Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A(Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D
Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V.(P.G) College, Roorkee, India
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist, better known as the teacher of Alexander the Great. Aristotle was one of the great polymaths of his time. He studied under Plato and therefore learnt much about the great philosophic traditions of Socrates. But, Aristotle was more than just a good student; he had an independent mind and was able to question many different things and sought to resolve difficult questions and previously unsolvable problems.
Aristotle was born in Stagira, Chalcidice, which is approximately 55km east of Thessaloniki, in 384 B.C. His father Nicomachus named him Aristotle, which means “the best purpose”. His father served as a personal physician to King Amyntas of Macedon. Being a physician’s son, he was inspired to his father’s scientific work but didn’t show much interest in medicine.
When he turned 18, he shifted to Athens to pursue his education at Plato’s Academy. He left Athens somewhere in 348-347 B.C, spending almost 20 years in the city. Thereafter, he moved to the court of his friend Hermias of Atarneus in Asia Minor along with his friend Xenocrates. He then traveled to the island of Lesbos accompanied by Theophrastus where they did in-depth analysis of zoology and botany of the island.
In 343 B.C after the death of Hermias, Philip II of Macedon invited him to become tutor of his son, Alexander.
Aristole became the head of royal academy of Marcedon. Here he became a tutor not only to Alexander but gave lessons to two other future kings – Cassander and Ptolemy – as well. In his role as tutor to Alexander, he encouraged him to conquer east.
In 335 B.C. he came back to Athens, this time to establish a school in the gymnasium dedicated to the Lycean Apollo, from which the school received its historic name, the Lyceum. (It has also been called the Peripatetic School, because of Aristotle’s habit of walking while giving instruction.) He taught by means of lectures and the dialogue.
After Alexander’s death, anti-Macedonian sentiment in Athens flared. In 322 B.C Eurymedon the Hierophant castigated him for not holding the gods in honor and Aristotle fled to Chalcis, his mother’s family estate.
He breathed his last in 322 B.C in Euboea due to natural causes.
Aristotle is believed to have put together his thoughts during 335-323 B.C . His writings constitute the first comprehensive system of Western philosophy which includes views about morality and aesthetics, logic and science, politics and metaphysics. This system became the supporting pillar of both Islamic and Christian scholastic thought. It is even said that he was perhaps the last man who had the knowledge of all the known fields at that time. His intellectual knowledge ranged from every known field of science and arts of that era. Aristotle believed in the power of reason to illuminate the problems of man. He believed that man had the capacity for enlightenment through self inquiry and study. He believed that human goodness derived from rational thought. Aristotle was also a playwright and he described how the weakness of man – pride, anger, jealousy, could lead to his downfall.
The works of Aristotle fall under three headings: (1) dialogues and other works of a popular character; (2) collections of facts and material from scientific treatment; and (3) systematic works.
Aristotle wrote around 200 works and most of them were in the form of notes and drafts. Aristotle’s systematic treatises may be grouped in several divisions:
- Categories (10 classifications of terms)
- On Interpretation (propositions, truth, modality)
- Prior Analytics (syllogistic logic)
- Posterior Analytics (scientific method and syllogism)
- Topics (rules for effective arguments and debate)
- On Sophistical Refutations (informal fallacies)
- Physical works
- Physics (explains change, motion, void, time)
- On the Heavens (structure of heaven, earth, elements)
- On Generation (through combining material constituents)
- Meteorologics (origin of comets, weather, disasters)
- Psychological works
- On the Soul (explains faculties, senses, mind, imagination)
- On Memory, Reminiscence, Dreams, and Prophesying
- Works on natural history
- History of Animals (physical/mental qualities, habits)
- On the parts of Animals
- On the Movement of Animals
- On the Progression of Animals
- On the Generation of Animals
- Minor treatises
- Philosophical works
- Metaphysics (substance, cause, form, potentiality)
- Nicomachean Ethics (soul, happiness, virtue, friendship)
- Eudemain Ethics
- Magna Moralia
- Politics (best states, utopias, constitutions, revolutions)
- Rhetoric (elements of forensic and political debate)
- Poetics (tragedy, epic poetry)
He not only studied almost every subject but also made noteworthy contributions to many of them. Under physical science, Aristotle studied and wrote on astronomy, anatomy, embryology, geology, geography, meteorology, zoology and physics while in philosophy, he wrote on ethics, aesthetics government, politics, metaphysics, economics, rhetoric, psychology and theology. In addition to all the above, he also studied literature, poetry and customs of various countries.He has been given credit for being the earliest one to study formal logic.
