Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle Matrix

Fill in the matrix below, denoting each philosopher’s view concerning the topics listed. Write NA if there is no record in the textbook of the philosopher’s view on the specific topic. Then, using the information you inserted into the matrix as a guide, write a 350-700 word response describing how Socrates’, Plato’s, and Aristotle’s philosophies relate to each other.

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  Socrates Plato Aristotle
Logic and Argument in Philosophy Socrates pioneered the Socratic Method (dialectic). This method asks related converse questions that test whether an argument is true or simply strong. Plato was an anti-Skeptic. He believed that there were things that could be known; namely, Forms. He put forth the belief that opinion, and by consequence perception, could not be the true reality because two opinions on the same subject can not both be true.  Aristotle differed form Plato’s understanding of Forms in that he believed that the perceived object determines the Form rather than the Form determining the perceived object. He postulated that without the object there would never be a Form.
Methods of Acquiring Knowledge Socrates thought that the acquiring of knowledge was not the possession of knowledge at all; rather the understanding of our own ignorance. The Oracle of Delphi claimed that Socrates was the wisest man alive, which to Socrates only meant that he was the only man alive that understood his own ignorance. Socrates also admits on pg. 43 that he has no knowledge.       Knowledge for Plato can be summed up in one word “Forms”. He postulated that the Forms are the only real reality since the perceived reality is always changing. In the metaphor “The Cave” Plato explains that all we really see is the shadows of the Forms, but that the greatest knowledge of all understands the unchanging Forms themselves.   Aristotle claimed that the greatest knowledge is knowledge that is known intuitively. He says that logical reasoning could not even exist without this intuitive knowledge. The example he uses is the intuitive knowledge that things cannot be both true and false.
Love The book did not discuss Socrates’ specific philosophic understanding of love, but Socrates’ love does shows through the text. He apparently had a love for justice, since even though he was innocent and could escape prison he did not so as to live under justice. For Plato love was a path, a series of steps that lead to immortality. This path starts with the simple understanding that something is missing. From there the “want” develops into the sharing of thoughts with beautiful people. Next is the realization that all love is one. The next step is the realization that spiritual beauty supersedes physical beauty. Then comes the appreciation of the beauty in moral practices and law. From there love takes the form of being part of an organized intellectual establishment. The last stage involves the discovery of the ultimate mystery or Absolute Beauty.   There is only one mention of love in the chapter on Aristotle. He says that it is a things’ love of and longing for perfection or god that moves the universe.
Existence n/a Plato concluded that our true existence lies in the Forms. He also concluded that existence itself is a Form because it cuts across several senses simultaneously and is supplied by thought. Aristotle held that humans exist by means of a triune soul: the vegetative soul, the animal soul, and the nous, or the intelligent soul.

Write a 350-700 word response (collectively) describing how the philosophies of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle relate to each other concerning the following topics:

  • Logic and Argument in Philosophy
  • Knowledge and Methods of Acquiring Knowledge
  • Love
  • Existence

Plato’s whole philosophical outlook was centered on his understanding of Forms, but to Aristotle, these Forms seemed metaphorical and unimportant. For Aristotle these Forms were important, but only as universals that explained the true nature of a thing; however, in Plato’s world Forms were the ultimate reality, the end-all, the final beauty to be grasped. This is striking mainly because Aristotle was a pupil of Plato’s. It seems unusual that a teacher and a student would have such a different view on the same subject.

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While reading about these three great men I found that Socrates is most concerned with true knowledge, Plato with true love, and Aristotle with true existence. It is, however, important to note that these three men all search for the same thing; namely, truth. In fact, it is possible to establish they were all looking for the same truth, only through different avenues. They all believed in a greater existence in which perfection is the end and truth is the means to that end.

The philosophical arguments of these three men vary but seem to build upon each other. Socrates believed in the use of reason to deduce the non-truths. Plato held that the truth itself (Forms) can deduce the logical reasoning from the non-logical reasoning. Aristotle used both philosophical arguments to come to the conclusion that some reasoning is intuitive and supersedes both Forms and Reason.

These three philosophers did not agree on the method or means of acquiring knowledge in many respects. Socrates believed that acquiring knowledge was only the ability to understand one’s own ignorance. As always with Plato, the Theory of Forms is his medium for acquiring true knowledge. Aristotle, however, held that the Forms or universals as he called them were only one of four descriptions needed to understand a thing, and by consequence acquire knowledge of that thing.

The subject of Love seems to be either the biggest topic or the smallest topic when dealing with these philosophers. Socrates rarely talks about love, only mentioning his love for justice. But for Plato love is a path that leads to the immortal. Likewise, as with Socrates the only mention of Love in the section on Aristotle is the love of God (the unmovable mover).

Socrates talked very little about existence. It seems he was more distracted with how existence played out than existence itself. As always Plato’s understanding of existence (being) is wrapped up in his Theory of Forms. For Plato existence itself is a Form. Aristotle’s understanding of existence lies in the triune soul of man. In which the first soul is the source of nourishment and reproduction, the most primal of the three souls. The second is the ability to feel pleasure and pain. The third is a distinctly human soul, the intelligent or spiritual soul.

In some ways all three men build upon each other’s teachings; in others, these three men break new philosophical ground in their own right. These men had different opinions of the same truth, the same world, the same existence. They simply disagreed on exactly what these things meant to us.


Bruder, K., & Moore, B. N. (2002). Philosophy: The power of ideas (6th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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