Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived between the third and fourth century before the birth of Christ. Aristotle did not major in any one discipline (Hergenhahn, 1992). He studied anything that was available in his time. He developed theories in science, politics, religious studies, and psychology. Of all Aristotle’s studies, psychology had the most accurate arguments that feature even in the modern psychology.
His studies in other fields were dented by exaggerations and unsupported theories. His studies in psychology benefited future scientists by giving them a foundation on which to build the modern psychology. In addition, he mentored other philosophers, scientist, and politicians such as Alexander the great, who was Aristotle’s own student. On the other hand, Aristotle was a student of Plato, a philosopher, who molded him into the personality that he was.
Although Aristotle did not isolate psychology as an independent field of study, a substantive amount of information was recovered from his general work that related inseparably to the field of psychology (Hergenhahn, 1992). Despite his significant contributions in all the fields he was involved in, Aristotle is greatly remembered for his advancements in psychology.
Aristotle started his expedition in the scholarly world as a teenager student of Plato. Plato was a Greek philosopher and scholar. Aristotle developed a method of study that was only unique to him. After a substantial scholarly progress, he established his own school with multidisciplinary disciplines consistent with a modern university (Hergenhahn, 1992). His school was the first kind of a modern organized learning institution.
Aristotle had tutored the son of King Philip, Alexander the great, as a preparation measure for the latter to become a king. Despite this, Aristotle became Alexander’s critic, as he did not agree with the king’s mode of governance once he ascended to power. The philosopher later fled the city of Athens to escape criminal charges against him (Hergenhahn, 1992).
One of the values common between Aristotle and his teacher Plato was that they both advocated for the establishment of the truth rather than the judgment of an aspect of nature by the pure analysis of the physical properties that are easily evident.
Aristotle argued that the understanding of nature could only be accomplished through the analysis of the aspects of nature as the first step in understanding the target object, and then processing the mental reaction of the human brain to the stimuli. Moreover, he believed that emotions emanating from all sensory stimuli played a significant role in accumulating evidence about all aspect of existence (Kristjansson, 2007).
Plato, Aristotle’s teacher, regarded the human emotion and imagination as an impediment to attaining the true depiction of the state of things. In contrast, Aristotle argued that emotions and thoughts gave the most useful perspective of any aspect of nature. Aristotle maintained that feelings and the responses to sensory stimuli evoked a mental reaction that gave the true representation of past events.
However, the philosopher also attributed the constructive ability of the human mind to imagination. The combined effect of all mental activity would then yield an image that was useful to human survival and excellence (Hergenhahn, 1992). Aristotle primarily focused on deciphering the effect of events of nature on the human psychological state.
Furthermore, the philosopher believed in the superiority of human being in the universe, and insisted that the domineering nature of man over all other forms of life was an intended plan in the design of the universe. In addition, he stipulated that he did not believe in the theory of evolution, but believed that the order that prevailed in the universe was intended in the nature’s design (Kristjansson, 2007).
Aristotle, in his scientific endeavors, studied and developed theories concerning the state of the mind and the processes that occur in it. He advocated the use of logic to gain factual knowledge.
In addition, Aristotle emphasized that rationality was the key to discovering the true nature of all aspects of existence. In contrast, his teacher and other scholars of his time depended on empirical experimentation to extract facts from nature. Aristotle articulated that everything could be accurately evaluated from a psychological perspective by the human mind.
In his opinion, the computation of physical quantities in order to establish facts was not effective. His ideas differed from those of other scholars who insisted that the principles of nature could not be determined by psychological judgment since an objective conclusion was impossible. However, Aristotle sought to explain some of the mental processes through physiological studies (Hergenhahn, 1992).
His biological references while in analytic study of psychology were devoid of any mathematical features. Aristotle majored on studying rationales for the existence of every aspect of nature and the factors, which bring the particular phenomenon in its current being. The philosopher claimed that everything had a mind, which he classified into souls of different nature. The basic idea was that plants had a soul, which directed its cause towards survival, while animals had a soul, which directed its cause towards emotion.
