Aristotle Refutes Plato

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Aristotle Refutes Plato
Aristotle refutes Plato's Theory of Ideas on three basic grounds: that the
existence of Ideas contradicts itself by denying the possibility of negations;
that his illustrations of Ideas are merely empty metaphors; and that they theory
uses impermanent abstractions to create examples of perception. Though the
theory is meant to establish concrete standards for the knowledge of reality,

Aristotle considers it fraught with inconsistencies and believes that the
concept of reality depends upon all forms' correlations to other elements.

Ideas, Plato believes, are permanent, self-contained absolutes, which answered
to each item of exact knowledge attained through human thought. Also, Ideas are
in 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. In
addition, the theory claims that states of being are contingent upon the
mingling of various Forms of existence, that knowledge is objective and thus
clearly more real, and that only the processes of nature were valid entities.

However, Aristotle attacks this theory on the grounds that Plato's arguments are
inconclusive either his assertions are not al all cogent. Aristotle says, or his
arguments lead to contradictory conclusions. For example, Aristotle claims that

Plato's arguments lead one to conclude that entities (such as anything man-made)
and negations of concrete ideas could exist - such as "non-good" in
opposition to good. This contradicts Plato's own belief that only natural
objects could serve as standards of knowledge. Also, Aristotle refutes Plato's
belief that Ideas are perfect entities unto themselves, independent of
subjective human experience. Ideas, Aristotle claims, are not abstractions on a
proverbial pedestal but mere duplicates of things witnessed in ordinary daily
life. The Ideas of things, he says, are not inherent to the objects in
particular but created separately and placed apart from the objects themselves.

Thus, Aristotle says, Plato's idea that Ideas are perfect entities, intangible
to subjective human experience, is meaningless, for all standards are based
somewhere in ordinary human activity and perception. Thirdly, Aristotle assails

Plato's efforts to find something common to several similar objects at once, a
perfect exemplar of the quality those things share. Beauty is a perfect example;

Plato considered Beauty both a notion and an ideal, isolated by abstractions and
fixed permanently while its representatives fade away. Aristotle claims that
abstractions like Beauty cannot be cast as absolutes, independent of temporal
human experience; the Idea of Beauty changes with time and individual
perceptions and cannot (as Plato felt) exist forever as a concrete standard.

Plato and Aristotle reach some agreement, though, on the topic of reality. Plato
believes that all reality was derived from his Ideas (which themselves dealt
with concrete hierarchy of rational ideas. St. Anselm, though, makes the most
dogmatic and logically tortuous case for God's existence, relying not upon
explanations of goodness, truth, or rational order of ideas but upon an absurd
argument. He claims that everyone has some sense of God, and he claims that for
one to deny God's existence is an invalid and contradictory assertion;
therefore, God exists. Also, Anselm believes that those capable of understanding

God cannot believe that he does not exist - as if the enormity of the idea was
so clear than only a fool could not perceive it. His arguments seem the weakest
of the four viewpoints here, for they are riddled with dogma and assume that God
is a constant - using faith alone. Anselm considers faith paramount to logic or
other forms of thought and asks no questions as to what powers the universe or
what goodness is - he basically follows the Christian "party line" too
closely to be valid. In general, St. Augustine combines Plato's idea of a moral
hierarchy with his own rational observations of truth and goodness being
embodied 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 Christian
point of view but from a moral and rational one as well. The philosophies of

Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, and St. Anselm on the existence of God all vary
on the issue of God's nature; though each thinker takes a different approach to
why there is a God, that of St. Augustine seems the most valid because he takes
a rational stance and does not dogmatically assume God's existence. Plato's
philosophy assumes that God exists as a supremely good being whose goodness is
analogous to Plato's concrete concept or the ultimate

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