lots of philosophers
#1
whats the difference between the philosophy of Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato? I understand Catholicism's philosophy loves Aristotle. Quis would you like to expound upon Plato? I read your philosophical explanation of what love is before (degrees of liking something, coming from God)
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#2
[quote='randomtradguy' pid='737003' dateline='1302626342']
whats the difference between the philosophy of Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato? I understand Catholicism's philosophy loves Aristotle. Quis would you like to expound upon Plato? I read your philosophical explanation of what love is before (degrees of liking something, coming from God)
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Hmm...There's really no simple answer to this question.  However, I wouldn't say that the Church solely likes Aristotle.  The Fathers were certainly influenced by the neo-Platonists (who were in turn influenced by Plato).  Aristotle was not rediscovered in the West until his works were received from the Arabs in the twelfth century (Aquinas lived in the first generation after Aristotle's Ethics and Metaphysics had entered the medieval university).

First, I don't think Socrates should be in this list.  We don't have any actual writings from Socrates, but instead most of what we know about him comes from his student, Plato (although we also see him in Xenophon and the plays of Aristophanes).  Plato's dialogues, are like plays, where Socrates asks a question like "What is justice?", and others proceed to give their own answers, only to be challenged by Socrates (who shows how their argument is inadequate).  Thus, in the dialogues, you proceed to a fuller conception of what the virtue your asking about actually is.  However, its difficult to say how much of the thought in the dialogues actually belongs to Socrates (although all of it is attributed to him), and how much is actually Plato's.  However, Plato's student, Aristotle, would challenge his master, and provide his own unique view of the world (although there certainly are similarities).

While I'm sure there are fishies who could provide a better explanation of Plato and Aristotle, I'd say the main difference between them is that they disagree about Forms.  For Plato, real knowledge of a thing consists in knowing its Form.  The Form exists independently of the material world, and each and everything conceivable has a unique Form.  True Knowledge of a thing can not be known through sense experience (because sense is subject to change, whereas the Forms do not change).  However, real knowledge of the Forms only comes through anamnesis or remembering the Forms.  Before we are born, we have knowledge of the Forms, but we subsequently forget it when we are born.  So, in order to have real knowledge of a thing, we must remember our preexistent state.  The major difficulty with Plato is that he doesn't really give a concise picture about how the unchangeable Forms relate to material things (later neo-Platonists would try to answer this question with more or less success).

Aristotle, on the other hand, was a biologist, and had made a number of discoveries about animal anatomy and physiology (although we would chuckle about the accuracy of many of these discoveries).  However, he saw that we was actually attaining knowledge of a thing by examining it.  He was learning about a thing through sense experience, which would have been impossible if the Forms were completely independent of the material world.  Thus for Aristotle, form (and note the lowercase "f") exists in matter.  So if I have a block of marble (matter), and I make a statue, I am giving the state a "form".  Man likewise has a "form" (i.e. the soul) which exists along with matter, and gives the matter shape and keeps it in being.  However, Aristotle also has difficulties.  First, considering that his Ethics and Metaphysics relies heavily on ancient Greek science, some of his work needs to be re-interpreted if we are to save it in the modern world.  Aquinas, who would attempt to synthesize the Church's Tradition (which was largely neo-Platonist) with Aristotle, also had some of these difficulties.  However, Aristotle also provides us an extensive an useful virtue ethics, by which we ultimately are pushed to achieve the Supreme Good, which is God.  It is this parallelism between Aristotle's view of the Supreme Good and Christian revelation that made it so palable to Aquinas.

However, I think the best thing one can do is actually read Aristotle, Plato, Augustine, and Aquinas.  Philosophy isn't like theology.  It isn't dogmatic.  You really have to discover things for yourself (although you certainly rely on the help of others).  The goal of philosophy is to answer the "big questions" about reality.  And that involves using what came before, and incorporating it with what we know now, and trying to provide a consistent account.

I suggest you read Fides et Ratio by John Paul II if you want a good explanation of what it means to be a Catholic philosopher, and you want a better history of Catholic philosophy.
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#3
thanks very much!
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