Plato and Aristotle were Greek philosophers who lived between 428-347BC and 384-322BC respectively. They were legends who looked at life differently. Aristotle was a student of Plato and Plato was a student to Socrates. Plato’s main subscription on Knowledge was that we get to learn from someone who is wise because knowledge is not accessible to all equally (prenatal knowledge). Aristotle held to the belief that we can learn all that we need by observing the world around us (induction).
The two views become more distinct when applied to the world of science, ethics, philosophy and politics.(Sch??trumpf, 2013). With Plato, we will see his theories regarding The Divided Line, The Allegory of the Cave, and The Simile of the Sun. With Aristotle, we will be viewing his theories involving The 10 Categories, The significance of Substance, and the 4 Causes. Lastly, we will also be comparing and contrasting the philosophers on metaphysics and axiology.
Plato divides the knowledge into four quadrants, each two forming two major classifications. These epistemic states are the visible realm and the other, the intellectual realm. Diving further the intellectual realm we get intelligence and mathematical reasoning. These two form knowledge. The visible realm which comprises of belief (pistis) and illusion of shadows forms our opinion. An interpretation of this theory is the moral epistemology of how we know what to do individually and in public, general, and at particular given moments. We turn away from doing that which is right because of our human flaws. Otherwise, we should be properly led by morals, religion, mathematical skills of apprehension and logic. (Cornford, 2013)
The Allegory of The Cave is perhaps the most famous of Plato’s works. He compared the effect of education to lack of it on nature. Plato believed that in order to attain genuine knowledge, we need to go beyond the changing world of day-to-day particulars and grasp the timeless and unchanging universals of which objects are imperfect instances.(Cottingham, 69). In the Republic, the people are enclosed in a cave with no access to the outside world.
As they light their fires, they can only look at the shadows on walls with wonder. They will have lengthy debates on these shadows in an effort to understand nature, only to a limited view. Once they discover the outside world, the explosive view becomes overwhelming as they get to see the true nature and color of what they had as shadowy figures(phantoms). On getting back, the enlightened view the rest as deluded and there rises a sharp conflict. That’s how different levels of knowledge make others look less useful. It becomes increasingly dangerous to reprove those in the cave with much light you’re having. The only solution is first rallying the news of the new light to the masses and acting like you don’t know much, with patience. (Andersen, 2104)
In the SImile of The Sun, The Republic Book 6 of Plato, he postulates that we need an extra sense to be able to see others senses. The sun illuminates other things for us to be able to see them. Intellectual training is very important in the learning process. Then, will only useful things prove to be beneficial. The sun is the form of the good, the eyes equals to the mind, sight to knowing, and visible things to intelligible things. In dim light we never get to see well because we learn of the good things like truth in brightly light conditions. Trying to know things far from the right, we are likened to the dark conditions.
In the book Categories, Aristotle suggests that all the said things in life can be divided into ten categories: substance (e.g. a table), quantity (the table has four legs), quality (the table is yellow), relation (the table is raised than the chair), place (the table is in the office), time (the table was made last month), position (the table is up-right), or habits (the table has four legs), action (the table bears a heavy load) and affection (the table will be crashed by a huge load). The subject comprises of the predicate itself. And if this predicate exists in the body of the subject, it will be classified as quantity. The nature of existence if it be like flowing from form, it qualifies to be called quality. Else, if the existence in relation to another is in the substance, the predicate is relation category. The theory is all about recognizing objects through dissimilarity representation.
Aristotle also talks about his belief in substances. He says substances are ultimate things making up the universe. Just as the species in which the things primarily called substances are called secondary substances, as also are the genera of these species(Cottingham, 76) These substances are the concrete things in the universe caused to exist by the abstract things which he called accidents. E.g. a ball (substance) when kicked (action is the accident) will start to exist somewhere. We all believe in this substance, for failure to, is equivalent to as saying things do not exist in nature. It is a deep and wide philosophy which needs lengthy periods to fully digest before you can start disputing. (Prior, 2016).
The 4 Causes include his theory of metaphysics and has four states: material, formal, efficient, and final causes. The material cause is the fundamental actual properties of a thing, the formal cause is the design part, the efficient cause is the actual force that makes something to exit and the final cause is the ultimate purpose of existence of something. Aristotle believed Causes of it as a statue; but they are not causes in the same way, since one is the material cause, and the other the efficient cause which is the source of the change.(Cottingham, 414). One cause is an end and another cause is the source of change.
When it comes to metaphysics, the two Greek philosophers had telling similarities. Both agreed to the fact that knowledge exists of only real things. The senses which help us to develop an experience in our world make it real and knowledge can only be defined of something which does not keep on changing. The senses make the world to be varying. (Scolnicov, 2013)
On ethics, Aristotle believed that we need to be just good people, the right actions will follow effortlessly. Also, he argued consistently that living in accordance with virtue was the key to achieving eudaimonia, happiness or fulfillment. (Cottingham, 492). We are built with a desire to be virtuous, not through the influence of God. Plato believed that happiness is a condition of the soul which can be attained by training.
Art’s imitative function promotes disdain and content in Plato and curiosity for Aristotle. The value of art in our society is portrayed by Aristotle great with the world being in parts meant for observation and scrutiny. Plato believed poets are a manufacturer of images and are very far removed from the truth.(Cottingham, 699).
Aristotle differs with Plato on human condition with respect to new knowledge. Whereas Plato advocates for different limitations of perception based on where you are and the exposure you have, Aristotle is a naturalist claiming that knowledge needs not varying natures. Everything can be known by observing the world around us. (Hughes, 2013). Plato claims that intellectual concepts of perfect objects needed for a prior knowledge cannot be gained from experience. Aristotle was convinced that intellectual concepts needed for a prior knowledge cannot be gained from experience, by abstraction on the soul.
In conclusion, the two philosophies are correct depending on how you are viewing life. Plato’s illustration of human conditions in relation to knowledge is so deep that Aristotle’s explanation seems to form a part of what Plato was teaching. One seems to be knowing all, till they find more light and start considering the previous knowledge as primitive, a stepping stone to the future learning.
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