Academic papers

plato – aristotle

In ancient Greece, philosophy flourished. Philosophers had a crucial role in society and education. Athens began to evolve into a political and cultural center and thus ended up with great intellectual and economic power. Philosophers came to exercise their craft in Athens because it was a meeting point for intellectuals. There are two important philosophers who despite their different views on the issues of society played a key role in the life of the Greeks, not only in there own eras but also in our times.

 

Aristotle was one of those philosophers. He was born in 322 BC in Halkida. His father’s name was Nicomachus and he was a doctor. Aristotle wanted to study medicine too, but he never did because he always said with bitterness that nobody is made doctor by only reading books. Plato on the other hand was born in 428/9. His uncle was Kritias, who played an important roll in the oligarchic coup of the Thirty Tyrants of opium as a leading figure. Plato was very interested in politics when he was young, but the sad involvement of his family in the case of the Tyrants, and also the murder of his teacher Aristotle from the Democrats, made him wary of the pity the political system and he lost any ambition he had to participate in the politics of Athens (Philosophical Speech, 40)

 

It was claimed that Platos real name was Aristocle, but he was named “Plato” because of his conformation. He founded a school, the Academy. This famous school operated for nine centuries and closed in 529 BC by Justinian. The school took its name from Acadimos, after the patron of the hero.. So the school got the same name.The Academy courses must largely have been similar to what Plato wrote and teached in his project “Politeis” (=States), regarding the education of members of society. However mathematics were seen as necessary preparation for the teaching of dialectics. Moreover, according to an ancient tradition at the entrance of the Academy people met the inscription “αγεωμέτρητοςμηδείςεισίτω” which meant that people which did not know mathematics and geometry had no place at the Academy (Philosophical Speech, 42). Platos students among others, was Aristotle who disagreed with him on his views and followed another philosophical direction. So because Aristotle and Plato were teacher and student they associated each other. But we find some differences in their perception of the world, politics and the position of women in society. Plato used to call Aristotle colt that kicked his mother in the abdomen at birth. The disagreements between the two great philosophers is a topic worthy of study in it self. Let us examine more precisely the places where they had a different view.

 

The first main and principal point of disagreement was the perception of the world. Plato believed that behind the world of consciousness and matter was a different reality, which he called “World of Ideas.” In this world there are the molds, the causes, patterns of all things and phenomena that we perceive through the senses around us. All are made on the basis of a longitudinal form, which remains eternal and constant despite the changes that time brings to everything. These timeless forms seem to be the primary elements of nature, something like mental and abstract shapes that form the natural phenomena and their number is specific. So behind the man is the “idea-man” behind the horse, there is the “idea-horse”, etc. Aristotle had a completely opposite view. For him Plato was unreal. Aristotle agreed that the natural world governed by variability, impermanence and decay (Plato & Aristotle, 48). But the “ideas” of Plato for this is not the original forms of things, but it is a logical construct of man, created through experience. So our idea for the horse formed by our logic, because we have seen and compare a large number of horses and we have come to those characteristics that are common to all, beyond their differences. This set of common features is the idea or ‘form’, as Aristotle called it, which does not exist in a specific world, but is found in everything.

 

For Plato the highest reality is the world of ideas and archetypes. For Aristotle, the reality is paramount to what we perceive with our senses. For Plato, everything we see around us are reflections of other things that exist in the world of ideas-and therefore also in the soul of man (The Great Political Theories, 29). For Aristotle, what are there in the soul are reflections of things and objects of the natural world.

 

Another important point of disagreement between the two philosophers is how to perceive the best way to govern a state. The work of Aristotle “Politics” (Πολιτικά) and the work of Plato, “State” (Πολιτεία) expressed their political views with several common but different concepts. Plato talks about the ideal state, which is ideal because it is governed by the constitution of the “nobility”. It is ruled by a group of people that have wisdom, knowledge, virtue, justice and capacity of citizens.