He also talked about Practical Philosophy where he considered ethics to be a part of practical rather than theoretical study. His work titled “Politics”, threw light on the city.
He also conducted research in biology. He classified animals into species on the basis of blood. Animals with red blood were majorly vertebrates and bloodless were termed as cephalopods.He closely examined marine biology as well. He closely examined the anatomy of marine beings through dissection..
His treatise “Meteorology” provides evidence that he also studied earth sciences. By meteorology, he simply didn’t simply mean the study of weather. It also included extensive study about water cycle, natural disasters, astrological events etc.
Many scholars consider Aristotle as the true father of psychology, since he is responsible for the theoretical and philosophical framework that contributed to psychology’s earliest beginnings.His book, De Anima (On the Soul), is also considered as the first book on psychology.He was concerned with the relation between the psychological processes and the underlying physiological phenomenon.He suggested that the body and the mind exist as facets of the same being, and the mind is simply one of the body’s functions.He postulated that intellect consists of two parts: passive intellect and active intellect.
According to him music, epic poetry, comedy, tragedy etc were imitative and varied in imitation by medium, manner or object. His belief was that imitation was a natural part of humans and served as one of the main advantages of mankind over animals.
Aristotle also stresses on ‘gymnastic’. But to him the purpose for getting the training of gymnastics was not only to produce perfection in athletics but also to develop the spirit of sportsmanship and above all to develop good habits for the control of passions and appetites. He considers music and literature useful for the’ moral and intellectual development at an early stage of education.
He recommends the teaching of ‘mathematics’ for higher education because it develops the power of deductive reasoning in man. The teaching of physics and astronomy is also necessary at this stage.
Aristotle further distinguishes between theoretical sciences (mathematics, physics, and metaphysics), practical sciences (ethics and politics), and creative sciences or arts (knowledge concerned with mechanical and artistic production). Of these, he takes up physics (physics, astronomy, biology, etc.), meta-physics, and practical philosophy, so that we have, if we add logic, the general division of Plato: logic, metaphysics, and ethics.
Meta-physics and Logic
Aristotle refers to metaphysics as “first philosophy”, as well as “the theologic science.” Philosophy, or Science in the broad sense, embraces all such reasoned knowledge; it includes mathematics as well as the special sciences. The science or philosophy which studies the ultimate or first causes of things is called by Aristotle the first philosophy or the metaphysics. Metaphysics is concerned with being as such; the different sciences, with certain parts or phases of being. These other, partial, sciences or philosophies are named second philosophies.
Aristotle believes that God acts on the world, not by moving it, but as a beautiful picture or an ideal acts on the soul. All beings in the world, plants, animals, men, desire the realization of their essence because of the highest good, or God ; his existence is the cause of their desire. Hence God is the unifying principle of the world, the center towards which all things strive, the principle which accounts for all order, beauty, and life in the universe. God’s activity consists in thought, in the contemplation of the essence of things, , in the vision of beautiful forms. He is all actuality ; every possibility is realized in him. He has no impressions, no sensations, no appetites, no with in the sense of desire, no feelings in the sense of passions; he is pure intelligence. Our intellect is discursive, our knowledge piecemeal, moving along step by step; God’s thinking is intuitive: he sees all things at once and sees them whole. He is free from pain and passion, and is supremely happy. He is evetything that a philosopher longs to be.
Just like his teacher Plato, his philosophy also aims at universe but his ontology finds the universal in particular things, thus his epistemology is based on the study of specific phenomena and it rises to the knowledge of essence. The universe is eternal, subject neither to origin nor decay. The earth is in the center; around it, in concentric layers, are water, air, fire; then come the celestial spheres, which are composed of ether and some of which carry the planets, the sun, and the moon; then the fixed stars. In order to explain the motion of the planets, Aristotle introduced a large number of counter-spheres or backward-moving ” spheres. God encompasses the outermost sphere of the fixed stars and causes it to move ; by the motion of this sphere the movements of the other spheres are influenced. This idea, however, is not consistently carried out by Aristotle, each sphere also being supplied with a spirit to move it.
