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History of Philosophy II

Plato and Aristotle


Michal Zvarík

The coursebook presents Plato and Aristotle as the two most significant and groundbreaking thinkers of European thought from the era of classical Greek philosophy. The author provides prefatory orientation in the labyrinth of their complex thought and sketches their metaphysics, problems of knowledge and ethics. He departs from the fact that both thinkers are similar in striving to overcome problems of their period by localizing the human being into a hierarchical order of beings, which obliges in questions of the possibility of knowledge as well as of the right conduct.


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In the 5th century BC, through the activities of the soph- ists, the classical period of Greek philosophy begins, espe- cially the period which is famous thanks to the names of the three renowned men: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. If it is true that Socrates and the sophists focused their attention mainly on the human being at the expense of natural investigations, Plato and Aristotle in their plans achieved a new unity and its deepening in the nascent metaphysics. Sophists strongly questioned the possibil- ity of knowledge and how it is distinguished from opin- ion, their development of Aporia stated that nothing can be said with certainty, and that the core of a happy life lies rather in the ability to convince than to have exper- tise, respectively. The highest state of knowledge and profi ciency is the ability to convince. In this way they stated the serious issues with which Plato and Aristo- 8tle dealt. The answer was an eff ort to develop a complex view, resulting in a vision of the cosmos as a hierarchi- cal regulation of causes. In it a man does not act as the measure of all things, on the contrary, he is understood as something inherently “between“ and is an imperfect being between God and animals and his life is the strug- gle between the possibilities of low physical life, the life of cattle, as Aristotle says and the high theoretical life in which he most fully develops his possibilities and can then...

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