Differences and Similarities between Aristotle and Plato

Plato and Aristotle are similar in relation to the existence of the contemplated man in the world and the meaning of that existence. Both tried to understand what it means to be aware of an existence and how the existence is related to that of others.

Plato was a student of Socrates, Aristotle was a student of Plato. Although he disagrees with his professor on some key points, much of Aristotle’s work is considered an evolution of the ideas first formulated by Plato. Plato’s work, however, was more individually focused and concerned with the soul.

Aristotle was more of a political thinker who tried to put his ideas in a social context. It was impossible for him to consider one without considering the other. Much of his scientific thinking was based on this same principle. For Plato, being was being. For Aristotle, to observe was to be.

Many of Aristotle’s ideas are a marriage between Socrates and Plato. Plato is said to have been the first political philosopher and Aristotle was the first political scientist. The two philosophers founded schools. Plato’s school was The Academy, in which Aristotle studied. Aristotle’s school was the Lyceum, which was partially financed by Alexander the Great.

What are the differences between Plato and Aristotle?

The main difference between Plato and Aristotle is found in their beliefs about what was most authentic about existence. Plato believed that the ultimate reality is not present in everyday experiences. Aristotle thought that the everyday world is more authentic than Plato’s world of ideas.

Plato and Aristotle appear at the center of the painting by the Italian master Rafael “the school of Athens”. Their postures show the difference between their philosophical priorities. Plato is pointing upwards, to emphasize his belief that reality is beyond the everyday, in the “world of ideas” or “world of forms”. In the painting, Plato is holding a copy of his treatise “Timaeus”, in which he describes his philosophy of the origins of the physical world. Aristotle, on the other hand, has a copy of “Ethics” in his hand. His hand is splayed downward, showing his emphasis on the Earth and the wide range of moral teachings.

Both Plato and Aristotle wrote on many different subjects, ranging from the proper form of government, to a definition of aesthetic beauty and to the very nature of reality. The divide between their perspectives remained among many modern philosophers as well.


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