Comparison of Plato and Aristotle's views of how knowledge is obtained and the body and soul.

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Comparison of Plato and Aristotle’s views of how knowledge is obtained and the body and soul

Plato believed that as well as the material world in which we live and experience different things, there is another world, where forms are present. This eternal world is more real than the world we live in. Plato said that the world we experience through our senses (the empirical world) is in a constant state of flux (always changing). This meant that we could never obtain true knowledge of anything but it enables us to have opinions; it is full of sensible particulars (objects which can be experienced through the senses but never known).

     But Plato believed that even though we can not gain true knowledge of the forms in this world, we do have an indistinctive understanding of them. For example, when we use the word ‘cat’ to describe a particular animal we see, we are not just classifying it, we are referring to some particular quality that it shares with other cats. They all share the form of a cat. Plato also claimed that, in the world of the forms, there is an ideal cat, created by God. The cats we see in the empirical world are imperfect copies of this ideal cat. Plato believed that the forms were arranged in a hierarchy. The most important form is the form of the good. Like the sun in the allegory of the cave, the good illuminates the other forms.

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     Aristotle’s view of how knowledge is gained and where it can be obtained is rather different. To Aristotle the ‘form’ of something is what is found in the item itself, it does not represent something else. The form of something is its structure, and its characteristics, it can always be perceived by the senses.

     Aristotle used the word ‘substance’ to express the material of which things are made of. For example, the substances of a table are: wood, nails and glue and the form of a table is: that it has 4 legs (usually), a ...

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