Rousseau, Jean Jacques

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Compare and contrast the political philosophies of Rousseau and Aristotle.

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Aristotle was born in Stagira, Greece in 384 BCE and became one of the world’s greatest philosophers. He studied at Plato’s Academy and developed a version of virtue ethics, or acting morally to achieve good results, that remains popular today as a part of political theory. He was centuries ahead of his time as an empirical scientist who believed that knowledge and wisdom stemmed from sensory perceptions. In his view, perceptions change, and human beings must develop a social character to be able to respond to different situations.

In his Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle introduces what he believes to be the pathway to “the good life” for all to follow. He envisions people being in sync with nature when they act in accordance with virtue. To Aristotle, virtue ethics stresses virtuosity in social settings and argues that people must be able to adapt to societal changes. This is achieved by developing a good character by using practical reason to determine human actions.

In Politics,

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