The Relationship Between Aristotle and PlatoJune 26, 2021
It is one of the most complex and therefore most difficult to understand relations in the history of thought, the relation between Plato and Aristotle.
Instead of being a brilliant student at Plato’s Academy for nineteen years and staying as a follower of Plato at school, ultimately leaving shows that there is both a commonality and a difference in terms of ideas between these two great heads of Ancient Greek thought.
First of all, there is an important Platonic legacy that Aristotle developed and preserved, which constitutes the common philosophical foundation between him and Plato. This common foundation has two elements: Terminology and teleological approach. In the context of terminology, especially the concept of “form” is almost like an invariable indicator of his Platonic heritage. As for teleology, however, it goes far beyond Plato’s teleological view of the universe, with the Idea of Good, the Immovable Mover, and the potential-actual concept pair.
Indeed, according to Aristotle, nature does nothing haphazardly or without purpose, and all processes in nature serve a purpose. In Aristotle, who says that everything is oriented towards a purpose because it is divinely arranged, final causality logically, temporally and ontologically precedes agency and formal causality; Accordingly, to the extent that the agent and the formal causes differ from the final causes, they become secondary and subordinate to the final causes. He first opposes determinism and then draws an analogy between processes in nature and processes that produce products of man’s hand, as in the famous teleological God argument. Accordingly, art and nature are completely alike in the sense that both are a progression towards order and perfection. In fact, the function of art is to take the operation and work of nature one step further on the same basis, if possible, or at least to imitate nature and natural processes.
Therefore, if there is purposefulness in art, there is too much purposefulness in nature, which it imitates. And that purposefulness and progress can only be understood by the actual existence of a logically and ontologically prioritized telos or purpose. In other words, Aristotle argues that progress can only exist in the form of progress towards something, a telos or a goal, and in the absence of the said telos or purpose, there can be no talk of development and progress. In this respect, he exhibits a very Platonic attitude. They also showed commonality in practical terms, as both were from the same Socratic tradition. Both say that the ultimate goal of moral life is eudaimonia. In both, virtue plays the most important role in achieving the ultimate goal of eudaimonia. On the other hand, in both Plato and Aristotle, ethics is in no way separated from politics; that is, the moral agent can live the good life only in a well-ordered community, in a political order organized according to the principle of justice.
But Aristotle’s Platonism ends here. Strongly opposed to Plato’s dualism, Aristotle was firmly opposed to equating reality with Idea or form. What really existed in his eyes was this world, with its individual being or substance, which we denote as such. According to Aristotle, the theory of Ideas, based on the principle of identity and immutability, could not explain change. Pointing out that taking Ideas as separate entities means giving up on solving the problem of change, as well as confusing intellectual analysis and ontological status, Aristotle never changed his opinion that Plato’s Ideas were not fundamental realities. For him, Ideas or forms were nothing but abstractions. From this point of view, for Aristotle, reality consisted of things from which forms were abstracted, and these things were individual substances or entities. HE IS; that every “higher” is eventually somewhere, here and now; He believed that the world as a whole was one world.
The said difference between the two philosophers reveals that the difference is deeper and that they differ from each other in temperament. The attitudes of Plato and Aristotle towards the world were, in essence, very different. It is this difference that has led to the birth of two separate and large systems. As a matter of fact, Plato, in general inclination, was always a perfectionist, even when discussing the problems of political philosophy or practical politics, towards a utopian solution, since it is impossible for the perfect to occur in the actual world. In other words, where he was a perfectionist and therefore otherworldly and idealistic, Aristotle was a realist and therefore someone who took the practical and empirical approach.
This situation best expresses their science preferences. Accordingly, the authoritative example of knowledge for Plato was mathematics; he was a mathematician. From this point of view, the geometric triangle or line does not exist in this world; they are the minuses of physical things or truths.