 

Every citizen within it has an important position, which is consistent with the nature, skills and work undertaken to offer depending on the scope. So it may belong to the class of rulers, in the class of Guardians – Warriors (defenders of the safety of the city from attacks), or in the class of farmers, merchants, craftsmen (who ensure the resources needed by the city to remain vibrant and survive).  The classes are more symbolic than real, and it formed the basis of socio / economic or professional criteria. They are related to the four elements of nature (earth, water, air, fire) and corresponding to features of human nature (The Great Political Philosophers, 27).

 

Guardians were selected based on their good physical conformation and intelligence. In the first stage of their training they had to exercise and have music education. Fitness meant caring for the welfare of the body and healthy lifestyle. Music was everything that had to do with the arts (music, dance, singing, and reading). From 20 to 30, their education mainly consisted of the mathematical sciences: arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, astronomy. An important stage of their educational progress was the five years (age 30-35) study of dialectic (philosophy), which leads to the highest form of knowledge, namely the quest for the essence of all things. Those guardians could be promoted after 50 years as rulers. With the new duties they should have the responsibility to educate a new generation of guards.

 

In a dramatic metaphorical description Plato shows how the vessel travels to the state ungovernable. The owner who is deaf and shortsighted person does not know how to sail. Crew members brawl between themselves and no one thinks that it needs an experienced captain is required to lead the boat. The only one who can govern the boat is the “ruler” (βασιλείς). The ruler is considered the most appropriate because he doesnt only have knowledge, but also a synthetic thought, life experience, managerial skills and character multi-faceted. He takes over from sense of duty to inject directly in legislation wisdom and integrity. He has neither personal property nor even a family; they can be unaffected and wholeheartedly dedicated to their profession hardship. Theyareliving blissfully because they enjoy the intellectual pleasures of life that are the only who last for ever and when they die they are honored as heroes.      

 

The class of farmers, merchants, craftsmen is the largest class. They are excluded from power. This class works but it is also protected from the others and can acquire limited wealth. The big economic differences are not allowed. This class is required to maintain, but not lavish the two other hegemonic classes. However, children born to the farmers class may be elevated to a higher class if they demonstrate outstanding intellectual ability (Philosophical Speech,97-100).

 

According to Aristotle, the citizens are divided on the basis of economic criteria into classes of farmers, artisans and merchants, and socially divided into poor and rich (The Great Political Theories, 29) The relationship between them is that the poor and rich will shape the form of government. The poor are usually more numerous than the rich. Depending on how power is shared and where it is concentrated, it is determined the kind of government that may have three types: monarchy or kingdom (one ruler), aristocracy (few rule) and democracy (many rule). In order to prevent it passed these altered forms of state into tyranny, oligarchy and ochlokratia respectively, it should be an incipient purpose of the common good and not the interests of one or a few.  The preference of Aristotle focused on “Middle State”, in what today we understand as democracy, where the middle class provides the balance between rich and poor.

 

For Aristotle, the best constitution is a monarchy, provided that the monarch is an excellent personality. Absence of such a monarch, the aristocracy is preferable and in terms of value of government is the States, a constitution, which was ruled by citizens of Middle socioeconomic status, people who subjugate.The bliss of the city does not contribute in the same way, as every system of the government.There are even systems that lead to the opposite effect. There are also those that are not designed to serve the interest of all citizens, but only some of them.

 

Another point of differentiation between the two giants are their views on women. From Plato’s work “State” (Πολιτεια) we understand that he believed that women are equal with men.He said that women can govern as well as men, because the wisdom, logic, bravery, virtue is not a matter of sex, but a matter of soul, and education. He stressed that a state that does not give education to women is like the man who only uses his right hand. Unlike Plato, Aristotle considers women inferior to men, because he believes that woman is an “imperfect man” (Plato & Aristotle, 145). In the process of reproduction, because the woman has a passive role (receiving) and man has the energetic roll (giving), the child inherits only the properties of man (which can now be shown as untrue). The image and vision of Aristotle on women was adopted in the middle Ages, when the women’s position deteriorated seen as a source of evil. She had a reproductive role only.