Aristotle accepts the idealistic and teleological presuppositions that the universe is an ideal world, an inter-related, organic whole, a system of eternal and unchangeable ideas or forms . These are ultimate essences and causes of things, the directing forces or purposes that make them what they are. Ideas are not, however, detached from the world we perceive, but part and parcel of it, they give it form and life. Our world of experience is the real world and not an untrustworthy appearance. Hence, it is the object for us to study and to understand; and experience. This conception of reality gives Aristotle his wholesome respect for the concrete and particular, and determining his method.
Aristotle believes that the idea or form cannot be a self-existent essence, apart from matter ; a quality cannot exist apart from its object ; there can be no form without matter.
Aristotle is opposed to the purely quantitative-mechanical- . causal conception of nature; he subordinates it to the qualitative, dynamic, and teleological interpretation. There are forces in nature which initiate and direct movements; the form is dynamic and purposive, , and it is the soul of the organic body. The body is an instrument ; instruments are intended for use, presuppose a user, a soul; the soul is that which moves the body and fixes its structure ; it is the principle of life.
Man has hands because he has a mind. Body and soul constitute an indivisible unity, but soul is the controlling, guiding principle; that is, the whole is prior to the parts, the purpose prior to its realization ; we cannot understand the parts without the whole.
Wherever there is life, — and there are traces of life all through nature, even in inorganic nature, there is soul. Different grades or degrees of soul exist, corresponding to different forms of life. No soul can be without a body, and no soul without a specific body: a human soul could not dwell in the body of a horse. The organic world forms an ascending scale of bodies, from the lowest to the highest ; and a graduated series of souls, from the plant soul, which governs the functions of nutrition, growth, and reproduction, to the human soul, which possesses additional and higher powers.
Man is the microcosm and the final goal of nature, distinguished from all other living beings by the possession of reason . The soul of man resembles the plant soul in that it controls the lower vital functions, and the animal soul in the possession of faculties of perception, the so-called common sense, imagination, memory, pleasure and pain, desire and aversion. Sense-perception is a change produced in the soul by things perceived, through the mediation of the sense-organs. The sense-organ is, potentially, what the perceived object is actually. The different senses inform the soul of the qualities of things ; the common sense, whose organ is the heart, is the meeting-place, as it were, of all the senses; by means of it we combine percepts furnished by the other senses and obtain the total picture of an object. It also gives us a clear picture of qualities, — such as number, size, shape, motion, and rest, which are perceived by every sense. The common sense also forms generic images, composite images, and has the power of retention or memory (associative thinking).
The human soul possesses, besides the foregoing functions, the power of conceptual thought, the faculty of thinking the universal and necessary essences of things; as the soul perceives sensible objects in perception, so, as reason , it beholds concepts. Reason is, potentially, whatever it can conceive or think; conceptual thought is actualized reason. How does reason come to think concepts . There is active or creative reason and passive reason: Creative reason is pure actuality; in it concepts are realized, it sees them directly, here thought and the object of thought are one, it is like Plato’s pure soul, which contemplates the world of ideas. In passive reason concepts are potential (it is likened to Aristotle’s matter: passive reason is the matter on which creative reason, the form, acts) ; they are made real or actual, or brought out, by creative reason.
According to Aristotle’s teaching, nothing can ever become actual for which an actual cause does not already exist. Thus, for example, a complete form or idea exists which the matter of a particular organism has to realize. Similarly, he assumes here, a complete form must exist in reason for reason to realize. In order to carry out this thought in the mental world; he distinguish between the formal and material phases of reason, between active and passive reason, actual and potential reason: the concepts which are potential in passive reason are actual in creative reason.
Perception, imagination, and memory are connected with the body and perish with it. Passive reason, too, contains elements of sensuous images and is perishable. Such images are the occasion for the arousal of concepts in passive reason, but these cannot be aroused without the action of creative reason. Creative reason existed before soul and body ; it is absolutely immaterial, imperishable, not bound to a body, and immortal. It is a spark of the divine mind coming to the soul from without , as Aristotle says; it does not arise in the course of the soul’s development, as do the other psychic functions. Since it is not an individual reason, personal immortality is evidently out of the question. Some interpreters of Aristotle identify it with universal reason or the mind of God.
