Lea Papanicolaou- Honorbound-Period 6: According to Aristotle, man, by nature, is a political animal who has a social instinct and is the only being that attains the gift of speech. As human, we relish the idea of order within our lives and our societies. Being the only creatures on earth with the gift of speech has given us something unique that no other creature has been given: the ability to freely voice our thoughts and opinions. This has allowed for many good conversations and ideas to develop, but also has caused great disagreements that have lead to various discrimination, stereotypes, and fatalities among humans. These issues range from the right of free speech being taken away from many to abusing the right of free speech and saying things that did not need to be said. The gift of speech is something that we, as humans, have been gifted with by nature and as Aristotle says “Nature, as we often says, makes nothing in vain” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). As a global society, have we taken this privilege and used it for the greater good of society or have we abused it to where it could be held responsible for global corruption?
By constantly craving control and order in every situation, man proves to be a political animal as Aristotle stated. The desire for control and order can lead a man to have a very selfish demeanor towards the world around them, for they focus on themselves rather than their neighbors and the society in which they reside. This may cause a man to do something he would have never considered doing before or saying things without thinking of the possible repercussions that could progress from them. Adolf Hitler, with his communist view on the world driven by his longing for control, led to the deaths of millions and put Germany into a very bad situation. Just as another man uses his gift of speech, as did Hitler. He used this intent to manipulate and trick millions of people into thinking that everything he was doing was for the benefit of everyone, while his real motive was alone for his self-benefit. The genocide caused by the yearning for hid dream society is what caused resulted in the killing of million Jews and five million others across Western Europe. The hatred felt toward him and the fear he instilled in millions is what gave him the tile of a Facist dictator. According to Aristotle, the end goal of every human is happiness (The Nichomachen Ethics Book 1 Chap. 2). In his isolation of Germany from the rest of the world, Hitler altered the nature of the country and the did not keep the end goal of happiness in mind, instead he thought of his end goal as domination and power. “The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and there he is like a part in relation to the whole” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). Hitler, after isolating Germany, created a society that could no longer function independently, for by nature a society cannot function properly in a state where the leader does not see himself as part of the state. He saw himself as superior to the people that he was dictating and according to Aristotle a man who “is without a state is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the ‘Tribeless, lawless, heartless one’ (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). By going through his own personal period of isolationism, his nature was at a loss and his care for his actions quickly diminished.
According to Karl Marx, a Utopian society should be free of state and have no class distinctions or at least no one should be in poverty. He also says that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” (Manifesto of the Communist Party Chap 1). Through many Communist dictators, we have learned that even though the theories and ideals behind Communism may have an appealing exterior, when put into action they bring disorder and chaos into the society. Aristotle firmly believes that society needs to have states and that these states have root in families because several families come together to form a village, which goes on to form a colony, then a city, and then a state through growth, reproduction and expansion; ultimately meaning that every part matters, each member of the family works in harmony with one another to create the state. “The state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). The state must be treated with respect and must always be intended for the good in life, not the negativity that evolves from the poisonous people. Just like speech is a natural gift intended for good, even if it is not good it is still there and it is creating problems when used improperly. Aristotle would agree with that there should be no one in poverty, but poverty has a very different meaning to Marx than it does to Aristotle in the sense of the ultimate goal for each, one being happiness and the other being just the abolition of classes.
Aristotle says “The proof that the state is a creation of nature and prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). When the idea of terrorism is brought up most people like to pin the blame on the people that were committing the acts of terror, but what most people do not think about is the lifestyle which this person was brought up in. Through the isolation of this individual’s or even a group’s those in charge of these terrorist organizations know exactly what they are doing to manipulate these people into doing what they are told. The people telling influencing them are utilizing their gift of speech by abusing it. “Since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with arms, meant to be used by intelligence and virtue, which he may use for the worst ends” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). For example, ISIS has used the isolation tactic by removing themselves from the state and society and also by using the gift that has been granted to all humans and abused it and used it for evil. By taking themselves completely out of the loop oh human contact, the only are represented through their harshness through the cryptic media. This abuse of free speech has caused corruption and terror all around the world in many different ways. They have deprived people of their emotional and human wellbeing. Due to their isolation, they do not know what is truly good and bad, for the were taught a different good than others. “For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). When one is trapped in a state of isolation, they grow farther and farther from the law and begin to provide their own. Since none of them are around these laws any more, Aristotle would think that they are no longer good people. They lost their sense of virtue, which according to Aristotle takes away their good human nature. ISIS and all their participants are just another example of people using their gift of speech to manipulate and trick people into doing what they are told. “But he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god” (The Politics Book I Chap. 2). According to Aristotle’s work, ISIS would classify as either a group of beasts or a group of gods due to being self-sufficient; most likely, Aristotle would consider this heartless group, not longing for happiness, a group of beasts.
Nature has allowed humans with the gift of speech. There are many instances when this gift has been put to good use and created goodness around the world. Unfortunately there are also circumstances where this gift is abused and it does create bad things in this world, but not all bad things that have happened can be placed on something that has been said, a lot of the time it can be placed on an action, for in some instances actions can speak louder than words. It is possible that a man loses good nature when he abuses this special gift of speech. In order for the world to function well, each country must function well; moreover, each household, made up individuals, must strive to use their girt of speech for good. Although there are many instances in which speech may be blamed for the outcome of a situation, it is not solely the only cause of issues in the world. The things that one says are thought out and can be filtered properly, proving that one needs to use their good conscience in making decisions of what to say. The gift of speech is incredibly unique to mankind and must never be abused, taken for granted, or used in a light manner. Each human, in good reasoning and nature, must remember to strive for happiness, not abuse the power of their speech, and use it to empower the world around them.
- “Book I.” The Nicomachean Ethics. Athens, Greece, 340.
- “Book I.” The Politics. Athens, Greece, 350.
- Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party. New York: International Publishers, 1948.
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