Emlmcarter
Badges: 3
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 10 months ago
#1
So I have an essay that I'm struggling with. The essay question is "Critically compare Plato's Form of The Good and Aristotle's Prime Mover."
I'm struggling to find good strengths and criticisms for both the Prime Mover and FoTG, as well as fleshing them out into a proper point in my essay, and the notes I have for my class aren't the best since my teacher is slightly lousy at letting my class take notes.
Help would really be appreciated
0
reply
Joe312
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#2
Report 10 months ago
#2
For Plato, any criticisms of the forms will do. If the theory of forms fails, the form of the good fails too.

The form of the good is like the sun according to Plato, in that it both illuminates and allows us to see the world of the forms, and yet also nourishes and is responsible for all the existence of life and all the other forms, so it is the highest form. All the other forms have goodness in them. The Form of the Good is the source of truth, beauty and justice. Understanding the form of the good makes it impossible for you to do wrong and so Plato says you should rule the people as a ‘philosopher king’.

Arguably Plato is just projecting his psychological need for goodness onto reality. Physical objects do perhaps have some basis in reality beyond our mere perception but ‘goodness’ is not even really perceived outside our mind so in what sense could it be a shadow of a more real thing?



Aristotle’s criticism. It’s simple to see how e.g ‘tall’ would have a single essence of ‘tallness’ however ‘the good’ seems different as it is spoken about in many different ways. That makes it seem unlikely that goodness could be one simple thing like Plato’s conception of the form of the good requires. Aristotle argues that things which can be put under a single idea or form should be confinable to a single subject area or discipline. The good of war comes under the science of strategy, the good related to diseases is in the science of medicine, the good of bodily exercise comes under gymnastics.



Nietzsche claimed that Philosophers invent their theories to justify their pre-conceived prejudices. Arguably Plato just felt like he should be in power and so invented the form of the good as an excuse. The fact that only those in power would be able to see this form of the good adds to that suspicion.

Arguably Nietzsche commits the genetic fallacy however; assuming that the motivations someone might have for coming to a belief can be used to prove it false. Plato could have invented the form of the Good as an excuse to rule, and yet there still be a form of the good.

Nonetheless Nietzsche’s approach could be considered to provide not a disproof but a justifiable scepticism of Plato.


The prime mover is that unmoved mover. It is not the efficient cause of the universe, since Aristotle believed the universe was eternal. The Prime Mover is responsible for the everlasting motion and change of the universe. Since it cannot be moved, it cannot change and is thus pure actuality. It is only form but no materiality, a kind of mind, which eternally contemplates itself, otherwise it would contemplate things which change and would then itself change. Our universe is attracted to the prime mover in a sort of orbit. That is how the prime mover sustains the pattern of change from actuality to potentiality in our universe.



Newton challenged Aristotle’s belief that an object which is moved will simply stop moving by itself. Newton claimed instead that when moved, an object will move until met by an equal and opposite reaction. The problem with observing this is that on earth, the strong gravity and effect of friction amounts to an equal and opposite reaction on the movement of an object which causes it to stop. It doesn’t just stop by itself due to rest being its natural state, as Aristotle thought. This means that Aristotle’s inference that the constant motion in the universe must be maintained by something like a prime mover is false.



Newton’s ideas are most clearly illustrated in the example of a vacuum – space. In outer space where there is less gravity and friction, pushing an object in a certain direction will cause it to move in that direction potentially forever, unless it happens to hit another object or is pulled off course by the gravity of something like a planet.

Although Newton is seen by scientists as disproving Aristotle, arguably Einstein disproved Newton too and who knows which future physics might disprove Einstein. Arguably science just continually changes its preferred view and so it’s unreliable as a source of knowledge.

Scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson responded that Einstein did not ‘disprove’ Newton. Newton’s laws of motion are still accepted as true. Physicists now know much more about the universe than Newton did, however, so that opens up a space of knowledge around Newton’s theorems which require embedding in a different theory. Newton’s views still work for what they explain, it’s just that we now know there is much more in the universe to explain which requires other theories like Einsteins’. Aristotle’s physics however is not regarded as accurate by modern physicists even for some small part of the universe.



Sartre argued that there was no objective purpose because “existence precedes essence” meaning humans exist before they have a defined purpose and so have to subjectively define their purpose for themselves. Sartre’s argument was a psychological one, that people cling to fabricated notions of objective purpose like religion or Aristotle’s ‘final cause’ because they are afraid of not having a purpose, more specifically they are scared of the intensity of the freedom that comes from having to create their own purpose which Sartre thought led to feelings of abandonment (by God/objective reality), anguish (over the weight of being completely responsible for your actions) and despair (over our inability to act exactly as we’d like due to the constraints of the world). It’s much easier to believe in objective purpose than face that existential angst.

As Sartre’s argument is psychological, he does not provide metaphysical grounds for rejecting Aristotle’s final cause and so is arguably committing the genetic fallacy.
Nonetheless pointing out that humans have a psychological need to believe in objective purpose, if true, should make us extra sceptical of claims that it exists and if Aristotle’s arguments for it fail, or if he provided insufficient argument for it, we might consider
0
reply
Connor27
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#3
Report 10 months ago
#3
On Plato, you can criticise the theory of the forms on the grounds of them being inherently elitist and can be used to logically justify totalitarianism since only the philosopher-king class can truly understand the form of the good.

I’m not really familiar with that aspect of Aristotle so can’t help you with him unfortunately :/
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

With no certainty that exams next year will take place, how does this make you feel?

More motivated (84)
31.46%
Less motivated (183)
68.54%

Watched Threads

View All