This research paper is about the comparison of the Plato and Aristotle to the western history and philosophy. The thoughts and the works of both the philosophers’ have been discussed in Philosophical way which is explained in brief manner.
Is there anything in this world called as wisdom or it is mere collection of words or teachings? The answer to this question can be found out by getting into life and works of the theologies by the modern mind.
It may be noted that both Plato and Aristotle were great philosophers who explicitly developed so many theories during their entire life period and they were into metaphysics, ethics, aesthetics, logic, poetry and music. Their collective works constitute and gives an idea of the first western history’s first comprehensive system. They were great philosophers and had great wisdom to contribute to the western societies which led the foundation of western history.
Comparing the teachings of Plato and Aristotle and their influence on western History:
Plato (c.427- 347 B.C):
Plato was a classical Greek philosopher and a mathematician from aristo family and also the most famous student of Socrates. Plato was “idealist” or “utopian” or “dreamer” and wrote 20 books, with Socrates as the main character.
When Socrates his teacher died, he was just 28 years old and left Athens but returned, established a school for the Athenian youth, at the age of forty. The school was closed by Justinian, the Byzantine Emperor and it exists from 387 B.C to A.D 529.Plato was idealist and believed in order and harmony, morality and self-denial, immorality of the soul.
Forms Theory: The highest function of the human soul is to acquire the vision of the form of the god. In the form of a dialogue, Plato recorded Socrates experience. Socrates was the main speaker, came know through Plato when he wrote his dialogues after 399. Plato dialogue style was the Socratic as well as dialectical style. This style he employs throughout, which was the form of question-answer.
“Mankind is born with Knowledge” it was the Plato discoveries as his own, which states that by birth humans being possesses knowledge in them.
Plato’s greatest and best work was ‘The Republic’ dialogue, which was regarded as Plato’s blueprint for future society of perfection.
The Republic embodies expression of his knowledge theory in ethics, politics ethics, justice nature and statesmanship.
According to Plato, The citizens are the least desirable participants in government. He used to ask epistemological question like what is knowledge. What is illusion? What is reality? How do we know? What makes a thing, a thing? What can we know?
Plato distinguishes between the realities presented to human beings by their senses like touch, smell. Sight, sound, taste and the essence of that reality, which considers that reality is changing every now and then.
Plato postulates higher unchanging reality of the beautiful, goodness or justice, that for good life we have to live according with Universal standards.
Plato’s ‘ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE’ the central argument of which was that human sense deceives them as they trust their senses. Human beings are in a cave like prisoners, which mistake shadows on a wall for reality and ALLEGORY OF THE CAVE appears in Book VII of The Republic.
Plato wanted to rescue Athens from degeneration by reviving that community sense that had at one time made the polis great and the only solution to this problem was to give control over to the kings of Philosopher as they have intellectual ability to achieve the highest form of contemplation of human beings.
Plato felt that Athens direct democracy, had failed to consider his ideals and the problem he saw was that wisdom and power had traveled divergent path and only solution was to unite them through the Philosopher king.
He states that everything we experience is imperfect, such as beauty and we never see perfect beauty in the world; each and every form is the one and only original perfect example. Plato called supreme Form the ‘Form of the Good’. Forms are more real, eternal as beautiful may come and go but beauty itself remains, changeless, they always remain the same. His world of Form contains fixed truths which are absolutely true for all time, people and places.
The contribution of Plato which he had on the western and world history are as follows:
- Shaped Christian thinking on God, the soul and an afterlife by his thinking on the soul immorality, conception of a world beyond the sensory and his god-like form of good.
- Nietzsche called Christianists “Plato for the people”
- According to him, knowledge of the Good is the highest knowledge a human is capable of and he thinks independent of the sense in his search for truth.
- Forms are the perfect expression of something and every physical objects seen with sense are dependent on and simply shadows of the Forms and the Forms exist in the Noeton.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C):
Aristotle was famous student of Plato, son of physician to Philip of Macedon. He was the personal tutor Alexander the Great and he styled himself a biologist, charged too with impiety.
Aristotle became the student at the Academy of Plato, whose age was sixty years and he himself was sixteen. The Lyceum was name of the school Aristotle had started in 335B.C, which was close by Justinian in A.D 529.
Aristotle was the “real” or “encyclopedist” or “inspired common sense” or “the prince of those who know”. He believed in all things follow the middle course, by avoiding extremes, one will enjoy its best of happiness and pain minimum .Aristotle was called the “encycolpedist” as he led a profound love of order. He led to explosive advances in the Greek scientist capacity to conduct scientific research. Aristotle was a Plato student, who in turn studied under Socrates. Aristotle had a great idea about everything and his students recorded almost everything he taught at his school. In fact, the books to which Aristotle’s name is attributed are really more than notebooks of student.
Aristotle was a “polymath” taught physics, music, tragedy, drama, aesthetics, logic, zoology, poetry, ethics and politics, but he did not excel in mathematics where Plato was a master of geometry.
Aristotle did not believe in Plato ideas that there every object in the phenomenal world is an essence or absolute. Aristotle believed that knowledge comes from experience, where Plato believed that human beings were born with knowledge.
- Rationalism- It states that knowledge is a Priori which comes before experience.
- Empiricism- This talks about knowledge is a Posteriori that comes from experience.
Aristotle, who was most famous student of his teacher Plato, was his greatest critics which result a little patience with his teacher ideas of higher world of the Forms.Aristotle argued that were universal principles but that they come from experience and reject the Plato ideas of world of Forms beyond space and time.
From the above discussions of the work and teachings of Plato and Aristotle it can be concluded that both of them were pioneer in the field of logic and theoretical philosophy and based the solid foundation western ancient Greek wisdom by their depth of intellectual knowledge and work. Their ideological philosophy has many social implications like ideal state of government. These becomes clear as we go on and do the comparative study of both the scholars which lays the foundation of western history.
1. John J. Hospers, “The concept of artistic expression.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 55:313-44.1955.
2. William J. Luyten, “Pluto not a planet?” (Science, 2006),. 123:896. 195.
- Smith, Nicholas D. (ed.), “Plato: Critical Assessments.” (London and New York: Routledge, 1998) in four volumes: I: General Issues of Interpretation; II: Plato’s Middle Period: Metaphysics and Epistemology; III: Plato’s Middle Period: Psychology and Value Theory; IV: Plato’s Later Works.
4. Irwin, T. H., “The Platonic Corpus” in Fine, G. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Plato (Oxford University Press, 2011), 63–64 and 68–70.
- Jones, W. T.” The Classical Mind: A History of Western Philosophy.” (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1980) , p. 216
John J. Hospers, “The concept of artistic expression.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society,(1955): 55:313-44.
William J. Luyten, “Pluto not a planet?” Science, 123:896. 195.
Bertrand Russell, “A History of Western Philosophy.” Simon & Schuster, (1972).
Irwin, T. H., “The Platonic Corpus.” The Oxford Handbook of Plato (Oxford University Press, (2011): pp. 63–64 and 68–70.
Jones, W. T. “The Classical Mind: A History of Western Philosophy.” Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, (1980): p. 216