Virtually all of the philosophy underlying Western thought, science and culture has its origins somewhere in the

legacy of two great Greek philosophers who lived and taught in Athens in the 3rd century BCE: Plato and his disciple Aristotle. Through their examination of most of the fundamental questions of human experience, Plato and Aristotle laid a foundation from which others would further pursue them across the ages, giving birth to philosophy and its descendents, which include both the natural and social sciences as well as theology, ethics, law and politics, among other disciplines. Though both of these philosophers are vastly influential and their work transcendent in many ways, I believe that if I were a student of philosophy in ancient Greece I would choose to study with Aristotle around the time that he lived in Assos, in which he composed most of his biological works (Preus 2007: 55). In order to explain why I have picked Aristotle in Assos, it is important that we understand what the factors going into the decision are. So I will review, then, what the basics elements of the philosophy of both Plato and Aristotle are, and then proceed to detail why I have chosen the latter. Plato Plato was born in 424 or 427 BCE (Preus 2007: 206), the son of Athenian aristocrats, which afforded him a remarkable education and the ability to enter the higher spheres of Athenian society and politics (Melling 1987: 2). He was most famous for his Dialogues, philosophical treatises in which Plato examines philosophical issues through discussions held by his characters, which were supposed to represent each a different inclination toward an answer, with the assumption that in the end the learner would either have a better understanding of the subject (Preus 2007: 207) or reach the most suitable answer by confronting propositions one against another in a sort of dialogue, a method known as “dialectics” (Preus 2007: 208). Although Plato's writings, like Aristotle's, span a vast range of topics and there is no final agreement on whether his thought should be seen as a cohesive body of thought or as changing over time, several themes emerge more or less consistently throughout his work (Preus 2007: 209). One of the main focuses of his philosophy was the concept of “Forms,” roughly equivalent to “ideas” (Preus

Plato confronts both perspectives attempting to reach more and more refined definitions of piety (Melling 1987: 23). A good example of this is Eutyphro. Another important concern of Plato's was reaching “knowledge about virtues and values” (Preus 2007: 207). Melling 1987: 96). passing through the implications of each. His work was also fast broader. the world as we know it is only an imperfect copy of those things which are ultimately real: “Forms” or “ideas. Though he was sent by his father to study in Athens in Plato's academy and became one of his most famous students. and for a long time he was considered to have addressed every possible topic in philosophy. including Aristotle himself. in which Plato takes the reader to explore the question “what is good?” or more specifically. between body and soul. and man's knowledge of the world is only adequate inasmuch as it arrives at these perfect ideas. Aristotle became a great philosopher on his own right. in the coastal Greek village of Stagira to Nicomachus. “where does good come from?” In the dialogue. and in fact turned on many issues against the opinions of his teacher (Preus 2007: 55). and Phaestis. Plato did most of his teaching at the Academy. In his signature dialectic fashion. This idea has been very important to people in different places in history because it lays the groundwork for a distinction between matter and mind.” As told in the parable of the cave.2007: 209. so to speak. from the wings of birds to the origin of truth (Ackrill 1981: 3). Socrates interrogates Eutyphro on the idea of whether things are good because the gods want them. a midwife (Preus 2007: 54). a court physician to the king of Macedon. a garden in which he taught many of Greece's great philosophers. among which are whether the gods can will impious things and whether there is good that is above the will of the gods . Plato himself advanced the idea that the soul was immortal and existed within a separate plane of reality in the Phaedo (Preus 2007: 208). or the gods want things because they are good. According to Plato. man sees only the “shadows” of the real things that exist. Aristotle Aristotle was born in 384 BCE. .

the books in it were actually written over the course of decades. In particular. Plato was idealistic and while he was disinterested in understanding material things. Aristotle was more prone to look at the real world for examples to establish the truth and validity of his arguments rather than allude to an a priori ideal standard. what animates and distinguishes “subjects” from predicates (Preus 2007: 57). His interest in biology even allowed him to realize that humans were not that different from animals. Plato believed in defining concepts narrowly and reaching truth through a dialectics of ideas. or simply made them “be. wasn't the ideal essence of the body as it was for Plato. Discussion Despite the fact that they are often lumped together. with the way animals behave and their bodies are constituted. Despite the fact that the Corpus Aristotelicum (the complete works of Aristotle) seems to be so comprehensive and cohesive (Preus 2007: 55). movers and purposes as there are in society. Plato and Aristotle turn out to be very different philosophers in both style and substance when compared with each other. Aristotle favored going out into the world to find your answers. Aristotle was interested in answering questions to produce “real understanding” (Ackrill 1981: 107) of things. a large amount of his work is concerned with biology.” for example. Aristotle was interested in finding out from the confusion of the world the “principles” of things. In all things. rather than being based upon reaching the ideal “Forms” was far more hands-on. which was based on the demonstration of propositions by syllogism. Aristotle believed that science has to be able to demonstrate things that are demonstrably true and essential of things in order to have true power to explain them (Ackrill 1981: 94). Aristotle believed in creating syllogisms that can be tested against the real world. To me this was very important because it put us on the path of understanding who we are and where we come from through science. the causes that made them to be one way or the other. .The philosophy of Aristotle. and that in all nature there are causes. and also how to best govern ourselves. and show how Aristotle continued to learn even as he ventured onto each next subject.” The “soul. but instead the “moving” cause of living things. Based on his philosophy of logic.

and his Republic showed his vision for a society that. Aristotle did most of his biological studies around the time he lived in that village. he was also concerned with an ideal form for society. . because his Dialogues lend a form of “personality” to the ideas he expresses that make them somewhat more intimate and relatable than Aristotle's syllogisms. Aristotle realized that man is both very much like and also very different from animals. but also to be able to achieve capacities that many other animals do not have. I would like to detail not only why I would like to study under Aristotle. I think Plato has influenced a lot of the Christian religion and ethics. Although I do prefer Aristotle over Plato. Aristotle believed that because the purpose of man was to achieve the fulfillment of his virtues (and therefore happiness. Being able to see how Aristotle related with nature and reached thoughts such as these is one of the main reasons why I would like to see myself as a student of his in that context. As mentioned before. To conclude.putting forward a base for science. we cannot underestimate the value of his contributions to philosophy and the validity that some of his points can hold. humans have the potential to understand their own purpose and to be in control of their own happiness. but why specifically in Assos. while being bent on order and justice. Through those studies. This would inspire the thoughts of many democratic and progressive thinkers. His method of explaining was also very valuable. Since Plato preferred ideal forms. and that allows them to understand the world in ways impossible to an animal. Most importantly. Meanwhile. and that is very powerful to me as a person. and some of his most piercing questions are still worthy of consideration. was in fact elitist (Preus 2007: 210). Humans have language. One other crucial difference why I would rather study under Aristotle instead of Plato is the way each of them saw life in society. or eudaimonia) the best possible society would be one in which the capacities of people could be developed.

Lanham. (1981). Understanding plato. New York. (1987). A. New York. Md: Scarecrow Press. Melling. J. Historical dictionary of ancient greek philosophy.L. (2007). DJ.Works Cited Ackrill. Ny: Oxford University Press. Ny: Oxford University Press. Aristotle the philosopher. Preus. .

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