Logic, is an introduction to philosophy The function of logic is to describe the method of reaching knowledge. Aristotle was the first to work it out in detail, and to make a special discipline of it. He is the founder of scientific logic. He considers it an important instrument for the acquisition of genuine knowledge, and holds that we should not proceed to the study of the first philosophy, or the science of the essence of things, until we have familiarized ourselves with the Analytics.
Process of logic
The theme of logic is the analysis of the form and content of thought, of the processes by which we reach knowledge ; it is the science of correct thinking. Thinking consists in reasoning, or scientific demonstration, in deriving the particular from the universal, the conditioned from its causes. Inferences are composed of judgments, which, when expressed in language, are called propositions; judgments are made up of concepts, which are expressed in terms. Aristotle discusses the nature and different kinds of judgments, the various relations in which they stand to one another, and the different kinds of demonstration, defining and classifying these processes.
Concepts do not receive exhaustive treatment in his logic; he does, however, deal with the concept in the narrow sense, that is, with definition and the rules of definition ; and also with the highest concepts, or categories.
He also discussed how information can be drawn about objects through deduction and inferences. It was his theory of deduction that was shaped into “Syllogism” by modern philosophers. He devotes considerable attention to demonstration, which is based on the syllogism . He was the first, as Zeller says, to discover in the syllogism the basal form in which all thought moves, and to give it a name. The syllogism is a discourse in which from certain presuppositions (premises) something new (the conclusion) necessarily follows. In the syllogism the particular is derived from the universal: it is deductive reasoning. Induction consists in deriving a universal proposition from particular facts of experience: in order to be valid, the process must be complete or perfect, that is, based on knowledge of all the cases.
Valid or scientific demonstration is, therefore, always in the form of the syllogism : it is syllogistic and deductive. In order to be true, the conclusion must follow necessarily from the premises. And the premises themselves must be universal and necessary, hence they, too, must be proved, i.e., grounded on other premises. The goal of knowledge is complete demonstration. This is possible only in a series of syllogisms in which conclusions depend on premises which, in turn, are the conclusions of other premises, and so on. But the process cannot go on forever; we must finally reach propositions or principles which cannot be proved deductively, and which, nevertheless, have absolute certainty, greater certainty, indeed, than all the propositions derived from them. We have such direct or immediate, intuitive or self-evident.
The basal notions or principles are inherent in reason itself , they are direct intuitions of reason. They can also be verified by induction, the process in which thought rises from sense-perception, or the perception of individual things, to general concepts, or the knowledge of universals. Human reason has the power of abstracting from the particular its form, or that in which it agrees with other particulars of the same name. Such forms constitute the essences of things ; they are real. They are, however, not only the principles or essences of things, but also principles of reason ; being potential in the mind. Hence, induction is a preparation for deduction. The ideal of Science must always be to derive particulars from universals, to furnish demonstration or necessary proof, which cannot be done until induction has done its work, until the universals lying dormant in our reason have been aroused by experience. Knowledge is impossible without experience; but truths derived from experience, by induction, would not be certain, they would yield probability only, hence they must also be a priori, implicit in the mind. Without experience, truths would never be known ; without being implicit in reason, they would not be certain.
By the categories Aristotle means the most general forms of predication, the fundamental and most universal predicates which can be affirmed of anything. The other nine categories—quantity, quality, relative, where, when, being in a position, having, acting on, and being affected by—describe the features which distinguish this individual substance from others of the same kind; they admit of degrees and their contraries may belong to the same thing. Used in combination, the ten kinds of predicate can provide a comprehensive account of what any individual thing is. Thus, for example: Chloë is a dog who weighs forty pounds, is reddish-brown, and was one of a litter of seven. She is in my apartment at 7:44 a.m. on June 3, 1997, lying on the sofa, wearing her blue collar, barking at a squirrel, and being petted.Aristotle supposed that anything that is true of any individual substance could, in principle, be said about it in one of these ten ways.
All this means that the objects of our experience exist in time and place, can be measured and counted, are related to other things, act and are acted on, have essential qualities and accidental qualities.
