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Plato, Aristotle and Descartes Essay

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”, Plato said. Studying knowledge is something philosophers have been doing for as long as philosophy has been around. People always see just a part of things around the world. They need an open mind to understand more deep and wise into the world. It’s one of those perennial topics that philosophy has been refining since before the time of Plato. The discipline is known as epistemology which comes from two Greek words episteme which means knowledge and logos which means a word or reason.

Epistemology literally means to reason about knowledge. Epistemologists study what makes up knowledge, what kinds of things can we know, what are the limits to what we can know, and even if it’s possible to actually know anything at all. In fact, people always see just a part of things around the world. They need an open mind to understand more deep and wise into the world. Plato becomes increasingly discourage by both the “mob” and the “elite”. The mob, represented by the jury at Socrates’ trial, was irrational and dangerous; it was swayed by sophistic appeals to emotion, not by reason.

Plato concluded that most people are unfit by training and ability to make the difficult and necessary decision that would result in a just society. The average person lacks wisdom and self-restraint. As Plato saw things, most people make emotional responses based on desire and sentiment, rather than on rational consideration stemming from an objective view of what is genuinely good for the individual society. Socrates’s death, the revolt of the Thirty, sophistic abuses, and other factors convinced Plato that a corrupt state produces corrupt citizens.

He thus attempted to develop a theory of knowledge that could refute sophistic skepticism and moral relativism. Plato believed that if he could identify and articulate the difference between mere opinion and genuine knowledge, it would then be possible to identify the structure of an ideal state based on knowledge and truth rather than the mere appearance of truth and personal whim. The allegory of the cave is an example for this from Plato. The prisoners (unable to turn their heads) would know nothing else but the shadows, and perceive this as their own reality.

This is an important development to the story because it shows us that what we perceive as real from birth is completely false based on our imperfect interpretations of reality and Goodness. Plato expresses another of his favorite ideas: that education is not a process of putting knowledge into empty minds, but of making people realize that which they already know. This notion that truth is somehow embedded in our minds was also powerfully influential for many centuries. In Plato’s world, reality is not conceived through the senses, but rather intelligible truths of reality in the forms of ideas and figures, as opposed to the visible world.

In The Allegory of the Cave, Plato describes the physical world as a “dark place” in which humans can only perceive objects through the senses. Plato referred to these objects as phenomena, or weak forms of reality. Thus, the physical world is not a realm where humans can obtain knowledge of true reality. Plato describes the process of acquiring knowledge from darkness to the light. In this journey, humans are able to see the essence of truth, or in other words, they are able to gain an understanding of what is actually real.

This process, though painful and distressing, will at the end offer freedom and enlightenment to those who have acquire knowledge. Happiness is achieved by gaining an understanding of what is actually real. Because the philosopher has knowledge, his task is to descend to the cave to help as many people as possible to gain knowledge, or in other words, to learn the truth. This doesn’t convince me because science involves the pursuit of knowledge of general truths by using observation and systematic experimentation. However, Plato did not think a philosopher should use observation or empirical investigation in order to find truth.

He believed only abstract thinking could lead to true knowledge. Plato said that the very essence of knowledge is unchanging. What is true is always true and he thought that knowledge is innate I agree about there are some absolute truth but I think we learn knowledge by experience not only by innate knowledge. Along with his teacher Plato, Aristotle is generally regarded as one of the most Influential ancient thinkers in a number of philosophical fields, including political theory. What Plato believed about reality was very different from Aristotle’s ideology.

Aristotle objected to Plato’s view, arguing that one cannot know the type of interaction which is occurring between the two Forms. If the “real or ideal forms” are eternal, pure and unchanging then how do they relate to the material objections or Forms on earth with all their physical imperfections? This participation or imitation link between the real and the imaginary (which Plato claimed existed) is erroneous thinking as no one can has established such a link – real or otherwise. And even if a link is established it fails to explain all the Forms in the material world.

At some point Plato fails to explain how this greater Form was controlled- how can Form control things? Was there energy in “Forms”? Aristotle argued that form can be distinguished from content only in thought and never in fact. Aristotle warned that we must take care not to mistake “intellectual analysis” for “ontological status”. Aristotle accused Plato of doing just that by imputing actual existence to the Forms. For Aristotle, form exists within the natural order embedded in particular things and cannot exist independently. How does this criticism support Aristotle’s own metaphysics?

Aristotle brings to full maturity a second major expression of the search for the good life: attempting to acquire facts without bias and then using that information to make this a better world. Aristotle stands alone as an archetype of the philosophical naturalist. Basically Naturalism is the belief that reality consists of natural world. The Naturalist’s universe is ordered in that everything in it follows consistent and discoverable laws of nature; everything can be understood in terms of those fundamental laws. Nothing exists outside of space and time.

Nature always acts with a purpose, and the key to understand anything lies in determining its essential purpose. Philosophical naturalist deny the existence of a separate supernatural order of reality. They believe that human beings, although special, are part of the natural order and behave according to fixed laws and principles. Thus a clear understanding of nature is necessary to any clear conception of human behavior. Ethics and political (social) science must be based on the actual facts of life, carefully observed and collected by a scientific method – not on speculative, otherworldly, rationalistic schemes.

