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What are the differences between Socrates, Aristotle and Plato?

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Quick Answer

Socrates focused on asking probing, sometimes humiliating questions in order to learn, Plato believed in immortality of the soul and Aristotle was a champion of reason and believed in avoiding extremes. While the three philosophers had differences, they were more alike as Aristotle was the student of Plato and Plato was the student of Socrates.

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Socrates was a philosopher who was frustrated and annoyed with the Sophists at the time. The Sophists in Greece would teach logic and the idea that all things are relative as a way to achieve goals. Socrates believed the truth was more important and that it was the reincarnation of the eternal soul that held all wisdom. This is where Socrates developed what is now known as the "Socratic method," which is asking questions to help rediscover what people knew before birth.

Plato was the prized student of Socrates. He ran the Academy, a place where philosophy was studied. He was both idealistic and rationalistic. He believed in the ideal on one end and the manifestation of that ideal on the other.

Aristotle was the prized student of Plato, though he disagreed with him on several things. Aristotle was a scientist as well as a philosopher. He believed in an "essence" and an opposite of the essence, which he called "matter." He believed matter did not have a shape or a purpose, but essence was what provided that shape or purpose to matter; together they completed one another.

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  • Q:

    What were Plato's main contributions to philosophy?

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    Plato, the Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, contributed the philosophical idea that reason was necessary for a fair and just society. He felt individuals required equality, which became the basis for modern democratic ideals. He also pontificated on the importance of mathematics in education and art and culture in civilized society.

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  • Q:

    What is Plato famous for?

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    Plato is famous for being one of the most influential figures in Western philosophy, and his student Aristotle went on to have a similarly large impact on the world. According to Alfred North Whitehead, a mathematician and philosopher, "The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

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  • Q:

    What did Socrates believe in?

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    Scholars do not know the exact nature of Socrates' beliefs because he did not leave behind any writings. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, nearly all available knowledge about Socrates comes from the writings of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes, all of whose reliability is questionable.

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  • Q:

    What are some of the interesting facts about Socrates?

    A:

    Aside from his intelligence and wisdom, Socrates invented a new style in conversation, and priests were threatened by his inner voice. He was also accused of corrupting the social system and not valuing the Greek gods of the time.

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