150 Aristotle Quotes on Thought, Culture, and Politics

These Aristotle quotes will make you believe in his ways of seeing the world.

With 150 quotes from his works like The Organon and The Nicomachean Ethics, we’re given a glimpse of his life under The Academy and The Lyceum.

Aristotle’s teachings were some of the greatest influences on the world’s thought and culture, and our collection features lines from his most well-known publications that talk about politics, habits, leadership, and even ethics.

Continue reading below.

And don’t forget to check out these Plato quotes and Nietzsche quotes.

Best Aristotle Quotes

Aristotle Quote - Happiness depends upon ourselves.

1. “Happiness depends upon ourselves.”

2. “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.”

3. “What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”

4. “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

Aristotle Quote - The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.

5. “The educated differ from the uneducated as much as the living differ from the dead.”

6. “No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.”

7. “To perceive is to suffer.”

8. “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”

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

Aristotle Quote - Anybody can become angry, that is easy

10. “Anybody can become angry—that is easy, but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”

11. “A friend to all is a friend to none.”

12. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

13. “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.”

14. “Hope is a waking dream.”

Aristotle Quote - Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.

15. “Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”

16. “Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.”

17. “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life—the whole aim and end of human existence.”

18. “Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.”

19. “He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.”

Aristotle Quote - I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies.

20. “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”

Aristotle Quotes on Being a Creature of Habit and a Man of Wisdom

21. “All human actions have one or more of these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion, and desire.”

22. “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

23. “It is impossible, or not easy, to alter by argument what has long been absorbed by habit.”

24. “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

Aristotle Quote - The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.

25. “The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.”

26. “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.”

27. “To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man.”

28. “Learning is not child’s play; we cannot learn without pain.”

29. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Aristotle Quote - I have gained this by philosophy.

30. “I have gained this by philosophy—I do without being ordered what some are constrained to do by their fear of the law.”

31. “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.”

32. “Wit is educated insolence.”

33. “All men by nature desire to know.”

34. “Nature does nothing uselessly.”

Aristotle Quote - All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.

35. “All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.”

36. “Wise men speak when they have something to say; fools speak because they have to say something.”

37. “Learning is an ornament in prosperity, a refuge in adversity, and a provision in old age.”

38. “Great men are always of a nature originally melancholy.”

39. “Philosophy can make people sick.”

Aristotle Quote - Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.

40. “Youth is easily deceived because it is quick to hope.”

41. “Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.”

42. “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”

43. “Time crumbles things; everything grows old under the power of time, and is forgotten through the lapse of time.”

44. “Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way—you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.”

Aristotle Quote - The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.

45. “The aim of the wise is not to secure pleasure, but to avoid pain.”

46. “We must be neither cowardly nor rash, but courageous.”

47. “Whatever lies within our power to do lies also within our power not to do.”

48. “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will show you the man.”

49. “If things do not turn out as we wish, we should wish for them as they turn out.”

Aristotle Quote - Man is a goal-seeking animal.

50. “Man is a goal-seeking animal. His life only has meaning if he is reaching out and striving for his goals.”

51. “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.”

52. “The pleasures arising from thinking and learning will make us think and learn all the more.”

53. “It is simplicity that makes the uneducated more effective than the educated when addressing popular audiences.”

54. “With the truth, all given facts harmonize; but with what is false, the truth soon hits a wrong note.”

Aristotle Quote - The least deviation from truth will be multiplied later.

55. “The least deviation from truth will be multiplied later.”

56. “Choice, not chance, determines your destiny.”

57. “The investigation of the truth is in one way hard, in another easy. An indication of this is found in the fact that no one is able to attain the truth adequately, while, on the other hand, no one fails entirely, but everyone says something true about the nature of all things, and while individually they contribute little or nothing to the truth, by the union of all a considerable amount is amassed.”

58. “It is their character indeed that makes people who they are. But it is by reason of their actions that they are happy or the reverse.”

59. “Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Aristotle Quote - It is likely that unlikely things should happen.

60. “It is likely that unlikely things should happen.”

Aristotle Quotes on Politics and Making a Good Leader

61. “Democracy arose from men’s thinking that if they are equal in any respect, they are equal absolutely.”

62. “Republics decline into democracies, and democracies degenerate into despotisms.”

