Plato Vs. Aristotle


Plato and Aristotle, two philosophers in the 4th century, hold polar views on politics and philosophy in general. This fact is very cleverly illustrated by Raphael's "School of Athens" (1510-11; Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican), where Plato is portrayed looking up to the higher forms; and Aristotle is pointing down because he supports the natural sciences. In a discussion of politics, the stand point of each philosopher becomes an essential factor. It is not coincidental that Plato states in The Republic that Philosopher Rulers who possess knowledge of the good should be the governors in a city state. His strong interest in metaphysics is demonstrated in The Republic various times: for ...

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government. His less metaphysical approach to politics makes Aristotle more in tune with the modern world, yet he is far from modern.
Plato's concept of what politics and government should be is a direct result of his belief in the theory of forms. The theory of forms basically states that there is a higher "form" for everything that exists in the world. Each material thing is simply a representation of the real thing which is the form. According to Plato, most people cannot see the forms, they only see their representation or their shadows, as in the simile of the cave. Only those who love knowledge and contemplate on the reality of things will achieve understanding of the forms. Philosophers, who by definition are knowledge lovers, are the only beings who can reach true knowledge. This concept has to be taken a step further because in The Republic, Plato states that philosophers should be the rulers since they are the only ones who hold the form of the good. Plato seems to be ...

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it (The Republic, pp 56-62). Although a person is not self-sufficient, a composition of people--a state--satisfies the needs of all its members. Furthermore, members can specialize on their natural fortitudes and become more productive members of society.
States are going to form, whether purposefully or coincidentally. For this reason, certain rules have to be enacted for the well-being of the state. The main way to institutionalize rules is through government and in the form of laws. Plato's The Republic is not an explication of laws of the people. It is a separation of power amongst three classes--Rulers, Auxiliaries, Commoners--that makes the most of each person's natural ...

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Added: 7/23/2004 02:26:11 PM
Category: Biographies
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