?In Contrast to Plato
Unlike Plato, Aristotle believed that sensory perceptions in the human soul are reflections of
objects, and thoughts in consciousness are based on what we have already seen. He believed that humans
have the innate power of reason, and the innate faculty of organizing things into categories and classes,
but no innate ideas.
No Innate Ideas
Plato believed that the idea chicken came before the sensory worlds chicken, but Aristotle refused
this theory. The form of chicken is eternal, but every chicken flows, meaning it cant live forever. The
form chicken is made up of a chickens characteristics, such as cackling and laying eggs. Therefore the form
can not exist on its own, and can not be separated from any chicken.
According to Aristotle, reality consists of separate things that constitute a unity of form and
substance, which is what the object is made of. A chickens substance, for example, would be its feathers,
flesh, beak, etc. Unlike form, substance still remains when a creature dies, and it as well has the potential
to realize a specific form.
Every change in nature is transformation from potential to the actual. For eggsample, a chickens
egg has the potentiality to become a chicken, or to realise its form. In the case of nonliving organisms, an
example to think about is that a stones form is to fall to the ground.
The Final Cause
Aristotle believed that there were four causes for the occurrences of life: the material cause, the
efficient cause, the formal cause, and the final cause. When rain falls, the material cause is that the
moisture is there when the air is cooling. The efficient cause is that moisture cools, the formal cause is the
form of water is to fall, and the final cause is that so that plants can grow.
E.g. Cats: Living
In Aristotles mind, there were no sharp boundaries in the natural world. His scale ranked living
organisms from plants and simple animals to complicated animals, with man at the top of the scale,
because man can grow and absorb food like plants and animals can, but also has specific human traits (i.e.,
he can think rationally).
Another difference between Plato and Aristotle was that Aristotle believed that women were
unfinished versions of man, and that children inherited solely the males characteristics because males are
active in reproduction and females are passive. Aristotle believed that females were like the soil for the
human seed to grow inthat man provided form, and woman substance. Unfortunately, Aristotles
views held sway during the Middle Ages, which was a major reason for the sexism of the time.
The only way to achieve happiness in Aristotles mind was to use all of ones capabilities. There
were three forms of happiness:1) A life of pleasure and enjoyment.
2) A life as a free and responsible citizen.
3) A life as a thinker and a philosopher.
Aristotle rejected an imbalance of these, and said that one must have all three to be truly happy. He also
insisted that this sort of balance was important in human relationships, and advocated what he called the
Golden Mean. This meant finding a middle ground for everything; for example, not to be cowardly or
rash, but courageous.
Aristotle claimed that man was a political animal, and that there were three good forms of
constitution: monarchy (one head of state), aristocracy (a larger or smaller group of leaders), and polity
(democracy). However, there were conditions with each of these suggestions: a monarchy must not become
tyranny, where the leader governs to his own advantage; an aristocracy must not become an
oligarchy, where a select few are in charge; and a democracy must not become a mob rule.