The Four Causes
Applying the principles developed in his logical treatises, Aristotle offered a general account of the operation of individual substances in the natural world. Aristotle not only proposed a proper description of things of each sort but also attempted to explain why they function as they do. Aristotle emphasized the difference between things as they are and things considered in light of the purposes.He proposed in that we employ four very different kinds of explanatory principle to the question of why a thing is, the four causes:
The material cause is the basic stuff out of which the thing is made.
The formal cause is the pattern or essence in conformity with which these materials are assembled.
The efficient cause is the agent or force immediately responsible for bringing this matter and that form together in the production of the thing.
Lastly, the final cause is the end or purpose for which a thing exists.
Aristotle believed, since the absence or modification of any one of them would result it the existence of a thing of some different sort.
The categories are not mere forms of thought or language, they are that, to be sure, they are also predicates of reality as such: every word and concept has something real corresponding to it. The particular, perceivable substance is the bearer of these categories, it is that of which they can all be predicated. Hence, the category of substance is the all- important one, the others exist only in so far as they can be predicated of substance. Science, therefore, deals with the category of being, or essence, or substance, i.e., with the essential qualities of things.
The theory of Ethics
Aristotle’s metaphysics and psychology form the basis of his theory of ethics, which is the first comprehensive scientific theory presented in history. This idea of morality is given by the faculty of moral insight. The truly good person is at the same time a person of perfect insight, and a person of perfect insight is also perfectly good. Our idea of the ultimate end of moral action is developed through habitual experience, and this gradually frames itself out of particular perceptions. It is the job of reason to apprehend and organize these particular perceptions.
All human action has some end in view. This end may be the means to a higher end.The goodness of a thing consists in the realization of its specific nature ; the end or purpose of every creature is to realize or make manifest its peculiar essence, that which distinguishes it from every other creature. This for man is not mere bodily existence or mere sensuous feeling, the exercise of vegetable and animal functions, but a life of reason. Hence, the highest good for man is the complete and habitual exercise of the functions which make him a human being. This is what Aristotle means by the term eudasmonia which has been translated by our word happiness, it is not taken as pleasure. Pleasure, according to Aristotle, accompanies virtuous activity as a secondary effect and is thus included in the highest good, but not identical with it.
Pleasure is the necessary and immediate consequent of virtuous activity, but not the end of life. Pleasure is the completion of activity: it is something added, just as youthful beauty is added to youthful power. It is a concomitant of action, and ‘ the activity will be pleasantest when it is most perfect, and it will be most perfect when it is the activity of the part being in sound condition and acting upon the most excellent of the objects that fall within its domain.” It is reasonable to aim at pleasure, as it perfects life in each of us, and life is an object of desire. Pleasure and life are yoked together and do not admit of separation, as pleasure is impossible without activity and every activity is perfected by pleasure. The feelings of pleasure and pain are referred to perception; pleasure arises when functions are furthered, pain when they are impeded. These feelings arouse desire and aversion, which alone cause the body to move. Desire arises only on the presentation of a desirable object, of one considered by the soul as a good. Desire accompanied by deliberation is called rational will.
The soul, however, is not all reason, it has an irrational as well as a rational part: feelings, desires, appetites. With these reason should cooperate; in order to realize its purpose, the different parts of the soul must act in the right way and the body must function properly, and there must be adequate economic goods.
A virtuous soul is a well-ordered soul, one in which the right relation exists between reason, feeling, and desire. The perfect action of reason as such is intellectual efficiency or virtue (wisdom, insight) ; the perfect action of the emotional- impulsive function is called ethical virtue (temperance, courage, liberality, etc.). There will be as many moral virtues as there are spheres of action. One must assume a rational attitude to- ward bodily appetites, toward fear, danger, anger, the desire for economic goods, fame, and so on.
The question arises. In what does this attitude consist in keeping the mean between two extremes (the doctrine of the golden mean ), we are told. Courage, for example, is a mean between foolhardiness and cowardice; liberality, between extravagance and avarice; modesty, between bashfulness and shamelessness. This mean is not the same for every individual and under all circumstances, it is ” relative to ourselves,” and it is ” determined by reason, or as a right-minded man would determine it.” It is not, however, a matter of subjective opinion or arbitrary choice; what moral conduct is, is decided by the right-minded man : the virtuous man is the standard and meas- ure of things; he judges everything correctly, and the truth is manifest to him in every case.
