Aristotle is known as one of the outstanding thinkers revealing the ideas of eternal wisdom to humanity. No wonder that his ethical ideas on civic relationships still find their reflection in modern-day conceptions of a successful life. In the following paper, Aristotle’s ethical findings on the best way of living described in his work “Nicomachean Ethics” will be compared to the findings by modern-day ethical specialists. Overall, evaluating Aristotle’s ethical postulates and the concepts of the best places to work by the Best Places to Work Institute, it appears that there is a lot in common in them, especially in such important areas as the importance of warm and respectful relationships with the surrounding people, the importance for an individual to be proud of one’s occupation, and the importance of having a properly developed workplace culture at one’s working position.
Aristotle’s Ethical Theory
In his best-known work on ethics which is titled “Nicomachean Ethics”, Aristotle discusses his ideas on the eternal question of how men should live to be the most successful and contented with what they have. In particular, Aristotle explains his concepts on real happiness, virtue, deliberation, justice, and friendship which are the most important variables of civic relations.
According to Aristotle, real happiness is not in pleasure, amusement, and entertainment, but it is in action that can be associated with virtue and a highly moral way of living since only virtue has true value for an individual and those around him or her (Ostwald 25). The thinker also associates real happiness with contemplation as it is the highest form of morality characterized by completeness, self-sufficiency, continuity, and pleasure. For Aristotle, the happy life needs to concentrate on a single kind of good; thus, the happy life is a life of devotion to virtue and goodness.
The virtues are described by Aristotle as character qualities demonstrating balance in human soul. For example, such virtue as courage can be understood as a mean between the excess of cowardice and the excess of imprudence; temperance can be understood as a mean between the excess of insensibility and the excess of intemperance; generosity can be understood as a mean between the excess of moderation and the excess of wastefulness; and being friendly can be understood as a mean between the excess of being surly and the excess of being ingratiating (Ostwald 41). Greek word arete which Aristotle used to denote what we now call virtue in English literary means “excellence”. This helps understand what meaning the great thinker implicated in this term. As excellence is gained when an individual constantly practices one’s skills, virtue is something which can be learnt and mastered through constant practice and perfecting.
Aristotle describes deliberation as prudence or practical intelligence. Deliberation guides human action, coordinates one’s desires, controls the mechanism of making choices, and the mechanism of virtue acquisition (Ostwald 84). Deliberation is gained as a result of the process of constant inquiry. A good person has deliberation that helps make the world around a better place to live; a good person’s deliberation or power of reasoning succeeds in learning what is best in each particular situation, and how to achieve it using available means.
Justice is defined by Aristotle as the highest moral category having two dimensions: particular justice and general justice. Particular justice aims to regulate the cases when particular crime is committed, and general justice is a perfect or Universal justice that can be only seen in an ideal society. Aristotle states that practicing justice in one’s life is a sure way to real happiness, whereas the one who commits acts of injustice will not be satisfied in one’s life even in the case of possessing a lot of material riches (Ostwald 93).
Friendship is shown by Aristotle as one of the most important possessions in human life for without having friends an individual will not be able to enjoy any of the other values he or she possesses (Ostwald 112).
The Best Places to Work
Modern day concepts on civic relationships have a lot in common with the ideas described by Aristotle in Nicomachean Ethics even though this important work was written long ago (before 300 B.C.). Despite ethics as science has made a great progress after more than 2000 years that passed since Aristotle wrote his famous Nicomachean Ethics, basic ethical norms are still very similar to those described by the great thinker. One of the examples of this phenomenon is business ethics developed by the Best Places to Work Institute that helps understand the main features of the best place to work for people to be contended with their work choice. Below, the main traits of such places will be addressed on the basis of the information taken from the site of the Best Places to Work Institute.
According to the Best Places to Work Institute, the main trait of the best place to work is positive atmosphere at an enterprise that makes excellent day-to-day relationships between employees and managers (“What is a Great Workplace?” par. 2). People may be sure that their working place is the best if:
- they trust their employers,
- are proud of what they do,
- enjoy cooperating with their co-workers.
“Trust is the defining principle of great workplaces — created through management’s credibility, the respect with which employees feel they are treated, and the extent to which employees expect to be treated fairly” (“What is a Great Workplace?” par. 5). Mutual trust at an enterprise is an important variable making team work in it effective. Team work efficiency largely depends on its leader. The central idea behind a successful leader is in being able to motivate others to achieve definite goals beneficial for the whole group. A successful leader at an enterprise is one of the most important conditions for the formation of a productive atmosphere.
It is very important for the person to be proud of what he or she is doing at the workplace. Such pride is virtue that will help an employee achieve more in one’s work. Surveys regularly held the Best Places to Work Institute indicate that more than 84% of respondents state that healthy feeling of pride about what they do is one of the most important features of the best place to work for them. In addition, according to regular surveys held by the Best Places to Work Institute, the performance of employees at an enterprise directly depends on how satisfied they are with what they do, and how proud they are that they may participate in fulfilling their professional obligations.
