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Plato Vs Aristotle

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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 Ð''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 Ð''harmonious' life." (Gaarder 115) Both Plato and Aristotle agreed that a balanced life is a good life, and that with reason people will make morally good choices but Aristotle believed that this did not come naturally. He felt that "moral virtue is the result of habit and training. Because if this, he believed that people can be taught to be virtuous. He said that people must know- the deliberately choose to do- what is good."(Pacquette 269) Aristotle and Plato had very similar views on ethics due to both living in the same era in ancient Greece.

Political and social theories between the two philosophers were very different. Plato had very Totalitarian or even communist views for state government. He in his novel The Republic, he describes in much detail his utopian society. He felt society should be organized into three groups: "rulers, auxiliaries and labourers."(Gaarder 91) The rulers or guardian class would have reason; education and intelligence this would make them well suited for leadership. Plato called these rulers Ð''Philosopher Kings', they would rule for the good of all in the society. Philosopher Kings would not be allowed to possess material objects as to avoid corruption. Private ownership and wealth would not be allowed in Plato's state. "Everyone would own property in common, and money wouldn't exist."(Pacquette 389) In this way Plato's utopian society resembled a communist state but he did this because he "strongly believed that abolishing wealth and private ownership of property would eliminate the difference between rich and poor. This would mean that people would be distinguished only by their intelligence and character, not by family background or personal wealth."(Pacquette 389) He not only wanted private ownership banned but also family as an institution because he felt the "rearing of children is considered too important to be left to the individual and should be the responsibility of the state." (Gaarder 92) Plato's hierarchical state did though allow social mobility. "People could move up to the next level if they demonstrated certain abilities."(Pacquette 389) Plato felt his anti-democratic state would work very well because "everyone would know and accept his or her position in society, and everyone would have enough material comforts and education to function in his or her designated role. Because people's social class would correspond to their innate characteristics, Plato believed that the citizens of his imaginary city state would know true happiness."(Pacquette 390) Plato believed that his Republic would be the ideal state and would work for everybody, Aristotle disagreed. He did not believe that one kind of government would suit every society. He "acknowledged that no one system of government suited every society. Much depended on the aims of the state and whether the rulers could be trusted to act for the benefit of all citizens."(Pacquette 391) Aristotle believed that there were three forms of good constitution. "Monarchies can succeed if the rulers are as wise as Plato's philosopher kings, but fail if the rulers are tyrants who oppress people. Aristocracies can also succeed provided the small group of people who hold power do not enslave the people they rule."(Pacquette 391) "The third good constitutional form is what Aristotle called polity, which means democracy. But this form also has its negative aspect. A democracy can quickly develop into mob rule."(Gaarder 116) Aristotle and Plato both "feared democracy might lead to the rule of the ignorant many over the educated few."(Pacquette 392) He felt that it might be possible to combine the best aspects of each constitution while avoiding their downfalls but the best aspects and the downfalls depend on the state. "Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed firmly that



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