Essay Example on Plato and Aristotle

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583 words
Middlebury College
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The ideas of Plato came before those of Aristotle. Plato learnt his philosophies from Socrates. Majority of his works are written in dialogue. They involve the question answer method, which was used in earlier times to develop concepts and understand them. Aristotle also learnt his primary philosophies from Plato. However, he was more focused on furthering these ideas. Hence, in most of his works, Aristotle criticized the accepted wisdom of Plato. The differences in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle mainly touch on idealism, ethics, and politics.

Plato created idealistic philosophy because he believed that concepts were of an ideal form. In his argument, Plato asserts that principles are of a universal form. Hence, they can be attached to a given concept and studied as a whole. On the other hand, Aristotle asserts that principles should be not combined. Instead, they should be studied differently (Herman, 2014). This philosophy brought about the idea of experimentation. According to Plato, experimentation was enough to develop conclusions.

However, Aristotle argued that experimentation alone was not enough. There is also the need to observe and to experience before drawing conclusions. Scholars and researchers later adapted the ideas of experimentation, observation, and experience. Even today, researchers rely on these ideas as methodologies when studying objects or phenomena.

The field of ethics is also attributed to the original works of Plato and Aristotle. Plato argues that that which is ethical is that which is good. Given that there are universally accepted truths about what is good and bad, people should be able to learn to distinguish between the two.

Aristotle counters Platos argument by saying that ethics is not only about learning to distinguish the good from the bad. Ethics is also about doing good. Hence, one who practices ethics is one who distinguishes the good from the bad and does that which is good (Herman, 2014). Aristotles argument formed the basis of virtue ethics. The idea of ethics itself aided the development of institutions, which dictate whether our actions are ethical or not.

Politics can be defined as activities used by individuals to gain power and influence decisions in a country. Politics has always been there even in the early days. Plato argues that a political system is created out of the interest of society. Hence, people should learn to include their interests in those of the society. Plato found politics to be necessary because it helps create a system or procedure of doing things. In one of his writings, Plato described a utopia, which was made up of the elite, the warriors, and the merchants. Plato noted that only the elite were suitable to be politicians (Herman, 2014).

However, Aristotle disagreed with Platos argument that politics was necessary. Instead, he argued that humans are political animals by nature. Hence, we cannot avoid politics because every unit in society is takes precedence over another. Aristotle states that the essence of politics is to create a space that allows humans to live their lives well and to accomplish beautiful things.

As noted, Plato and Aristotle were two theorists whose philosophies formed the foundation for idealism, ethics, and politics. However, the impact these philosophies have had in shaping peoples understanding of the world differs accordingly. The points discussed above will be used to determine the impact that the different philosophical thoughts of Plato and Aristotle have had on societys contemporary views.



Herman, A. (2014). The cave and the light: Plato versus Aristotle, and the struggle for the soul of Western civilization.


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