Plato and Aristotle are without a doubt two of the world’s greatest philosophers. Plato, a Greek philosopher and a student of Socrates, was born around 424-423 BC in Athens to a wealthy Athenian family and his death was around 347-348 BC. Following in the footsteps of Socrates, Plato wrote his works as dialogues. His notable works include Apology, Symposium and Republic. His notable ideas were Idealist in nature, in that he believed in order and harmony, goodness and selflessness, everlasting life, and righteousness as knowledge. Finally, there is a hypothesis of his that is called the “Theory of Forms which is at the heart of Plato’s philosophy and holds to the viewpoint that the concept of that which is intangible serves as an example of reality at its most accurate state. During the period of the 380s, Plato founded an educational institution called The Academy in which philosophical, scientific, and mathematical research were executed. It is here he taught Aristotle for twenty years. Aristotle, also a Greek philosopher, was born in 384 BC in Stagirus, a settlement that was once in Greek possession and is now, however extinct. Aristotle’s passing occurred at around 322 BC.
Unlike Plato, Aristotle’s notable ideas include The Golden mean which refers to his viewpoint that there is a middle way in which all things follow, and by avoiding extremes, he believed that one will be able to enjoy utmost happiness and a small amount of pain, Reason, Aristotelian Logic, Biology, and Passion. He influenced western philosophy and the sciences in general; some examples are Metaphysics, Psychology, Chemistry, Political Theory, Constitutional History et cetera. Aristotle, although a long term pupil of Plato, found many faults in Plato’s theories and he became a great critic of his teacher but he revered him nonetheless he was motivated by Plato.
In terms of similarity, both Plato and Aristotle have this in common they believe that their theories are based on four broadly acknowledged convictions: (1) Knowledge must be genuine; (2) When we experience the world through the senses is and through these we get to know what is genuine; (3) Knowledge must be stable and constant, and (4) When the world is experienced through the senses knowledge is constant and stable. These concepts led to a skeptic point of view, in which there is a denial of the possibility of acquiring knowledge, however Plato and Aristotle disagreed on this point of view as they both believed that knowledge is accessible. In order to overcome this predominant conflict, it got to the point where each philosopher needed to select a concept to ignore and demonstrate that it was superfluous. Plato chose to dismiss the allegation that the world experienced through the senses is one that is genuine, whilst Aristotle rejected the allegation that knowledge needs to be stable and constant. This made it evident that there were issues that each philosopher had to overcome: Plato had to account for pinpointing where knowledge could be found while Aristotle had to account for how to have knowledge that is changing. This contributed to the philosophers having amazingly different thoughts from each other, in areas such as Philosophy, Ethics, Science and Political Theory, respectively.
Plato and Aristotle’s philosophies, respectively, have impacted upon the educational system of today by the use of the Idealism theory and the Realism theory. In the Idealism theory, the learning focus-subject matter of the mind is literature, history, philosophy, religion; Curriculum goal-same education for all; Learning-intellectual process; Teaching method-lecture, discussion where students apply what they have learnt about to our modern society; Character development-imitation; and lastly, Aesthetic development-study of masterworks, values of past heritage. Idealism in educational practice may be described as traditional. On the other hand, in the Realism theory, the learning is centered on the subject matter of physical world: Mathematics, Science; Educational modules goal, that is, mastery of universal laws; Mode of Instruction, which helps us to master necessary data and aptitudes such as a lecture, recitation or demonstration; and last but not least, Aesthetic development-study of design in nature.
In conclusion, it is obvious that the differences between the principles of Plato and Aristotle far outweigh the similarities. However, it can be noted that both of these philosophers’ theories are not fully supported and developed as they both leave holes in their arguments. For example, Plato has often been criticized for being too elitist in his views of acquiring knowledge and related to that is the fact that he believed that the mass public is ignorant and incapable, or even unwilling to accept the truth of a reality that transcends our own understanding. Whereas, Aristotle is much more firm and realistic because he considers every individual or child whether labeled as gifted, differently-abled, normal or otherwise to have the capacity to acquire knowledge and learn, and he criticized Plato for his theory of forms that exist outside of time and space, since they are not physical properties. To this Aristotle posed the question how can something which exists beyond time and space be linked to elements that are present inside time and space. Aristotle’s belief, be that as it may, that everything on the face of the earth exists for a reason such as the human’s purpose is to think and therefore cultivate rational thought, leaves doubts, as there are things in nature which do not seem to have a purpose, one example being the human appendix, as scientists have concluded. As both fail to address the possibility of chance occurrences, since both philosophers believe in ultimate truth and that there is an explanation for everything, which is what I believe also, they have left gaps in their theories, making them open to negative criticisms. In any case, the theories of Plato and Aristotle have paved a way for the creation of two of the most noteworthy philosophical views, Existentialism and Naturalism.
Existentialism being the philosophy that stresses the belief that each individual lives for themselves, is independent and has free will and is thus responsible for what he/she makes of himself or herself, but naturalism refers to the notion that no spiritual or supernatural laws and forces outside of the natural operates in the world. In education, an existentialist classroom would resemble a classroom where the development of each student as an individual is the main target of instruction, and a highly observable characteristic would be students who engage in projects that interest him/her as an individual. For the naturalist classroom, however, learning would resemble teaching lessons from different subject areas, especially the sciences that require students to learn by using their senses, which means that they are engaged in active instruction that is without a doubt effective across all levels of schooling. The theory of naturalism can be seen in curriculum of Trinidad and Tobago and in our lessons, as well, and in this aspect it is successful, in terms of reaching learning outcomes. Therefore, in this aspect, I would advocate for its continued use in our education system.
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