Plato, Aristotle, and Your Fitness

What a title, right? 

Before you turn your nose up at a dry, academic, metaphysical interpretation of wellness in modern society, give me a chance to break this one down.

… And use it at your next dinner party, you’ll sound super smart.

Aristotle and Plato were two brilliant men who came to two very different interpretations on the nature of things.
Plato, with a heavy affinity for idealism, came to understand things as innate, free-floating ideas from which all variations were derived.
Aristotle with a passion for logic and metaphysics, came to understand the opposite -that the idea of things was composed of our embodied experiences with all of the things we categorize as “similar to”.

Modern Wellness Culture, as it stands, walks a fine line between these two approaches. If I were to ask you which of these philosophers’ ideas of “thingness” you agreed with, most of you would probably agree with Aristotle.

Where I think we start to trip up, and where I find my clients often get confused, is when we talk about wellness. How often have you heard the phrase, “this is supposed to be super good for you,” or  its million variants?  It is an incredibly platonic phrase. It assumes that there is some sort of innate wellness smoothie floating in the sky from which we can derive wellness upon consumption.

Do you see the problem?

Here’s an example from my life:
My little brother and I have great fights about what’s healthy and our conversation looks like this…

Him: “Tell me something healthy I can have for dinner.” <-Plato
Me: “I dunno, what did you do/eat today?” <-Aristotle
Him: “Just tell me what to eat, K?” <- Stubborn little brother who is sick of Aristotle

Just because something makes sense for me, doesn’t mean it automatically makes sense for you. Somehow, even though we agree with Aristotle, we talk about wellness as though we were more aligned with Plato. Next time you catch yourself talking about something’s healthfulness, ask yourself, are you Plato? Or are you Aristotle?

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