Academics have been discussing the concepts of the two fathers of philosophy, Plato and Aristotle, for over 2,500 years. These two men conceived the type of thinking that has been the base of government since a structured regime began. While Aristotle was Plato’s favorite student, they had many conflicting ideas and debated each other constantly. Their conflicting ideas reflect the way to our current country’s severe divide between liberal and conservative. We see every day how these two concepts can tear a nation apart, but both Plato and Aristotle’s ideas are a successful and efficient way of organizing people into a community of politically active individuals who need each other to survive and to be good men (Velazquez, 2013, p. 76). Each of these philosophers created an ideal civilization and a plan on how to achieve it. There are plenty of similarities in their goals, but they arrived at each much differently.
Plato takes on a more rigid social structure. His main goal is a utopia where only the educated rule”the best and virtuous philosophy-king. The people with the most knowledge should be the one making the decisions for those who do not understand how the system works. Many of the citizens are not allowed to question authority or to think for themselves. There is even discussion with Socrates about killing everyone above the age of 10 and educated by the philosopher-king in order to artificially produce this ideal world. Plato thinks everyone is born with an innate purpose and he implements a specific job on people (Velazquez, 2013). It was assumed that if left up to her/him, the general person would not choose the compatible roles based on their inherent skills. Friendship is for pleasure of company or usefulness of the other person. This utopia seems militant, utilitarian, and very father-knows-best. Knowledge exceeds passion.
Aristotle seems to take a more pragmatic and autonomous view. The main goal of his civilization was to focus on finding happiness and the individual’s function in life. Here, the person can decide her/his own function and is free to explore their options and passions. He assigns roles based on experience and training, rather than an innate skill. The ruler is someone who is excellent at ruling and shaping society. They may not be the best person, but she/he is exceptional at the role she/he has chosen. Friendship is more emphasized in this civilization. It is based on wishing others well because the person genuinely wants good things to happen for the other”being virtuous. According to Velazquez (2013), Aristotle stresses the concept of living a virtuous life because that is the way to happiness (p. 75).
Both of these civilizations would not completely work in today’s society. Plato’s philosophies mimic the conservative approach”they believe they are fiscally more intelligent and better understand how the money is used more than their liberal counterparts are. Therefore, they believe they should rule. Liberals believe in Aristotle’s virtuous friendship and want good for other people so their agendas would lie more with helping the needier classes. They have the experience and passion. Therefore, they believe they should rule.
This paper will review articles and other media to describe, compare, and contrast the two ideologies of Plato and Aristotle. Their philosophies will be compared to the patterns we see in our society today in our liberal and conservative political parties. This paper will also explain why neither one alone is correct but together they create a balance.
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