63. “He who cannot be a good follower cannot be a good leader.”

64. “To lead an orchestra, you must turn your back on the crowd.”

Aristotle Quote - Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.

65. “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”

66. “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”

67. “Man is by nature a social animal.”

68. “It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.”

69. “Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.”

Aristotle Quote - Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.

70. “Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.”

71. “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.”

72. “We make war so that we may live in peace.”

73. “The law is reason free from passion.”

74. “Fear is pain arising from the anticipation of evil.”

Aristotle Quote - Through discipline comes freedom.

75. “Through discipline comes freedom.”

76. “The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.”

77. “All earthquakes and disasters are warnings; there’s too much corruption in the world.”

78. “The wise man does not expose himself needlessly to danger, since there are few things for which he cares sufficiently; but he is willing, in great crises, to give even his life—knowing that under certain conditions, it is not worthwhile to live.”

79. “It is of the nature of desire not to be satisfied, and most men live only for the gratification of it.”

Aristotle Quote - Freedom is obedience to self-formulated rules.

80. “Freedom is obedience to self-formulated rules.”

81. “A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side.”

82. “The weak are always anxious for justice and equality. The strong pay no heed to either.”

83. “All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.”

84. “The gods too are fond of a joke.”

Aristotle Quote - Anger is a gift.

85. “Anger is a gift.”

86. “Man is by nature a political animal.”

87. “Bad people are in conflict with themselves; they desire one thing and will another, like the incontinent who choose harmful pleasures instead of what they themselves believe to be good.”

88. “The self-indulgent man craves for all pleasant things and is led by his appetite to choose these at the cost of everything else.”

89. “Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society.”

Aristotle Quote - It is absurd to hold that a man should be ashamed of an inability to defend himself with his limbs.

90. “It is absurd to hold that a man should be ashamed of an inability to defend himself with his limbs, but not ashamed of an inability to defend himself with speech and reason; for the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.”

91. “Yes, the truth is that men’s ambition and their desire to make money are among the most frequent causes of deliberate acts of injustice.”

92. “For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and with moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends. Wherefore, if he have not virtue, he is the most unholy and the most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony. But justice is the bond of men in states, and the administration of justice, which is the determination of what is just, is the principle of order in political society.”

93. “It is also in the interests of the tyrant to make his subjects poor. The people are so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for plotting.”

94. “There is an ideal of excellence for any particular craft or occupation; similarly, there must be an excellent that we can achieve as human beings. That is, we can live our lives as a whole in such a way that they can be judged not just as excellent in this respect or in that occupation, but as excellent, period. Only when we develop our truly human capacities sufficiently to achieve this human excellent will we have lives blessed with happiness.”

Aristotle Quote - The greater the number of owners, the less the respect for common property.

95. “The greater the number of owners, the less the respect for common property. People are much more careful of their personal possessions than of those owned communally; they exercise care over common property only in so far as they are personally affected.”

96. “The life of money-making is one undertaken under compulsion, and wealth is evidently not the good we are seeking; for it is merely useful and for the sake of something else.”

97. “Those who cannot bravely face danger are the slaves of their attackers.”

98. “Evil brings men together.”

99. “Men do not become tyrants in order that they may not suffer cold.”

Aristotle Quotes on Love and Nourishing the Soul

Aristotle Quote - The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.

100. “The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.”

101. “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.”

102. “One swallow does not make a summer, neither does one fine day; similarly, one day or a brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy.”

103. “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

104. “The energy of the mind is the essence of life.”

Aristotle Quote - It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.

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

106. “Without friends, no one would want to live, even if he had all other goods.”

107. “The best friend is the man who in wishing me well, wishes it for my sake.”

108. “Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.”

109. “A friend is a second self.”

Aristotle Quote - He is his own best friend and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue.

110. “He is his own best friend and takes delight in privacy whereas the man of no virtue or ability is his own worst enemy and is afraid of solitude.”

111. “To love someone is to identify with them.”

112. “Distance does not break off the friendship absolutely, but only the activity of it.”

113. “In poverty and other misfortunes of life, true friends are a sure refuge. The young they keep out of mischief; to the old they are a comfort and aid in their weakness, and those in the prime of life they incite to noble deeds.”