One more important trait of the best place to work is a workplace culture. The following comment by the Best Places to Work Institute explains how significant for an enterprise it is to have good traditions of a workplace culture:
30 years of research, in over 40 countries around the world, has shown us time and again that investing in a high-trust workplace culture yields distinct, tangible business benefits. Our studies of the 100 Best Companies show that great workplaces enjoy significantly lower turnover and better financial performance than industry peers. Case studies of specific workplaces demonstrate additional, industry-specific benefits, including reduced shrinkage, improved track records on safety, higher patient satisfaction, better quality job applicants, and more (“What is a Great Workplace?” par. 8).
A properly developed workplace culture is a guarantee for high performance by the company having it. An effective workplace culture is about equal and fair treatment of all the company’s workers, open and honest communication, due recognition of achievements and rewarding of the personnel, equal opportunities for all workers without gender or any other type of discrimination, open managing style, regular training of the personnel, regular feedback form the managers, and clear goals set out for each member of the team. A successful workplace culture is far of any negative developments and bad moods within a collective body of workers. The company with a positive workplace culture celebrates diversity among its workers which is explained by understanding of the importance of having people with different backgrounds, cultures, experiences, and interests which will help developing balanced and well-thought of decisions; there is no place to any sort of bias at an enterprise with a successful workplace culture.
Besides, a company which aims to be the best place to work has the ability to be flexible to adapt to the ever-changing conditions of the global market and meet all the possible challenges connected to it. Such company has efficient risk management strategies developed by its leaders beforehand. Risk management strategies that are developed at an enterprise are a guarantee for employees that their working places will be preserved even under complicated circumstances. Such stability is very important because people should know what they will do in future, and how they will provide for themselves and their families. When a company may guarantee a measure of stability to its employees, such company is the best place to work.
Compare and Contrast Analysis of Aristotle’s Ideas about Civic Relationships and Contemporary Notions of the Best Places to Work
Comparing Aristotle’s ideas on civic relationships and contemporary notions of the best places to work, it appears that there are a lot in common between them. In particular, Aristotle makes an emphasis on the importance of virtue being a base for healthy relationships between humans; he states that good relationships with one’s neighbor are a basis of happiness and satisfaction in life. Similar conclusions are made by the Best Places to Work Institute. The specialists from this institute indicate that a positive climate within the collective body of workers of an enterprise in general and good relationships between individuals is the main characteristic of the best place to work. Thus, full harmony is seen between Aristotle’s concept of the best way to live and modern day concept by specialists from the above mentioned institute of the best place to work.
Next, similarity is seen between Aristotle’s description of real happiness and the importance of being proud by the place where one works. Aristotle says that the true happiness comes when the person is contended with one’s activities and achievements which are made during professional activity. Similar idea is shown by modern specialists who explain that it is better for an individual to be proud of what he or she is doing than to do something undesirable, and receive better payment for this. In addition, both Aristotle and modern-day specialists on business ethics indicate that financial means received as a payment for someone’s work are important of course, but they are secondary when it comes to the feeling which the job gives to an individual. Therefore, the person’s opinion of oneself and one’s activity is more important than the payment one receives for the activity. Still, modern-day specialists make an emphasis on the significance of material reward contrary to Aristotle as nowadays people’s way of living is more affected by materialism and material values which is explained by the fact that the majority of the world countries live in the conditions of capitalism. Thus, when one is offered two variants with salaries which are not very different from each other, it is better for an individual to choose the variant which brings more satisfaction, and offers more respect from the other people.
Further, both Aristotle and the modern specialists insist on the importance of a positive atmosphere at the workplace. Aristotle believed that the spirit prevailing in society greatly affects an individual, his ability to be happy, and make great accomplishments in his activity. He emphasized the significance of optimistic way of thinking over the any other conditions which are necessary for an individual to make progress in one’s doings. The same idea is clearly seen in the ethics promoted by the specialists from the Best Places to Work Institute. They state that a positive workplace culture is one of the most important traits of the best places to work, and explain this by the fact that employees may achieve much more if they are placed into good working conditions created on the principle of optimism and mutual trust. The notion of justice developed by Aristotle is also very similar to the one described by the modern specialists as an essential part of a workplace culture.
As a final point, the studies of Aristotle’s ethical codes established in his outstanding “Nicomachean Ethics” show that the eternal wisdom contained is them still has practical implementation in modern society’s life including modern business. The compare and contrast analyses of Aristotle’s ideas on real happiness, virtue, deliberation, justice, and friendship and the ideas of the Best Places to Work Institute about important traits of the best places to work has identified a number of similarities between the two points of view on ethics. In particular, both sources make an emphasis on the importance of warm and respectful relationships with the surrounding people, the importance for an individual to be proud of one’s occupation, and the importance of having a properly developed workplace culture at one’s working position. In addition, there are a lot in common between Aristotle’s virtue concepts and terms and modern concepts of business practice and business moral thinking by the Best Places to Work Institute.
Ostwald, Martin. Nicomachean Ethics, The United Sates: Prentice Hall, 1962. Print.
What is a Great Workplace? 2012. Web.