Aristotle Study Guides

  • Nicomachean Ethics

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    Nicomachean Ethics is an ethical treatise by the Greek philosopher Aristotle. In contrast to Plato, who deduces his conclusions from concepts, Aristotle comes upon his beliefs through a ground-up approach, approaching the question of what is good by examining the choices that good people agree upon. Aristotle discusses how the good life is attained by performing righteous actions to build good habits to build good character and the highest virtues. Aristotle believes in the "golden mean"--a lifestyle of balance, and the individual cultivation of virtue.

  • On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse

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  • Poetics

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    Aristotle's Poetics is a theoretical work about drama, written c. 355 BC. The surviving half of the work is about tragedy, outlining and explaining the genres and necessary elements of a good tragedy. A tragedy must present a good, consistent protagonist, who experiences a turn of fortune (peripeteia) ending in his suffering (pathos) and his realization (anagnorisis) of the accident or miscalculation (hamartia) that caused his misfortune. For Aristotle, the elements of tragedy, from most to least important, are: plot, character, thought, diction, melody, spectacle.

  • The Politics of Aristotle

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    The Politics is a work of political philosophy by Aristotle, who characterizes men as "political animals" and claims that the city (polis) is the highest type of community. Aristotle discusses family matters, slaves and property, as well as governments, claiming that public virtue is greater than private virtue. While creating theoretical definitions for good governments (royalty, aristocracy, constitutional) and their corrupted variants (tyranny, oligarchy, democracy, respectively), Aristotle also analyzes the actual governments of various Greek cities.