The Ethical Tepries Of Plato And Aristotle

And The State That Would Produce A More Moral Society Essay, Research Paper

The Ethical Theories of Plato and Aristotle and

State which would Produce a More Moral Society.

Moral organized societies do no simply happen. They are products of principle beliefs and strict codes on ethics based on the knowledge of leaders and philosophers. Both Aristotle and Plato had their views on what would make a moral and just society.

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who was born at Stagira in 384 BC and he died in

322 BC. He planed and organized projects of empirical research that were supported by Alexander the Great. The projects led to discoveries in the fields of natural research.

Plato was also a Greek philosopher and educator. He was born in Athens in 427 BC and died at the age of 80 in 347 BC. Plato devoted most of his time to teaching and lecturing at his academy. He contradicts most of the theories of the sophist.

Plato was a functionalist in that he believed that everything of importance in a society was determined by its practicality and usefulness. He also recognized the importance of things in a society are dependent on each other in order to maintain cultural and social unity. Plato was bounded by certain principles unlike those of the sophist, who believed that happiness and pleasure were linked. They believe once an individual could escape after having committed an unlawful act, which brings them pleasure, that deed is acceptable. He, Plato, considered that one s knowledge of a good life would prevent them from doing wrong. Plato was of the opinion that without knowledge, wickedness in a society would result. He promoted the view that knowledge could only be achieved through training, this would result in the good life. He believed that individuals could also achieve the good life through imitating those who have this knowledge.

Plato went onto stress that there is only one good life for everyone. The reason for this statement is goodness is independent from human desires, wishes and cravings. Since goodness remains to be discovered, the only way to explain goodness is through teaching. So those individuals who partake in seeking knowledge are virtuous since the source of all virtues is knowledge. He considered the four main virtues of the soul are wisdom, justice, courage and temperance. Those individuals who seek this knowledge are capable of a good life, unlike those who do not. He believed that the lack of this knowledge is a deadly disease that would lead to the social decadence of a moral society.

Plato is convinced that the knowledge of the good is not opinionated. He viewed opinion as being fallible, it can either be true or false. Although opinions may be true it does not mean it is knowledge. Knowledge is not subjected but absolute. What Plato believes is that if a deed is wrong it is wrong, and that this principle applies to the good also. Thus making the living of a good life an absolute one. He viewed people as immoral if they do not have the knowledge. Plato believed that God would only be taken into consideration if he acts in accordance to the knowledge of good. He felt that such knowledge is more superior to God.

Aristotle on the other hand had different views from that of Plato although Plato taught him. He rejected the notion that there is only one right and good for every one. Using what he termed as Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle tried to explain the use of a moral life. In trying to achieve this objective he believed one must ask himself these questions:

What is the good or chief good?

What is it that one ought to be really aiming for in life?

Upon examining the various lives of people, Aristotle discovered that the chief good is that of eudaimonia which means happiness. He believed that happiness is not a static activity or it is not a goal. What happiness entails is the events which accompanies one in achieving this goal. In order for individuals to do this they must operate on their own power of reasoning. They must also train their own appetites also. Man can do this since it is human nature for man to discover goals himself. It is only when man performs such habits; he is able to perform moral or sound actions. Our passions, emotions and feelings are very important since we human beings are governed by these feelings and it is through these feelings we can either display virtues or vice. How our actions may affect people allows us to decide those actions that will result in happiness to the society and ourselves because our happiness is dependent on the feelings of others.

The problem with all individuals is deciding the right quantity for an individual, this is known as the mean. Aristotle believed that individuals are either praised or condemned because of their actions. Unlike Plato who believed that people can act morally without comprehending the events that are involved. Aristotle also believed that in order for one to behave morally, they must have moral understanding and not only intellectual one. An individual may have knowledge of the good life but he may not lead such a life because he does not have moral belief and understanding. Aristotle also believed that in order to achieve happiness one must act in moderation. This results in the individual sacrificing his own mean or happiness.

According to the Basis for A Moral Life there are several principles and individuals must partake in order to produce a moral society. It is written that spirituality plays an important role in society, since knowledge and intelligence are not enough to build such a society. Plato felt that such spirituality is not needed because only knowledge of a good life allows us to live a moral life and that this knowledge is far superior to that of God. What the basis for a moral life constitutes of moral behavior is that of a moral understanding and not knowledge alone. The only way in which this can be done is through the knowledge of God. The Basis for a Moral Life continues to state that an individual has to examine his past experiences or actions and knowledge in order to make a mature decision. Plato believed that a person should only know what is good that is the virtues of a good life. But critics argue that when a situation arises when an individual has to make a decision, how can a person make such a decision when they do not know the right course to pursue because that individual does not have any prior experiences in dealing with the situation at hand. The Basis also believes that an individual becomes moral and mature when their actions become beneficial to other persons. So how can Plato have a moral society when individuals who have the knowledge of the good do not share such knowledge with others? Thus causing individuals to imitate these people but they themselves do not understand their own actions since they do not have the true knowledge of the good life. Aristotle states that when contemplating an action one must weigh how their decisions will affect other people and not only themselves. Another belief of the Basis is one must obey the laws, keep the promise which he has made and follow the customs in order to keep the social demands of a society. This allows for the individual to act with moderation and in some cases he may have to sacrifice his own means or happiness in order to do so, Aristotle believed that this is what constitutes a moral life. Plato believed that only having the knowledge of a good life allows us a moral society. The Basis continues that when making a decision an individual has to choose that decision which is capable of creating the greater good.

According to Plato what would produce a society, which is moral and just is knowledge of the good. He placed great emphasis on ones intelligence and he believes that the process of education is the only means in which an individual will obtain this knowledge.

This is only shown by ones academic achievements. But what would happen to those individuals who believe that love is the foundation in which a moral society will grow. If one has knowledge and he does not share what he knows with others how can one classify this as doing good if he is not considerate of others? Without sharing such knowledge how can future generations be moral if they do not have the knowledge of the good life? In order for a person to be taught the good life another individual would have to sacrifice some of his time in pursuing the knowledge of good life in order to do so.

This concept was shared by the Basis for a Moral Life and Aristotle. When doing an action one must weight the consequences on how it would affect others. Aristotle was a strong advocate of this belief. It does not matter what social class an individual comes from, all of us must consider the human rights of others. An individual may enforce his own personal judgement on others. While doing so he may not take into consideration the belief or feelings of others because he himself feels what he is doing is right or good. But in doing this deed he may cause pain for the other individual. Before carrying out decisions one must decide which one should produce the greatest good. He must ask himself if doing what is right at someone else s expense is truly the greater good even if he believes he is doing the right thing.


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