114. “We should behave to our friends as we would wish our friends behave to us.”

Aristotle Quote - Happiness is a state of activity.

115. “Happiness is a state of activity.”

116. “All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not what is established.”

117. “The secret to humor is surprise.”

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

119. “Comedy aims at representing men as worse, Tragedy as better than in actual life.”

Aristotle Quote - Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.

120. “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

121. “Poetry is finer and more philosophical than history, for poetry expresses the universal, and history only the particular.”

122. “Memory is the scribe of the soul.”

123. “Happiness does not consist in amusement. In fact, it would be strange if our end were amusement, and if we were to labor and suffer hardships all our life long merely to amuse ourselves. The happy life is regarded as a life in conformity with virtue. It is a life which involves effort and is not spent in amusement.”

124. “The soul never thinks without a mental picture.”

Aristotle Quote - Men create gods after their own image.

125. “Men create gods after their own image, not only with regard to their form, but with regard to their mode of life.”

126. “Plot is character revealed by action.”

127. “Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient.”

128. “These virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions. The good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life.”

129. “With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible.”

Aristotle Quote - Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because life is sweet and they are growing.

130. “Young people are in a condition like permanent intoxication, because life is sweet and they are growing.”

131. “For though we love both the truth and our friends, piety requires us to honor the truth first.”

132. “Happiness is a quality of the soul, not a function of one’s material circumstances.”

133. “We give up leisure in order that we may have leisure.”

134. “They who love in excess also hate in excess.”

Aristotle Quote - The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another.

135. “The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.”

136. “It is not once or twice, but times without number that the same ideas make their appearance in the world.”

137. “We must not listen to those who advise us ‘being men to think human thoughts, and being mortal to think mortal thoughts,’ but must put on immortality as much as possible and strain every nerve to live according to that best part of us, which being small in bulk, yet much more in its power and honour, surpasses all else.”

138. “Virtue lies in our power, and similarly so does vice”

139. “Melancholy men, of all others, are the most witty.”

Aristotle Quote - Even though some people have tried to deceive me many times, I will not fail to believe that somewhere, someone deserves my trust.

140. “Even though some people have tried to deceive me many times, I will not fail to believe that somewhere, someone deserves my trust.”

141. “Even in adversity, nobility shines through when a man endures repeated and severe misfortune with patience, not owing to insensibility but from generosity and greatness of soul.”

142. “The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor; it is the one thing that cannot be learnt from others; and it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an intuitive perception of the similarity in the dissimilar.”

143. “Courage is the mother of all virtues because without it, you cannot consistently perform the others.”

144. “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.”

Aristotle Quote - Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor.

145. “Humor is the only test of gravity, and gravity of humor; for a subject which will not bear raillery is suspicious, and a jest which will not bear serious examination is false wit.”

146. “What is evil neither can nor should be loved; for it is not one’s duty to be a lover of evil or to become like what is bad; and we have said that like is dear to like.”

147. “Wicked men obey from fear; good men, from love.”

148. “The mathematical sciences particularly exhibit order symmetry and limitations; and these are the greatest forms of the beautiful.”

149. “The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.”

Aristotle Quote - Love is the cause of unity in all things.

150. “Love is the cause of unity in all things.”

Which of These Aristotle Quotes Made You Look at the World with a Rational Point of View?

Aristotle believed that the essence of life and truth can be found in the mortal world, and it is man’s duty to understand his role and purpose in it—through logical, linear thinking and the cultivation of habits. For him, rationality is the key to achieving happiness and attaining human excellence.

Did these quotes from Aristotle make you rethink the views you have of the world? Which of these quotes made you want to strive for excellence? Let us know through the comments section below.

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Karen Danao

Hi, I’m Karen, a content curator and writer for Quote Ambition; I’m also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, I’m someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics I love writing about! However, my true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.

With the many places I’ve been to, I found that love, inspiration, and happiness are some things that bring people together. No matter how different we are on the outside, I’m a true believer that our emotions don’t lie; if you dig deep into our psyche, we’re all the same inside.

This belief was further amplified when I joined Quote Ambition. Through the quotes I’ve read, collected, organized, and written about, I found that humans are resilient, creative, and compassionate.

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