Aristotle Vs. Plato

Throughout life, one will encounter many different people some with similar views and others with contrasting perspectives on reality. This topic and discussion on life and reality continues to rise debate since ancient times. Some of history’s most influential philosophers that attempt to describe life and reality are Aristotle and Plato. A student may choose to accept the teachings of a mentor or reject, question, and modify what is taught. Aristotle was a student of Plato’s and chose to reject some of Plato’s claims on reality. Plato argued that reality is a reflection of a higher, spiritual truth, a higher dimension of ideal forms that we can attempt to understand only through philosophical contemplation. Aristotle rejected this argument. Aristotle instead argued that reality existed in the material world itself. He believed that that one could come to know universal truths by observing the material world (Sayre, 2013). Aristotle emphasized that observation was the key to understanding reality, while Plato chose to reject the claim that the world experienced through observation and the senses is what is real. As individuals chose to accept or reject Aristotle’s and Plato’s claims on reality, their views continue to influence the philosophy of contemporary lifestyle with application to concept of science, leadership, life, happiness, and reality overall.

While Plato and Aristotle had differences, they based their theories on four widely accepted beliefs which they would later expand upon. Both Plato and Aristotle argued to define knowledge and to relate knowledge to what is real. Both Plato and Aristotle argued on the following beliefs: First, knowledge must be of what is “real. Second, knowledge must be unchanging such as a fact rather than an opinion. However, these claims raise the question, what is real? It is argued that the world experienced through the senses (sense of taste, sight, touch, smell, and sound) is what is considered “real. Aristotle rejected the claim that knowledge must be of what is unchanging because knowledge itself is changing. On the other hand, Plato chose to reject the claim that the world experienced through the senses is what is real because he believed it is possible for the senses to fool an individual (Sayre, 2013). Actions were taken in an effort to prove these claims and define the reality of forms and knowledge.


As discussed previously, Aristotle studied under Plato but rejected much of his teacher’s views. With this being said, it is necessary to discuss how Aristotle rejected Plato’s Doctrine of Forms. Plato’s Doctrine of Forms expressed the view that abstract universal things (such as the color of whiteness) exist independently of particular physical things (such as white objects). The differences between Aristotle and Plato on these basic conceptual and metaphysical issues influenced Western philosophical thought (Boersema, 2011). Plato claimed that particulars/objects are only rudimentary representations of their Form in part of a universal form. This claim reflects Plato’s idealistic philosophy. Aristotle was more open minded in thought and differed from Plato. Aristotle detached that belief that universal forms were attached to each object or concept and, instead, argued that each case of an object or a concept should be observed and analyzed on its own individual plane. This mentality led to greater experimentation and the concept known known as Aristotelian Empiricism and which contributed greatly to the field of science (Boersema, 2011). One could use an example from an everyday object such as a chair. Aristotle would not view every chair as the same, instead he would analyze each on its own and the purpose for that chair can vary. The chair could be simply used as a seat, a stepstool, a doorstop, storage, or even function as a piece of art. Contrarily, other objects that are not chairs can be used as chairs. For Plato, he required less to establish the qualities of an object. Rather than analyzing each object or concept on its own, experiments in thought and reasoning would be adequate, but to Aristotle, that did not suffice. Aristotle diverged and expanded upon Plato’s thought as Aristotle favored experience through the senses and direct observation mixed with thought and analysis. Plato was more inclined to use inductive reasoning, whereas Aristotle used deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning is reasoning that makes broad generalizations from observations, whereas deductive reasoning is more rational in its approach which starts out with a hypothesis and examines the possibilities to reach a logical conclusion. (Bradford, 2017). A great example utilizing these concepts above were displayed through Plato’s Allegory of the Cave.

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