Giving props to Aristotle

Props as in respect, not the thing used by actors-Aristotle didn’t need those kinds of props. He was the Chuck Norris of philosophy.   I’m thinking that was probably an unsafe thing to say.  Who cares? I feel like taking some risks today and my other desire (selling my house and moving to Alaska) would probably mean financial ruin.

Being the product of a Catholic education, I know my Aristotle. His writings are what got me interested in psychotherapy as a career.  Think about it. This is the guy who defined (or at least tried to define) what it meant to live a happy life.  He believed that happiness is the product of a person’s actions and habits.  He addressed the extremes people could experience in the face of distressing events.  He created a middle ground that honored the desire the emotions behind the extremes pushed us to meet while providing us with the greatest opportunity for self-respect and right action.  My psychoanalytically minded friends would tell you that he was talking about Freudian concepts before Freud was even a thought in his mommy’s mind.  Which makes sense since Freud’s mother was born well after Aristotle died.   The CBT and Positive Psychology folks will tell you he laid most of the groundwork for what they do.  The DBT therapists might look at you like you’ve just crossed some major boundary and have no business being in the same room with them.  That’s okay; I think they do that to everyone.

I’m just kidding guys….we should all be able to laugh at ourselves, right?


Nicomachean ethics was probably the world’s first self-help series.  Well, I don’t really know if it was actually the first one, but that would be cool if it were true.  As I’m writing this others come to mind, but whatever-I’ll save the post on T.S. Eliot for another time.  I can say that his work was the most coherent precursor to many of the modalities therapists work from today and probably the most influential in the development of Western Civilization.

So what if his work wasn’t scientific? Neither was Freud’s .  No it really, really wasn’t…..really.   Aristotle certainly had a greater influence than Freud did on the field of psychology and life in general.  I’m thankful for that because Freud freaks me out.

So, if some guy wearing a multi-layered robe and sandals opens up shop as a therapist, you may want to consider giving him a shot.  Just be sure he’s licensed.

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