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Volume 28 - Page 202 of 217 Index | Zoom | |
goods, or to environment generally. He taught that the true maxim was not negation but
Aristotle differed from Plato with regard to the immortality of the soul, and approached
more closely to the teaching of the Scriptures. Schwegeler's history contains the
"The soul is related to the body as form to matter; it is the animating principle.
Simply for this reason the soul cannot be thought of without the body: neither can it exist
by itself, and with the body it ceases to be."
To appreciate this statement, we must know something of Aristotle's four principles or
causes, and the relation of matter to form. Aristotle lays down four principles: the
formal, the material, the efficient, and the final. For example, in the case of a house, the
building materials are the matter, the idea of the house is the form, the efficient cause is
the builder, and the actual house itself the final cause.
Moreover, Aristotle makes a distinction between the "soul" and the "spirit". He
speaks of the nous, the "mind", as being essentially different from the "soul", and
unrelated to the lower faculties. "It comes, as being no result of lower processes, from
elsewhere into the body, and is equally again separable from it." With which we may
compare the words of Ecclesiastes:
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God
Who gave it" (Eccles. 12: 7).
The summun bonum, or "chief good", according to Aristotle, is happiness, but his
happiness is not only a well-being but a well-doing. His definition of happiness is a
"perfect activity in a perfect life".
With this we may compare the words of the Apostle in Romans:
"The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of
God . . . . . because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God" (Rom. 8: 19-21).
Aristotle felt the burden, and shared the groan of a creation subject to vanity. He
realized also that perfect happiness demands perfect liberty, but he did not know the One
by Whom this groan shall one day be hushed, and Who even now gives to His believing
people the "spirit of adoption" as the glorious pledge of that future "redemption of the
body", in which perfect happiness will be realized in a perfect life.
Virtue, according to Aristotle, is the result of frequently repeated moral action; it is
a quality won through exercise. We may compare this with the Apostle's words in
Heb. 5: 14, where he speaks of those who are "of full age, even those who, by reason of
use, have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil".