Plato Aristotle Comparison

Topics: Aristotle, Political philosophy, Justice Pages: 7 (2884 words) Published: May 10, 2013
Justice is the topic which has been the main subject of most philosophers; a quick definition for justice could be the quality of being fair and reasonable. A lot of philosophers have written on this subject and have had debates. Two of the most significant ones are Plato and Aristotle, who are two leading figures of ancient Greek civilization and both thought about justice and established theories about the aspects of being just. Plato was a student of Socrates, and Aristotle was a student of Plato. Aristotle studied under Plato and remained in his academy for 20 years in Athens but left the academy after Plato’s death. Aristotle and Plato had different philosophies about many subjects like justice and injustice, the function of humans, truth, the human soul, art, and politics. Starting with Plato (427 BC-347 BC) one of the most important philosophers of the world and the founder of “The Academy”. Plato’s most famous work is “The Republic” in which he draws the qualities of a just individual and a just city state by explaining the sublime nature of justice. His beliefs of finding justice in an individual will require finding it in the perfect city (which consists of people). His major questions that were pursued in the rest of his work were: “What is Justice?” And “is one better off or happier being just rather than unjust?” Plato faces a situation where he raised a question and he has several answers provided by several traditions, and he also has a new answer of his own. Aristotle (384-322 BC) is one of the founders of modern Western thought with Socrates and Plato. He was tutored by Socrates’ student Plato, later became very effective in the progress of the idea of scientism and scholastic ideology. Aristotle in his famous work “The Nicomachean Ethics” explains the virtuous and superior nature of justice where he claims that justice can mean either lawfulness or fairness, since injustice is lawlessness and unfairness. In his opinion, laws push and inspire people to act virtuously so, the just person who by definition is lawful, will necessarily be virtuous. I am going to compare how these two philosophers compare and contrast when it comes to their own political theories regarding the ideal state and how to define justice in it. To compare the political theories of two great philosophers of politics is to first examine each theory in depth. Plato is regarded by many experts as the first writer of political philosophy, and Aristotle is recognized as the first political scientist. These two men were great thinkers. They each had ideas of how to improve existing societies during their individual lifetimes. It is necessary to look at several areas of each theory to seek the difference and similarities in each. Both philosophers had common points and some differences, starting with Plato, where in the beginning of his conversation with Thrasymachus (Plato, The Republic ,Page 19), the latter defines justice as “what is the interest of the stronger party”. Socrates goes on to refute this definition by saying that the stronger party can be at fault sometimes, and a ruler can make mistakes. One of the questions that Plato pursued in his work was the one proposed by Thrasymachus who suggests that the pursuit of self-interest or injustice pays better than that the pursuit of justice. Socrates states that the injustice would create disagreement and weakness instead of strength. He says that injustice causes problems and weakens the group “… whether it occurs in a state or family or army or in anything else: it renders it incapable of any common action because of factions and quarrels, and sets it at variance with itself and with its opponents and with whatever is just” (Plato, The Republic, page 38). The best, rational and righteous political order leads to the harmonious unity of a society and allows all the city’s parts to pursue happiness but not at the expense of others. Plato showed what justice is in the state and then in...
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