Aristotle includes all these ideas in the following definition: ” Virtue is a disposition, or habit, involving deliberate purpose or choice, consisting in a mean that is relative to ourselves, the mean being detennined by reason, or as a prudent man would determine it.”
Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics maintain that Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) emphasizes the role of habit in conduct. It is commonly thought that virtues, according to Aristotle, are habits and that the good life is a life of mindless routine. But the word does not merely mean passive habituation. Virtue, therefore, manifests itself in action. More explicitly, an action counts as virtuous, according to Aristotle, when one holds oneself in a stable equilibrium of the soul, in order to choose the action knowingly and for its own sake. This stable equilibrium of the soul is what constitutes character.
In the Nichomachean Ethics,Aristotle repeatedly states that virtue is a mean. The mean is a state of clarification and apprehension in the midst of pleasures and pains that allows one to judge what seems most truly pleasant or painful. This active state of the soul is the condition in which all the powers of the soul are at work in concert. Achieving good character is a process of clearing away the obstacles that stand in the way of the full efficacy of the soul.
For Aristotle, moral virtue is the only practical road to effective action. Friendship is an indispensable aid in framing for ourselves the higher moral life; if not itself a virtue, it is at least associated with virtue, and it proves itself of service in almost all conditions of our existence. Such results, however, are to be derived not from the worldly friendships of utility or pleasure, but only from those which are founded on virtue. The true friend is in fact a second self, and the true moral value of friendship lies in the fact that the friend presents to us a mirror of good actions, and so intensifies our consciousness and our appreciation of life.
The highest good for man, then, is self-realization. This teaching, however, is not to be interpreted as a selfish individualism. A man realizes his true self when he loves and gratifies the supreme part of his being, that is, the rational part, when he is moved by a motive of nobleness, when he promotes the interests of others and serves his country. ” The virtuous man will act often in the interest of his friends and of his country, and, if need be, will even die for them. He will surrender money, honor, and all the goods for which the world contends, reserving only nobleness for him- self, as he would rather enjoy an intense pleasure for a short time than a moderate pleasure long, and would rather live one year nobly than many years indifferently, and would rather per- form one noble and lofty action than many poor actions. This is true of one who lays down his life for another; he chooses great nobleness for his own.” The virtuous man is a lover of self in the sense that he assigns to himself a preponderant share of noble conduct. Man is a social being and disposed to live with others; he needs somebody to do good to. ”A virtuous friend is naturally desirable to a virtuous man, for that which is naturally good is good and pleasant in itself to the virtuous man;” that is, loving goodness for its own sake, he is bound to love a virtuous friend; in this sense, his friend is a second self (an alter ego) to the virtuous man.
Justice seems to be not only a moral virtue, but in some pre-eminent way the moral virtue. And Aristotle says that there is a sense of the word in which the one we call “just” is the person who has all moral virtue, insofar as it affects other people. Justice is a virtue, a relation to others, for it pro- motes the interests of somebody else, whether he be a ruler or a simple fellow-citizen. Justice is taken in two senses, lawfulness and fairness. Laws pronounce upon all subjects with a view to the interest of the community as a whole, or of those who are its best or leading citizens whether in virtue or in any similar sense. That is, all the virtues are here included in the notion of justice, only that in this case they are regarded from the standpoint of the general welfare. Justice is used both in a general and in a special sense. In its general sense it is equivalent to the observance of law. As such it is the same thing as virtue, differing only insofar as virtue exercises the disposition simply in the abstract, and justice applies it in dealings with people. Particular justice displays itself in two forms. First, distributive justice hands out honors and rewards according to the merits of the recipients. Second, corrective justice takes no account of the position of the parties concerned, but simply secures equality between the two by taking away from the advantage of the one and adding it to the disadvantage of the other. Strictly speaking, distributive and corrective justice are more than mere retaliation and reciprocity.
