THE BLOG
28/12/2011 06:23 GMT | Updated 25/02/2012 05:12 GMT

Start-Up Memoires: Aristotle, an Accidental Philosopher?

I started a business. It made me want to drink copious quantities, smoke myself into oblivion and hit my head against a brick wall. Instead I wrote a blog.

As I got into a debate with my highly respected friend and professional contact Nick Sampson (author, philosopher and general student of life) about the necessity of decisive and presumptive action on occasion without qualification of reasoned and objective analysis, it occurred to me instead of standing on my high horse as an observer of life I should test out my ethics in areas that are closer to home. 

I am a great believer in many of Aristotle's sayings (as far as anyone can be a believer in a figure of almost mythological proportions who was reputedly a misogynist!)  and his examination of the virtues being a voluntary balance between two extremes. For example 'bravery' is a virtue and is the balance between rashness and cowardice. A brave man..(or woman!) 

is one who faces and fears what he should for the right reason, in the right manner and at the right time. A brave man performs his actions for the sake of what is noble. A brave man is thus one who is fearless in facing a noble death.

Thus a man who acts with rashness for a death which is pointless, is not brave but stupid! The difficulty with this point of view is that it assumes all humans are driven by logic and reason, that they have carefully deliberated upon different courses of actions until they know themselves well enough to spontaneously act in accordance with their ethical standpoints.

So I asked myself - and my facebook friends - a question:

Would you kill if someone maliciously harmed/maimed your child? (not COULD you kill - that's a given...) How far do our 'objective' beliefs dictate our emotional reactions? 

The responses came back predictably at both extremes. The one closest aligned with my own:

'If my child was harmed he would need his parents around him and not in prison. Of course I would want to kill the bastard but, as a mum, my child will be my priority, always.'

But at the same time, if prison was not an option. If the constraints of society actually supported my right to 'kill the bastard' what would I believe was right?

Two days ago, my blog lauded the ability to look at both sides of the story. That is still my belief. Compassion is an essential ingredient of my humanity. I just hope to hell that life never tests my reasoned intentions with a situation like the one above. 

Aristotle was father to two - a girl and a boy. His philosophy is a cornerstone of the modern day justice system. I wonder how different it would have been though, if his own children had been threatened and his consequent actions undermined and discredited his own teachings? Would his philosophy and our justice system have been any different?