Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Aristotle NULL

Greek Philosopher, Student of Plato, Teacher of Alexander the Great, Scientist, Explored Physics, Metaphysics, Poetry, Theater, Music, Logic, Rhetoric, Linguistics, Politics, Government, Ethics, Biology and Zoology

"All friendship is for the sake of good or of pleasure."

"A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility."

"Actual knowledge is identical with its object: in the individual, potential knowledge is in time prior to actual knowledge, but in the universe as a whole it is not prior even in time. Mind is not at one time knowing and at another not. When mind is set free from its present conditions it appears as just what is and nothing more: this alone is immortal and eternal (we do not, however, remember its former activity because while mind in this sense is impassable, mind as passive is destructible), and without it nothing thinks."

"[Paraphrase] List of virtues: courage, temperance, liberality, magnificence, pride, good temper, friendliness, truthfulness, wittiness, shame, justice."

"All the irascible passions imply movement towards something... And if we wish to know the order of all the passions in the way of generation, love and hatred are first; desire and aversion, second; hope and despair, third; fear and daring, fourth; anger, fifth; sixth and last, joy and sadness, which follow from all the passions... yet so that love precedes hatred; desire precedes aversion; hope precedes despair; fear precedes daring; and joy precedes sadness."

"All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth."

"All that one gains by falsehood is, not to be believed when he speaks the truth."

"All we do is done with an eye to something else."

"Anger is always concerned with individuals... whereas hatred is directed also against classes: we all hate any thief and any informer. Moreover, anger can be cured by time; but hatred cannot."

"Between man and wife friendship seems to exist by nature; for man is naturally inclined to form couples."

"Bashfulness is an ornament to youth, but a reproach to old age."

"Benefactors seem to love those whom they benefit more than those who receive benefits love their benefactors."

"Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in deserving them."

"Everything that we choose we choose for the sake of something else - except happiness, which is an end."

"Evil destroys even itself, and if it is complete becomes unbearable."

"Equality does not seem to take the same form in acts of justice and in friendship; for in acts of justice what is equal in the primary sense is that which is in proportion to merit, while quantitative equality is secondary, but in friendship quantitative equality is primary and proportion to merit secondary."

"Happiness, whether consisting in pleasure or virtue, or both, is more often found with those who are most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external good, than among those who possess external good to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualities; and this is not only matter of experience, but, if reflected upon, will easily appear to be in accordance with reason."

"Happiness... is something final and self-sufficient, and is the end of action."

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

"I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self."

"Happiness... must be some form of contemplation. But, being a man, one will also need external prosperity; for our nature is not self-sufficient for the purpose of contemplation, but our body also must be healthy and must have food and other attention. Still, we must not think that the man who is to be happy will need many things or great things... for self-sufficiency and action do not involve excess, and we do noble acts without ruling earth and sea."

"If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be that of the best thing in us... proper virtue will be perfect happiness."

"If, then, being is in itself desirable for the supremely happy man (since it is by its nature good and pleasant), and that of his friends very much the same, a friend will be one of the things that are desirable. Now that which is desirable form him must have, or he will be deficient in this respect. The man who is to be happy will therefore need virtuous friends."

"It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating. Art does not deliberate."

"If thinking is perceiving, it must be either a process in which the soul is acted upon by what is capable of being thought, or a process different from but analogous to that. The thinking part of the soul must therefore be, while impassable, capable of receiving the form of an object; that is, must be potentially identical in character with its object without being the object. Mind must be related to what is thinkable, as sense is to what is sensible."

"Intellectual virtues owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit... From this fact it is plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature."

"Knowing what is right does not make a sagacious man."

"It is in the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it. The beginning of reform is not so much to equalize property as to train the noble sort of natures not to desire more, and to prevent the lower from getting more."

"Music has a power of forming the character, and should therefore be introduce din to the education of the young."

"No one loves the man whom he fears."

"No excellent soul is exempt from a mixture of madness."

"Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good in themselves."

"Some think that we are made good by nature, others by habituation, others by teaching... but the soul of the student must first have been cultivated by means of habits for noble joy and noble hatred... The character, then, must somehow be there already with a kinship to virtue, loving what is noble and hating what is base."

"Since things that are found in the soul are of three kinds - passions, faculties, states of character, virtue must be one of these. By passions I mean appetite, anger, fear, confidence, envy, joy, friendly feeling, hatred, longing, emulation, pity, and in general the feelings that are accompanied by pleasure or pain; by faculties the things in virtue of which we are said to be capable of feeling these, for example, of becoming angry or being pained or feeling pity; by states of character the things in virtue of which we stand well or badly with reference to the passions, for example, with reference to anger we stand badly if we feel it violently or too weakly, and well if we feel it moderately; and similarly with reference to the other passions. Now neither the virtues nor the vices are passions, because we are not called good or bad on the ground of our virtues and our vices, and because we are neither praised nor blamed for our passions (for the man who feels fear or anger is not praised, nor is the man who simply feels anger blamed, but the man who feels it in a certain way), but for our virtues and our vices we are praised or blamed."

"The blind are more understanding than the deaf because hearing exerts a direct influence on the formation of moral character, which is not immediately true of what is seen. The human soul can also become diffused by way of the eye whereas what is heard results in focus and concentration."

"Piety requires us to honour truth above our friends."

"Some of the virtues are intellectual and others moral, philosophic wisdom and understanding and practical wisdom being intellectual, liberality and temperance moral. For in speaking about a man’s character we do not say that he is wise or has understanding but that he is good-tempered or temperate; yet we praise the wise man also with respect to his state of mind; and of states of mind we call those which merit praise virtues."

"The avarice of mankind is insatiable... it is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it."

"Suffering becomes beautiful when any one bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility, but through greatness of mind."

"The chief good is the exercise of virtue in a perfect life."

"The coward... is a despariging sort of person; for he fears everything. The brave man, on the other hand, has the opposite disposition; for confidence is the mark of a hopeful disposition... Courage is a mean with respect to things that inspire confidence or fear."

"The function of man is a certain kind of life, and this is an activity of the soul embodying a rational principle, and the function of the good man is the good and noble performance of these."

"The good man should be a lover of self (for he will both himself profit by doing noble acts, and will benefit his fellows), but the wicked man should not; for he will hurt both himself and his neighbors, following as he does evil passions."

"The greatest injustices proceed from those who pursue excess, not by those who are driven by necessity."

"The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more."

"The weaker are always anxious for justice and equality. The strong pay no heed of either."

"The human good turns out to be an activity of soul in conformity with excellence."

"The happy life is thought to be virtuous; now a virtuous life requires exertion, and does not consist in amusement."

"The primary objects of desire and of thought are the same. For the apparent good is the object of appetite, and the real good is the primary object of rational wish. But desire is consequent of opinion rather than opinion on desire; for the thinking is the starting-point."

"Tragedy is essentially an imitation not of persons but of action and life, of happiness and misery. All human happiness or misery takes the form of action; the end for which we live is a certain kind of activity, not a quality. Character gives us qualities, but it is our actions - what we do - that we are happy or the reverse."