The Educational Theory of Aristotle
Aristotelian scheme of education is quite similar to that prescribed by his teacher, Plato, in his “Republic”: He also believes that the education of the early childhood period should be the responsibility of the parents. After this, further education is the responsibility of the state, but it does not mean that parents are free from the responsibility of their children. They are still responsibility for their moral education.
Education should be guided by legislation to make it correspond with the results of psychological analysis, and follow the gradual development of the bodily and mental faculties. Children should during their earliest years be carefully protected from all injurious associations, and be introduced to such amusements as will prepare them for the serious duties of life. Their literary education should begin in their seventh year, and continue to their twenty-first year. This period is divided into two courses of training, one from age seven to puberty, and the other from puberty to age twenty-one. Such education should not be left to private enterprise, but should be undertaken by the state.
Aristotle on Teaching examines teaching in general, and analyzes the objects, procedures, and order found in all student learning, furnishing the guidelines for the culminating section on the inductive and deductive procedures underlying all teaching.
Aristotle believed that education was central – the fulfilled person was an educated person. His work is a testament to the belief that our thinking and practice as educators must be infused with a clear philosophy of life. There has to be a deep concern for the ethical and political. We should act to work for that which is good or ‘right’, rather than that which is merely ‘correct’.
Aristotle placed a strong emphasis on all round and ‘balanced’ development. Play, physical training, music, debate, and the study of science and philosophy were to all have their place in the forming of body, mind and soul. Like Plato before him, he saw such learning happening through life – although with different emphases at different ages.
Aristotle looked to both education through reason and education through habit. By the latter he meant learning by doing – ‘Anything that we have to learn to do we learn by the actual doing of it… We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate ones, brave by doing brave ones.’ (Aristotle Niconachean Ethics, Book II, p.91). Such learning is complemented by reason – and this involves teaching ‘the causes of things’. We can see here a connection with more recent theorists that have emphasized experience, reflection and connecting to theories. Aristotle bequeathed to us the long-standing categorizing of disciplines into the theoretical, practical and technical.
Aristotle Goals of Education
Aristotle’s definition of education is the same as that of his teachers, that is, the “the creation of a sound mind in a sound body”. Thus to him the aim of education was the welfare of the individuals so as to bring happiness in their lives.
His view about the aim of education was different from that of his predecessors Socrates and Plato. He believed in the purposefulness of education. According to Socrates and Plato, ‘the aim of education is to attain knowledge’.
To them the attainment of knowledge was necessary both for the interest of the individual and the society,hence it was virtue by itself. Aristotle has a different view. To him the aim of education was not only the attainment of knowledge but also the attainment of happiness or goodness in life. He believed that virtue lies in the attainment of happiness or goodness. He has divided ‘goodness’ into two categories ‘goodness’ of intellect and goodness of character. The former can be produced and increased by teaching and is the product of training and experience. The latter is the result of habit, and it can be attained by the formation of good habits.
Concept of Human Nature
Aristotle’s psychology, given in his treatise On the Soul (peri psyche, often known by its Latin title De Anima), posits three kinds of soul(“psyches”): the vegetative soul, the sensitive soul, and the rational soul. Humans have a rational soul. This kind of soul is capable of the same powers as the other kinds: Like the vegetative soul it can grow and nourish itself; like the sensitive soul it can experience sensations and move locally. The unique part of the human, rational soul is its ability to receive forms of other things and compare them.
Man is a rational animal … it is the soul or form or psyche that informs and animates all of these (chemical, anatomical, neurological features of the human body) and orders them according to their distinctively human functions in a human being . Capacities which are distinctive of human life, specifically the capacities for practical and theoretical rationality . Other species do not have rational capabilities. While animals are able to express pleasure and pain by their cries, humans and only humans possess, speech which enables them to make judgments of what is beneficial and harmful, right and wrong human capacity for practical judgment.
“Man is by nature a political animal ” slogan supports claim by interesting application of his principal “‘Nature does nothing in vain.” an individual incapable of membership of a polis (city-state) is not, strictly speaking, a human being, but rather a (non-human) animal. .
Man is a social being, that is, social life is the goal or end of human existence. The aim of the State, however, is to produce good citizens. We have here a reconciliation of the view that the individual is the end of life and the view that society is the end. Society is composed of individuals, and the purpose of society is to enable the individual citizens to live a virtuous and happy life.
