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A Comparative Study On The Philosophies Of Plato And Aristotle.

1803 words - 7 pages

Plato and Aristotle are undoubtedly the greatest of philosophers that the world has seen. Both Plato and Aristotle formed unique and distinct theories about the Greek city states. While most people believe that Plato and Aristotle are complete opposites of one another, it is not completely true. For those who have studied the works of both the philosophers, the theory proposed by Aristotle is just a development of the Platonic system because it does away with the cons of Plato’s theory.

However, it has been noted that Aristotle never let a day pass by when he didn’t criticise Plato. It all started after Plato’s death, when his incompetent nephew, Speusippus, was made the head of Plato’s Academy. Aristotle believed he was a better fit for the role assigned to Speusippus. He left the Academy in a fit of rage. This belittling of his master’s theories started after this incident.

Let’s discuss the similarities and dissimilarities between Plato and Aristotle.

Similarities: Aristotle drew a lot of inspiration from Plato’s theory on ideal state and citizenship.

Firstly, Both Aristotle and Plato believed in the philosophy of Polis- Self sufficient and independent city states. They believed that the key role of a city state or Polis was to bring out the best in an individual and promote their moral and ethical development. In simple words, the state was responsible for making its citizens virtuous. They believed that for a state to be self sufficient, it needs to be small in size.

Both Aristotle and Plato were very critical of the democratic system. They believed that such a system took the state away from its true nature. It upheld principles of equality among classes, promoted participation of all individuals in politics and allowed people to voice their problems. Both Plato and Aristotle believed that the rule of the poor or the democratic system would bring chaos and violence. Such a system would be solely based on commercial association and would not be bound by moral or ethical rules.

Aristotle and Plato promote the concept of an ideal state in their theories. Of course, Aristotle’s ideal state is more pedestrian and pales in comparison to Plato’s concept of the ideal state.

Both Plato and Aristotle were against the concept of individualism. They believed that the state came before an individual and their needs. Every individual belonging to Plato’s and Aristotle’s state had no rights of his/her own. Their rights and duties were designed to serve the needs of the state. Even human associations such as family and marriage; and needs such as property were governed by the state. The State was supreme. And its citizens were just means to an end.

Aristotle and Plato emphasize on the importance of the Church as a moral institution of the state. The church was responsible for perfecting human character and inflicting values and morals in an individual’s life to maintain peace and order.

They also emphasize on the importance of political...

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