Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle Matrix
Fill in the matrix below, denoting each philosopher’s view concerning the topics listed. Write NA if there is no record in the textbook of the philosopher’s view on the specific topic. Then, using the information you inserted into the matrix as a guide, write a 350-700 word response describing how Socrates’, Plato’s, and Aristotle’s philosophies relate to each other. | | | |Socrates |Plato |Aristotle | |Logic and Argument in |Universal definitions |Universal definitions |Syllogism , formal logic | |Philosophy | | | | |Methods of Acquiring |Dialectics |Theory of forms, Reminiscence, |Observation and analysis | |Knowledge | |myth of the cave, knowledge and | | | | |opinion | | |Love |Absolute Beauty, Perfection |Absolute Beauty, Perfection |Happiness, virtue, teleology | |Existence |Making or actions conform to our |Thought, Appearance and reality |Substance and accidents, Matter| | |thoughts | |and form, essence and existence|
Write a 350-700 word response (collectively) describing how the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle relate to each other concerning the following topics:
• Logic and Argument in Philosophy
• Knowledge and Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
Socrates was interested in definitions, not just any definition, but universal definitions which will be true at all times. His method of arriving at this definition is the dialectic or the Socratic questioning. He would feign knowledge of a particular subject in order to draw out from the other the fullest possible knowledge about it. It was a kind of intellectual midwifery.
Plato distinguished between opinion and knowledge, appearance and reality. For Plato the objects around us are appearances of the real world of Forms which do not change. For Socrates and Plato, what is subject to change cannot form the basis of true knowledge. What is real is not what we perceive with our senses but rather with our mind since sensation can deceive one. What impressed both of them was that even though particular things and events varied in some ways and passed away, there was something about them that remains the same, never changes or passes away. It was that thing that was the essential nature of things. The process of universal definition which Socrates worked out was meant to arrive at clear and fixed concepts; devoid of change (what Descartes would later call clear and distinct ideas). Plato called those concepts forms. For instance, in spite of the observable differences in men like their height, color, physical and mental capacity, they are all men who share in the concept Man.
Aristotle also developed a similar thought about the true or natural essence of things or first principles. In his metaphysics (which means what comes after the physical), he distinguished between matter and form, substance and accident. We know what a thing is if we know its substance, not its color or size, etc. Again, like in Plato and Aristotle, we recognize that all men are men despite their color, size, strengths and weaknesses. However, unlike Plato and Socrates, Aristotle didn’t believe that substance can exist without its qualities or accidents nor form without matter. That is, for Aristotle, there is no separate world of forms where the ideas of Man
For Socrates and Plato, the essence of man is the contemplation of the world of Forms. This he does by focusing on reality and not on appearance. Unhappiness is the result of confusing appearance with reality. The role of reason is to discover the true world of forms and direct the passions to the objects of truth which can produce true happiness. Plato and Socrates believed that true happiness comes from the contemplation of pure Forms. This is why Socrates told his prosecutors before he was sentenced to death that he was the one that made men really happy while others, like the gold medalists in the Olympics, made men seem to be happy. It is the love of truth that makes men happy for it leads to the contemplation of Absolute Beauty. This contemplation is the true essence of the human person, according to Plato. And truth, for Plato just as for Socrates, leads one beyond the world of appearances and opinions to the true and everlasting world of Forms, to Absolute Beauty.
For Aristotle too, the human person has a function, that is, teleology, or an end, as everything else does. The eye, for instance, has a function or an end for which it exists. The end of the human person, according to Aristotle, is happiness, just like in Plato. Man’s end is not mere life because all living things, plants and animals have that. Nor is it sensation, which man shares with other animals. Aristotle defined happiness as the working of the soul in the way of excellence or virtue. Happiness, which is also the good, is like what Plato called Absolute Beauty. The difference is that whereas Absolute is other-worldly, Happiness in the Aristotelian sense is not. Like Plato and Socrates, this end can only be achieved through the “Right Reason”, that is, the rational part of man should control the irrational part. Virtue is the means to acting according to right reason.