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Aristotle vs Plato Essay

Two of the greatest and earliest thinkers of our time are Plato, and his most famous pupil, Aristotle. Soon after Plato’s teachings, Aristotle criticized his claims and independently became a thinker on his own. These philosophers viewed metaphysics differently, and they approached the idea of reality in two opposing ways. Plato’s Theory of Forms was a concept that was defined in a different way by Aristotle. They both believed in “forms” but approached this idea differently. Plato felt that there are two different levels of reality compared to Aristotle who felt that there was only one level of reality.

Plato’s way of thinking always came from ideas from within that were applied to the outside world as opposed to Aristotle whose ideas came from the outside world and then were applied within. These contrast ideas were a result in Aristotle believing that there is one level of reality. He believed that there was only one world, and that forms existed in particular things. Aristotle felt that everything was matter, and certain kinds of matter were composed into different things. He believed that form did not have a separate existence, but existed in matter. Plato, however, believed that there were two levels of reality.

Physical and mental were two different things in his eyes. Physical is what is real and you can see and/or touch, and mental is what seems to be real but cannot be seen such as air. Plato believed that there are “two worlds” and that everything real has a form but does not symbolize that form. Aristotle’s and Plato’s views on forms were very different. Plato saw “forms” as descriptions and something like adjectives and it could be applied to more than one thing. If something was “delicious,” there was something else that was also “delicious” but they were not the same thing.

These descriptions are real but are not physical matter. Aristotle, however, saw reality as having four causes: matter (what it is made up of), essence (what it is), producer (what caused it), and purpose (what it is used for). Plato stated that the realm of being exist separately from the divine realm where the “forms” portrayed in the things of this world. He explains that the people have knowledge of these “forms” because the soul is immortal and this received knowledge are actually faint and faded memories that this world shadows from the other world.

The soul has absolute knowledge from the other realm. Aristotle stated that the being of any specific thing consists of matter and form. These forms were not to be found anywhere except for the in the substance of that certain thing. Aristotle makes it clear that the essence of something is what makes it what it is, and the soul cannot leave the body. Everything has matter and form, with the exception of God. Plato and Aristotle were two great thinkers that both believed in “forms,” but approached this idea in two different manners. Plato believed in a dualistic reality – physical and mental.

He applied inner views to the outside world. His view on metaphysics consists of two realms to our reality. One being the realm of changing then becoming, and the other being a realm with set beings. On the other hand, Aristotle viewed things the other way. He applied outer views to inner self. In his mind, there is only one level to our reality and that forms are found only within specific things, that of which both have form and matter. Even though I understand what these philosophers are saying, I am confused as to how they believe the world works.

How can there be two parts to reality? I think that physical and mental things exist together in one world – this world. Everything has matter – solids, liquids, and gases are the three different forms. “Forms” are adjectives. If something is round, that is its quality. Its form is what it is, for example a round table. My way of thinking resembles Aristotle’s more but not completely. The four causes can be applied to almost everything. But what is emotion made up of? What is emotion? What causes emotion? And what is emotion used for?

Even though emotions are things, they do not have physical matter. It exists, but it cannot be seen. Both Plato and Aristotle have confusing views on our reality, and I believe that Aristotle explains the truth of it more clearly. However, I do not think either of them is right in explaining the actuality of our reality. Plato believed that we should view our world more as spiritual than physical. Aristotle thought the same thing, except that forms are within the objects we see. How can our world be viewed as spiritual?

Does that mean that we just see imaginary things? Does our world even actually exist? Is it a dream that things are real? When Plato applies inner views on the outer world, doesn’t that mean he is being close-minded? Writing this paper has cleared things up a little bit for me, however, I still find it to be confusing. I believe the world just is. The Big Bang theory makes sense, and everything evolved. I do not think there is more to the picture than the fact that we just are. Everything is real, whether it can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, or tasted.


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