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Plato's form of the good versus Aristotle's prime mover

Hi, I was just wondering if anyone could help me with some criticisms of both the Form of the good and the Prime Mover. I want to challenge them on the same grounds preferably so my essay can be more comparative. So far I've got the fact that they ultimately boil down to rationalist thinking (and the issues with this) and the fact that they are both abstract concepts with a lack of empirical evidence.
Does anyone have another criticism I can use for the 2 of them? Online it suggests that they both lack explanatory power but I'm not sure why so any help would be appreciated.
Thanks!
Original post by audreyb123
Hi, I was just wondering if anyone could help me with some criticisms of both the Form of the good and the Prime Mover. I want to challenge them on the same grounds preferably so my essay can be more comparative. So far I've got the fact that they ultimately boil down to rationalist thinking (and the issues with this) and the fact that they are both abstract concepts with a lack of empirical evidence.
Does anyone have another criticism I can use for the 2 of them? Online it suggests that they both lack explanatory power but I'm not sure why so any help would be appreciated.
Thanks!

Hi, former A Level OCR RS student here. I think it is better to create arguments against them separately so you have more A02 marks.

AGAINST the form of the good I would argue:

1.

If there is one Form of the Good, why are there disagreements about what true goodness is? - Surely this would be universally accepted.

2.

Plato's World of the Forms (in which good is included) is an unchanging concept however you can argue that: change is better than immutability and it is an important part of our world (evolution for example). Without change we wouldn't be able to progress or mature.

AGAINST Aristotle's prime mover I would argue:

1.

Aristotle says we can observe natural things that seem to have a telos so he argues the Prime Mover explains the reason for change and motus as the prime mover attracts everything. However observation is a human construct and humans give things a telos - it is external to the object (not intrinsic) - therefore if there is no external purpose/telos, this discredits Aristotle's reason for motus and therefore there is no need for a final cause or Prime Mover.

2.

If the prime mover is pure thought, how can there be any causal connection with the physical universe and there must be if the prime mover is able to affect and move it?

SIMILARITIES between prime mover and form of the good:

1.

both are transcendent and cannot be known empirically (using senses) - reason needs to be used to understand them both

2.

both are perfect, unchanging, eternal

3.

prime mover = telos of everything, form of good = the aim of everything


DIFFERENCES between prime mover and form of the good:

1.

MOTUS - prime mover draws and attracts motus towards itself because it is the ultimate final cause/ telos - whereas the form of the good is unchanging because it belongs to the world of the forms so therefore change only occurs in the imperfect world of appearances.

2.

LOCATION - prime mover is part of the material universe - form of the good is part of the world of the forms, not this world.

3.

INVOLVEMENT WITH THE WORLD - prime mover has no connection with things in the world - the form of the good participates in all forms and we can recognise it in the world of appearances (our world) e.g. we see goodness in a good person or a good dog or a good pencil.

PRIME MOVER is MORE successful than form of good because...

1.

prime mover explains why there is change (everything is drawn to its perfection)

2.

Plato doesn't clearly explain how form of the good participates in objects or concepts in this world of appearances whereas aristotles prime mover gives a clearer explanation

3.

Aristotle based his theory of the prime mover on sense experience and the final cause (purpose/ telos)

FORM OF GOOD is MORE successful than prime mover because...

1.

the form of the good also explains why there is change in the world of appearances - imperfect world has change

2.

form of the good explains why we recognise good in things and why things vary in the amount of goodness e.g. pen is good because it writes well/ there is enough ink etc. but person is good because they help others/ are kind - form of the good participates in the pen and the person

3.

prime mover cannot be observed empirically (using senses) so it is better to use reason to work out the truth

ISSUES WITH BOTH:

both moved from empiricism to rationalism - neither can be empirically verified

Reply 2
Original post by simrankc26
Hi, former A Level OCR RS student here. I think it is better to create arguments against them separately so you have more A02 marks.
AGAINST the form of the good I would argue:

1.

If there is one Form of the Good, why are there disagreements about what true goodness is? - Surely this would be universally accepted.

2.

Plato's World of the Forms (in which good is included) is an unchanging concept however you can argue that: change is better than immutability and it is an important part of our world (evolution for example). Without change we wouldn't be able to progress or mature.

AGAINST Aristotle's prime mover I would argue:

1.

Aristotle says we can observe natural things that seem to have a telos so he argues the Prime Mover explains the reason for change and motus as the prime mover attracts everything. However observation is a human construct and humans give things a telos - it is external to the object (not intrinsic) - therefore if there is no external purpose/telos, this discredits Aristotle's reason for motus and therefore there is no need for a final cause or Prime Mover.

2.

If the prime mover is pure thought, how can there be any causal connection with the physical universe and there must be if the prime mover is able to affect and move it?

SIMILARITIES between prime mover and form of the good:

1.

both are transcendent and cannot be known empirically (using senses) - reason needs to be used to understand them both

2.

both are perfect, unchanging, eternal

3.

prime mover = telos of everything, form of good = the aim of everything


DIFFERENCES between prime mover and form of the good:

1.

MOTUS - prime mover draws and attracts motus towards itself because it is the ultimate final cause/ telos - whereas the form of the good is unchanging because it belongs to the world of the forms so therefore change only occurs in the imperfect world of appearances.

2.

LOCATION - prime mover is part of the material universe - form of the good is part of the world of the forms, not this world.

3.

INVOLVEMENT WITH THE WORLD - prime mover has no connection with things in the world - the form of the good participates in all forms and we can recognise it in the world of appearances (our world) e.g. we see goodness in a good person or a good dog or a good pencil.

PRIME MOVER is MORE successful than form of good because...

1.

prime mover explains why there is change (everything is drawn to its perfection)

2.

Plato doesn't clearly explain how form of the good participates in objects or concepts in this world of appearances whereas aristotles prime mover gives a clearer explanation

3.

Aristotle based his theory of the prime mover on sense experience and the final cause (purpose/ telos)

FORM OF GOOD is MORE successful than prime mover because...

1.

the form of the good also explains why there is change in the world of appearances - imperfect world has change

2.

form of the good explains why we recognise good in things and why things vary in the amount of goodness e.g. pen is good because it writes well/ there is enough ink etc. but person is good because they help others/ are kind - form of the good participates in the pen and the person

3.

prime mover cannot be observed empirically (using senses) so it is better to use reason to work out the truth

ISSUES WITH BOTH:

both moved from empiricism to rationalism - neither can be empirically verified


Thank you SO SO much, I had thought of a couple of these reasons but wasn't too sure how to articulate it, and also you gave some really interesting standpoints I hadn't thought of. Especially the point about human beings giving things their telos, not the PM. I've printed out what you replied and will 100% be using these reasons if this question comes up. THANK YOU!!!!
Original post by audreyb123
Thank you SO SO much, I had thought of a couple of these reasons but wasn't too sure how to articulate it, and also you gave some really interesting standpoints I hadn't thought of. Especially the point about human beings giving things their telos, not the PM. I've printed out what you replied and will 100% be using these reasons if this question comes up. THANK YOU!!!!

No worries!! If you need any more help on OCR RS I still have my notes with like A01 and A02 send me a message!

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