Plato and Aristotle Comparison Essay (Critical Writing)
Aristotle’s philosophy and a brief historical background
Aristotle’s philosophy was based on the belief that all men by nature desire to now (). Aristotle was a “the son of a renowned physician from Thrace” and he began his philosophy studies at the Plato’s academy (May 4). His studies began from an early age and later after Plato’s death he was appointed a tutor (May 3). Some of his greatest achievements include being Alexander the Great’s tutor.
However, after a few years he established his own academy and at the time there were only two schools of antiquity (May 7).Aristotle was a man f his words and he was mostly regard as the peripatetic. This was “because he walked as he talked and paced as he thought” (May 5). He was a critic of the political class and this was almost caused him his life. Soon after the death of Alexander the great, he had to flee to Chalcis after disputes between him and the political elites (May 6).
Plato’s philosophy and a brief historical background
Plato was very influential young man during his time although his safety was compromised after the death Socrates. He was a staunch believer in Socrates philosophy as a young man. According to Plato, Socrates was the “wisest and mot excellent of men” and his eyes, his death was a great loss not only for Athens but also for humanity (May 5). He was born in 427 BC and he was from a very privileged family in Athens (May 5).
For instance, his uncle was among the thirty tyrants who ruled over the Athens. When Socrates died, Plato enhanced his philosophy by visiting some of the most reputable regions known for their outstanding philosophic thoughts. These regions included Asia Minor, Egypt, Southern Italy, and Sicily (May, 6).
The two are undoubtedly the most influential philosophers in history. One of the most striking similarities between the two great philosophers is the fact that they both were students of great philosophers. Plato was a Socrates pupil and he later became a great philosopher with his teachings being greatly influenced by Socrates philosophy (May 7). Aristotle on the other hand was a Plato’s pupil for many years as indicated earlier and his teachings were also influenced by Plato’s teachings.
However, Aristotle became one of the greatest critics of his own teacher but his criticism was not ill motivated. Amidst his criticism, he still held high regards to his tutor. In some of his writings he describe Plato as a man “whom bad men have not even the right to praise, and who showed in his life and teachings how to be happy and good at the same time” (May 9). Their works are very similar especially with regard to the aspects of philosophy targeted although notably their points in these subjects are contradictory (May 10).
The existence of God forms the basis of their two points of convergence in their philosophies. Aristotle concurred on most of the issue of Plato especially the universal ideas such the immateriality of the soul and intellect (May 11). The two philosophers were interested din the meaning of different occurrences. Plato was obsessed with giving meaning to the life’s events. He was mostly interested in explaining why we give different names to different things or individuals.
He was also trying to explain why the same name is given to other things (May 114). Plato’s arguments were geared towards describing the reason why things are as they are. He tried to find reasons and meaning of signs and names to explain the rationale used in arriving at those names.
A very conspicuous difference between Aristotle and Plato is their approach to heir mentors teachings. Plato continued with the teachings of his mentor Socrates and advanced his philosophy. On the other hand, Aristotle chose to go a different path and critic his mentor’s philosophy. He even established his own academy a move that many critics consider to be rebellious.
However, it is clearly displayed in his writings that Aristotle was not trying to discredit his mentor’s philosophies. Rather, “he brought the already rich and profound philosophy of his teacher to its magnificent fulfillment” (May 10). However, Aristotle disagrees openly with his mentor’s philosophy on the doctrine of the two worlds (May 11). Aristotle argues that “there is only one sphere of reality, the world of ostensible sense data” (May 12). About the existence of forms, he disagrees with Plato on the existence of Form’s second sphere of reality.
He argues that “forms do not exist in a second sphere of reality but in the thing” (May 12). Aristotle does not recognize form as an independent variable in the explanation of individuals or things. He attaches form to the bodies they represent, for instance, he argues that Treeness does not exists on its own as a form but it exits in the individual tree (May 13). According to Aristotle, form is affected by time and space. However, with the explanation of the essence of white, Plato argues that form is not affected by time and space.
This led to his many questions in which he seems to justify form’s independence on time and space. For instance, if the entire world decides to stop thinking about the number twelve, its existence does not cease. The number is a form and it is not affected or altered by time, place, or a person’s will (May 16). Another example give y Plato is the expression of one name for different individual items. For instance, one can say a paper is thin and at the same time call a plastic item thin.
While these are two different items, their existence has been described in the same form. Therefore, form cannot be said to exist in an individual as argued by Aristotle. In the above example, thinness cannot be found in any particular place in the plastic or paper (May 23). This supports his theory that form is not dependent on space or time.
This paper has outlined the major concepts of Aristotle’s’ and Plato’s philosophies to show their differences and similarities. The paper has started by giving a brief historical account of the two philosophers. Some of the most notable comparisons of Aristotle’s and Plato’s philosophies have been broadly outlined and discussed in this paper.
Other than the comparisons outlined, there are notable distinctions between the two philosopher in terms of reasoning and growth in the field. The two philosophers are products of their mentors and this aspect of their lives has also been discussed. Studying their philosophical background is important. It allows one to understand their point of influence and the origin of their rationales.
May, Gerald. Part 1 Unit 7 Aristotle. New York, NY: Cengage, 2015. Print.
May, Gerald. Part 1 Unit 6 Plato. New York, NY: Cengage, 2015. Print.
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