Aristotles’ Philosophy of Man – Self-Realization
Brief History about Aristotle
Aristotle (384 BC - 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher. He was a student of Plato and a teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle wrote a lot covering subjects which include physics, metaphysics, theater, poetry, music, linguistics, rhetoric, logic, politics, ethics and biology. His writings were among the first to be considered a comprehensive system of Western philosophy encompassing logic, morality, politics and metaphysics. Along with Socrates and Plato, Aristotle is one of the most important founding individuals in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s father was in the medical profession. This perhaps made an impact on Aristotle as his philosophy laid its principal stress on biology unlike Plato whose emphasis is on mathematics. “Aristotle regarded the world as made up of individuals (substances) occurring in fixed natural kind (species). Each individual has its built-in specific pattern of development and grows toward proper self-realization as a specimen of its type. Growth, purpose, and direction are thus built into nature. Although science studies general kinds, according to Aristotle, these kinds find their existence in particular individuals. Science and philosophy must therefore balance, not simply choose between, the claims of empiricism (observation and sense experience) and formalism (rational deduction).
One of the most distinctive of Aristotle's philosophic contributions was a new notion of causality.
Merriam Webster's dictionary defines self-realization as “the fulfillment by oneself of the possibilities of one's character or personality.” The theory of self-realization is that a life of excellence is based on the actualization of human potentialities. In psychology, this is called "self-development.” Oftentimes, we interchangeably use the following:
self-realization = self-development = self-actualization
The basic premise of self-realization is that there exists an authentic self which has to be discovered by psychological or spiritual self-striving. Self-realization can be gradual or instantaneous phenomena depending on the school of thought but in all cases it involves extensive preparation of mind and emotions to recognize self-realization when it occurs.
Self-realization is a maturing of the ego or personality to accept its own evanescence and thus allow space for the true Self to reveal itself. The moon veiled by clouds is an apt metaphor for the Self's apparent absence in our everyday lives. The dissolution of the ego's obsessive, internal pre-occupations with its psycho-somatic complexes frees the psyche's energy to directly experience Reality of the world as it is, free of any assumptions.
For the Hindu religion, self-realization (atma-jnana) is knowledge of the true self beyond both delusion and identification with material phenomena.
Thoughts on Aristotle’s Theory
Aristotle felt that to fully be a man, one must imitate the gods, or immortalize themselves. This will free one from the restrictions of mortal thought. According to Aristotle “man possesses a natural want for knowledge. Immortalizing oneself aides the desire for knowledge and self-realization. Self-realization leads to happiness.” We can find similar theories in modern day psychologists like Maslow. In his theory of hierarchy of needs, Maslow places self-actualization as the last achievement before reaching true happiness. One issue raised against the ethics of self-realization is that life is not long enough to actualize all our potentials or be “all that we can be.” The challenge is to live significantly and meaningfully in the here and now, and to matter to people around you. For example, you have the capacity to give each person in Metro Manila a flyer on recycling but it is doubtful that this capacity is one that ought to be developed. Moreover, every year on a particular agreed date,...
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