Aristotle was one of the Sophists who studied the limits of knowledge and the nature of moral action. Plato was his teacher, but both believed in the separation of mind and all matter. They believed virtue should be developed for the good of the state and the citizen himself. Aristotle also investigated several other subjects: logic, biology, zoology, poetry, and politics, rather than just the intellectual side of life as Plato did.
During his life, Aristotle then expanded on Plato's thinking. He included justice and goodness, and felt all people needed to behave properly. He thought that people had that inner voice to tell them what is right (what we have come to call our conscience). He even went a step further to say one's inner desire sometimes overruled their knowledge and made them go astray. Since he recognized this feeling within the human soul to make a person fall, he began to pay special attention to studying self-control.
He believed the mind could be trained to win over passion or desire. He didn't necessarily feel these other emotions should be eliminated, but rather put into a balance, which he called "the mean."Ã¯Â¿Â½ The mean is that middle ground between the two extremes where people would strive to find out the good life was possible.
Because of this new philosophy, he decided to write a work on ethics. When we begin to examine some of the lines from this work, "Ethics,"Ã¯Â¿Â½ we can make a comparison between his thinking and compulsive behavior. Compulsive behavior today in our society is rather prevalent and effects many in all walks of life, including very young people. During this writing, he clearly states that he wants us to consider the correct way to deal with our own personal actions. In his first point, he comes out and tells us deficiency and excess are both fatal. Bulimia is definitely an extreme behavior. It is not the middle of the road, but an excess, and could be controlled by self-discipline. People who are bulimic go on an eating binge, and then turn around and get rid of whatever nourishment they gave to their body. The virtue of temperance which would discourage bulimia, has never been properly developed in the bulimic's case.
This good life, which Aristotle felt was possible under a self-discipline was very different from Plato's thinking and other thinkers of the day. Since we are humans with intelligence and our intellect is one of our best qualities, we should be able to keep that balance in our life.
Many people today are out of that balance in life, and do not work on the virtues that would help them maintain a life pattern that could produce success and well-being. We have many social living problems today. Many of these issues such as drugs, child abuse, violence, eating disorders, etc. could be lessened with the philosophy Aristotle talked about and put into writing. Many of the great philosophers whether they were Greek, Roman, Chinese, or Islamic all came very close to the same philosophy, and many have used different words or terms. It all stems from a moral issue of what is acceptable, what moral standards are important to all those people who are in charge or just part of society that wants to keep the best possible life for all.