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An In-depth Comparison Between Plato and Aristotle

An In-depth Comparison Between Plato and Aristotle
Ever wondered how Plato and Aristotle, the two quintessential heroes with different notions, paved the way for Western culture, and what it is today? Here, you will come across the comparison between the two most influential Greek philosophers and their contributions to the world.
Tanaya Navalkar
Last Updated: Apr 29, 2018
Strange Connection
  • Plato's original name was Aristocles. He was nicknamed 'Plato' because of his broad shoulders.
  • Aristotle joined Plato's Academy as his pupil at the age of 17 years and stayed there for nearly 20 years.
Undoubtedly the greatest philosophers, Plato and Aristotle influenced the Western thoughts immensely. They both thought and worked upon the same lines. However, the major parts were contradicting, as they had different outlooks. They were great intellectuals, whose ideas and writings still pronounce today's world, right from our habits to the Internet. Before comparing the two, it is important to look at their ideologies and contributions individually.
Plato is one of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers of all time. Not much is known about his early life and education. He is believed to have been born in a wealthy family. He excelled in academics and seemed to have been tutored by some of the very good and learned teachers of his time. He was a student of Socrates and was influenced by him immensely. Socratic Dialogues, one of his most famous literary works, has been used in teaching subjects such as philosophy, logic, ethics, mathematics, and religion. He made a notable contribution to Western philosophy and the world science. He founded the Academy in Athens, which was the first institution for higher studies, in which Aristotle was a student. His Theory of Forms or Theory of Ideas is among his other notable works. It led to Platonism.
Aristotle was also a Greek philosopher and scientist. He was Plato's student at his Academy. After Plato's death, he shifted from Platonism. His writings spanned subjects like science, biology, logic, poetry, music, and politics. He is also known for influencing the Islamic philosophy. The Muslims during that period know him as the First Teacher. He was the head of the Royal Academy of Macedonia, where he mentored Alexander the Great. Many of his works are believed to belong to the period between 335 BCE and 323 BCE. He is believed to be the first genuine scientist in history, and that other scientists worked upon his works and ideologies. He was influenced by Plato; therefore, their works are similar since they aimed at the same aspects of the society.
General Comparison
Plato And Aristotle Philosophers
Plato Aristotle
Birth and Death Date
  • 428/427 BCE - 348/347 BCE
  • 384 BCE - 322 BCE
Place of Birth
  • Stageira, Chalcidice
  • Athens
  • Western philosophy
  • Western philosophy
  • Platonism
  • Peripatetic school, Aristotelianism
Main Interests
  • Art, Literature, Rhetoric, Justice, Politics, Epistemology, Education, Family, Militarism
  • Science, Politics, Ethics, Logic, Physics, Poetry, Metaphysics, Biology
Influenced By
  • Socrates, Homer, Hesiod, Pythagoras, Aesop, Heraclitus, Orphism, Protagoras, Aristophanes
  • Socrates, Plato, Heraclitus, Parmenides
Notable Ideas
  • Theory of Forms, Platonic idealism, Platonic realism
  • The Golden Mean, Logic, Theory of the Soul, Hylomorphism, Syllogism, Hexis
  • Western philosophy, Aristotle, Augustine, Stoicism, Cicero, Plutarch, Anselm, Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz, Mill, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Arendt, Gadamer, Russell
  • Western philosophy, Alexander the Great, Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Christian philosophy, Ayn Rand, Ptolemy, Islamic philosophy
Differences in Views
Plato And Aristotle Statue
Plato Aristotle
Theory of Forms
  • According to Plato in Theory of Forms, knowledge came from a soul and the world is experienced via senses, and it is not fixed and unchanging.
  • Aristotle rejected his theory and believed that knowledge comes after experience, and that world was made from all natural forms.
  • According to Plato, art imitated the real world, and truth was an intellectual abstraction.
  • He believed that the world, like we see it, is not the real world.
  • Aristotle's idea was a complete contrast to Plato's.
  • He believed that the world is for real, which can be observed and scrutinized by the human eye. His was a more logical view, on which even today's ideas are based.
Education and Society
  • The main ideology of Plato was to create a perfect society, which he believed that it existed somewhere. His was a more Socratic view.
  • He created a blueprint of the society in his book, The Republic, in which he aimed at lessening the problems of the society.
  • He discusses the education that is necessary to create such a society. It also discusses justice, ethics, and the nature of politics.
  • In this, he mainly focuses on formation of a government ruled by philosopher-kings; that is, educated and men.
  • On the contrary, Aristotle wanted to improvise the existing society.
  • In his book, The Politics, he suggested that society should itself look for the possible ways to become perfect.
Human Existence
  • Plato believed that soul is eternal and that it pre-exists. He saw soul and body as separate reality.
  • Aristotle argued that the body and soul are inseparable; they come into the world together and leave together.
Plato Aristotle
  • Plato marked the starting of the present-day Western culture along with his mentor, Socrates, and student, Aristotle.
  • He was a mathematician, writer, and founder of the Academy in Athens, which was the first institution for higher studies.
  • He also wrote many dialogues. He was greatly influenced by Socrates. His writings and thinking can be witnessed in his Socratic dialogues.
  • Some of the dialogues, letters, and other works are seen as fictitious. The dialogues have been used to teach many subjects including philosophy, logic, rhetoric, and mathematics.
  • Aristotle's ideas about physics and science had an immense impact on medieval thoughts. He came up with facts and ideas instead of just theories.
  • The accuracy of some of his biological works was confirmed only in the last century.
  • The ideas that he developed in Logic were being used until the late 19th century.
  • His one of the most influential works is the Poetry. His texts are studied even today.
  • Both transformed the face of the western world with their philosophies.
  • They both wanted to improvise the society and way of living.
  • They both were influenced by Socrates, Heraclitus, and Parmenides.
  • Both believed that the soul of a person exists, but had different views on their existence.
Plato's views were more radical and elite, and Aristotle's was more physical and realistic. Although both of them agree with regard to the concept of ideal world, their approach towards it was different. However, their theories enabled the other philosophers and scientists to work on their views and modify them to new ideas and discoveries since the era of Plato and Aristotle.