Plato's most famous student, Aristotle, developed his own ideas about government. He analyzed all forms of government, from monarchy to democracy, and found good and bad examples of each. Like Plato, he was suspicious of democracy, which he thought could lead to mob rule. In the end, he favored rule by a single strong and virtuous leader.
Aristotle also addressed the question of how people ought to live. In his view, good conduct meant pursuing the “golden mean,” a moderate course between the extremes.
He promoted reason as the guiding force for learning. He set up a school, the Lyceum, for the study of all branches of knowledge. He left writings on politics, ethics, logic, biology, literature, and many other subjects. When the first European universities evolved some 1,500 years later, their courses were based largely on the works and ideas of Aristotle.
Aristotle (384 B.C.–322 B.C.) is counted among the greatest philosophers and scientists of Western history. His system of thought provided a framework for later Christian and Islamic philosophy.
Why might some of the philosophers' ideas be a threat to Greek tradition?
Plato argued that every object on Earth had an ideal form. The work of ancient Greek artists and architects reflected a similar concern with balance, order, and beauty.
Greek architects sought to convey a sense of perfect balance to reflect the harmony and order of the universe. The most famous example of Greek architecture is the Parthenon, a temple dedicated to the goddess Athena. The basic plan of the Parthenon is a simple rectangle, with tall columns supporting a gently sloping roof. The delicate curves and placement of the columns add dignity and grace.
Greek architecture has been widely admired for centuries. Today, many public buildings throughout the world have incorporated Greek architectural elements, such as columns, in their designs.
The builders of the Parthenon (shown here), seeking to reflect a harmonious universe, used geometric proportions to convey a dignified sense of order that feels balanced.
Early Greek sculptors carved figures in stiff, lifeless poses, similar in style to the art of ancient Egypt. By 450 B.C., however, Greek sculptors had developed a new style that emphasized more natural forms.