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  • Hey there, students! In this lecture, I'm going to talk to you a little bit about Plato

  • and Aristotle. There are some of you who have some questions, such as my new friend, Wilhelm,

  • who asked me if I could do something on Greek philosophy explaining Plato and Aristotle.

  • Wilhelm's my newest friend - newest SUBSCRIBER! If you'd like to be my friend, it's just as

  • easy as *snaps* subscribing.

  • So, if we're thinking about Plato and Aristotle - two of the big three of Greek philosophy

  • - keep in mind we've got SPA: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Each one of them taught the

  • other. So, Plato was Socrates' student - Socrates would have never said that he was his teacher

  • - but Plato was his student. And Aristotle was Plato's student. Now, if we want to contrast

  • Plato and Aristotle, it's just as easy as looking at Raphael's classic painting, The

  • School of Athens, which in my opinion is one of the most beautiful pieces of art ever produced

  • during the Renaissance. Of course, there's also Botticelli's Birth of Venus, but that's

  • a whole other story!

  • As far as philosophy goes, you can see in the middle, there is Plato, who is modeled

  • after Leonardo da Vinci. And Plato is walking beside his student, Aristotle, and he is pointing

  • up. Plato is the Idealist, and that goes into all of his philosophy, whether it is the ideal

  • state, the ideal of virtue, that pretty much the only thing real to Plato was an idea - that

  • this world is kind of a reflection of the real world of ideas. So Plato's pointing up.

  • Now, notice that Aristotle, in this painting, is kind of putting his hand over the ground.

  • Aristotle is a Realist. While Plato says the only thing that is real is an idea and in

  • order to understand truth you need to understand ideas, Aristotle says, "Wait a minute... The

  • only thing that's real is what's real - is what is. This physical world that we live

  • in is a real place. Now, that doesn't seem incredibly revolutionary to most of you listening,

  • but for Aristotle, who had been taught by Plato, it was. To come to the realization

  • that we live in an actual real place... Yeah.

  • Plato and Aristotle each produced a work of political philosophy. Plato produced the Republic

  • and Aristotle produced the Politics. Now, the Republic is focused on the "Ideal State."

  • How could we build the perfect society? So, Plato says, well, first we get rid of the

  • family and we get rid of private property because, according to Plato, what's really

  • wrong with our society is the way we get into "mine" and "not mine." That's all of our arguing.

  • "That's mine!" "No, that's mine!" "That's not mine!" and all of that. If we got rid

  • of private property, there'd be one less thing to argue about.

  • And while we're at that, what about when somebody says, "That's my kid," "That's your kid,"

  • or "My daddy can whip your daddy" or something like that? Let's just get rid of the family,

  • while we're at it! Then, let's get rid of gender roles, of any sort of conventions that

  • we have in our society and this would create an ideal state. And in this, Plato is hoping

  • to transcend human selfishness. He sees selfishness as the problem, that we need to build a state

  • that is cohesive - a state full of people that don't argue and fight with each other.

  • So, the goal here is social unity.

  • Now, this all may sound like a good idea to some people, but then again, how many of you

  • would really want to live in a society where there are no families, where there's no private

  • property? I don't know. It doesn't sound like a place where I'd want to live. A lot of my

  • students say, "Oh, well that would be fine," and I say, "Well, what if they were going

  • to take away your X Box?" "Oh, no, no! Not my X Box!"

  • The thing is that "mine" is something that is basic in our nature, so Aristotle, being

  • concerned with what's real, what's here, what actually is, he says, "Why would we want to

  • transcend human selfishness?" Human selfishness is part of who we are. And so, Aristotle is

  • thinking about designing a government - designing a society - that acknowledges human selfishness

  • and mitigates it. When he looks at Plato's ideal state, he thinks, "Really, come on!

  • Who really wants to live there?" For example, Aristotle says, who would really care for

  • kids if they didn't belong to anybody? If I heard that my daughter had been hurt - was

  • in the hospital - I would drop whatever I was doing and I would go and tend to my daughter.

  • What if I hear that somebody else's daughter or some random kid was in the hospital? Well,

  • that's sad, but that child is not mine. Aristotle feels like if we get rid of private property,

  • if we get rid of the family, then we'd just neglect everything because a lot of times,

  • human selfishness works in our favor.

  • Human selfishness is why we eat. It is why we survive. Keep in mind that if it were a

  • contest between you or me, it would either be me or... I would be dead, depending on

  • how big you are.

  • So, Aristotle is thinking about how do we create a WORKING government, acknowledging

  • human selfishness. And what he comes up with is the idea not of the ideal state, but of

  • a state that WORKS. And he calls this polity, a state that is balanced, a state where neither

  • the rich nor the poor can predominate, a state in which we are really forced to work together,

  • but at the same time we maintain private property and the family because that's who we are.

  • Aristotle says that, "I would rather be someone's cousin in the real sense than be someone's

  • son by Plato's standards," where everybody's everybody's son or something like that. What

  • does that mean???

  • So, in summary, this really comes down to Raphael's painting and Plato pointing up at

  • the ideal and Aristotle trying to remind his teacher, "Hey... Come back down. We live in

  • a real world, here."

  • Hopefully, that will get you started. Of course, I'd invite you to read Plato's Republic, Aristotle's

  • Politics, and all of that good stuff, but this will get you somewhere.

Hey there, students! In this lecture, I'm going to talk to you a little bit about Plato

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Plato and Aristotle (Introduction to Greek Philosophy)

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    李昀 posted on 2016/04/10
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