the well-being and events concerning descendants and loved ones after a person is dead as something that contributes to his eudaimonia.

A Human's Function

  • Aristotle concerned himself with what makes a human distinct from any other organism.
  • He believed that what made a human different was his ability to act rationally.
  • Aristotle believed that the good human being is one that engages in rational activities frequently.
  • He believed that merely thinking rationally is not the same as acting rationally: only people who act rationally are good human beings.
  • Aristotle believed that the reward for doing so was true happiness.

Views on Women

  • Aristotle's views on women are seemingly contradictory.
  • Aristotle made it clear that he valued women's happiness as much as he valued that of men's.
  • He stated that a society will not function properly (will not be happy) unless women are happy too.
  • However, he also stated that women are 'defected' human beings.
  • He stated that women feel less shame, are more deceptive, and also have better memories than men.
  • Aristotle believed that women should stay in 'female quarters' and that their personal wealth should belong to their husbands.
  • Lastly, he didn't think that they should have access to proper education or freedom of speech.

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