This is kind of a random blog topic… which I suppose is a bit like talking about a round circle.
I’ve been thinking for a while about the ideal sort of human being, the target we should aim at in our way of life. Why? As some of you know, I train and consult in Business Ethics among other things. One of the ethical theories that’s undergoing something of a renaissance in the field is the ‘virtue ethics‘ of Aristotle. Unlike most other views of what is good, Aristotle’s isn’t based on moral codes or consequences but rather character.
For Aristotle, virtue is a skill that is developed by constant practise. I like that idea. Aristotle gave a name to the person who could master this skills – the great-souled man. This is someone who claims much and deserves much, who owes no-one anything, is self-sufficient and independent, says what he wants and fears nothing. Essentially, he is a paragon of all the other virtues. Plus, he – always a he – walks slowly and speaks in a deep voice, apparently.
So I started thinking. Are there any other examples of this sort of ‘perfect pattern human being’ set forth by philosophers or psychologists?
I could think of three others:
Nietzsche’s Superman – This is mostly a future style of human being who will overcome present human imperfections by the creative genius of willing his own values. Examples are Goethe, De Vinci and Julius Caesar.
Plato’s Philosopher-King – These were the guardians of Plato’s ideal state. They were supposed to be a mix of supreme thinkers and supreme politicians – an almost impossible combination – with lots of physical training thrown in too.
Maslow’s Self-Actualized Person – This is someone who has developed or realised all their latent potential. Such people are motivated out of a desire for growth rather than a sense of deficiency, and accept themselves fully.
So my question is – can you think of any other examples? I would like to add to this list if I could.