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Q: Differences Between Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Differences Between Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates
Category: Reference, Education and News
Asked by: pedestriancarl-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 18 Dec 2005 12:59 PST
Expires: 17 Jan 2006 12:59 PST
Question ID: 607164
Please explain the differences between Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates,
mainly on the issues of government and education.
Subject: Re: Differences Between Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates
Answered By: wonko-ga on 16 Jan 2006 12:04 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were leaders of a movement that
espoused that truth is real and absolute standards exist.  They
opposed the relativism, skepticism, and individualism found in
sophism, a more radical philosophy of the time that was gaining
adherents.  Most of our knowledge of sophism comes from Plato, a
severe critic, who disparaged the rise in individualism and the power
of citizens during the flourishing of democracy in Athens in the
middle of the fifth century B.C.  As a result, it is not surprising
that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were all opposed to democracy to
varying degrees.

Socrates did not write anything himself, so it is difficult to know
precisely what he believed.  However, there is evidence he thought
poorly democracy and viewed a government comprised of members of the
intellectual aristocracy as being the only acceptable form of
government.  His attachment to aristocrats, one of whom was a traitor
during the Peloponnesian War, is believed to be one of the reasons he
was condemned to death.

Plato, a pupil of Socrates, wrote extensively.  He sought to create a
government that would be stable with an absence of strife between both
individuals and classes.  He preferred harmony and efficiency over
democracy and liberty.  He proposed to organize society into three
classes based on how he perceived their innate character.  The bottom
class included farmers, artisans, and merchants because of their
tendency to indulge their baser appetites.  The middle class comprised
soldiers because of their strong wills and spirits.  The members of
the uppermost class, because of their reasoning abilities, would be
the intellectual aristocracy.  The intellectual aristocracy would
possess absolute control of political power.

Aristotle rejected the views of Socrates and Plato favoring the
aristocracy, considering the best state to be a polity, which he
described as being a government situated between an oligarchy and
democracy.  He rested political control with the middle class, who he
intended to be a sizable portion of the population.  He believed
government should promote the welfare of its citizens, recommending it
provide the poor with financial means to purchase small farms or to
start small businesses.  He rejected monarchy, aristocracy, and
democracy.  He viewed the establishment of governments as being both
essential for civilized life and a fundamental characteristic of

Socrates believed knowledge could best be acquired through the
exchange and analysis of opinions until a universal truth could be
uncovered.  He believed that a universal and unchanging valid
knowledge existed and could be found by people through this method. 
The discovery of these truths would provide a perfect guide to
virtuous living.  Socrates had little use for the physical world,
declaring he could learn nothing from trees and stones.

Plato shared Socrates' belief that knowledge was the path to virtue. 
However, Plato viewed knowledge derived from physical sensations to be
limited and subject to change.  Therefore, he believed only the
rational mind was useful for comprehending goodness and justice.  He
viewed the body as a hindrance to the mind, believing that the body's
appetites and emotions should be strictly subordinated to reason. 
Plato clearly believed in the value of education because under his
scheme of government, people would be assigned to one of his three
classes based on each individual's ability to gain from receiving an
education.  The lowest classes would be those who had demonstrated the
least intellectual capacity, while the uppermost class would be the
most intelligent and therefore, the most educated.

Aristotle departed from both Plato and Socrates by having considerable
regard for the physical world as a source of learning.  Although he
maintained Plato and Socrates' interest in discovering absolute,
unchanging truth, he also was an empirical scientist.  His studies
included biology, physics, and astronomy.  Aristotle clearly believed
in the value of education.  He wrote even more works than Plato on a
wider range of subjects.  He served as a student and teacher at
Plato's Academy, tutored Alexander the great for seven years, and then
organized the Lyceum, a school of his own, which he led until his



Source: "World Civilizations" seventh edition by Burns et al., WW
Norton & Co. (1986) pages 190-195
pedestriancarl-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you for your attention to the question.  I wish that there had
been a little more detail, or links to places where I could get that
detail, but I appreciate your careful summary and your willingness to
go to a print source for the answer.

There are no comments at this time.

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