Aristotle vs Plato

Topics: Political philosophy, Aristotle, Politics Pages: 5 (1743 words) Published: May 5, 2013
Affirmative essay
Aristotle and Socrates and Plato’s beliefs have similarities mainly evident in their denouncement of democracy for the state. The views of Socrates expressed and written by his pupil Plato are vastly philosophical in nature and he promotes the idea of questioning life to achieve insight. The philosophers who possess the absolute truth are the best equipped to rule society according to Plato and his Allegory of the Cave. Conversely, Aristotle takes a more political science approach of discussing and analyzing various constitutions to determine the best form of government, where the rational beings in a society are the natural rulers. Aristotle promotes the idea of rule based on law rather than simple superiority. The differences in these beliefs are important because of the implications of Aristotle’s writings, which provide a way for citizens and statesmen to utilize philosophy in politics and the state. Consequently, information in Politics is seen again throughout modern politics. The similarities of Aristotle’s beliefs expressed through his writings in Politics to the beliefs of Plato and Socrates expressed in the recorded dialogues of The Republic are centered mainly on a fear of democracy. Aristotle asserts that only those who are concerned with virtue and good government should be the leaders in a society or community (CP 325). In Book III of Politics Aristotle describes what the role of the majority should be in politics,

By means of these considerations, too, one might solve the problem mentioned earlier and also the related one of what the free should have authority over, that is to say, the multitude of the citizens who are not rich and have no claim whatsoever arising from virtue. For it would not be sage to have them participate in the most important offices, since, because of their lack of justice and practical wisdom, they would inevitably act unjustly in some instances and make mistakes in others. (CP 325) Through this view, Aristotle expresses his distrust of a total democracy that is parallel to the ideas of his mentors. Plato attacks democracy and describes the disbursement of political freedom to the masses as an intoxication of wine, claiming that a democratic city “gets drunk on too much unmixed freedom” (Plato). Plato details the filtration of this “drunkenness” from society disobeying rulers trickling down to the son disrespecting the father and eventually “equal rights in relations between the sexes” (Plato). Plato and Aristotle share this skepticism of democracy. The limitation of freedom, liberty, and equality not only with regards to mistrust of democracy but also in terms of denial of citizenship and justification of slavery are commonalities in the teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Plato accepts slavery throughout The Republic, because he often deems whole groups of people unworthy of freedom. Aristotle’s justifies slavery through the characteristic of rationality; he claims that there is a condition of “natural slavery” where when one being is rational and the other is not, there is a natural master-slave relationship (CP 309). “For if something is capable of rational foresight, it is a natural ruler and master, whereas whatever can use its body to labor is ruled and is a natural slave” (CP 309). These justifications of slavery make neither Plato nor Aristotle egalitarians. Aristotle and Plato both express the importance of excellence, each in different ways. Plato believes that humans are working towards excellence when they are pursuing that which they are best suited for based on the division of men into three classes: lovers of wisdom, victory, and profit (Plato). Aristotle claims that the excellence of human beings is achieved through their participation in the state, and performing their functions in society, he relies less on the caste system of Plato and more on the capability of the individual. Socrates and Plato illustrate the idea of the...
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