Comparison of Plato, Aquinas, Aristotle and Augustine

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  • Topic: Virtue, Cardinal virtues, Prudence
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  • Published : December 7, 2007
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Truth and Reality-
"And isn't it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. " Truthfulness. He will never willingly tolerate an untruth, but will hate it as much as he loves truth... And is there anything more closely connected with wisdom than truth? (Plato, 380BC)

Reason is knowledge of things like mathematics but which require that some postulates be accepted without question, and "intelligence," which is the knowledge of the highest and most abstract categories of things, an understanding of the ultimate good.(Plato)

The intelligible world is made up of the unchanging products of human reason: anything arising from reason alone, such as abstract definitions or mathematics, makes up this intelligible world, which is the world of reality. The intelligible world contains the eternal "Forms" of things; the visible world is the imperfect and changing manifestation in this world of these unchanging forms.(Plato)

Virtue can indeed be taught, not merely by words, but "in" and "through" a vision of the exemplary acts of its bearers." (Plato)

God is an intangible, impersonal entity that encompasses and is the precondition for all ideas, all reality, all of the "Forms" but is not a religious interpretation and thus does not coincide with any standard view of who or what God is. The point is not to establish an idea of God, but instead to determine what is right, good, just, and true; God is the precondition or origin of the Forms or the "timeless, abstract, unchanging objects of the understanding." (Plato 412


Reality is real; contradictory predicates cannot apply to the same thing, in the same way, at the same time; human beings prefer to live; and that facts are facts. I therefore reject the rejects the mystical Platonic notion of a ‘higher' reality which is beyond the reach of normal human perception. Plato's insistence on this ‘higher' reality outside the ‘cave' bounding our human senses, begins to sound like a form of escapism from reality as we perceive it.

Reason is competent to know reality but it is necessary to begin with what exists in the world. Reason embodies a primacy-of-existence approach which states that knowledge of the world commences by looking at and examining what exists. Recognizing the validity of man's senses, men can increase their knowledge by augmenting the evidence of the senses through reason (i.e., through logic and the formulation of abstractions). Conceptualization should be preceded by inductive observation in our efforts to understand the world.

The world is the product of rational design, that the philosopher investigates the form and the universal, and that the only true knowledge is that which is irrefutable.

If a person were to become virtuous, he could not simply study what virtue is, he had to actually do virtuous activities. We are not studying in order to know what virtue is, but to become good, for otherwise there would be no profit in it, and, every ethical virtue is an intermediate condition between excess and deficiency.

The conception of a God, outside of the world, causing all motion in nature, supplying the efficient cause for the universe, was just suited for a philosophy whose primary purpose was to find confirmation for the Church. Attributing mercy, love, sympathy, and similar qualities to God, was leading a life of contemplation and supplied purely the metaphysical need for explaining the efficient cause and the goal for universal progress.

St. AUgustine

When God speaks in the way we are talking of, He speaks by the direct impact of the truth, to anyone who is capable of hearing with the mind instead of with the ears of the body. The mind or...
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