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0384 - 0322

Greek philospher, student of Plato, author of Metaphysics, Politics and other works

Books by Aristotle
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Nicomachean Ethics, The
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Politics, The
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Click here for essays by Aristotle
Virtue, like art, constantly deals with what is hard to do, and the harder the task the better the success.

from Nicomachean Ethics
Those who think that all virtue is to be found in their own party principles push matters to extremes; they do not consider that disproportion destroys a state.

from Politics
Good laws, if they are not obeyed, do not constitute good government.

from Politics
It is best that laws should be so constructed as to leave as little as possible to the decision of those who judge.

from Rhetoric
Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

The things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.

Where the law is not supreme there is no constitution.

Democracy arose from men thinking that if they are equal in any respect they are equal in all respects.

350 BC - from Politics
We make war that we may live in peace.

Equality consists in the same treatment of similar persons.

Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.

Virtue ... is of two kinds, intellectual and moral. Intellectual virtue springs from and grows from teaching, and therefore needs experience and time. Moral virtues come from habit... they are in us neither by nature, nor in despite of nature, but we are furnished by nature with a capacity for receiving them, and we develop them through habit.

from Nicomachean Ethics
Both oligarch and tyrant mistrust the people, and therefore deprive them of arms.

In all well-attempered governments there is nothing which should be more jealously maintained than the spirit of obedience to law, more especially in small matters; for transgression creeps in unperceived and at last ruins the state...

350 BC - from Politics
The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.

Happiness is the exercise of vital powers along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope.

The best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class.

The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.

Man is by nature an animal intended to live in a polis

often cited as "Man is by nature a political animal."
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

Law is order, and good law is good order.

Happiness [is] prosperity combined with virtue.

All men believe that justice means equality in some sense.... The question we must keep in mind is, equality or inequality in what sort of thing.

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.

350 BC - from Politics
... laws, when good, should be supreme; and ... the magistrate or magistrates should regulate those matters only on which the laws are unable to speak with precision owing to the difficulty of any general principle embracing all particulars. ... The goodness or badness, justice or injustice, of laws varies of necessity with the constitutions of states. This, however, is clear, that the laws must be adapted to the constitutions. But if so, true forms of government will of necessity have just laws, and perverted forms of government will have unjust laws.

350 BC - from Politics
Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses and avoids.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.