Furthermore, the philosopher classified the human soul into its own category where it had the ability of rational thinking. He attributed all mental evaluations to pulmonary action where the heart was the synthesizer of all emotions and thoughts. The brain, and thus the mind, was perceived to be located in the heart (Hergenhahn, 1992). This illustrates how Aristotle related most of his theories to emotions more than the results of analytical observation.
In addition, Aristotle stipulated that the movement of all aspects of nature affected the mental stimulus and thus the brain could synthesize an accurate representation of the environment. These representations can be stored as memory if their effects on the mental state are profound. Moreover, these representations stored in the memory merge with newly acquired thoughts to form ideas that are more complex. The action of merging constituent ideas to make complex ideas is facilitated by imagination.
Aristotle compares imagination to dreaming, and dreaming was a true representation of the events that have affected a person’s life (Herganhahn, 1992). Dreaming was used to recall events in the mind’s history of experience. According to Aristotle, dreams were not related to the future and could lead to a misguided reaction if they are considered accurate. He argued that dreaming was related to past physical experiences.
According to Aristotle, people of ancient times exploited their brains maximally in a bid to satisfy their infinite needs (Kristjansson, 2007). There came a time when scholars realized that their brains could be engaged in exercises that did not necessarily have any material gain. This is thought to be the origin of modern scholars including Aristotle.
This new breed of scholars was primarily motivated by curiosity and the need for a leisure activity. Aristotle explains that this is the nemesis of the perpetual culture of research since not all aspects of nature have been explored. In addition, man’s curiosity can never be extinguished until the knowledge of all planes of existence has been acquired (Lear, 1988).
Since studying and analyzing a new field of nature is significantly difficult, scholars are bound to differ on certain subjects. The conflict of opinion and ideology often develop into different and diverse approaches. Some challenges when overcome, enable an easier navigation in the field of concern.
In this field, the mind is free to synthesize other possible assumptions with ease. The teachings of Aristotle advocate an acquisitive nature of humankind. The virtue of considering others is downplayed in Aristotle’s theory. Self-gratification, particularly the emotional wellbeing, is the chief target of Aristotle’s philosophies about emotional intelligence (Lear, 1988).
Aristotle stipulates that the association of past ideas constitutes intelligence. Furthermore, he said that past mental experiences should be used to create a moderate form of existence to avoid conflict. A balance of emotion is the most important thing in human existence. The ability to associate ideas is the key to a fulfilling life and survival according to the philosopher.
Aristotle argues that imagination has a powerful ability to construct accurate future events in such a way that imaginations or dreams seem to be prophetic. According to the philosopher, this powerful realm of thought and imagination could be used as intelligence to model a favorable life in the future.
However, Aristotle warns that imagination is prone to misrepresentation of past experiences as it is affected by emotions. Intelligence, based on constructive imagination, conjures up a convincing model of the universe. Although this imaginary model seems to be ideal, it is later proved by modern science to be as a result of the weaknesses of imagination as a method of analysis of natural phenomena (Hergenhahn, 1992).
Aristotle helped to develop the modern psychology and realize the way in which our mind influences our destiny. He helped to attribute most of the human’s success and failure to the perception of the mind. However, the philosopher’s studies and theories insignificantly contributed to the modern science because they were not based on research supported by evidence.
Most of his theories are a subject of controversy among today’s scientists and psychologist due to the lack of physical evidence to support his arguments. On the other hand, his teachings and wisdom helped in establishing advanced modern education and great civilization.
Hergenhahn, B. R. (1992). An introduction to the history of psychology (2nd ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co.
Kristjansson, K. (2007). Aristotle, emotions, and education. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate.
Lear, J. (1988). Aristotle: the desire to understand (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Pr..