Essay Sample: The Man Who Can Live Alone Is Either an Animal or a God

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1235 Words
Date:  2021-06-16

A man is viewed as a social creature in the sense that he needs others to survive. However, Aristotles assertion, The man who can live alone is either an animal or a god (Aristotle, 1915) makes one consider both sides of a man being in a crowd and being in isolation. The isolation, in this case, entails being able to survive without others and making decisions independently. The assertion by Aristotle possibly implies that there is clear division regarding what it entails being human and man being political in nature and what it entails being inhuman and man being marginalized such that one leads an isolated life. It presents a paradox in regards to being human such that it includes the divine and the same time a mind that is unable to think rationally depending on the choice. The divine, in this case, refers to the mind and soul. The focus of the paper is to analyze the concept of being human on Aristotles definition of being human.

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It is important to note that man is considered to be a rational character and exhibits humane characteristics such as compassion, care, and love. Aristotles assertion puts into perspective the issue regarding the relationship between an individual and the society. It can also be viewed that Aristotle puts into perspective the essence of substances present in the environment. The essence, in this case, includes factors that make a thing to have quintessence. Philosophy highlights the fact that things are what they are by themselves (Forsdyke, 2005). Therefore, man is who he is by himself. Therefore, what is being human? What separates man from other creatures? What is the influence of the environment on mans character?

There are several theories illustrating the development and the social nature of man. Some scholars argue that mans behavior is innate while others view it to be influenced by ones environment. It is important to highlight the theory by Darwin on the evolution of man in regards to what he is today. According to Darwinism, man evolved from being an ape-like creature to an upright being with a high cognitive ability. He developed both physically and intellectually and hence having the capability of thinking rationally and independently (Gleason, 2009). Also, man is considered to be social in nature and that the factors that surround him determine his character. Behaviorism puts into view that the nature of man is as result of his association with environmental factors while cognitivism attributes behavior to the mental processes. The schools of thought highlight the concept of mans action but differ when it comes to the factors that result in mans nature (Gonzalez & Willems, 2013). T.C. Boyle, in his book, the Descent of Man also presents another analogy when it comes to the rational nature of man. From his perspective, a man still exhibits an irrational character in the sense that he is capable of exhibiting primitive nature. Boyle focuses on presenting a distinction when it comes to the spiritual or rather mental aspect in man and the mind of an animal. Boyle puts into perspective the rational nature of man and the irrational nature of animals. He creates stories with bizarre stories that illustrate man slowly treading back to his irrational ways (Boyle, 1999). His thoughts align with Aristotles since they both put into perspective the rational nature of man.

A man is considered a social animal from a philosophical perspective. As stated earlier, Aristotle made the statement that The man who can live alone is either an animal or a god after presenting the view that man is a social being (Aristotle, 1915). Man is perceived to be unable to survive without the presence of society. Most scholars align with the view that mans nature develops through social contact that is present in his culture (Cooley, 1992). He is considered to be unable to survive without others. A human being who grows in isolation is perceived to be normal or rather has mental issues. The society provides a platform where man is able to gain knowledge, make a living, participate in community building, learn from other cultures and treat each other with respect. The society makes it possible for social interaction. When babies are born, they are considered to be animals with needs in addition to being blank slates. However, after being socialized into the society, they emulate the observed behavior and begin to associate similarly to other members of the society regarding communication and emotions (Cooley, 1992). There have been several discoveries of people who were abandoned when they were babies such that they grew in isolation and hence being unable to behave like others. A good example in the 1938 case involving Anna. The girl was confined in a room for five years when she was just six months old. The isolation made it difficult for her to communicate and walk. After being rescued, receiving care and interacting with other people, she began behaving like other people and would comfortably walk and talk without experiencing any challenge (Schacter, 2015). The example illustrates the view that man develops his character by socializing with others. When in isolation, fundamental aspects such communicating and walking become difficult as per Annas cases.

Another issue is that necessity makes it difficult for man to survive. He requires collaboration and support from others to accomplish various tasks (Cooley, 1992). The basic needs such as shelter, food, and clothing become available when he is living with others rather than alone. The dependency begins from the time that a child is born whereby he or she looks up to his parents or guardians for support since the child lacks the capacity of performing tasks like everyone else. Also, the society makes it possible for one to have dreams and develop himself or herself through the support and effort from others. It is quite challenging for an individual to learn a basic skill without the help from others. Through the society, man is able to pursue education, climb the social ladder and feel secure when compared to surviving on his own. Therefore, both nature and necessity make man to be viewed as a social individual (Cooley, 1992). From a personal perspective, issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse are often affiliated with loneliness. Furthermore, when one undergoes medication, counseling becomes a necessity whereby individual gains support from another.

As stated earlier, the focus of the paper is to analyze the concept of being human about Aristotles definition of being human. Man is viewed to be social in nature in the sense that he needs others to survive. He becomes an animal or rather irrational when in isolation. However, when socialized into a group, it becomes easier for man to engage in social activities.


Aristotle. (1915). Eudemian Ethics. The Works of Aristotle: Volume 9, translated by J. Solomon and edited by W. D. Ross. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Boyle, T.C. (1999). Descent of Man: Stories (Contemporary American Fiction).. New York, Penguin Publishers.

Cooley, C. H. (1992). Human nature and the social order. New York: Transaction Publishers.

Forsdyke, Sara. 2005. Exile, Ostracism and Democracy: The Politics of Expulsion in Ancient Greece. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Gleason, P.W. (2009). Understanding T.C. Boyle. New York: Routledge.Gonzalez-DeHass, A. R., & Willems, P. P. (2013). Theories in educational psychology: Concise guide to meaning and practice. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Schacter, D., Gilbert, D., Wegner, D., & Hood, B. (2015). Psychology: Second European Edition. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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