        

Despite the disagreements that exist between Plato and Aristotle, it is important to stress and recognize their “agreements”. Both speak about soul and its significance for humans, both stress that happiness is synonymous with virtue and high values and ideals, and both remind us that the purpose of a State should be good and cultivation of all citizens (The Great Political Theories, 29). But certainly it appears that the wise Plato and Aristotle and their logic give many useful and important answers to questions and concerns of today, so they can be both modern and timeless.

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gender differences in comminication

Non-verbal expressions compensate two-thirds of all communications between the sender and the receiver. Nonverbal communication can delineate a message both verbally and with the correct body signals. Nonverbal communication builds up a first impression. Sight makes up 83% of the impact on the brain of information from the senses during a visual presentation. Taste makes up 1%, Hearing makes up 11%, smell 3% and touch 2%. (Pease, 2004)

Facial expressions play a major role in non-verbal communication. The importance of it is significant, especially is we consider how much information can be conveyed through a smile or a frown. The non-verbal gestures often mean different things in different contexts or in different cultures. No gesture is absolutely universal although many are commonly recognized, at least throughout the same cultural context. The facial expressions on the other hand are similar around the world.

Gestures are deliberate movements and signals. In general there are “movements made by the body or some part of it”. Speech gestures are anything that can include shake of the head to waving and pointing. Other gestures are usually related to culture but also can constitute emotional contagion. This happens when conversation partners are sharing their feelings and interacting in empathetic ways (Knapp & Hall, 2010). In Brazil and in Denmark the American “Ok” hand sign is an unrefined gesture. The same sign in France signifies zero and in Japan money. An understanding of cultural differences and basic awareness of those differences when communicating with individuals from other cultures can enormously improve cross-cultural relationships and eliminate misunderstandings. (Glover, 1990)

      Clothing is the one way for understanding an individual’s personality. It can reveal their background and financial status. An individual’s clothing style can demonstrate a person’s culture, mood, level of confidence, interests, age, authority, values and beliefs, and their sexual identity (Pease, 2004). A study that took place in Austria, about women’s clothing and their attendance to discothèques, showed that in certain groups of women (especially women who were without their partners), their dress was motivated by sexual attraction and manifest in their display of a certain amount of skin. (Demarais, 2004)

Moreover, paralanguage is an essential aspect of nonverbal communication. It refers to vocal communication that is separated from verbal language. Various acoustic properties such as tone, pitch, and accent, collectively known as prosody, can all give off nonverbal indications. The paralanguage can be divided in subcategories. The first is the voice set, which is the context in which the speaker is speaking.  This can include the situation, mood, age and the person’s culture. Another aspect of paralanguage is voice quality. These are the volumes of the individuals tone, pitch, tempo, rhythm, and his accent (Trager, 1972).

Posture plays a major role in creating an impact on the audience. Posture has great significance while reading body language. Postulating is a general approach of adjusting and relating with various physical environments and social situations.  The adoptions of common bodily postures identify signals that the interactants are open to and with one another. Furthermore posture tends to identify the perceptual differences among people and the relationship distances.

Proxemics analyzes the physical and psychological space between individuals in the process of interaction.  Proxemics could be divided into the elements of territory and personal space (Segerstrale & Molnar, 1997). Territory refers to the general area in which the interaction occurs. Personal space on the other hand is the immediate space around a person. One of the most essential aspects of proxemics is haptics, which in other words means touch. Touch amplifies the interpersonal involvement, positive affect, social attachment, intimacy, and overall liking in a communication (Patterson, 2002). In many civilizations people tend to confederate positive feelings with the individual who touched them. Of course there are cultures that find touching disrespectful.

