8 Jun 2022


Thought of Plato and Aristotle

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Academic level: University

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Skidmore-Hess, D., Ellison, J., & Sherrod, C. (2017). Policy Point-Counterpoint: Is Democracy the Best Form of Governance? Aristotelian vs Platonic Thought. International Social Science Review 92 (2), 1-10. 

The article primarily assesses whether the best form of governance is democracy. It highlights the views of two of the most iconic philosophers in Aristotle and Plato. The author uses terms such as the “Aristotelian perspective” which essentially asserts that democracy is the best form of governance. However, on the contrary, the author draws on the use of words such as “anarchy” and “tyranny” to illustrate Plato’s views on democracy. Plato felt that democracy originated from an anarchical perspective that would subsequently lead to tyranny. Aristotle argues that in a proper democracy, the desires of everyone should be balanced. Furthermore, the citizens should learn about the law. Plato, on the other hand, feels that democracy would crumble because of the selfish nature of human beings which would ultimately lead to a lack of power balance. He criticizes the freedom that comes with democracy by asserting that "the most intense freedom lays the foundation for the heaviest and the fiercest slavery." However, history has come to prove Pluto wrong as democracy continues to work well in many countries around the world. As a matter of fact, the countries that lack democracy are the once with many problems highlighted by Plato. 

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Broudy, H. S. (2017). Types of knowledge and purposes of education. In  Schooling and the acquisition of knowledge  (pp. 1-17). Routledge. 

The book discusses the various types of knowledge in light of two of the greatest philosophers to have delved into the issue of forms and knowledge. In his book known as “Metaphysics,” Aristotle asserts that “Platonic ideas are useless for explaining “Coming to be” which essentially means how things exist." He goes ahead to propose a theory of form or knowledge by defining the meaning of "Philosophy." He asserts that philosophy is different from any other subject because it looks at things in their general sense. Plato, on the other hand, provides an overly complex explanation regarding form and knowledge by using the phrase "intelligible realm." He intimates that forms such as beauty, good, and justice will only be conceived with a certain mindset. Therefore, the goal of a philosopher is to come up with a way of understanding the forms. Both philosophers' theories on the form have an essential role in explaining the etiology of knowledge. However, people can only benefit when they combine the two thoughts. 

Barker, E. (2012).  The political thought of Plato and Aristotle . Courier Corporation. 

The author primarily delves into the different political views held by Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle defines government depending on the number of rulers while Plato defines his government types using virtues. Plato focuses more on a perfect society, something that resembled a utopia. He wanted to cure some of the problems that faced human personality and society. However, on the other hand, the politics of Aristotle focused on improving the existing society rather than seeking for perfection. In his work, "The Politics," Aristotle noted that "the society itself should reach for the best possible system that could be attained." Plato mainly centered on the political thoughts of "utopia" which emphasized that societies required drastic changes for reformation to occur. Aristotle took a different approach by noting that everything had already been achieved and the only optioned that remain was to improve anything that has not reached perfection. Plato believes in "palace revolution" which involves the shift of power while Aristotle feels that a revolution could only come when the poor decide so. Plato, as opposed to Aristotle, uses radical means to explain his political philosophy when he demands drastic changes that appear unrealistic. 

Bambrough, R. (2012).  New Essays on Plato and Aristotle (RLE: Plato) . Routledge. 

The book fundamentally dwells on the differed perceptions regarding human virtue as explained by Plato and Aristotle. The author notes that Plato discusses virtue in two of his works including "Republic" and "Protagoras." Plato notes that virtue is essential knowledge. He makes an argument asserting that everyone wants what they believe is good. Therefore, when one does something wrong, it is because they thought it was going to produce good ends. He fronts this argument using the terms "Virtuous" and "un-virtuous" to refer to good and bad people respectively. He argues that what differentiates these people is not the desire to do what is good but rather the knowledge of what is good. Aristotle on the others gives his account of the meaning of virtue in "Nicomachean Ethics." According to Aristotle, the virtue of something "is whatever makes the thing do its essential function intrinsically well.” Therefore, according to him, so long as a thing performs its duty well, such as a knife cutting onions, then it is well within the scope of acting virtuously. Plato provides a more convincing argument by noting that knowledge of good differentiates the virtuous and un-virtuous person. 

Ruhloff, J. (2018). Plato and Aristotle. In  International Handbook of Philosophy of Education  (pp. 349-360). Springer, Cham. 

The author notes that Plato and Aristotle have contributed majorly to education today. The ideas of these two individuals have played a significant role in shaping policy, philosophy, and educational practice today. The author primarily delves into the differences in the educational philosophies of two of the most famous philosophers of their time. The author discusses some of the fundamental differences in the views of the two regarding education. Such areas include "relevance of ignorance," the impact of negativity in education, and the different sources of knowledge. Plato primarily uses the "Socratic-skeptical" approach in defining knowledge. He notes that education is fundamentally the study of philosophy. Plato further emphasizes the role of education is to elevate philosophers to the standard of statesmen. However, Aristotle holds that education eventually loses its position as the central problem of philosophy. According to him, education is just one of the topics in the context of politics and ethics. He further notes that other than instruction and knowledge, the provision of ethos is an essential part of education. 

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