Prior to a look at Aristotle's ethics, I feel it is important to look at the man and his background.
Aristotle, an Ionian, was born in Stagira, a Greek town on the northwest shores of the Aegean Sea in 384
B.C. At the age of eighteen he entered Plato's school called the Academy, staying there for nearly twenty
years. Plato was quick to realize Aristotle's abilities and called him the Academy's "brightest and most
learned student". While there he wrote "popular writings" for general discussion outside the Academy.
After Plato's death, Aristotle left the Academy and lived with a few disciples of Plato. It was
during this period of his life that he took a wife. Her name was Pithias, the adopted daughter of his friend
In approximately 342 B.C. Aristotle was invited by King Philip II to supervise the education of his
son Alexander. After Philip II was assassinated, Alexander took over the throne. He later conquered all of
Greece and the Persian Empire and soon became known as Alexander the Great.
In 334 B.C. Aristotle returned to Athens and opened a school called the Lyceum. It was there that
he took on the teaching practices of Socrates. He wrote treatises and memoranda to be used as student
In 323 B.C., after the death of Alexander, Aristotle was charged with impiety by the Athenians.
This charge was thought to stem from his friendship with Alexander. Aristotle fled Athens because he
remembered what had happened to Socrates. He went to Chalcis so the Athenians would not "sin twice
against philosophy". He died the following year.
Aristotle realized that happiness in the ultimate goal of a person's life. All that a person is and
does should be directed toward this end. To arrive at goodness one must contemplate what universal and
eternal truths are and how these can be mastered in terms of each person's life style. Wealth to