The constitution of the State must be adapted to the character and requirements of a people. It is just when it confers equal rights on the people in so far as they are equal, and un- equal rights in so far as they are unequal. Citizens differ in personal capability, in property qualifications, in birth, and freedom, and justice demands that they be treated according to these differences. There are good constitutions and bad ones ; the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the polity (a form in which the citizens are nearly equal) being good forms, and the tyranny, oligarchy, and democracy bad. As the best State for his own time, Aristotle regards a city-state in which only those are to be citizens whose position in life and education qualify them for government, that is, an aristocracy.
Theory of Learning
There are four main branches of education: reading and writing, Gymnastics, music, and painting. They should not be studied to achieve a specific aim, but in the liberal spirit which creates true freemen. Thus, for example, gymnastics should not be pursued by itself exclusively, or it will result in a harsh savage type of character. Painting must not be studied merely to prevent people from being cheated in pictures, but to make them attend to physical beauty. Music must not be studied merely for amusement, but for the moral influence which it exerts on the feelings. Indeed all true education is, as Plato saw, a training of our sympathies so that we may love and hate in a right manner.
Education and teaching are always about an object and should have content. In the Aristotelian teaching act, the teacher instructs a learner about some object, some body of knowledge, or some discipline. Teaching and learning never represent merely an interpersonal relationship or the expression of feelings. They are always about disciplined inquiry into some aspect of reality. … the school should cultivate and develop each person’s rationality.
In learning process Memory and Recollection plays a very important role.A teacher can effectively use these processes in creating learning atmosphere.
Memory is the ability to hold a perceived experience in your mind and to have the ability to distinguish between the internal “appearance” and an occurrence in the past .Memory is a mental picture in which an appearance which is imprinted on the part of the body that forms a memory. Aristotle believed an “imprint” becomes impressed on a semi-fluid bodily organ that undergoes several changes in order to make a memory. A memory occurs when a stimuli is too complex that the nervous system cannot receive all the impressions at once. The mental picture imprinted on the bodily organ is the final product of the entire process of sense perception.
Aristotle uses the word “memory” for two basic abilities. First, the actual retaining of the experience in the “imprint” that can develop from sensation. Second, the intellectual anxiety that comes with the “imprint” due to being impressed at a particular time and processing specific contents. These abilities can be explained as memory is neither sensation nor thinking because is arises only after a lapse of time. Therefore, memory is of the past, prediction is of the future, and sensation is of the present. The retrieval of our “imprints” cannot be performed suddenly. A transitional channel is needed and located in our past experiences, both for our previous experience and present experience.
Aristotle proposed that slow-witted people have good memory because the fluids in their brain do not wash away their memory organ used to imprint experiences and so the “imprint” can easily continue. He believed the young and the old do not properly develop an “imprint”. Young people undergo rapid changes as they develop, while the elderly’s organs are beginning to decay, thus stunting new “imprints”.
Recollection- Because Aristotle believes people receive all kinds of sense perceptions and people perceive them as images or “imprints”, people are continually weaving together new “imprints” of things they experience. In order to search for these “imprints”, people search the memory itself.Recollection occurs when one experience naturally follows another. If the chain of “images” is needed, one memory will stimulate the other. If the chain of “images” is not needed, but expected, then it will only stimulate the other memory in most instances. When people recall experiences, they stimulate certain previous experiences until they have stimulated the one that was needed.
Recollection is the self-directed activity of retrieving the information stored in a memory “imprint” after some time has passed. Retrieval of stored information is dependent on the scope of mnemonic capabilities of a being. Only humans will remember “imprints” of intellectual activity, such as numbers and words Recollection of an “imprint” is when the present experiences a person remembers are similar with elements corresponding in character and arrangement of past sensory experiences. When an “imprint” is recalled, it may bring forth a large group of related “imprints”.
Aristotle believed the chain of thought, which ends in recollection of certain “imprints”, was connected systematically in three sorts of relationships: similarity, contrast, and contiguity. Aristotle believed that past experiences are hidden within our mind. A force operates to awaken the hidden material to bring up the actual experience. According to Aristotle, association is the power innate in a mental state, which operates upon the unexpressed remains of former experiences, allowing them to rise and be recalled.