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Plato’s, Aristotle’s, and Socrates’ Philosophical Ideas

Understanding differences in philosophical approaches, as well as their nature, is essential for gaining insight into the key premises of specific philosophies and teachings. Although cultural specifics play a vital role in the development of said differences in philosophical approaches, other factors may also be at play. However, despite the lack of similar ideas, the teachings of different philosophies can be identified more easily, and their nature, as well as the few similar concepts that may appear in each philosophy.

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For instance, when considering two philosophies that stem from the experiences and spiritual practices of two similar cultures, namely, Confucianism and Buddhism, one will notice certain important differences between the two. For instance, although both philosophies promote the ideas of non-violence and wisdom, Buddhism suggests striving to reach the state of complete enlightenment, whereas Confucianism does not imply the presence of such a state (Tang 11). Therefore, even within similar cultures, philosophical premises may be strikingly different.

Likewise, the perspectives of Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates can be easily distinguished based on several unique characteristics that are emblematic of each of the philosophical theories in question. Namely, Socrates’ stance suggests the presence of cynicism as the means of understanding the universe and the relationships between individuals (Moore 23). In turn, Plato suggested an entirely different approach, particularly, the perspective on personal agency. Namely, freedom of choice lies at the basis of Aristotle’s philosophical teachings, claiming that an individual can act based on one’s will. Unlike Aristotle, Socrates, who promoted the critical approach and the idea of questioning every concept, argues that the use of a fatalistic philosophical stance makes more sense (Moore 5). Since the fatalistic framework implies that the outcomes of most significant events are predetermined it is typically seen as the fatalistic point of view (Moore 7). Therefore, when considering the notion of personal agency, one will spot noticeable differences in the approaches of Socrates and Aristotle.

Similarly, Plato’s philosophy can be easily separated from those of Aristotle and Socrates. Namely, Plato’s philosophical perspective is rooted in theory, whereas Aristotle’s and Socrates’ approaches are more empirical. In this regard, Plato’s philosophy shares quite a number of characteristics with Buddhism, the traditions of which also rely on theoretical contemplations to a significant extent as well. Moreover, Plato’s emphasis on moral development and the importance of virtue ethics also echoes Buddhist principles (Tang 89). Therefore, the Eastern and Western philosophical approaches intersect at least in the area of morality.

Likewise, all five philosophies share an important common characteristic, which is the necessity of the shift from the ideal and plain perspective to the one that is more practical and nuanced. As a result, all five insisted on the importance of learning as the basis for transferring to the application of theoretical postulates to practical scenarios (). Thus, even with natural differences stemming from the culture and time period in which the philosophies in question originated, they share quite a lot of common points.

Even in the philosophical; stances that have very little to do with each other, certain similarities can be found due to the existence of certain ideas that bridge different cultures and their philosophies. Consequently, when examining the perspectives of Buddha and Confucius, as well as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, one will find similar notions not only within the two groups, but also between them. Specifically, the definitions of virtues, as well as the focus on the specific end goals and the choice of path that will lead an individual to the completion of said goals, may be drastically different.

Works Cited

Moore, Michael. Knowledge in a Nutshell: Classical Philosophy: The Complete Guide to the Founders of Western Philosophy, Including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus. Arcturus Publishing, 2019.

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Tang, Yijie. Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, Christianity and Chinese Culture. Springer, 2015.

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