Plato and Aristotle: a Comparison Essay

1641 Words Feb 27th, 2007 7 Pages
Comparing the political theories of any two great philosophers is a complex task. Plato and Aristotle are two such philosophers who had ideas of how to improve existing societies during their individual lifetimes. While both Plato and Aristotle were great thinkers, perhaps it is necessary first to examine the ideas of each before showing how one has laid the groundwork and developed certain themes for the other.
Plato is regarded by many experts as the first writer of political philosophy. He fashioned a distinctive view of human nature, a view that has had a crucial formative influence on all subsequent theories of human nature. Plato pointed out the distinction between a perfect ideal and its imperfect replicas, and gave the name
…show more content…
We can see this in the dialogue Euthyphro, which we studied in class. In this dialogue, Socrates says: "I'm afraid, Euthyphro, that when you were asked what piety is, you did not wish to make its nature clear to me, but you told me an affect or a quality of it, that the pious has the quality of being loved by all the gods, but you have not yet told me what the pious is…do not hide things from me but tell me again from the beginning what piety is…" (p. 14, 11a-b).
Along with the legendary question of is what is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?, Socrates was also asking Euthyphro to give him examples of holiness, and identify the characteristic that makes all holy things holy. He is claiming that there must be some characteristic that all holy things have in common, as well as one which makes unholy things holy. Plato's view of human nature is a direct consequence of his Theory of Forms. He held that we can be completely virtuous only if our reason knows the forms, and in particular, our reason must know the form of the good (Velasquez, 151). The Form of the Good is the ideal or perfect nature of goodness, a principle form that illuminates all the other Forms of Knowledge. Plato compares the Form of the Good to the sun. The Form of the Good is to knowledge what the sun is to sight and the objects that we see. Just as the sun emanates light, the
Open Document