Plato vs. Aristotle Research Proposal

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Plato vs. Aristotle

It is safe to say that Plato and Aristotle are some of the philosophers who played a fundamental part in influencing modern thought in the western society. The purpose of the present paper is to analyze the differences which exist between the two thinking systems belonging to the philosophers mentioned above. Let us take a look at the main ideas that each of the philosophers thought to be of most importance.

The concept of harmony was extremely important for Plato. Therefore he applied it to the universe and the individual. According to him the human soul can be healthy only if it reaches the ideal state, the one of harmony. The matter becomes complicated as the soul is believed to be composed of three parts. These are spirit, reason and appetite. Since these correspond to different needs and desires that the person has, the consequence is that when people are faced with an important decision, a conflict will arise between these components of the soul.

The most important and most difficult conflict that usually occurs is the one between duty and pleasure or in other words between what somebody has to do and what that somebody would actually like to do. Reason, based on the objective understanding of the surrounding world will tell people that it is better to follow the just path. Appetite on the other hand focuses on pleasure and it will most likely recommend the path that procures most pleasure, ignoring the suggestions of reason.

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The situation becomes even more complex as the third part, that is the spirit is concerned mainly with honour. One might argue that it would be easier to choose one of these elements and follow it as a guide for behaviour. It is nevertheless obvious that harmony can not be reached in this manner.

Another important concept in Plato's philosophy is represented by the cardinal virtues. These are: wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. Having these virtues ought to be the life ideal of each and every person. Naturally these virtues find a correspondence within the three parts of the soul.

TOPIC: Research Proposal on Plato vs. Aristotle Assignment

Temperance for example can be a weapon against appetite since it guides you on the path to balance (whereas appetite pushes you towards excesses). Courage is a tool which people can use in order to defeat their fears and in order to reach wisdom. Wisdom is installed when the soul is in perfect balance and has reached perfect health. The realization of this state is thought to be one of justice.

Therefore it can be stated that Plato finds a tight correspondence between justice and harmony. The ethical dimension that harmony has suggests that it is man's moral duty to reach this state. In other words it is our duty to control our self-destructive passion and succeed into realizing our potential.

Aristotle's view regarding the soul was different. The main difference resided into the close connection between the soul and the body. According to this philosopher, the body and the soul share a connection which is unbreakable. This is why something which manages to hurt the body will harm the soul as well and the other way around. The perfect symbiosis between the body and the soul leads to two conclusions.

The first one is that the only means of communication and self-expression that the soul has at its disposal is the very human body. The second one is that the organs of the body are the only means through which one could get to the soul. At this point we could state that the difference between the two philosophies are great, with Plato focusing on the relation between the soul and man's actions and Aristotle on the intertwining of the two dimensions ( the spiritual and the carnal one).

It is interesting to acknowledge the fact that according to Aristotle there are three different types of souls. These are the vegetative (nutritive) soul, the sensitive (sentient) soul and the human soul. The vegetative souls is characterized by the fact that it absorbs matter from the things it comes into contact. The sensitive soul perceives the changes underwent by the things surrounding it but it is not influenced by them. The human soul is the rational one. It is able to analyze things and take decisions. Obviously the three of them are part of a hierarchy where the nutrient soul offers the lowest position and the human soul the highest. The human soul includes the other ones, but is not limited to them.

It is obvious that the philosophers focus on different things while attempting to define what is the best possible life conduct for people (in order to reach personal happiness but also in order to provide the conditions for the world and the universe o function well).

"Plato is the first thinker to systematize other-wordliness. His metaphysics, identified in Objectivist terms, upholds the primacy of consciousness; his epistemology, intrinsicism and its corollary, mysticism; his ethics, the code of sacrifice. Aristotle, Plato's devoted student for twenty years, is the first thinker to systematize worldliness. His metaphysics upholds the primacy of existence; his epistemology, the validity of reason; his ethics, the ideal of personal happiness." (Peikoff,

Another issue upon which the two philosophers had different perspectives is represented by the world of ideas. According to Plato, ideas are meant to be behaviour codes through which people can decide how to approach any type of issue. Ideas are also placed in a precise hierarchy and the ultimate position is occupied by god himself. Naturally Aristotle believes that there are no such things as the perfect entities Plato believes the ideas to be. Instead he argues that everything is connected to the human perception and therefore the standards followed by people are derived from behaviours that previously took place.

The observation of these simply led to the understanding of what the right behaviour types are supposed to be. These standards change just like people's preferences and perception change. One of the examples that Aristotle believes to be relevant under these circumstance sis represented by Beauty. Although Plato states that it is a never changing standard, reality demonstrates how the beauty standards change from century to century.

Let us further analyze the concept of god. In Plato's philosophy god is the supreme manifestation of goodness. It must be underlined that goodness and god are not synonymous. God may encompass goodness more than any other being but he is not one and the same thing with it. Since they are not one and the same thing one might wonder if there are any other sources for good in the world and the only answer that comes to mind is yes.

But, if goodness does not derive from god or not from him alone then there are two conclusions that can be drawn. The first one is that god is good because he has good intentions. This might leave room for the possibility for him to have bad intentions as well. The second one is that god is imperfect because only by being a synonym to goodness could perfection be reached.

Aristotle's view on the other hand is very different. He believes that god is an entity which contributed to the birth and functioning of the universe. For him go is the driving force but one which lacks any kind of material expression. However, unlike Plato he sustains that all goodness derives from god.

A further argument that we can discuss regarding the different philosophical perspectives of Plato and Aristotle is represented by the human function. According to Aristotle the best good that a person could pursue in life is represented by happiness. according to him it is the duty of each and every individual to pursue this ideal. The best manner to pursue and achieve this ideal is to follow reason. But what does this mean exactly? It means that each individual must use that part of his soul which corresponds to reason and use it according to his own capacity. Since people are different and are endowed with different capacities then it is obvious that the manner in which they will use reason and achieve happiness is different as well.

A person of high capacities can reach happiness just like a person with minor capacities, but happiness will differ, just like the quality of these people's actions will. In other words a carpenter who performs his task well will reach happiness just like a scientist who makes an invention the entire humanity can benefit from.

The quality of their action is different since it derives from their different intellect and character. Nonetheless they will have both realized their human function. In other words all people have a great responsibility, the one of fulfilling their own potential. Realizing this potential is an expression of the part of the soul which corresponds to reason.

It is worth noticing that while Aristotle's goal was to prove that goodness is synonymous with happiness therefore giving… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Plato vs. Aristotle.  (2010, February 5).  Retrieved September 18, 2021, from

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"Plato vs. Aristotle."  5 February 2010.  Web.  18 September 2021. <>.

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"Plato vs. Aristotle."  February 5, 2010.  Accessed September 18, 2021.