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Plato Vs Aristotle Essay

1823 words - 7 pages

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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, the rational part of the soul must control the irrational parts by choosing to follow a middle path or mean between the extremes of excess and deficiency. This was Aristotle’s theory of the Golden Mean.”(Pacquette 268) Aristotle thought that true happiness could only happen when people live a balanced life, Plato also agreed. “The ethics of both Plato and Aristotle contain echoes of Greek medicine: only by exercising balance and temperance will achieve a happy or ‘harmonious’ life.” (Gaarder 115) Both Plato and Aristotle agreed that a balanced life is a good life, and that...

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