Aristotle and Plato's Metaphysics

Metaphysics is concerned with the fundamental principles of things; it includes abstract ideas like identity, being, time, space, knowledge, and causality. It focuses on nature that exists beyond reality and cannot be perceived. Metaphysics seeks to explain the origins of life and everything within it. There are numerous approaches to metaphysics, some of which contradict one another. Plato and Aristotle were two of the first philosophers in this discipline. The two held diametrically opposed views on numerous parts of nature and their relationship to human existence. As much as Aristotle was Plato’s student, he grew and developed his line of thought that was quite different from his teacher’s. Both Aristotle and Plato held different views on various concepts such as reality, and they perceived them from different perspectives. Metaphysics comprises epistemology, ontology, and cosmology. Epistemology refers to the study of nature and range of gained information, as well as to the acceptable belief. Epistemologists work with tasks, which may be divided into two groups. The term can also be defined as searching for the basis of a concept and determination of the origin of the basis. It is the definition of what knowledge is and the way to differentiate between situations in which one understands something that a person is not familiar with. While there is an overall agreement concerning certain aspects of the matter, the query is much more challenging than it can seem.

On the other hand, ontology refers to a philosophical study of what is applicable without regard to what is real. It is a branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature and associations of being. Various significant philosophical complications are located at the crossing of ontology and logic. Both ontology and logic are extensive areas within philosophy. Due to the reason that there is no relation between them regarding even one philosophical problem, these two fields of philosophy are highly self-sufficient. However, it is only the combination of both that makes complete understanding of the issue possible, as the study that puts together physics and astronomy, which are both natural sciences in a combined energy, to understand the physical world. Cosmology can also be referred to as division of astronomy concerned with evolution and origin of the earth.

Just like physics deals with laws of gravity, the universe, and magnetic forces, metaphysics goes beyond physics to search for the cause of reality. It looks for the origin of immortal souls, Supreme Beings, and existence of some higher being. Metaphysics has varied opinions because its topics are yet to be studied. Neither has their existence been proved true. As such, there are still plenty of unanswered questions concerning the existence of immortal souls as well as some higher being. As it was mentioned earlier, metaphysics has no means of proving the existence or the origin of these beings. Both Plato and Aristotle as ancient Greek philosophers studied aspects that lie in the fields of politics, ethics, and science amongst other disciplines.

Both Plato and Aristotle had various ideas with opposing variances that can be lessened into a solid, select few. The philosophers approached metaphysics in different ways. Both of them had dissimilar opinions on the points of reality. They believed in the concept of reality even though explained this model differently. Plato lived between 427BC and 347BC while Aristotle lived between 384BC and 322BC. Aristotle rose from being a pupil of Plato to become an independent thinker.

Aristotle was an outside-in philosopher as contrary to Plato’s inside-out thinking. This fact means that Plato arranged his thoughts from within and used applied in the outside world. On the other hand, Aristotle gathered the opinions from the world around him and utilized them within. These opposite approaches to metaphysics were the basis of the disparities within Aristotle’s philosophical problem. Aristotle’s beliefs narrowed his focus to one level of reality. He argued that there was merely one form impending world order and that forms existed within specific things. Aristotle emphasized that form did not have separate being and emerged in the matter. Contrary to Aristotle, Plato’s views leaned towards two levels of reality. Plato stressed on metaphysics being dualistic; he anticipated that there were two unlike varieties of things– mental and physical. Plato supposed that all that was real took on a form but did not exemplify it. According to Plato, there were only two words existing: being and becoming. These two varied views created central ideas of reality and existence, and Aristotle and Plato disagreed on their positions regarding two concepts.

Aristotle was mainly occupied with the relationship between substance and the form. He distinguished only four key questions that can be studied to give answer to anything; he called them four causes: material cause meaning what it is made of, formal cause representing what the thing is, efficient cause that is ‘who made it?’ and lastly, final cause or rather ‘what is its purpose?’ Plato and Aristotle had different views on more than one matter. Plato held onto an inside-out idea of metaphysics that stressed on two areas of our reality: the realm of constantly varying becoming things and that of static ones, and the scope for forms of existence that are unchangeable and comprise reality. Aristotle adhered to his outside-in thought, that there exists just one stage to our reality and that within it forms originate only in certain things, which possess both matter and form. Without the existence of people, there would be no shapes like the form of roundness. Forms do not evolve distinctly or separately from its details.

According to Aristotle’s belief, everything exists because of the existence of God and he uses this argument to form the core of his metaphysics, and, therefore, of his entirely imaginary philosophy. The highly capable methodology related to Aristotle's doctrine is the one associated the predecessors, particularly with Plato’s methods. There is an irregular intellectual agreement that Aristotle's doctrine of God contains some elements of Plato. Aristotle was intentionally using Plato's views and adjusting them to modern ones and transformed Platonism as a substitute to Plato's stand. Referring to the being as unmoved mover makes it sound ordinary to realize that it has been modified from Plato's self-moved movers.

