Plato vs. Aristotle

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By Gerard Chretien

Plato vs. Aristotle

Numerous experts in modern time regard Plato as the first genuine political philosopher and Aristotle as the first political scientist. They were both great thinkers in regards to, in part with Socrates, being the foundation of the great western philosophers. Plato and Aristotle each had ideas in how to proceed with improving the society in which they were part of during their existence. It is necessary therefore to analyze their different theoretical approaches regarding their philosophical perspectives, such as ethics and psychology. This paper however will mainly concentrate on Aristotle's views on friendship and how it impacts today's society.

The main objective in Plato's philosophy is a creation of a perfect society. He constructs a foundation for a utopian society in his book "The Republic". The purpose of his thought process was to cleanse his society of the woes he felt plagued it and construct a new one.

Plato lived during the Peloponnesian War, which consequently lead to the end of the Athenian democracy. He had eyewitness account of his mentor's (Socrates) trial and execution. Bitter and angered by the political corruption that gripped the Athenian democratic government, he disengaged from participating in politics. He strongly felt that neither a moral individual nor a state that is rational could be established in a democratic environment. Plato felt that the common man wasn't intelligent or capable of dealing with concepts that influence the state such as economics, policy of foreign affairs and other relative matters. He viewed political incumbents in Athens government as being elected for matters that were irrelevant to main factors that affected the state. Another danger was that excessive liberty for the people of the democratic society could potentially lead to anarchy. In Plato's perfect society, he forged ahead to eliminate the disease (pluralism of friendship) that plagued the human character and society (Class Notes). Essentially, Plato wanted to establish the perfect form of society, linked by one single entity.

Aristotle, unlike Plato, was not focused or concerned about the idea of a perfect society, instead he wanted to improve upon the one that he was part of during his existence. Rather than develop a framework for a society that is perfect, he suggested that society should, in it self, strive to utilize the best system it can attain. He felt that utopia was abstract and superficial. It wouldn't allow for realistic problem solving solutions. He felt that Plato's view of a strict overhaul of society in general wasn't necessary. He believed that society was at its optimum and you can only improve upon the existing one.

Plato's perfect society would consist of three basic groups, which are Guardians (Gold), Auxiliaries (Silver), and the Artisan (Bronze). The highest of these classes are the gold people, which consist of rulers and non-rulers. Those that are rulers are society's decision & policy makers and non-rulers occupy levels of civil servants. The fundamental prerequisite to becoming a genuine philosopher is to have knowledge of forms, thus enabling you to know the truth. Plato's theory of the forms is partly logical and part metaphysical. Armed with the truth, he believed that philosophical ruler will always make the right decision, and rule with total wisdom, justice and virtue. The rulers, he felt, wouldn't posses any money or property, they would be free of desires, excesses, and vices. The Auxiliaries (Silver) are people of strength, courage, and military capacity; they occupy a small sector of society. All auxiliaries would be subjected to a series of tests, which will check their powers of resistance to self-interest, pleasure and other temptations. The last level, Artisan (Bronze), are the workers which might be composed of farmers and artist, essentially non-skilled workers. They would produce all...
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