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Plato vs Aristotle

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In ancient Greece two great written philosophers lived. First there was Plato and then Aristotle. Aristotle was a pupil of Plato. Despite being taught by Plato they had different theories and views. Their ethics were very typical and traditional of ancient Greece but Aristotle detailed virtue ethics and the path to happiness. Plato’s political theories for a utopian society varied from Aristotle’s view of ‘best state for each society’. Their metaphysical theories are complete opposites and very contradicting. Even though Plato and Aristotle came from the same era and were closely linked they had very different philosophies.

Plato had typical views of ethics for an ancient Greek. Aristotle shared these views he was more specific about ethics and the path to happiness. Plato and Aristotle both believed that a good person choose morally sound choices because of their reason and good character. A person who follows their good character and reason instead of trying to avoid consequences is a virtuous person. Aristotle believed “virtue is a matter of developing the unique ability to reason.”(Pacquette 268) Being virtuous to Plato and Aristotle also meant, “doing things- no matter what these things were- in a way that reflected rational thought and involved making the best of one’s skills, talents and opportunities.” (Pacquette 268) Aristotle and Plato both agreed that a person’s good moral character and reason guided their ethical choices. A good moral life to them would lead to “eudaimonia, an ancient Greek word that translates into English as happiness.” (Pacquette 268) Though Plato talked and wrote about virtue and happiness, Aristotle went into great detail about his ideas. Aristotle is known as the creator of the theory of virtue ethics. “Aristotle held that there are three forms of happiness. The first form of happiness is a life of pleasure and enjoyment. The second form of happiness is a life as a free and responsible citizen. The third form of happiness is a life as a thinker and philosopher.”(Gaarder 115) Aristotle felt that for a person to achieve eudaimonia, they must achieve all three forms of happiness otherwise they will not be truly happy and satisfied because their life would be unbalanced. Aristotle believed balance is key to happiness. “To be a good person, according to Aristotle, is to act in accordance with right reason, in other words, th...

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...nses while Plato only trusted his reason. Plato felt that only with our reason could we understand and obtain true knowledge. We can only have ‘opinions’ about what we experience with our senses. He only trusted his reason because “we cannot always trust the evidence of our senses. The faculty of vision can vary from person to person.”(Gaarder 86) He also did not trust the sense because he felt we couldn’t have “true knowledge of something that is in constant state of change.”(Gaarder 85) He trusted reason because he felt reason was the same for every person. Plato only trusts his reason and does not believe what he experiences with his senses while Aristotle felt that experiencing things with our sense is the highest degree of reality and believed all our knowledge comes from what we experienced with our senses. Plato and Aristotle’s theories on metaphysical topics, of ‘forms’ and what is reality are very different and completely opposite.

Even though Plato and Aristotle lived in the same country during the same time period and Plato was Aristotle’s teacher, they had very different ideas about politics and metaphysics while both maintaining traditional ancient Greek ethics.
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