Epistemologies; Plato vs. Aristotle

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Plato, the father of philosophy, was a rationalist. He was the first systematic metaphysician and epistemologist. He believed that we had innate knowledge; a priori. So to him learning was only a matter of remembering. Plato believed that the “ideal” world existed beyond our own physical earth because according to him realty could not be changing or imperfect. From his point of view what we see are only the particulars, the mimics of the real thing, therefore, we have to pull back from the world of peculiars and search in our own minds. Things like justice or moral virtues do not exist in this world in a proper form. In Crito & Meno we can clearly see these ideas. The essential argument in Crito is ‘The Many vs. The One’. Socrates says “We should’t care all that much about what the populace will say of us, but about what the expert on matters justice and injustice will say, the individual authority, or Truth.” With this phrase he is saying that we should never pay attention to the opinion of the many but always find the one who knows because that is the only person whose opinion is valuable.

And later on he goes on to say that if it is never good to do injustice then it is also wrong to do injustice in response to injustice which is why he refuses to escape. In Meno we get more in depth into the idea of inborn knowledge.

Meno starts with the question ‘What is Virtue?’ but Meno always answers the question by giving examples of virtue instead of defining the word and going to the roots of what all those virtues have in common. Down in the world of particulars there are many kinds of virtues for example for the male it’s to run the state, female it’s to run the household but what is important, essential is the traits they both have in common; temperance and justice.

Socrates uses the dialectical method in order to get answers out of Meno and also clearly demonstrates this method on a slave of Meno to prove his theory about innate knowledge. Even though...
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