Physical appearance and especially attractiveness, provides a way of interacting also non-verbally.  Physically attractive people are perceived as more persuasive, successful in changing attitudes. Also they are perceived to be warmer, more poised, and more socially skilled than less attractive people. As we analyzed above the way one dress is also an important element of physical appearance as a source of nonverbal interaction (Patterson, 2002). This happens because a person has much more control over his or her clothes, in contrast to the features of the face or the body size.

Eye contact is also very important for understanding nonverbal behaviours. That’s because it can indicate the individual’s degree of attention and interest. Moreover, it helps recognizing how much it can influence the change in attitude and persuasion. Eye contact regulates the interaction among people and defines power and status. At last it has a central role in managing impressions of others. Of course eye contact is something that mostly Western civilizations accept as positive interaction. In Japan, Africa and Latin America people avoid eye contact to show respect.

      Chronemics is the study of the use of time in nonverbal communication. It indicates the way individuals distinguish time, organize it and react to it. Time perceptions include the speed of speech and how long people are willing to listen. In two dominant time patterns Chronemics were identified in 1998, the monochronic and the polychronic time (Gudykunst & Ting-Toomey, 1988).

The monochromic system has to do with how time is arranged, scheduled, and managed and that things are done one at a time.  The United States is considered a monochronic society. This system started in Industrial Revolution, were the labour force had to work specific hours and in specific places. American’s believe that time is essential. Time can be counted into years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds. Everybody use time to structure both their daily lives and events that they are planning for the future. Also, Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Scandinavia are listed as monochromic societies (Scarborough& Lindquist, 1999).

A polychronic time system is a system where several things can be done at once. Northern and western European cultures use the polychronic system of time. This societies have an informal perception of time and believe more in the importance of having relationships with the people around them, than being in time for a scheduled meeting (Scarborough& Lindquist, 1999).

Genetics is a hard field to study in dealing with nonverbal communication. Although many believe that nonverbal interactions have to do with the individual’s environment, that’s not entirely true. “When you cross your arms on your chest, do you cross left over right or right over left?”.  Seven out of ten people cross their left arm over their right. Indication suggests that this could well be a genetic gesture that cannot be altered (Rashad, 2013). Genetics also contribute to nonverbal communication. This happens because genetics form, for example, eye color, hair color and height. One study analyzes how taller people are perceived as being more impressive. Although tall people often command more respect than short people, height can also be detrimental to some aspects because an eye-to-eye discussion is not possible. (Pease, 2004)

      Nonverbal interaction is one of the key aspects of communication. Nonverbal communication can be used to repeat or reinforce a verbal message. It is also often used to accent a verbal message, in this way the nonverbal communication adds emphasis to the verbal tone assisting the understanding of the actual meaning of the specific spoken words. Nonverbal communication can also substitute verbal messages. That is mostly helpful, especially when the interaction is blocked by noise or other interruptions. Non-verbal communication is especially significant in intercultural situations; because it can be used to help to avoid misunderstandings.

In nonverbal communication there are also some problems.  Some individuals tend to concentrate more on their strongest areas of nonverbal communication while neglecting the other aspects. It is also important to mention that the same gestures, facial expressions or postures can and do mean different things in different interaction environment and settings. This brings many misunderstandings among people when communicating (decoding the encoded message).   With this said, one must realize that the term culture does not refer to the various ethnic and geographical groups exclusively. Culture , in order to correctly interpret the nonverbal signs one must not only evaluate the ones that are relative to the context of what is being communicated, but also to attempt to deduce them in light of the decoder’s cultural background.

      Communication can be effective if a message is accurately formed, sent and completely understood from the recipients. Effective communication also requires verbal and nonverbal interactions. The nonverbal aspect of communication is easiest when the environment is right for all communicators involved, such as, when the environment is suitable or the moment is correct. Nonverbal communication is an important aspect in any conversation skill people are practicing. Without nonverbal communication, verbal language has less meaning and can be tiring and monotonous. Ones gestures and movements do bring life to conversation.

