What are Plato’s & Aristotle’s Key Doctrines? | Intro to Philosophy Ch 6-7

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Hello, I’m Dr. Anadale and this video
is about chapters 6 & 7 of Daniel Sullivan’s Introduction to Philosophy.
These are difficult chapters and they will require some careful attention to
get the most out of them, so please read them slowly; if possible read them twice
with the help of the reading questions that I’ve given you and ask plenty of
questions on the discussion board and in the Q&A area. In particular as you’re
reading please focus on the doctrines of each thinker, the particular theories
that he has about knowledge, about reality, about the human person, and focus on the changes that each thinker makes to the teachings that he has received
from his predecessor. Socrates is the teacher of Plato and Plato in turn is
the teacher of Aristotle. When reading Plato you should notice that he
continues the ethical inquiry of his master Socrates. He continues asking
questions about the nature of virtue and he continues trying to articulate a
vision of the good life for a human being in terms of intellectual knowledge
of the definition of certain key virtues. And so Plato writes entire dialogues
devoted to the question of finding the definition of justice or trying to find
the definition of piety. Plato also extends this method of inquiry to all of
reality, so in addition to asking questions about the nature of the human
person and of human goodness and virtues, Plato also wants to ask questions about
trees and stars and all sorts of natural phenomena. And what we get out of Plato
then is a comprehensive theory of reality which embraces the areas that
were first discussed by the natural philosophers whom we dealt with earlier.
One of the key doctrines of Plato is that behind the change that we see in the sensible world there is some core source of stability and
this is the form or the idea of each thing. The idea or the form is perfect, it
is eternal, and it exists in a realm separate from this changeable physical
realm of the senses. It is the world of forms that constitutes true reality for
Plato. This changeable world of physical things has a kind of secondary
reality. It yields to the true reality of the forms, so to know the real business,
the real… what’s going on in the universe you need to have intellectual knowledge
of the forms. Mere sensible knowledge of the physical world is not
going to be enough for Plato to make you truly wise. This is called the two
worlds doctrine of Plato: that there is a world of the senses, that is, a world of
change and things coming into being and going out of being, and then a world of
ideas or a world of forms–this is eternal and perfect and is known only by
the intellect and not by the senses. One of the consequences of this two-world
dualism with Plato is his view of the human person, in which he seems to think
and speak of the body as being a kind of prison for the soul. Human beings
fundamentally are their soul. That soul is simply trapped or united temporarily
to this body for a period of time but after it is released from the body it
can perhaps go on to and have another body or to do to do something else that
will be an important contrast with Aristotle and other thinkers when we get
there turning to Aristotle Aristotle does
agree with Plato that there is such a thing as these forms or ideas that
provide unity and stability behind the changing appearances of the senses but
Aristotle disagrees with Plato in thinking that the forms are not in some
separate intelligible world that can only be accessed
I the intellect they don’t exist apart from physical things Aristotle says they
exist embedded in physical things so to find the form or the idea of hoarseness
the former idea of horse you have to look at individual horses you have to
discover what the essence is and that’s not going to be contained in some purely
abstract intellectual realm it’s going to be contained in actual physical
horses themselves running around as individuals so that’s the place where
you need to focus your studies to understand the true reality of horses
you study the physical horses in order to grasp somehow intellectually the
essence that each horse carries within it that’s a significant change from
Plato to Aristotle Aristotle’s doctrines also include the
doctrine that all things are made of form and matter we will talk a lot about
that and that things can exist either in act they can actually be something or
they can exist in potency you might think back to high school physics and
remember the distinction between kinetic energy energy in use and potential
energy energy coiled in a spring that has not yet been put to use there’s
something like that distinction going on here with Aristotle but at the
fundamental level of all being all beings except perhaps for God can exist
either in act or in potency and when we want to talk about the full reality of a
being we should talk both about its actual and its potential ways of being
change then Aristotle says change this thing that flummoxed Parmenides change
can be explained as the conversion of the things existence from potential to
actual when it goes from being potentially something to being actually
something that’s precisely what the change is a potential mode of being is
converted into an actual mode of being Aristotle also says that there are two
modes of knowledge we can know things by the senses we can acquire sense
knowledge using our physical eyes and ears and we can also acquire knowledge
by the intellect we can use this intellectual knowledge
to grasp the essences of things for example as to Aristotle’s doctrine of
man he says that in humans the soul and the body are both necessary to explain
what a human being is the soul is the form of a human person and the body is
the matter of the human person and since all things are composed of soul of since
all things are composed of form and matter
this gives Aristotle a way of talking about and giving equal weight as it were
to both the soul and the body in talking about human existence
instead of like Plato giving this kind of privilege to the soul where the body
turns out to be this thing that weighs down and restrains the soul and is a
kind of a prison for it Aristotle is able to say no the body makes a positive
contribution to our humanity including to all of our sense knowledge
because it’s only because we have bodies that we are able to have eyes and ears
and skin and all the other senses so for Aristotle the body is not a prison
that’s another significant difference that he has with Plato that’s my brief
summary in commentary on chapters six and seven I look forward to discussing
this material with you on our discussion boards good bye

 

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