Terrorist Vs. Aristotle’s view

ImageAristotle, a Greek philosopher, plays a huge role in today’s education system. Many teachers and scholars teach students Aristotle’s philosophies and teachings. Moreover, some people like terrorist correspond with Aristotle’s philosophy in Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle was born in 384 B.C. in Stagira, Greece.  After he tutored Alexander the Great and King Phillip II’s son, he enrolled into Plato’s academy. He then established, with Alexander the Greats permission, a school called the Lyceum in Athens. For the remainder of his life, Aristotle spent his time studying, writing, and teaching. Aristotle is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time for his works are still studied in today’s world.  Terrorist, on the other hand, are people in today’s world who kill masses of infidels. Some examples of terrorism in the United States are the 9/11 attack and the Boston marathon bombing. Both events happened unexpectedly and ended tragically because many people were murdered. Aristotle’s philosophy, in Nicomachean Ethics, would agree that terrorists are fulfilling their purpose in life.

Nicomachean Ethics talks about Aristotle’s philosophy on the final end of mankind. There are many ends to start off with; however, there is only one final end that all mankind pursues. The final end of mankind is happiness because “happiness is something final and self sufficing and is the end of all that man does” (Nicomachean Ethics). Aristotle believes that if one fulfills their true purpose in life they will be happy, so any activity or action man does; they are doing it in order to attain the final end, happiness. The main function of man is the capacity of reason. With reason, it separates us with the other animals in the world. Other animals follow their instincts, while men reason and live with reason. A “man’s good would seem to lie in his function, if he has one” (Nicomachean Ethics). All men have a function in life, whether it is to be a carpenter, a mail man, a sculptor, or an artist.  If men “exercise his faculties in accordance with excellence or virtue” he is considered a good man (Nicomachean Ethics). This means that one must work or do his job with full potential and virtue. Working to one’s full potential means to work hard and to practice that skill until one is good at it.  Being virtuous means the habit of choosing the means and the means is whatever allows one to live accordance with reason. Also, whatever defines us is our purpose. For instance, the definition of a clock is to keep time; therefore, the clock’s purpose is to keep time. The definition of one thing interchanges with the purpose of that one thing. A man defines himself as a carpenter; therefore, the purpose of that individual is being a carpenter. To live well or to do well is almost as saying to be happy. Therefore a clock doing its job and fulfilling its purpose will in the end make the clock happy, figuratively. Aristotle also believes that “each man can form a judgment about what he knows, and is called ‘a good judge’” (Nicomachean Ethics). This means that everyone has a right to formulate their own right judgment. Each man has the free will to determine what is right or best for him without anyone’s consent, but based on your knowledge. Therefore, the older people have a better judgment because they have experienced life and know a lot more than a younger man.  Aristotle also says that the masses have their own definition on what happiness is. Not everyone, such as men of different cultures, can agree upon what happiness is, unlike the philosophers. Aristotle does assume that “all knowledge and all purpose aim at some good” (Nicomachean Ethics).

            Terrorist like Islamic extremist, continue to set attacks in today’s world. These extremists who plan terrorist attacks are the minority of the Islamic group; however, the United States categorize Islamic people as terrorists. Moderate Islamic people can tolerate Jews and Christians for they are the “people of the book”, which means that “revelation from God” (Islamic Extremist). However, this is not in the perspective of the Islamic extremists. An extremist Islamic considers Jews and Christians as infidels, or people who do not believe in the same religion. They are considered infidels because they “deliberately rejected the truth, and second, because of their connections to Western colonialism and Zionism” (Islamic Extremist). Not only that, the Islamic extremists believes that the Christians and Jews are a threat to their own people because the Islamic extremists view the Christians and Jews “as being part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to corrupt, divide and destroy Islam” (Islamic Extremist). This is unlike to what the modern Islam people believe in.  It all started in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a journal al-Dawa spread the extremist views. The extremist saw this as a “religious calling” (Islamic Extremist). The Christians and Jews were being blamed for all Islamic misshapes or “whatever ills have befallen Islam” (Islamic Extremist). Overall the Islamic extremist blamed the Jews, Westerners, and Christians “for the corrupt governments in the Middle East and the suffering of individual Muslims” (Islamic Extremist). The Islamic extremist blame the Westerners for the Westerners crusaders used military and culture in order to take control of the Muslims. In the mindset of a terrorist, they are protecting their people from the other threats, such as the infidels and the Westerners. 

            Aristotle would presume that the terrorists are fulfilling their life, according the Nicomachean Ethics. The terrorists or Islamic extremist protects their people by killing infidels. The attacks from the terrorists may not seem virtuous to other people, but in the terrorist’s mind it is the right thing to do. The terrorist do not know any better, for this is what they solely believe in. They are thinking of the common good of their people, which results them to kill infidels and Westerners. Theses infidels and Westerners are not considered good people as they harm the Muslim society, so the terrorists do not believe they are killing innocent lives. Thinking that they are not killing innocent lives, the terrorist proves their act against infidels as virtuous. Aristotle states that all men have a purpose or function in their life. The terrorist’s purpose in life is to get rid of the infidels and Westerners, so in Aristotle’s point of view the terrorists are fulfilling their purpose they will reach their final end of happiness. The terrorist are happy to sacrifice their own life for their people. Like Aristotle says, men make their own judgment, which is also called a good judgment. The terrorist makes their judgment on the infidels and believes it is a good judgment, which is why the terrorist want to kill the infidels. Some people may disagree, but Aristotle would believe that the terrorists are living with reason. The terrorists attack infidels because it is a religious calling to them. Having a religious calling, the terrorist consider their actions as holy and virtuous. Aristotle says that all knowledge and purpose leads to a good. In the minds of the terrorist, their knowledge and purpose is leading to the common good of their people. Living with reason, virtues, and purpose, Aristotle would believe that the terrorists are fulfilling their life and purpose.

            According to Aristotle, the terrorists or the Islamic extremist are fulfilling their purpose in life by living with reason and virtue. The terrorists are virtuous because they fight to protect their own people from the threat of the infidels. The terrorist are also living with reason, because in their mind it is a religious calling to kill the infidels. They think this is the right judgment and the most virtuous thing to do. Aristotle believes that the final end is happiness, which relates to the terrorists for the terrorists believe their final end, death, will bring peace and happiness to their people. In conclusion, Aristotle philosophy on the function of man and the final end corresponds with the terrorist’s life style. 

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2 thoughts on “Terrorist Vs. Aristotle’s view

  1. There is a fundamental misunderstanding of Aristotle here that leads you to the very strange conclusion that terrorists would be fulfilling their final end, according to Aristotle. You are confused in thinking that “[a]ll men have a function in life, whether it is to be a carpenter, a mail man, a sculptor, or an artist.” Aristotle uses the professions not as examples of the function of man, but as *analogies*. What he wants to know is the function of a human being considered AS A HUMAN BEING, rather than as a worker, father, lover, fighter, etc. In other words, what he is asking is “what makes a human a human”? What is *the* function that defines our humanity? Or to put it another way, what is our purpose and the meaning of our lives AS HUMAN BEINGS? That is something that has to be shared by *all* humans, because we all share the same human nature. Therefore the final end of a human being can never be just to be a carpenter, or any other job for that matter, but the life of reason in accordance with virtue, because for him it is the capacity to exercise those faculties that makes us uniquely human (just like the ability to work wood defines a carpenter, or the ability to tell time defines a clock). Living as a terrorist could never fulfill the final end, for it necessarily involves killing the innocent and exercising injustice, which is the opposite of reason and virtue.

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