 

           References

Pease B., Pease A. (2004). The Definitive Book of Body Language. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Knapp & Hall (2010). Nonverbal communication in Human interaction. Boston, Wadsworth Cengage Learning

Glover (1990). Do’s & taboos: cultural aspects of international business, Business America International Trade Administration

Rashad (2013). The Power of Family Unity, Xlibris Corporation

Demarais,A., White, V. (2004). First Impressions. New York, NY: BanTam Books.

Patterson (2002). Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill

Smith, M. Estellie (Ed.). (1972). Studies in linguistics in honor of George L. Trager. The Hague: Mouton.

Segerstrale & Molnar, 1997, p.235

Kaufman-Scarborough, Carol and Jay D. Lindquist (1999), “Time Management and Polychronicity: Comparisons, Contrasts, and Insights for the Workplace,” Journal of Managerial Psychology

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international management

The last few decades have seen increased global mobility and increasing levels of international trade that are encouraged by agreements and treaties between countries.  This environment of continuous change has led to greater workforce diversity and innovative organisational forms.  I have personally witnessed many changes in Greece and the current economic crisis has meant that many people in Greece have turned towards foreign markets.

Observing  the pace of change, I have come to realise that leading in this new globalised environment calls not only for business acumen and knowledge of your international partners, but also the ability to be creative in forming flexible organisations and to capable of managing these effectively. Although by no means the only consideration of the international manager, the leadership of people  is key and of particular interest to me as I embark on International Management.

Although we may think of the international manager as one that packs his/her bags and sets off for overseas assignments, international management is in fact, all around us.  There are undoubted challenges presented to the expatriate manager that involve adapting to  a new environment , dealing with local cultures and communicating with a local workforce, but increasingly these challenges present themselves to all managers – even those that never leave their home country.

Indeed, I believe that international management can take place at many levels, even within one’s own country.  What Adler (1997: 127) describes as domestic multiculturalism means that even locally we are faced with managing diverse backgrounds and cultures.  Greece, as an example of a small and previously quite homogeneous nation, now has large immigrant communities that have become integrated into Greek society.  The US is built on the multicultural backgrounds of its citizens and continues to actively encourage immigration from other countries around the world.  What this means is that both domestically and internationally we need to be international managers.

But how do we manage this diversity domestically and internationally?  Bird (2013: 90) suggests that global leaders require the following competencies: Cross-cultural Communication, Interpersonal Skills, Valuing People, Empowering Others and Teaming Skills.  Bearing in mind what is noted above, it occurs to me that all of these could easily be applied in a domestic environment too.  Birds view makes sense to me and I seek an understanding of these ideas through my MSc although would expect to develop the competences in practice when I begin my career.

Of all the changes that have taken place in the last few decades perhaps the most significant is the transformation in information technology.  This has had a tremendous impact on me and the way I communicate with others, but it also has major repercussions for International Management.  New alternative organisational designs are now possible such as the virtual organisation, offering opportunities for more flexible international relationships.  In the virtual organisation managers can take advantage of employee skills in far flung locations without being physically present, communicating through e-mail and teleconferencing.  Here empowered teams are at the forefront and offer far more flexible alternatives to traditional hierarchical organisational forms (Maznevski and Chui, 2013).

However, all teams of whatever nature must be managed to achieve optimum results.  Global virtual teams, distinguished from other teams by their composition and  geographical dispersion, present greater challenges for the international manager, particularly in areas such as forming relationships and communicating effectively across time and space.  Virtual teams are organisations of the future and understanding how they are best managed will be an increasingly important requirement for the international manager.

References

Adler, N (1997) International dimensions of organizational behavior South Western: Cincinnati

Bird, A (2013) ‘Mapping the content domain of global leadership competences’ in Mendenhall, M.E. et. al (2013) – Global leadership: research practice and development Routledge: New York pp80-96

Maznevski, M. and Chui, C (2013) ‘Leading global teams’ in Mendenhall, M.E. et. al (2013) – Global leadership: research practice and development Routledge: New York pp141-162

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