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

"Virtue is more clearly shown in the performance of fine actions than in the nonperformance of base ones."

"Virtue is a mean between two vices."

"We can do noble acts without ruling earth and sea."

"Virtue... is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it."

"We must grasp the number of aims entertained by those who argue as competitors, and rivals to the death. These are five in number, refutation, fallacy, paradox, solecism, and fifthly to reduce the opponent in the discussion to babbling - i.e. to constrain him to repeat himself a number of times; or it is to produce the appearance of each of these things without the reality."

"When men hear imitations, even apart from the rhythms and tunes themselves, their feelings move in sympathy. Since then music is a pleasure, and virtue consists in rejoicing and loving and hating aright, there is clearly nothing which we are so much concerned to acquire and to cultivate as the power of forming right judgments and of taking delight in good dispositions and noble actions. Rhythm and melody supply imitations of anger and gentleness, and also of courage and temperance, and of all the qualities contrary to these, and of the other qualities of character, which hardly fall short of the actual affections, as we know form our own experience, for in listening to such strains our souls undergo a change. The habit of feeling pleasure or pain at mere representation is not far removed from the same feeling about realities."

"Wealthy men are insolent and arrogant; their possession of wealth affects their understanding; they feel as if they had every good thing that exists; wealth becomes a sort of standard of value for everything else, and therefore they imagine there is nothing it cannot buy... In a word, the type of character produced by wealth is that of a prosperous fool."

"Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends?... With friends men are more able both to think and to act."

"You should display your training in inductive reasoning against a young man, in deductive against an expert."

"A man is his own best friend."

"A king rules as he ought, a tyrant as he lists; a king to the profit of all, a tyrant only to please a few."

"Character is that which reveals moral purpose, exposing the class of things a man chooses or avoids"

"Comedy aims at representing men as worse, and tragedy as better than in real life."

"A true friend is one soul in two bodies."

"A young man is not a proper hearer of lectures on political science; for he is inexperienced in the actions that occur in life, but its discussions start from these and are about these; and further, since he tends to follow his passions, his study will be vain and unprofitable, because the end aimed at is not knowledge but action. And it makes no difference whether he is young in years or youthful in character; the defect does not depend on time, but on his living, and pursuing each successive object, as passion directs. For to such persons, as to the incontinent, knowledge brings no profit; but to those who desire and act in accordance with a rational principle knowledge about such matters will be of great benefit."

"All art consists in bringing something into existence."

"Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody's power and is not easy."

"All arts, that is, all productive forms of knowledge, are potencies; they are originative sources of change in another thing or in the artist himself considered as other."

"All men seek one goal: success or happiness. The only way to achieve true success is to express yourself completely in service to society. First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal - a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends - wisdom, money, materials and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end."

"Chance has no place in that which is natural, and what happens everywhere and in every case is no matter of chance."

"Between friends there is no need of justice."

"Democracies are safer and more permanent than oligarchies, because they have a middle class which is more numerous and has a greater share in the government; for when there is no middle class, and the poor greatly exceed in number, troubles arise, and the state soon comes to an end."

"Democracy arose from men's thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal absolutely."

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

"Education is the best provision for old age."

"Doing well and happiness are the same thing."

"Consider pleasures as they depart, not as they come."

"Every action must be due to one or other of seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reasoning, anger or appetite."

"Every rascal is not a thief, but every thief is a rascal."

"Elderly Men... have lived many years; they have often been taken in, and often made mistakes; and life on the whole is a bad business. The result is that they are sure about nothing and under-do everything. They ‘think,’ but they never ‘know’; and because of their hesitation they always add a ‘possibly’ or a ‘perhaps’, putting everything this way and nothing positively. They are cynical; that is, they tend to put the worse construction on everything. Further, their experience makes them distrustful and therefor suspicious of evil. Consequently they neither love warmly nor hate bitterly, but... love as though they will some day hate and hate as though they will some day love. They are small-minded, because they have been humbled by life: their desires are set upon nothing more exalted or unusual than what will help them to keep alive... They live by memory rather than by hope; for what is left to them of life is but little as compared with the long past; and hope is of the future, memory of the past... Old men may feel pity, as well as young men, but not for the same reason. Young men feel it out of kindness; old men out of weakness, imagining that anything that befalls anyone else might easily happen to them."

"Equality is friendship."

"Every result of chance is from what is spontaneous, but not everything that is from what is spontaneous is from chance."

"Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil."

"Friendship is communion."

"Every state is a community of some kind, and every community is established with a view to some good; for mankind always act in order to obtain that which they think good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree than any other, and at the highest good."

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

"Happiness seems to require a modicum of external prosperity."

"Happiness is the true foundation of existence."

"Health is better than strength and beauty."

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

"He is by nature a slave who is capable of belonging to another."

"He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander."

"Hope is a waking dream."

"Human affairs form a circle, and... there is a circle in all other things that have a natural movement and coming into being and passing away. This is because all other things are discriminated by time, and end and begin as though conforming to a cycle... the whole is just a plurality of measures."

"Honor others, for honor belongs to the one who bestows it and not to the one who receives it."

"If the virtues are concerned with actions and passions, and every passion and every action is accompanied by pleasure and pain, for this reason also virtue will be concerned with pleasures and pains. This is indicated also by the fact that punishment is inflicted by these means; for it is a kind of cure, and it is the nature of cures to be effected by contraries."

"If men think that a ruler is religious and has a reverence for the God, they are less afraid of suffering injustice at his hands."

"If you really want to know a man, give him power. The evil man will become proud, but the good man will become more humble than he was before."

"In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds"

"In most respects the future will be like what the past has been."