As we enter the new year 2021 and hope for a more optimistic future, find some comfort in ancient philosophical wisdom that shaped western civilization as we know it. We owe much to the great generations of thinkers from ages ago, like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.

Socrates was the first great philosopher known for his never-ending questioning of the world. We still keep asking questions – the same questions – today. He never published his ideas that he taught and lived, but he did inspire many before his arrest and death by suicide for the charges of corruption. The most accurate description of Socrates and his ‘method‘ was in Plato’s work Apolgiawhich documented the trial of Socrates.

Plato was best known for his Theory of Forms, which presented the idea that the physical world which we live in is merely a shadow of the real world, stated in his work, ‘The Parmenides’. He believed we would be most happy after death when we leave our body to our true self. His great workRepublic’, which I read more than once, is a monumental exploration of the soul of a nation, and the soul of the individual. It offers much to inspire our personal idealologies.

Aristotle was Plato’s student and although not always in agreement with his teacher, in many ways Aristotle complimented his teacher’s works. He is quoted often still and is most remembered for his contributions to logic, ethics, physics, mathematics, and politics.

Through the ages, their ideas have helped form our values, our society, and our arts. To this day we are inspired by their quotes. To help us welcome the new year, I am listing some favorite quotes here.

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

“Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.”

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”

“Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”

“Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act ‘rightly’ because we are ‘excellent’, in fact, we achieve ‘excellence’ by acting ‘rightly.’”

Quotes by Plato

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.”

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

“Happiness is the settling of the soul into its most appropriate spot.”

“In all things of nature, there is something of the marvelous.”

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”

Quotes by Aristotle

I hope you find your appropriate spot this year and can be patient with your work without becoming discouraged. Writing is a process, sometimes a lonely process where there’s too much room for self-doubt, but it also requires continual work that comes from within, and we only get it right with practice. Happy New Year.

Keep Writing!

Extra reading:

Plato and Aristotle: How Do They Differ?

WRITTEN BY Brian DuignanBrian Duignan is a senior editor at Encyclopædia Britannica. His subject areas include philosophy, law, social science, politics, political theory, and religion.

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