[Solved] aristotle refutes plato

Aristotle refutes Plato’s Theory of Ideas on three basic grounds: that theexistence of Ideas contradicts itself by denying the possibility of negations;that his illustrations of Ideas are merely empty metaphors; and that they theoryuses impermanent abstractions to create examples of perception. Though thetheory is meant to establish concrete standards for the knowledge of reality,Aristotle considers it fraught with inconsistencies and believes that theconcept of reality depends upon all forms’ correlations to other elements.

Ideas, Plato believes, are permanent, self-contained absolutes, which answeredto each item of exact knowledge attained through human thought. Also, Ideas arein Plato’s view concrete standards by which all human endeavor can be judged,for the hierarchy of all ideas leads to the highest absolute – that of Good. Inaddition, the theory claims that states of being are contingent upon themingling of various Forms of existence, that knowledge is objective and thusclearly more real, and that only the processes of nature were valid entities.

However, Aristotle attacks this theory on the grounds that Plato’s arguments areinconclusive either his assertions are not al all cogent. Aristotle says, or hisarguments lead to contradictory conclusions. For example, Aristotle claims thatPlato’s arguments lead one to conclude that entities (such as anything man-made)and negations of concrete ideas could exist – such as “non-good” inopposition to good. This contradicts Plato’s own belief that only naturalobjects could serve as standards of knowledge. Also, Aristotle refutes Plato’sbelief that Ideas are perfect entities unto themselves, independent ofsubjective human experience. Ideas, Aristotle claims, are not abstractions on aproverbial pedestal but mere duplicates of things witnessed in ordinary dailylife. The Ideas of things, he says, are not inherent to the objects inparticular but created separately and placed apart from the objects themselves.

Thus, Aristotle says, Plato’s idea that Ideas are perfect entities, intangibleto subjective human experience, is meaningless, for all standards are basedsomewhere in ordinary human activity and perception. Thirdly, Aristotle assailsPlato’s efforts to find something common to several similar objects at once, aperfect exemplar of the quality those things share. Beauty is a perfect example;Plato considered Beauty both a notion and an ideal, isolated by abstractions andfixed permanently while its representatives fade away. Aristotle claims thatabstractions like Beauty cannot be cast as absolutes, independent of temporalhuman experience; the Idea of Beauty changes with time and individualperceptions and cannot (as Plato felt) exist forever as a concrete standard.

Plato and Aristotle reach some agreement, though, on the topic of reality. Platobelieves that all reality was derived from his Ideas (which themselves dealtwith concrete hierarchy of rational ideas. St. Anselm, though, makes the mostdogmatic and logically tortuous case for God’s existence, relying not uponexplanations of goodness, truth, or rational order of ideas but upon an absurdargument. He claims that everyone has some sense of God, and he claims that forone to deny God’s existence is an invalid and contradictory assertion;therefore, God exists. Also, Anselm believes that those capable of understandingGod cannot believe that he does not exist – as if the enormity of the idea wasso clear than only a fool could not perceive it. His arguments seem the weakestof the four viewpoints here, for they are riddled with dogma and assume that Godis a constant – using faith alone. Anselm considers faith paramount to logic orother forms of thought and asks no questions as to what powers the universe orwhat goodness is – he basically follows the Christian “party line” tooclosely to be valid. In general, St. Augustine combines Plato’s idea of a moralhierarchy with his own rational observations of truth and goodness beingembodied in their highest form by God. While Plato wavers on God’s superiority,Aristotle views man as god’s pawn, and Anselm uses tortuous dogmatic logic,Augustine’s arguments seem to make the most sense from not only a Christianpoint of view but from a moral and rational one as well. The philosophies ofPlato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Anselm on the existence of God all varyon the issue of God’s nature; though each thinker takes a different approach towhy there is a God, that of St. Augustine seems the most valid because he takesa rational stance and does not dogmatically assume God’s existence. Plato’sphilosophy assumes that God exists as a supremely good being whose goodness isanalogous to Plato’s concrete concept or the ultimate good. However, God andgoodness are not one and the same; Plato does not directly state that goodnessis good, but that God is good, since he exemplifies the idea at the top ofPlato’s hierarchy. In short, God does not equal goodness, but God encompasses itbetter than any other being. This implies not that God is perfect, but thatGod’s intentions and actions have good aims – goodness may emerge from othersources besides God. The main problem with Plato’s philosophy is hisinconsistency; he owes the existence of his Ideas to both God and goodness, buthe claims the two are not identical. God becomes subordinate to the”universals” in Plato’s ordered cosmos, and his defense of God appearsrather weak. While Plato assumes God exists as the ultimately good (but notomnipotent) being, Aristotle questions God’s active role in the universe andclaims that nature depends upon an immaterial Supreme Being. For example, hecites natural genesis and the perpetuity of movement as evidence of God’simmaterial existence, and he implies that God is a self-sufficient, compellingforce for both nature and man. Aristotle’s concept of God seems valid as apre-scientific explanation of the universe; however, he seems to ignore God’sembodiment of moral goodness and man’s ability to think and act freely and stillbe good. He believes that all goodness comes from within God and that thegoodness in man is drawn toward God and nothing else. Aristotle’s ideas on Godseem, from a modern point of view, effective only as explanations of thesupernatural and even of the miracle of life. St. Augustine links God withrational thought and states that human knowledge of truth depends upon man’srelationship to God. His argument moves him from existence of the self to theobjectivity of truth and finally to God’s reality. Augustine assumes that God isa rational being and that the rational and the good are identical. Only Godcould be superior to truth, he says, and therefore must be the ultimate good;therefore, truth, goodness, and God are one and the same. His argument seemsfairly clear-eyed and rational, for he does not approach God’s goodnessdogmatically or automatically assume God’s existence. Instead, he works towardthat end by evaluation the rationality of truth and goodness, and he casts Godin that role as the ultimate embodiment of both. In general, Augustine implies,God represents goodness and occupies the pinnacle of the concept like unity andtwoness). He considers unity and goodness the combined center of his system ofIdeas and stated that the Ideas had to be more real and concrete than anyobjects of ordinary experience. Aristotle, meanwhile, agreed with Plato’s notionthat the immaterial (form) and the material (matter) were distinctly separateentities; however, he did not share Plato’s belief that all forms werepermanent, freestanding truths; he felt that form correlated to matter. Ideas,he stated, correlated to something material and were thus changeable and oftendependent upon the observer. In general, Aristotle refutes Plato on the groundsthat his Theory of Ideas tries too hard to establish concrete, universaldefinitions for things that depend too much on the material. Though boththinkers agree on the separation of the material and immaterial (which gave botha somewhat similar view of God), they still differ sharply over the permanenceof standards by which human nature and endeavor can be judged.

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