Plato and Aristotle on Knowledge

Topics: Plato, Universe, Epistemology Pages: 4 (1181 words) Published: November 10, 2013
The purpose of this paper is to explore Plato and Aristotle’s conceptions on knowledge, their understanding of the physical universe, and the suggestions that these beliefs conclusively made to the natural sciences. I shall do this by explaining Plato’s analysis of the nature of knowledge, and the role his proposed theory of forms plays in it. I will then go on to describe how this analysis applies to, and provides suggestions for, the methodology of science. This essay will then switch its focus to Aristotle, explore his views on motion, and describe how these represent a departure from Plato’s analyses. It will then conclude with the exploration of his understanding of motion, paying special attention to how it contributes to his understanding of the physical universe as a whole.

First, I will address Plato’s interpretation of knowledge. Plato believed that true knowledge could only originate from reason, and that reason could only be derived from that which is unchanging. However, he noted that the sense experiences which our world provides us with go through constant changes, and therefore cannot be relied upon as sources of reason. He states in his novel Timaeus, that these types of things are “opined by opining accompanied by irrational sensation” (Plato, and Kalkavage 58). Plato argues that the only way to evaluate sensory information to obtain true knowledge is through the application and analysis of certain principles that are unchanging. These principles are what Plato refers to as forms. Because of their unchanging nature, Plato regarded these forms as being able to be “grasped by intellection accompanied by a rational account” (Plato, and Kalkavage 58), and therefore undoubtedly true He concluded that believing to know something from only sensory information is not equivalent to having true knowledge of that thing. However, if forms cannot be understood from sensory information, one may wonder how a person can begin to comprehend these forms if it...

Cited: Aristotle, Philip H. Wicksteed, and Francis Macdonald Cornford. The Physics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1980. Print.
Plato, and Peter Kalkavage. Plato 's Timaeus: Translation, Glossary, Appendices and Introductory Essay. Newburyport, MA: Focus Pub./R. Pullins, 2001. Print.
Plato, George Anastaplo, and Laurence Berns. Plato 's Meno. Newburyport, MA: Focus Pub./R. Pullins, 2004. Print.
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