The famous Harvard School Motto is: Let Plato be your friend, and Aristotle, but more let your friend be Truth. At the early stage of the human civilization, there were many intelligent people that had achievements in all kinds of fields. When people were using mysticism to explain things, Aristotle was seeking the truth, and he did. It changed our sight of seeing the world now. Aristotle was born in 384 BCE. When he was seventeen, he came to Athens- the culture’s capital of Europe at that time, and became a student of Plato. He was the best student of Plato, and then became the teacher of Prince Alexander. The three main fields Aristotle had worked on and stand out is: the schematization of knowledge, the four causes, and the ethical doctrine of the mean (Hooker). Aristotle’s teacher Plato is an idealist and a rationalist, Plato thought our world is a non-perfect world; behind it, there was a perfect “world of idea”. For example the platonic love is what I heard the most. It is the love that is completely pure psychic love. But Aristotle thought the way we could get to know this world was from our sensory organs. Aristotle learned from Plato, but he didn’t follow his teacher’s path, he brought forth new ideas of philosophy. Aristotle said: The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet (Aristotle). Plato thought everything had rational reason and goal. There will no changes in between. But in Aristotle’s teleological theory that everything is changing; for an event, there will be the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause, and the final cause. Richard Hooker said in his article: The Four Causes are universally applicable. However, ethics is a science that admits of a high degree of uncertainty because of the infinite variety of human actions and motivations. Now, normally ethics seems to require absolute and unchanging principles ("Thou shalt not kill") which individuals depart from at their peril. The idea that ethics are "man-made" is a problematic idea (see the discussion of the Sophists in the Pre-Socratics chapter); the idea that it is the individual situation which dictates whether an action is right or wrong is, at least to early human society, downright revolutionary (Hooker).
The greatest thing Aristotle did for philosophy, I think, is bought up the idea of materialism. In materialism, the reality of this world is the only mattered thing. Every activity and event of this universe could be explained by science (Gutberlet). Aristotle said: Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth (Aristotle). I agree with the found of materialism is great because later on it effect the great philosopher Karl Marx, whose theory shocked the European society in 19th century. Marx’s philosophy not only changed effect the European society, but also changed the eastern countries, and become the major philosophy theory for Communism.
Aristotle said: In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme (Aristotle). Aristotle had a very clear understanding of democracy. Democracy is not just give people freedom to do anything; the majority doesn’t get what they want. I learned this theory in the first class of United States government class. There will be laws to rule and limit the majority. Even the government should be limit with laws. That’s why there was a constitution for limit and gives both government and people power. That’s why James Madison had his idea of “checking power with power”. In book Government By the People:
To create a successful government, they would need to create a government of limited authority. How? Within the government, competing interests would check each other, and, externally, the governed would check the government through elections, petitions, protests and amendments. (P34) Aristotle also said: A constitution is the arrangement of magistracies in a state (Aristotle).
The ethics of Aristotle has some points are similar to Confucius. “It is just that we should be grateful, not only to those with whose views we may agree, but also to those who have expressed more superficial views; for these also contributed something, by developing before us the powers of thought. (Aristotle) ” This quote is form Aristotle shows keeps a humility heart to study. It is very similar to Confucius “Two heads are always better then one”. I think this is a very important thing to remember through college life. Aristotle also had unique ideas of science and education. He is the first one gave the classification of Knowledge. In his theory there is three kind of science: theoria, praxis, and poiesis. In physics, he simply explained the mechanics. He gave the definition to ether. In biology, he classified five hundred species, and anatomized more than fifty animals. His action was like a sharp knife cut though the world of mysticism. He made a good foundation for the future European scientists. His education idea of metaphysics is students should be educated physically and mentally by different ages. It is what every school now is doing. Aristotle focused on ancient knowledge of every field. Several hundred years after his death, no one like him has been systematic and comprehensive study on the subjects. His works are ancient encyclopedia. He is the most knowledgeable person.
Hooker, Richard. "Greek Philosophy: Aristotle." Washington State University - Pullman, Washington. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/GREECE/ARIST.HTM>. "Aristotle Quotes." Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/aristotle_3.html>. Gutberlet, Constantin. "Materialism." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 10. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 16 Feb. 2011 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10041b.htm>. Magleby, David B., Paul Charles. Light, and Christine L. Nemacheck. 2011. Government by the People. Boston: Longman, 2011. 34.