Aristotle based his philosophical positions on scrutiny of particular, actual things, not on the isolated contemplation of mathematical laws or pure ideas. Aristotle brings to full maturity a second major approach to the study of the good life: collecting facts and using factual information to make this a better world. Naturalism is the belief that reality consists of the natural world and that the universe is ordered. Everything follows consistent and discoverable laws of nature and can be described in terms of fundamental laws.

Aristotle has a variety of views that range from nature to ethics and has unforgettable take on mathematics. He gives me the impression that the laws of nature are the boundaries in which we live and our meaning of life evolves around this boundary.

I believe, there are some sort of absolute truths or knowledge but when we get knowledge we get most of knowledge through our experience. Descartes suggests the viewpoint that the human body and the human mind are two completely different things with different functions. The viewpoint is called Dualism, and holds that both the physical world and the immaterial world exist. Dualism is based on two substances, which are mind and matter.

Descartes explained that these two does not necessarily need one another to exist. Descartes doubts everything he was taught to believe because it is human tendency to believe what is false. In the first, he claims that most of what he believes is from his senses and that those senses are sometimes deceived. He wasn’t uncomfortable with the idea that there isn’t universal knowledge. He was the first to argue that the mind is a non-material entity which is distinct and separate from the brain. He also identified the mind with concepts such as self-awareness and self-consciousness.

He emphasized the sharp division between the mind and the body as the most basic fact of our human existence. In Descartes’ Dualism, the body is considered to be a material substance, and the mind is considered to be an immaterial one. He suggests that although these two things combine to make a human being, but these two parts exist in two separate worlds. The body exists in the physical world, where all the objects that we can see and touch exist. While the mind exists in a different world, an immaterial one, where we are not able to see or feel. Descartes establishes the Conceivability argument to support his viewpoint.

“I think therefore I am,” the well-known quote of Rene Descartes, is the basis of his theory known as dualism. The intermingling of mind and body or extended substance and thinking substance display Descartes’ ideas of a “genuine human being”. Descartes’ idea of the body being totally independent of the mind is known as the mechanistic view. Descartes’s interest in the “thinking thing itself” was the first major step in a shift in emphasis in modern philosophy from metaphysics to epistemology. He recognized the need for orderly thinking, which he called method.

He employed methodic doubt in his effort to find one absolute certain and undoubtable idea. Having found an undoubtable truth, Descartes tried to build a reliable foundation for knowledge on the innate idea of God. For Plato and Descartes mathematics becomes the blueprint for all knowledge. Mathematical knowledge remains true regardless of time, place and circumstances. This is unlike inductive knowledge or matters of fact whose truth depends on time, place and circumstances. On this basis Plato and Descartes reject our sense of sight, smell and touch as providing any source of reliable knowledge.

Both Descartes and Plato would agree that true knowledge is a priori. Basically this means that knowledge is innate and therefore prior to experience. If we take this innate knowledge we can build or expand on it to discover what Plato and Descartes could classify as ‘ultimate’ truths. Knowledge is a root of many challenges we face in a given day. Once you get past basic survival (though even things as basic as finding enough food and shelter involves challenges related to knowledge), we’re confronted with knowledge issues on almost every front.

Knowledge questions range from larger, more weighty questions like figuring out who our real friends are, what to do with our career, or how to spend our time, what politician to vote for, how to spend or invest our money, should we be religious or not, to more mundane ones like which gear to buy for our hobby, how to solve a dispute between the kids, where to go for dinner, or which book to read in your free time. We make knowledge decisions all day, every day and some of those decisions deeply impact our lives and the lives of those around us.

I think I learned much more by these theory, do not say you know all the world, using our intelligent to understanding more about the world, and then do not stop doubting get make ourselves much more better in future. The knowledge is unlimited, so we could learn a lot every day, then using it for our own good and pass it out for our next generation because knowledge is never old or too much, it could use time by time and always work. People could say that some of the knowledge is too old for the present and they have been use times by times, and always work even though it from centuries.

I think the world is big, get to know it will help us have a better look about everything. It is amazing that we could use our own sense to organize everything about our life and get experience by it. Doubting is as same as giving us a chance to understanding more about the world we are living in, than we have a courage to know about it much more better. Gaining more knowledge is never too much, getting it from our teacher; your friend is some of the simple ways to understanding more about our life in specific and the world in general. Work Cited . “Aristotle . ” Internaet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

IEP , 21 2005. Web. 3 Nov 2012. Gill, N. S.. “Plato – Greek Philosopher. ” Ancient / Classical History. About. com. Web. 3 Nov 2012. . “Greek Philosopher Plato. ” AllAboutPhilosophy. org. AllAboutPhilosophy. org. Web. 3 Nov 2012 . “Plato. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Richard Kraut. Web. 3 Nov 2012. . “Plato. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Richard Kraut , 16 2011. Web. 3 Nov 2012. . “Plato. ” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. IEP, 9 2009. Web. 3 Nov 2012. Shields, Christopher. “Aristotle. ” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Christopher Shields, 25 2008. Web. 3 Nov 2012.


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