PLATO and ARISTOTLE
Prepared by Raizza P. Corpuz
Plato (429-347 BCE)
• The “idealist” or “utopian” or “dreamer”
• Born into a wealthy family in the second year of the
• Name means “high forehead”
• Student of Socrates
• Left Athens when Socrates died but
returned to open a school called the Academy
in 385 BCE
• Wrote 20 books, many in the dialectic style
(a story which attempts to teach a specific
concept) with Socrates as the main character
• Idealist, believes in order and harmony,
morality and self-denial
• Immortality of the soul
• Virtue as knowledge
• Theory of Forms – the highest function of the
human soul is to achieve the vision of the
form of the good
• Most perfect form of government: “Philosopher
Kings” (i.e. very smartest) rule over an essentially
• Why Philosopher Kings?
– Plato believed they alone possess the intellectual
capacity to achieve the highest form of human
• Such penetrating powers of insight necessary to distinguish
between truth (i.e. that which is eternal and unchanging and
therefore is “really real”) from that which is untrue
(changeable stimuli received by our faulty instruments of
perception that serve to trick us into thinking that
something is in fact “real”)
• Plato’s thinking on the immortality of the soul,
Plato’s conception of a world beyond the
sensory and his god-like form of good have
very much shaped Christian thinking on God,
the soul, and an afterlife
• Nietsche called Christianity “Plato for the
Form of the cat:
perfect and eternal
shadow of the perfect
•Everything we experience in this world is a vague shadow of what
it really is RPCorpuxz 2013
• Forms are the perfect expression of something.
• Episteme/epistemology - true knowledge.
• True knowledge attained via reason NOT sense
experience (sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.)
• Sense Experience creates illusions called Eikasia.
• The Forms exist in the Noeton.
• Our world that is based on senses is the Horaton
• All physical objects seen with senses are dependent on
and simply shadows of the Forms (concepts.)
Qualities of Forms
The Forms are perfect/ Ideal=
• Everything we experience is imperfect, such as
• We never see perfect beauty in this world
• The form of beauty – beauty itself- is perfect.
• Each form is the one and only original perfect
The Forms are invisible=
• The perfect element of the Forms means they
The Forms are more real=
• Forms are more real than the illusion we experience.
• For the existence of things in our world depends on the existence on the
• For example beauty that we see is a distorted and imperfect image of
what beauty really is.
• All these images rely on the existence of the Form of Beauty being there.
• Without the form there would be no existence of beauty.
The Forms are eternal =
• They always have been there
• They always will be there.
• While beautiful things may come and go, beauty itself remains.
The Forms are changeless =
• Always stay the same.
• Plato’s world of forms contains fixed truths which are absolutely true for
all time, people and places
• There are many Forms, and because there are so
many forms there must be a Form of the Forms.
• Plato called this supreme Form the ‘Form of the
• The Form of the Good is the Form of all other forms.
This is because everything has good in it.
• Try describing beauty, justice, truth without
• All perfection flows down from the Form of the
Form of Good
Universal Qualities (essence that makes up forms)
Concepts and Ideals (Forms)
Physical Living Objects (Humans, animals, plants)
Physical inanimate objects (furniture)
• According to Plato, knowledge of the Good is the
highest knowledge a human is capable of.
• The ordinary person (that’s you and me) struggle
to see past the illusion of this world because we
are ruled/controlled by our senses.
• Only the philosopher is capable of seeing beyond,
because he can make ‘a priori’ judgments.
• This is because he thinks independently of the
sense in his search for Truth.
Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
• The “real” or “encyclopedist” or “inspired
common sense” or “the prince of those who
• Studied under Plato at the Academy
• Son of a Macedonian doctor, returned home to
become the teacher of Alexander of Macedon for
three years, beginning in 343 BCE
• Later returned to Athens to open
school called the Lyceum in 335 BCE
Mark Steel Lectures: Aristotle
1. Why were there so many philosophers during
2. What does Plato mean by the perfect form?
3. What are some examples of what Aristotle
4. What is his ‘4 Essence’ theory?
5. What did Politics address concerning nature?
6. Why did he feel the rich AND poor were unfit to
7. How was he before his time?
• Believed in the Golden Mean
– i.e. all things follow the middle course; by avoiding
extremes, one will enjoy a maximum of happiness and
a minimum of pain
• Called the “encycolpedist” as he had a profound
love of order
• Numerous fields of scientific study he either
invented or contributed to:
– Logic, biology, zoology, botany, psychology,
chemistry, astronomy, cosmology, metaphysics,
ethics, political theory, constitutional history, history
• Founder of scientific method
– A valid and reliable process by which all scientific
analyses of a given phenomenon could take place
• Led to explosive advances in the Greek
scientists’ capacity to conduct scientific
• Middle Ages’ scholars felt Aristotle knew
almost as much as God, therefore called him
Elements of the Art of Rhetoric
• Ethos = Ethics
– Appeal based on the trustworthiness/character of the speaker
– Relies on the reputation of the author
• Logos = Logic
– Appeal based on logic or reason
– Found primarily in scholarly articles and corporate financial reports
• Pathos = Pathetic, sympathy, empathy
– Appeal based on emotion
– Found in advertisements
– The more people react without full consideration for the “why,” the
more effective an argument can be
– Although it can be manipulative, it is the cornerstone of moving
people to action
Legacy of Greek Philosophers
• Taught us how to think
• Provided a great deal of insight into the natural
• Provided many of the most profound and
meaningful answers to the great philosophical
questions that have befuddled humans since the
dawn of civilization
• Provided a comprehensive, valid, and reliable
method by which we could test whether or not a
given idea is true
• Aristotle is a towering
figure in ancient
to logic, metaphysics,
medicine, dance and
• He was a student of Plato who in turn studied
under Socrates. He was more empirically-
minded than Plato or Socrates and is famous
for rejecting Plato’s theory of forms.
• As a prolific writer
transformed most, if
not all, areas of
touched. It is no
wonder that Aquinas
referred to him simply
as “The Philosopher.”
In his lifetime,
Aristotle wrote as
many as 200 treatises,
of which only 31
Saint Thomas AquinasSaint Thomas Aquinas
• Aristotle was the first to classify areas of human knowledge
into distinct disciplines such as mathematics, biology, and
ethics. Some of these classifications are still used today.
• As the father of the field of logic, he was the first to
develop a formalized system for reasoning. Aristotle
observed that the validity of any argument can be
determined by its structure rather than its content. A
classic example of a valid argument is his syllogism: All men
are mortal; Socrates is a man; therefore, Socrates is
• Aristotle was born in 384
BCE at Stagirus, a now
extinct Greek colony and
seaport on the coast of
Thrace. His father
Nichomachus was court
physician to King Amyntas
of Macedonia, and from
this began Aristotle’s long
association with the
Macedonian Court, which
considerably influenced his
• While he was still a boy his father died. At age 17 his guardian,
Proxenus, sent him to Athens, the intellectual center of the world,
to complete his education. He joined the Academy and studied
under Plato, attending his lectures for a period of twenty years.
• It is reported that Aristotle’s writings were
held by his student Theophrastus, who
had succeeded Aristotle in leadership of
the Peripatetic School.
The works of Aristotle
fall under three
• Among his writings of a popular nature the only
one which we possess of any consequence is the
interesting tract On the Polity of the Athenians.
• Aristotle’s writings on the general subject of logic were
grouped by the later Peripatetics under the name Organon,
or instrument. From their perspective, logic and reasoning
was the chief preparatory instrument of scientific
investigation. Aristotle himself, however, uses the term
“logic” as equivalent to verbal reasoning.
• Aristotle’s editors gave the name
“Metaphysics” to his works on first
philosophy, either because they
went beyond or followed after his
physical investigations. Aristotle
begins by sketching the history of
philosophy. For Aristotle,
philosophy arose historically after
basic necessities were secured. It
grew out of a feeling of curiosity
and wonder, to which religious
myth gave only provisional
• Aristotle sees the universe as a scale lying between the two
extremes: form without matter is on one end, and matter
without form is on the other end. The passage of matter into
form must be shown in its various stages in the world of
nature. To do this is the object of Aristotle’s physics, or
philosophy of nature. It is important to keep in mind that the
passage from form to matter
within nature is a movement
towards ends or purposes.
Everything in nature has its
end and function, and nothing
is without its purpose. Everywhere
we find evidences of design and rational plan.
ARISTOTLE’S PHILOSOPHY OF NATURE
• Ethics, as viewed by Aristotle, is an
attempt to find out our chief end
or highest good: an end which he
maintains is really final. Though
many ends of life are only means to
further ends, our aspirations and
desires must have some final object
or pursuit. Such a chief end is
universally called happiness. But
people mean such different things
by the expression that he finds it
necessary to discuss the nature of it
• Aristotle does not regard politics
as a separate science from
ethics, but as the completion,
and almost a verification of it.
The moral ideal in political
administration is only a different
aspect of that which also applies
to individual happiness. Humans
are by nature social beings, and
the possession of rational
speech (logos) in itself leads us
to social union.