Plato and Aristotle  

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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds his Timaeus and gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms.
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Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds his Timaeus and gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms.

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In the history of philosophy, Plato (428/427 BC – 348/347 BC) is considered an idealist and Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) a realist.

In the The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds his Timaeus and points his index finger to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms.

In the summary provided by The School of Athens, Plato is the celestial philosopher and an idealist, while Aristotle, the chthonic philosopher is the realist.

More differences between Plato and Aristotle are to be found in their views on art. Plato was frequently critical of the arts, see Plato on art and Plato on censorship. Aristotle was altogether more appreciative towards art and artists and he wrote the first tract of literary theory, the Poetics. His theory of catharsis counteracted Plato's views that poets should only represent the good.

The difference with regards to the arts is best summarized in The Secret Museum by Walter Kendrick:

"Both Plato and Aristotle concede great, irrational power to drama and all the other arts, but the one sees this power as continuous, the other as intermittent. Plato makes art out to be something like poison, slowly accumulating in the system and strangling it. In the Aristotelian view, art is homeopathic medicine, to be taken as needed and put back on the shelf."

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Plato and Aristotle" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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