In the first of his principles, Aristotle sets the concept of nous, which unlike unmoved movers serve to be the titles of the core. Rarely did Aristotle use the name God to refer to this being. There are no relations in these names, but they possess minimal content to be valuable. Aristotle does not emphasize on the motives; the first belief is a God, to which some refer to as a divine thing. Similarly, others refer to God as the Olympia, the planets, and Heracles.

These names may appear to bear little meaning as regarding the essence compared to God or unmoved mover since they also have various extensions. Therefore, if they can be used to mean a rational soul, it implies that there exists a number of them just in the same way as there is a certain number of humans beings. Aristotle asserts that "good" exists in every society. Accordingly, Aristotle acknowledges the good and nous as the concepts of the nature of God. Plato also accepts the good as a notion to indicate the utmost heavenly principal and as well uses names to refer to God, the foundation of command to the material world.

Respectively, the good is used to refer to God. For example, when Aristotle requested to know whether the good is something unique and constituting itself clearly or self-consciously, he was making use of Plato's terms to question if there is someone in the first place separating Good-itself by which further things exist in a feebler logic. The expression in which this assertion was originally made seems uncertain. However, it is distinctive of Aristotle and suggests no real reluctance. At this stage, it is imperative to stop a misinterpretation. One may suggest that when Aristotle approves the Platonic distinctiveness of the good, then his opinion is contrary to his general position.

Aristotle differentiates between the phrases the best and the good. Therefore, he begins with inquiring about “the best” which he directly recognizes as the good-itself. He elucidates that the good-itself shows “that to which it fits both to be first all to be by its occurrence and to be first amongst goods, and the source to the others of the existence of good." According to Aristotle, for-the-sake-of-which is the greatest and the origin of the good under it and the leading of all goods, so that it would mean the good-itself. The mistake of Plato was neither the posting good-itself, nor was it making it separate, but rather identifying it with the idea of the good and not the final or ultimate cause.

The human mind, just like the body, can be bad or good with possessing such abilities, like justice or the virtues outlined herein being qualitative instead of significant goods. If the human mind were nous, it could not probably be referred to as a substantial good. In fact, an expression of nous must have been a customary approach of denoting the first principle. Aristotle, while also calling the other things gods, attributed all spirituality to men, which certainly was the way of interpreting Greek nous. Additionally, the only remaining portion of Aristotle's philosophy of On Prayer depicting "ho Theos” can be nous or something preceding nous whereby Aristotle openly acknowledges the previous opinion himself and associates the latter with Plato’s theories.

Aristotle attempts to explain what the fundamental principle means by accepting that it is indeed nous. So to know his idea of the core of the principle, it is imperative to understand the meaning of the word “nous” in the context in which Aristotle uses this word in the first principle. He does not mean that God is just one occurrence of nous amongst others, or even the initial and greatest instance. God must be nous in such an approach that the only being that can be referred to as nous in the world is just God. Of course, it is also correct that God is the only ‘something’ that can be referred to as good in the superior logic under which God is good, but Aristotle clarifies this wisdom of goodness by explaining that this is the logic implying that nous is good. Therefore, it appears that nous can be applied without the requirement to entirely indicate a particular divine being.

The theorists before Aristotle’s philosophy defined nous as a God like idea governing the cosmos and intended it to be a virtue but not a quality of mind. There is sufficient sign that Plato understood nous in this sense. The predecessors of Plato, particularly Anaxagoras, also regarded nous as a virtue when setting the principles. Plato declared that all the wise should approve that nous is the ruler of those on earth and in heaven. Similarly, Plato considered other pre-Socratics as conquering with Anaxagoras. Plato himself, even as he hoped to be wise about physical nature, attempted to show nous as something governing the physical world. Also, the Athenian Stranger in Laws 12 explains that many assured philosophers, who must be Plato and his classmates at the School, have made the historic doctrine which holds “nous is the commander of everything that is found in the heaven, and have enhanced it with a concept of celestial souls” This is simply what Plato did, not in Philebus alone, but mainly in the Timaeus, where he provided a comprehensive theoretical explanation of how nous may have commanded the physical world by use of spiritual souls as its tools.

Plato and Aristotle had conflicting perspectives on religion and the concept of God. The Theists believe in the existence of God as the creator and warranter of the Universe. However, Plato states that there is a realm of abstract objects that exists and is comprised of a complex framework of reality superseding this world. The main point of conflict between the concept of God and metaphysics is the origin of the abstract objects.

Therefore, the philosophers of the Philebus equally acknowledge that nous is the king of all and that there is a source "assembling and organizing years and periods and months,” which would in the most acceptable way be referred to this notion." The nous is evidently indistinguishable as a virtue. Although Plato emphasizes that nous cannot come-to-be or be existing in everything without a soul, this does not show that nous is comprised of one sensible soul, nor does it reveal that nous occurs in its own separately from souls. Plato does not say that nous is a soul, or that the virtues cannot happen apart from souls but says that nothing excluding a soul can take part in nous.

