Student to Plato, whom was student to Socrates, a man who one could say was neither optimistic nor pessimistic. He just was.
This is not the case of Aristotle. For a little background, Aristotle was a Greek philosopher who lived in the 4th century B.C.E. He is known to have carried on, and to some degree denied, the teachings of Plato (much like another man he was said to have had contact with- Dismus). He would also be the man to personally tutor Alexandr the Great, arguably the most powerful man on planet Earth in his time.
With the background concluded, here’s a personal critique on Aristotle. He was one of the first thinkers to apply metaphysical (thoughts basically, which concern the nature of all things) discourse to a concept of time. Aristotle saw time as here and now, later, before, all the things that define existence. This may have been something he discussed in deep contemplation, but it isn’t anything new. However, in this is a dangerous line of thought we are trapped in here in the West: time is everything. We are slaves to it, and Being is something we associate to our time. Our past defines us today, our now is just a moment to be seized, and our future is something we will eventually arrive at. This is inaccurate. There is no future until we are there. The past is no more, either. Our emphasis on time and its events are leading us down a spiral of curious behaviors.
What may those be? Rising disdain for peoples of German nationality in leftist political circles can be one, mostly in retaliation to current political life. We also may see past aggressions as needing major reprimandation in this day, despite not a one person actually being present for such events. This isn’t unique to us, either. The Abrahamic religions and their traditions arguably possess the same issues. No doubt because all had a similar pagan history that also taught a kind of existential shame in our own humanity. The only major difference being that pagans, unlike the modern “civilized” man, reveled and accepted that fate to be a “sinful” creature worthy of very little.
If this sounds pessimistic, it’s because it is. The West is deeply locked in a kind of existential dread that piles up more and more, and the reasons behind it lie in both how we have allowed society to reach this point in terms of material reality and how internally we have developed a culture which has a fundamentally eschewed sense of time. One good read of virtually any German philosopher will quickly reveal just how uneasy we as Westerners are about existing. We need a higher purpose. It possesses us. We must have meaning.
To the East, Hindu traditions and the splinter faith of Buddhism traveled much of Asia. In China, both civic morality and personal ethics unfolded with Confucian and Daoist teachings. These of course, also possesses their own set of issues (filial piety robs humans of their natural life in favor of social harmony, to name one). One issue that the East doesn’t have, however, is our same level of existential dread.
We are deeply afraid of death here in the West. We won’t even admit it.