Learning about Philosophy

Aristotle - Finding true happiness

Aristotle was a student of Plato.

Whereas Plato's view was that to understand something you needed to study its Form; Aristotle believed that to understand the essence of a thing you need to study an example of that thing.

One of the main questions of philosophy is "How should we live?". Aristotle's answer is the idea of Eudaimonia. This can translate to "success", "happiness" or "flourishing". But rather than just seeking pleasure Aristotle believed we should pursue something deeper - "Develop the right kind of character.

Aristotle's Golden Mean is finding the balance between two extremes . For example if a soldier is too brave they could put themselves in unnecessary danger but if they are too cowardly they will be paralysed and ineffective. A balance needs to be found.

Plato - Forms, Dialogues and The Republic

He was Socrates star pupil.

His Platonic Dialogues are the reason we know so much about what Socrates believed and argued about. It is believed that Plato's ideas are mixed in with Socrates.

The main idea Plato is recognised for is that he believed there is a significant difference between appearance and reality. He believed that only philosophers truly understood reality and it was their job to enlighten others. This idea is described in Plato's cave. It is know as Plato's Theory of Forms.

Plato's most famous work is The Republic. In it Plato outlines a strictly controlled society where philosophers are the rulers and maintain order through deception and force.

Socrates - Father of Western Philosophy

Only knew he didn't know much. He then set about showing everyone the knew about the same which made him mostly unpopular.

The oracle at Delphi said he was the wisest in Athens but Socrates didn't buy into that initially. He then realised that she was right as though he didn't know everything he was wise to know that he didn't and to continue to question and think about the world.

In greek the word philosopher means "love of wisdom".

Was so busy doing this he never wrote anything down preferring conversation/argument with people. This lead to him being quite unpopular and he was sentenced to death. He died amongst his followers by drinking poison made from hemlock.

Great Philosophy Bites episodes

Alain de Botton on The Aesthetics of Architecture

Barry Smith on Wine