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Many people may not be aware that most of the contemporary works of philosophy borrow heavily from the thoughts of Aristotle, an ancient Greek philosopher who lived between 384B.C and 322B.B.C. Aristotle had a great influence on ancient world’s history.  He was a student of Plato and later became a teacher of Alexander the Great. During the period that he lived he wrote several books on virtually every subject; from physics to philosophy. His main contribution was on happiness, the virtues, deliberation, justice and friendship. His influence on the western thought was profound and it was not limited to philosophy. He contributed to science, formal logic, and, philosophy studies. His books are highly recommended for those interested in the study of philosophy, Aristotle’s life as well as history.

The philosopher defined Happiness, which he referred to as eudemonia, as the best life a person can possibly have. His views on happiness have not changed up to date as people still view happiness the way he described it. There have always been challenges concerning what amounts to best possible life. The different versions from different philosophers concerning what happiness is are derived from Aristotle’s philosophy on the subject. Aristotle approached the issue of happiness on the basis of questioning what is actually good for man in relation with what goodness means. Aristotle in his philosophy on happiness says that area is what differentiates man from an animal, taking the giraffe as an example.

On performance, Aristotle found that the performance of a good man brings him pleasure. He said that in doing an activity, man should be focused on what is pleasant. To Aristotle, avoiding goodness does not really amount to pleasure, and to him pleasure is not limited to pleasures of the body such as satisfying physical needs such as hunger and fatigue or even sexual pleasure because these things would stand in the way of the good life. These pleasures, according to Aristotle, contribute to happiness in man.

On the area of justice, Aristotle stated that it consists of a virtue or a character trait but not a state in terms of the individual being discussed. It consists of the motives as well as the behavior of an individual. He said that there is a clear difference between people who are active in the activities that take place within the society and the ones who just sit and watch as these activities are facilitated or carried out by others. He saw the society as being composed of the active and the passive. More on justice, Aristotle said that there are some among the people living in a state who are not real citizens. He was tough on people whose work within a state does not satisfy the standards set for a true citizen and suggested that the political establishment should not give such people any benefits. He implied that those members who are not prolific are not supposed to be considered for any benefits as they are a drain to the society’s resources. They ride on the backs of others and live on their sweat and this should be avoided for justice to be done to all. A person should get what is due to them; what he or she has worked for and not to rely on others as this is tantamount to injustice against those who struggle to earn what they get. He equated justice to a mean when viewed as a virtue. He saw justice as a form of an immediate act which is done between two extremes in response to certain circumstances. There are two extreme ways of recognizing the character of a state; either by its action or inaction. If a person is found to be arrogant, it is because they lack the characteristics of a polite person. His philosophy was that the opposite of something that is positive lies in its negative characteristics. For Aristotle, the characteristics that are associated with justice are simply vague and that injustice has some characteristics that are both outward as well as inward. People who are greedy or are lawless can be said to be unjust. It is therefore important to keep law and order besides avoiding the things that go against the expectations of the society in order to be just, which is the virtue Aristotle advocated.

Justice should be distributive and applied to all citizens regardless of their social status in the society, observed Aristotle. He divided justice into two saying that a person does not have to be wicked so as to be greedy. On the other hand, a person does not have to be greedy so as to be wicked and as such divided justice into distributive whereby each person must get their fair share of the available resources or money. Each person should get a share that is proportional to their contribution in the society. This means that resources should be divided on merit whereby one gets what they have worked for. Certificatory justice on the other hand has to do with governance of personal transactions. It aims to ensure that in any exchange between two people, both of them transact to ensure that there is a proportional exchange.

Concerning friendship, Aristotle saw human beings as social creatures. People surround themselves with others, who are essentially friends and this is a natural thing. Human beings are for ever trying to expand the network of their friends and these friends are very important. It is a fact that no one can live a normal life without friends, otherwise this will be an attempt to go against nature and it is almost next to impossibility. Aristotle viewed friendship in a much broader way than just a union of intimacy as well as mutual benevolence between two people, a relationship which is devoid of family or sexual love (Stern-Gillet 47-72). To him, friendship includes any bond between two people in any field and the level of intimacy does not matter. Friends are categorized into three depending on the usefulness of the people involved in the relationship. The only reason people become friends are because they are useful to each other. This is the utility value Aristotle sees in a friendship. The people in a friendship need each other and there is complementary value in the sense that one person gets from the other what he or she lacks. A friendship of utility dies if one of the parties involved is no longer useful to the other. Other friendships are based on pleasure. It is what pleases a person which determines the duration of the friendship which is mostly displayed by young people as they are mostly driven by pleasure. Young people rarely get into a friendship on the basis of virtue. A friendship based on virtue, love and mutual respect is the foundation of the relationship. This friendship is not based on any gain, pleasure or material. This is genuine friendship which is based on genuine concern for one another, not for any gain; material or otherwise. Such friends become soul mates and this explains the reason why they are very rare, especially among the younger people.

