Aristotle's Wisdom

Essay by suckulantpeachUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, October 2004

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Regarding (1) the distinction between humans and animals, (2) the definition of wisdom, and (3) with what philosophy begins: I think these are all related, for Aristotle, they are all suspects of a single issue. I mean, that which enables wisdom is what is distinctive of humans, namely the capacity to derive general assumptions from experience. The results of the exercise of this capacity - that is to say, the nature of the general assumption themselves - are the contents of wisdom, by my understanding. These first two points are with what philosophy begins, then: (point 3) philosophy begins with (point 1) the distinctively human capacity to (point 2) certain thoughts.

If there were not the distinction between humans and animals that Aristotle recognizes, there would not be philosophy. It is not that there is a distinction, and then the result of this distinction is philosophy. You may think that me saying this is not necessary, because it is so obvious, but I must lay it out like this in order to show as clearly as possible that there are not really three points Aristotle is broaching, but that he is actually explaining one thing in three parts.

Aristotle believed philosophy to have an "ennobling effect on the philosopher, such that he or she is brought as close as possible to divine state." As you know, the common belief now days is that philosophy will provide contentment, or some kind of consolation because of a particular broadening of the mind. For a start too many philosophers' personalities are so different, yet they have fundamentally the same knowledge, which clearly means philosophical knowledge does not make for a particular reaction. A lot of those who do have the stereotypical personality trait associated with being a philosopher have had it ever before...