Study Guide

Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics

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The Man Himself

Okay, we know that Aristotle isn't actually a character in his own philosophical work. Though, come to think of it, that would be kind of awesome—kind of like Aristotle pulling an Ilana Glazer/Abbi Jacobson and writing himself into a comedy show called Philosophy City. Sigh. We can always dream.

But the truth is, Aristotle isn't going all meta on us and putting himself out there as a character. He's just being himself, getting talky about the philosophical and teaching us just how many ways there are to skin a cat—er, define pleasure, goodness, and friendship.

In fact, there aren't really any characters in this work. So instead, we'll give you a little dirt on the big A-man himself.

It's fair to say that the Greek philosopher Aristotle was truly a Renaissance man…even though he was spouting wisdom a full millennium and a half before the Renaissance kicked off into high gear. He studied and taught at Plato's Academy in Athens around 364 BCE, where he tore up both Socrates' and Plato's observations of the world, making them both a) more practical and b) falling more in line with actual human experience.

In his spare time, he became a tutor to young Alexander of Macedon (who was not yet known as Alex The Great) and significantly shaped the course of the warrior's future. He then went on to found his own school at the Lyceum, in Athens around 334 BCE.

Are you feeling bad about not having accomplished anything today besides eating cold pizza for breakfast? Because we sure are.

And Mr. A didn't stop there. Aristotle lectured on subjects ranging from logic to politics, ethics, physics, biology, botany, and theater—just to name a few. It's a pretty comprehensive C.V… if by "comprehensive" we mean "insanely overambitious." By the Middle Ages, Aristotle so rocked the world of philosophy that he didn't even need his name anymore to be recognized—he was just known as "The Philosopher."

Yeah. It's kind of like Elle MacPherson being known simply as "The Body," except that Elle MacPherson didn't, say, define ethics.
And, honestly, we're just giving you the highlights of this man's incredible life. If you want to get deep into the life of the Most Interesting Man of Ancient Greece, check out our pages dedicated especially to Aristotle.

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