Comparing Plato And Aristotle Essay

2127 words - 9 pages

Comparing Plato and Socrates

Plato was among the most important and creative thinkers of the ancient world. He was born in Athens in 428 BC to an aristocratic and well-off family. Even as a young child Plato was familiar with political life because his father, Ariston was the last king of Athens. Ariston died when Plato was a young boy. However, the excessive Athenian political life, which was under the oligarchical rule of the Thirty Tyrants and the restored democracy, seem to have forced him to give up any ambitions of political life. In 388 BC he journeyed to Italy and Sicily, where he became the friend of Dionysius the ruler of Syracuse, and his brother-in-law Dion. The following year he returned to Athens, where he devoted his time to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences. Most of his life thereafter was spent in teaching and guiding these activities. In 347 BC Plato died, while he's published writings all still live. They consist of some 26 dramatic dialogues on philosophy and related themes. The philosopher Socrates was a close friend of Plato's family as well as his teacher. Plato's writings attest to great influence on him. This could be a good explanation to why Plato uses Socrates to voice his own opinions about his Ideal State. Book I of Plato's Republic, beings with Socrates, Cephalus, Polemarchus and Thrasymachus discussing justice. Each give their own meaning of justice or dikaiosyne. Cephalus says justice is truth telling and debt paying. He views justice this way because he is an honest and just businessman. Polemarchus, who is Cephalus's son, agrees with Cephalus's definition, but continues by saying justice, is giving each his own due. By this he means, helping one's friend. Finally, Thrasymachus, who is a sophist, defines justice as the advantage of the stronger. Justice is not to the advantage of everyone but to the advantage of the rulers. Socrates proves that justice brings unity to any group of people, because it allows them to trust and rely on one another. The discussion of justice is continued in the beginning of Book II. Glaucon enters the conversation and he divides all things into three categories: 1) Those that are pleasurable for themselves and their results, 2) Those that bring good results, but with difficulty, and 3) Those that bring no results, but are pleasurable. Glacon then asks Socrates which category justice falls within. He replies by placing it in the first category. "I myself put it among the finest goods, as something to be valued by anyone who is going to be blessed with happiness, both because of itself and what it comes from" (Republic, Book II 358a). Glaucon claims that the general view of justice lies in the second category, the mean between two extremes. Glaucon defends his argument by using the example of the "Ring of Gyes," a magical ring that turns its wearer invisible. He continues to argue that if humans were given the opportunity to be unjust without getting caught...

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