Aristotle vs. Plato

The two great thinkers of all time, Plato and Aristotle, had key similarities and differences in a number of ways. The two, came from different background and came to influence the world in various ways. They ended up with totally divergent conclusions about the elements that take the centre stage in the notorious understanding of human nature.

Plato was born to Ariston and Perictione in a noble background in Athens, Greece. Very little is known of Plato’s early years one thing is for sure: he received the best quality of education Athens could offer to a child from a noble family, (Shorey, 14). He dedicated is unique talents to politics and the writing works that were inherently tragic and poetry that later won an international academic acclamation.  His association with Socrates greatly changed his steps in life since the power that Socrates’ approaches and arguments had over the thoughts of the youth Greece overwhelmed Plato making him a very close acquaintance of Socrates. The end of the Peloponnesian War that led to destruction of Athens was a turning point for Plato whose master Socrates was poisoned to death putting his conscious at war with himself and politics, till he left Athens. 

Plato later returned to Athens and opened his historic academic where he taught. He began to write ‘dialogues’ which become an oasis of the philosophy (the quest for truth and wisdom) that influenced many early scholars (Kahn, 34). He later wrote To the Laches about courage, Charmides on common sense, Euthyphro dedicated to religion, the Lysis on relationships, Protagoras the teachings of human virtues among others. However, the Apology and Crito that unravelled Socrates trial and his challenges and republic and the Seventh Letter, became the most famous of his works.

On the other hand, Aristotle was born in northern Greece to later become the most striking and perfect product of Plato’s education project and philosophy after 20 years of study (Bekker, 45). Following Plato’s death Aristotle returned to Macedonia where he influentially taught Alexander the great, son to Philip. He returned to Athens and after Alexander’s approval started his own academy at Lyceum where he conducted a lot of research work and writing.  His amazing subjects of research works were logic in Physics, politics, rhetoric and Biology.

In their arguments, Plato and Aristotle were very different. Taking their arguments on the theory of forms, Aristotle is more persuasive than Plato is (Terence, Irwin & Gail Fine, 24).  Aristotle’s arguments against Plato’s thinking are very objective; he aims to show how these forms represent features of a non-existent man whose human virtues are only realizable in the ideal world: the world of imagination. In Plato’s philosophy, the word form possesses a specified meaning in that, unlike Aristotle, he saw the cosmos as divided into the sensible world and the ideal. He bases his arguments on the realization of the ideal forms (universals) in the sensible world (the real world) a move Aristotle finds overly impossible. Aristotle proposes that particulars, not universals, are existent and visible and linked them with the special term, “ousia”, which refers to “reality” and also the ‘substance’. He defines reality as the physically existing being or an object where the object is not every form or a heap of physical matter but one that combines both the matter and form in a way that fulfils an important function and displaces chances of illusions or coincidence.

To conclude, the two remarkable men possessed an excellent and coveted intellect. In fact, it is this superior power of the brain that adequately illustrates how their significant differences are inherently revealed in the theory of the forms, immortality and their divorced views on human virtues. They radically hold divergent views on these key issues, but tend to agree on others, such as the view that the soul is indeed the form of the human body. Plato is idealistic in that since we are unable to experience his supposedly virtuous world of forms, we are not in a position to claim any knowledge of its presence: we, like him, can only imagine. We, on the contrary, feel knowledgeable of Aristotle’s world where our individual souls will at the end return to the ‘fire’ of God that greatly influenced the thinking great Christian philosophers like St. Augustine and St. Aquinas. 

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