Aristotle’s Philosophy of the Young versus the Old (Rhetoric, Book 11, Chap11-14) by Travis Tillery


It has been determined and always been found that youth have strong and changeable desires and goals. They are quick-tempered and lack self-control and do not yield easily to reason.  Their focus is on superiority and they easily feel offended. They act to to increase their nobility rather than to implement useful ideas. They like victory over others to increase their honor, which is worth more to them than money.

The youth, having no experience, have great hope and expectations and prefer that everything is superficially good. They appear confident and courageous and accept without question the rules of society. They do not have the scope to determine the value or usefulness of anything or anyone, even friends.

The youth are quick to pity everyone, thinking everyone is honest. They like to insult in their insecurity, rather than do any real harm. They are full of fun and wittiness, which is not a result of a well-bred character, but rather to display insolence. They make mistakes and think they know everything. As a result they overdo everything.


The senior members of our society are filled with memories of their experience. They seem to under-do everything and are never sure of the rationale or outcome. Older people act “small-minded” because they have been humbled by life’s journey. They prefer to focus on what is useful to them.

The old are cynical, distrusting, with no love, just bitterness, not yet reaching hate.  They are shameless. Even though they may be competent, they have contempt for others’ opinion and their search for nobility.  They think only of what are classified, “Urgent needs,” and love life, what is left for them.

In conclusion the best character of man can be found at the middle-age, when one is called neither young nor old. This is the time of life filled with indifference, when one is neither timid nor confident. Such a person would have a body developed at 35 years, but whose mind will peak in development at age 49 years old.


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