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THE NOTION OF VIRTUE IN THE ETHICAL VIEWS OF PLATO AND ARISTOTLE Plato and Aristotle two philosophers in the 4th century hold polar views on having a happy life and philosopy in general This fact is very cleverly illustrated by Raphaels School of Athens where Plato is portrayed looking up to the higher forms and Aristotle is pointing down because he supports the natural sciences Firstly Platos concept of reality contrasts with Aristotles concept Platos theory of ideal forms claims that a perfect world exists beyond the world around us Our world contains forms imperfectly copied from the ideal forms in the world beyond According to Plato most people cannot see the ideal forms they only see their representation or their shadows-stating that We cannot gain knowledge of things through our senses because the objects of sense perception are fleeting and constantly changing According to Plato the most important idea is the idea of good Knowledge of good is the object of all inquiry a goal to which all other things are subordinate Therefore only those who love knowledge and contemplate on the reality of things will achieve understanding of the forms In contrast Aristotles theory of the natural world states that our world is reality Aristotle thought this world consists of natural forms not necessarily ideal or imperfect and our senses can correctly perceive the natural forms Therefore according to Plato philosophers who by definition are knowledge lovers are the only beings who can reach true knowledge However he believed people who have attained this state must return to the world of everyday life and use their skills and knowledge to serve humanity Plato argued that it is worse to commit an injustice than to
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