“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”
Aristotle was a philosopher and scientist who made his home in Ancient Greece. During his lifetime, he wrote on dozens of different topics, including linguistics, music, poetry, biology, and many others. His works have inspired countless others to greatness. With those in mind, we’ve collected the best Aristotle quotes to help inspire you to a little greatness of your own.
Inspirational Aristotle quotes
“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
You can’t call yourself a philosopher without writing at least a few baubles about love. Greek mythology says that when humans were first created, they were created together with their soul mates. These people had two heads, four arms, four legs, and a single soul. The gods became fearful of these people and so they were split apart, leaving each with only one head, two arms, two legs, and half a soul. The idea of a soul mate comes from this myth, and the idea that you need to find your other half to become whole.
“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
Anger is something that we all experience. It’s too easy to allow anger to overcome us. We act out because of that anger and often end up regretting the results. Take the time to take step back and look at the situation before you indulge in your anger. It can make all the difference, and can help prevent mistakes and regret after the anger-causing situation has been resolved.
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
Excellence is not often easily achieved, but that is not because of lack of desire or inherent talent. It is because people except excellence to simply fall into their laps, and then become disappointed and turn away because it doesn’t happen that way. Take the time to work toward your own excellence. Good things don’t come to those who wait, after all. They come to those who work their butts off to make them happen.
“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”
Art is difficult to explain, because if you ask 10 different people ‘What is art?’ you’ll get 10 different responses. Aristotle saw art as a way to show the worth of something without relying on its outward appearance. Art is not a picture of an apple. Art is a portrayal of a brilliantly red fruit that can nourish or tempt, as the case may be. There is no simple explanation.
“Hope is a waking dream.”
Hope should be part of everyone’s life, even if all you’re hoping for is something small like a sunny afternoon or finding your favorite sandwich on the lunch cart. Hope is something that we create out of a desire to effect change as we sleep. Instead of remaining in the dream state, hope allows us to carry this desire into the waking word, enabling us to make it manifest in our lives. It doesn’t always work as we intended, but hope should always be there.
“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.”
Humans are nothing better or worse than the beasts that we slay for food. We are animals, but we set ourselves apart because we believe that civility and tool making somehow make up superior to the other creatures that roam this earth. We couldn’t be more wrong or more arrogant. Take away the laws that rein us in, and we are nothing more than bloody minded beasts.
“There is not great genius without a mixture of madness.”
Even in ancient Greece, the correlation between madness and genius was easily recognized. Einstein developed the Theory of Relativity but couldn’t tie his shoes. Some of the most amazing writers of our time developed horrendous addictions and died young because of that madness that accompanies the creative genius. While not inevitable, it is always a haunting presence in the mind of anyone who creates or innovates.
“The ideal mean bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.”
Accidents happen, or so the cliché goes. There is no avoiding them, because if we could avoid them they wouldn’t be accidents. Instead of seeking to avoid them, just take them in stride. An accident could turn into a fantastic and fortuitous opportunity if you just allow it to take its course.
“The ultimate value of life depends upon the awareness and the power of contemplation rather than mere survival.”
This has become an important argument in today’s working world. Why should you work 80 hours a week to pay for a house you never spend time in and a car you only drive to and from work? That’s not living, that’s just surviving and too many people are just surviving. Becoming aware of this stagnation is the first step to removing oneself from it.
“Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but though greatness of mind.”
You can find beauty in even the darkest night and once you begin to see that beauty, it is easy to see the beauty in all things, even those which bring sorrow and pain. Don’t allow that suffering to make you retreat from the world or from yourself. Instead, expand your mind and embrace the suffering. You can turn that pain into amazing things as long as you allow yourself to feel it.
The wisdom of Aristotle can be easily applied even to present day situations. Hopefully these brilliant words can help you look at the world in a new way.