Plato Vs. Aristotle Essay, Research Paper
We have two great philosophers, Plato and Aristotle. These are great men, whose ideas have not been forgotten over years. Although their thoughts of politics were similar, we find some discrepancies in their teachings. The ideas stem from Socrates to Plato to Aristotle. Plato based moral knowledge on abstract reason, while Aristotle grounded it on experience and tried to apply it more to concrete living. Both ways of life are well respected by many people today.
Plato started his teachings in remembrance of his good friend, Socrates. After his death he traveled back to Italy and studied under Pythagoras. Some years later he began “The Academy”. Much of the curriculum taught was dedicated to the teachings of Socrates. During this time he began to write down his thoughts about politics and development of a regime. Developing different aspects than Socrates’.
The Republic is the most important dialogue within Plato’s teaching of politics. It deals with the soul, which, as we know from the beginning, at the level where one must make choices and decide what one wants to become in this life, and it describes justice as the ultimate form of human, and the ideal one should strive for both in life and in state. Justice as understood by Plato is not merely a social virtue, having only to do with relationship between people, but virtue that makes it possible for one to build their own regime and reach happiness.
The Republic is a political, and a work dealing with what traits or virtues one must have, as its whole purpose is to show that the one cannot be separated from the other. Politics is nothing more than the attempts of man to put order or disorder in his social life or regime. There is no way people can bring order in their social life if one does not first put order in their life, nobody is able to lead others unless one first leads oneself. People’s soul are made up of several parts, as will be shown along the way, each man’s main concern and occupation in life should be to build harmony and unity. Politics is the way a person expresses how his or her order in life can be used for everyone, the image of their own inner order or disorder reflected in his social life. A person cannot live alone, because one is a social animal, one must act; politics becomes an important part of the mind. Politics are simply the means of bringing order into the world of men through laws that are the product of rational nature. It is the ultimate concern of the philosopher, the one of wisdom, to bring this order forward.
Aristotle at the age of 17 attended “The Academy” founded by Plato. Recall that “The Academy” had been set up using the principles that were later set out in Plato’s major work, The Republic. Aristotle continued at “The Academy” until the death of Plato some twenty years later. Aristotle was recognized as a brilliant independent student of philosophy.
Aristotle’s view of politics is expressed in his writing, Politics. Rather than focusing on the individual Aristotle is more intent on the regime, and the highest goal, justice. Another main point is that people must live together, thus having a united regime. The family unit was highly respected, for the household is where people originate. Aristotle’s political science encompasses the two fields that modern philosophers distinguish as ethics and political philosophy. Political philosophy in the sense is roughly speaking the subject of his literature called the Politics. The most important task for the politician is, in the role of lawgiver, to frame the appropriate constitution for the regime. Aristotle defines the constitution as a certain ordering of the inhabitants of the city-state. Once the constitution is in place, the politician needs to take the appropriate measures to maintain it, to introduce reforms when he finds them necessary, and to prevent developments that might pose threats to the political system. This involves enduring laws, customs, and institutions for the citizens. Aristotle sees that every regime is a sort of community, and that every community is established for the sake of some good.
Aristotle had different views about he appropriate leader or leaders to run a Regime. Aristotle thought that one ruler kingship would most benefit the regime. The order after that goes Aristocracy, Polity, Democracy, Oligarchy, and finally Tyranny. Plato saw it the order should start with the rule of the most virtuous, or honor, called a Timocracy. Plato did not define as many different regimes, after Timocracy, he saw Oligarchy as the next best, Democracy, and Tyranny.
For actual regime change, Plato sees that there is no possible way of bettering a regime. Things will always be deteriorating rather then being able to amend itself. He views change within a regime as a linear uncontrollable circumstance. It all begins with the corruption of the people. Aristotle on the other hand views this matter much different, almost opposite of Plato. Aristotle’s understanding of the regime is one that is non-linear, and can go from better to worse and also worse to better. He comprehends the possibility of a regime rehabilitating itself. Rather than the people’s corruption causing the downfall, it is the natural division of the people, classes. Also forms of justice and injustice result in the dissolving of a regime.
The understanding of Plato’s regime is one that involves both the self and the regime. Aristotle on the other hand shows that development of state can be achieved without being the most wise. He also looks upon the regime with a positive regard rather that the pessimistic view of Plato, that things will always get worse. Aristotle understands that the coming together of people with common interest will always yield a city, and then onto a regime. Plato takes the planned out way, making sure that everything is in order before the regime or city can be formed. Both ideals of a regime are ones that would yield strong frivolous and successful places of habitation, yet we have never had a chance to see them in today’s world. If only now we could see how virtuous they could be?