Comparison of Aristotle and Plato’s Understandings of Being

Comparison of Aristotle and Plato’s Understandings of Being

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

Dualist metaphysics, which emerged as the world of ideas and the world of matter in Plato; It continued as matter (“hyle”) and form (“morphé”) in Aristotle.

For Aristotle, everything in this world is matter that has taken form, that is, put into a form. The essence of matter is its potential to be and do something. Matter realizes its essence as a form, as a movement. For example, a tree contains the essence of being a table as a form.

Here, it is seen that the world of existence, which Plato divided into two as the realm of ideas and the realm of phenomena (appearances), was combined by Aristotle by enclosing the essence in the object. According to Aristotle, real being is the “essence” that develops in phenomena. Apart from phenomena, there is no realm of ideas that exists separately and as another field of objectivity, as Plato claims. An essence in every being is shaping that being in a process of development. There is no second and higher reality beyond the essence.

According to Plato, there is no complete absence, there is a relative absence. The fact that something is something else and its absence is described as non-existence. Aristotle, too, argued that non-existence is unthinkable, and generally focused on formation and development.

Plato describes the world of ideas where there is no becoming and change; He also describes the world of existence in which we live as a world in which formation and corruption exist. It is the idea of ​​goodness called Demiourgos that creates the world of becoming. According to Aristotle, becoming is the action of the hidden power in matter and the development of that matter. Self-actualization happens for four reasons; material, formal, motive and final causes. The becoming of existence, according to him, is for a certain purpose (teleological).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook