Greek to Me

Aristotle and Plato famously differed about plenty, but we might take to heart what they agreed on.

Appeared in: Volume 10, Number 1 | Published on: August 22, 2014
Joseph Wood teaches at the Institute of World Politics in Washington and studies in the School of Philosophy of the Catholic University of America. He is indebted to Professor John Rist, Msgr. Robert Sokolowski, and Fr. James Schall for their teaching and thought, which informed this article.
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  • Anthony

    “The ideas of Plato and Aristotle have outlasted the Greek city and will likely outlast the polities of our day.”

    I can’t shake thought that at bottom what author is getting at is Ethics (what is good and how to get it). In this instance telos as end for constitutional man is achieved by understanding nature of things and how they work (man). Still, I can’t leave idea of Ethics (why be moral) as basis of essay’s thrust – what is good and how to get it (summum bonum) as illuminated by both Plato and Aristotle.

  • Curious Mayhem

    An interesting fact: Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics and his Politics were originally one book. The Rhetoric and the Poetics were appendices to that book.

    He couldn’t separate the good and free man from the good and free polis, and both were to be suffused with political and artistic culture congruent with those ends.

    Obviously, a lot’s changed since then. We have representative and liberal democracy, not direct. We no longer have slavery and hold a different view about the economic independence of each. We have, not sameness, but legal equality of the sexes, which alters a lot of aspects of Aristotle’s picture.

    Nonetheless, he was on to something essential and unchanged since his time and place.

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