A person may do a good thing to another based on one of the three things mentioned above as reasons for people being friends. A person who gives another one a gift may not do that because the intention was just to give it out or to help them, but rather on the consideration that the recipient of the gift may reciprocate at a later date, with something more valuable. Another one may do so out of genuine concern for the other or just because they share interests. This fact in essence points to some serious shortcomings in the way Aristotle viewed friendship. Moral virtues ought not to be considered for people in a relationship to qualify as true friends, because not all people can possess them.

For Aristotle, the theory of ethics is completely distinct from the theory of sciences. The study of ethics is in essence meant to improve the lives of people. The most central thing in ethics is the well-being of people. Aristotle saw ethics as the most important thing to a human being (Natali 93). Virtues are crucial for human relations and the peaceful coexistence which ensures that people live their lives well. Justice, temperance, courage and several others are what Aristotle considers as ethical virtues which are complex emotional, social and rational skills. Studying a particular subject does not necessarily mean one gets to know what is good for them. What people need to do is just appreciate the way in which the good things in life such as wealth, friendship, justice and many others function together as a whole to make life worth living. Proper upbringing coupled with good habits is the most essential thing to bring these desired ethics into an individual. These virtues can not be acquired by way of learning general rules but rather through practice. Human beings acquire virtues through practice rather than getting into a classroom to learn them. Theory alone is not adequate in the acquisition of ethics.

In terms of deliberation, Aristotle opined that one’s responsibility for their morals originates from their free will. A person can not be forced into moral responsibility but rather has to be willing to do so, because these are not laws. Instead, they are expectations which every member of the society is expected to meet, according to the norms of that particular society. Everyone is responsible for the action they take, and it all depends on their moral conviction to determine whether it is good or evil. Every action is directly connected to knowledge and one does it out of deliberation. A reasonable amount of volitional control should, however, be exercised so as to be morally responsible. A person is supposed to be guided by moral control in all his or her actions (Pakaluk and Giles 162-174).

The traits envisioned in the great best places of work and fortune magazine’s 100 best employers to work for are comparable to the ones Aristotle advocated for in his works on civic relationships concerning happiness and several other topics he covered such as moral responsibility, justice, friendship and deliberation. The Great Place to Work Institute undertakes the initiative of listening to workers to understand what it takes to make their place of work a great one. The institute recognizes the value of trust among its employees as well as between them and the management.  The institute has built on a culture cultivating high levels of trust within their workplace make it the best that they possibly can achieve. They do this through conducting regular survey of the employers and assessment of their culture. In the institute, they are specialists in the field of trust and this is how they manage to build a relationship based on trust within the workers as well as between the workers and the management to make theirs a great workplace. The culture of high trust ensures that the employees can participate in decision-making and in this way they are ready to take risks. The management makes sure that it listens to the voices of the employees without discriminating against any employee in terms of their type of job. Trust is manifested in every relationship within the workplace, something that makes it a great one (The Great Place To Work Institute). Leaders help in ensuring the institute achieves this goal. They ensure an environment that is conducive for cooperation and collaboration so as to achieve a positive workplace. The model of the institute is employee centered. Trust is represented in a comprehensive way, with great emphasis being placed on its importance in order to ensure great relations in the workplace. The institute encourages competitive strength while at the same time creating successful relationships that are collaborative among all the people, no matter what their levels are in the organization.

The managers of100 Best Companies to Work For make it their obligation to do everything possible please their employees. They treasure the value of good relationships in accordance with the teachings of Aristotle who saw good relationships as the most important thing for peaceful coexistence and the basis for happiness. NetApp, top on the list of the100 best companies to work for, thrives on building enthusiasm for egalitarian culture (Fortune Magazine). The ethos of the management are down-to-earth, in order to create an environment that facilitates good relations among its members.

It is clear that the companies strive to build on the civic relationships that were proposed by Aristotle for people to live in harmony, both in the workplace or outside work. Happiness is emphasized as the basis for employee satisfaction through creating a relationship of trust which is the most essential for any relationship to last. Justice is ensured through fair work practices where by the rights of the employees are safeguarded in a bid to create good relationships among them and the management. The virtues that were emphasized by Aristotle have been of great use to these companies especially on moral responsibility. Every worker is bound by moral responsibility to exercise concern for others and do what is good rather than what is evil so as to foster good relationship among the workers and the management. It is only when workers are happy that they can perform to their best in any workplace. These companies ensure happiness among the employees and try to make everyone needed by ensuring equality among all the people.




The Great Place To Work Institute 2010.

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Fortune Magazine. 100 BEST COMPANIES TO WORK FOR.

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Natali, Carlo. Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Book VII. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2009.

Pakaluk, Michael and Giles, Pearson. Moral Psychology and Human Action in Aristotle. Oxford: OxfordUniversity Press, 2010.

Stern-Gillet, Suzanne. Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendship. Albany: StateUniversity of New York Press, 1995.