Plato explains his point by stating that "the existence, to which unaided it belongs to obtain nous, his soul" or that nothing can possess nous but only the soul. As already distinguished, the expressions "to acquire nous" and "to have nous" are used to mean becoming and being sensible, obtaining and having the virtue of purpose. The demiurge of the Timaeus, who insists that he himself is Reason, desires to create the world that would look like him or contribute to him with instilling considerable things that look probable. It is the reason he bestows the world with a soul since he identifies that simply a soul can have or take part in Reason.

Plato attributes the precursors he had to Anaxagoras and includes the principle that nous rules the cosmos. However, in Laws 12 he explains that these philosophers encountered hardships as they never established that the divine bodies had souls, or that that soul came before the body. Plato's declarations that just a soul can take part in nous are exactly to depict that, if the ones were to undertake Anaxagoras's plan of presenting how nous rule the cosmos, they must do away with Anaxagoras's dependence on machine-driven sources, and in allocate an interplanetary character to souls instead. Seems that Plato never trusted Anaxagoras enough to recognize that the nous ruling universe is a celestial sensible soul, or even that it is virtuous and controlled by some cosmic sane spirit. It is an unbiased virtue, present by itself and in some way leading the cosmos.

Plato gave a correct interpretation of Anaxagoras. Anaxagoras examines and establishes like "to be hot" or "to be golden" by the way of "to sharing in, or having within oneself a percentage of the hot," or "to own within oneself a ration of gold," where "the hot" and "gold" denote massive bodies wrecked up into tiny bits and spreading all over the world. The shares may exist to a larger or smaller extent in some other bodies. Likewise, the basis "to be sensible" is articulated or, as it may be put in fairly normal Greek, is expressed as "to share in nous" or "to hold within oneself a percentage of nous" The virtue of nous just as gold or even the hot is a huge body disseminated throughout the space by the existence of what animal and celestial bodies come to act in a logically methodical manner.

Aristotle takes a similar pathway, following Plato's concept. Aristotle, in an alike manner as Plato, gets in line with the popular "all the wise" principle, affirming that nous is a ruler of earth and heaven, that openly orders the universe, in a consequence of supervising lunar things. Moreover, similarly to Plato, Aristotle begins with appreciating Anaxagoras’ contribution contrary to barely materialist thinkers and suggests that nous is a principle itself: "When one said nous is existent, as in nature so also in animals, as the source of order and every orderliness, he appeared like a clear-headed man different from those who had talked at chance before him” Here, Aristotle, like Plato, approves Anaxagoras's proclamation and acknowledges this as being programmatic for the entire thinking of Anaxagoras. Anaxagoras was enlightening on his precursors, but Aristotle suggests more effective cause.

Aristotle, just like Plato and Anaxagoras, defines nous as a distinctly occurring substance that is the final origin of motion, goodness, and order to the corporeal world. Aristotle appreciates Anaxagoras for making nous unmixed and impossible, so that it can change and dominate the world. On the opposite, Aristotle holds that nous is not what it has but what it is.

It is eminent from these passages that Aristotle is keen to assume the Platonic exploration for distinct understandable substances, and within the setting of this combined examination, purports to blame his Platonic friends of being too prepared to settle down for something smaller than the actual purpose of their pursuit. That intention was to admit a reasonable thing camouflaged as an unconnected substance. Aristotle contradicts Plato. He points out the disapprovals that Plato used contrary to Homer, Hesiod, as well as many others for their undeserving demonstrations of godly things. By minimizing the causation of nous to ultimate connection, Aristotle limits the good-itself to nous, providing it with the shadowy good which had been poised by Plato. He also described nous not only as the official source of goodness, but as the origin of other things as well. Plato had made it a proper origin of morality and harmony in other things and, therefore, not extended its definition to whatever it creates. Obviously, this approach is not the appropriate case in the good-itself. Empedocles and Anaxagoras, according to Aristotle, recognized the Good with nous, and these were considered accurate.


The paper managed to establish that metaphysics deals with the first principles of things; which involves abstract concepts such as such as identity, beings, time, space, knowing, and cause. It focuses on the nature beyond what can be seen. Metaphysics tries to explain the reason of nature’s existence and all that is within it. Two of the earliest philosophers in this field, Plato and Aristotle, held conflicting views concerning the numerous aspects of nature and its relation to the existence of human beings. Their dispute focused on determining the concept of nous and good and relations between them. Taking into account, that Aristotle held that nous developed other substances which were not limited to good-in-itself and Plato, on the contrary, stated that nous served as a source of morality and goodness, it is possible to conclude that the philosophers had little in the matter of metaphysics.


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