Plato’s philosophy revolves around the idea of forms. He argues that the form of an object is the most real being in existence. Then, he goes on to talk about how the particular participates with the form. After that, Plato proclaims that the least real of the three is the ontology, or being. For example, Plato considers the idea of a dog to be the most real. The actual dog is ontologically less important than the form, but they coincide with each other. A golden retriever, a poodle, and a German Sheppard are types of dogs and considered to be the broadest category of the three. Another example of how this idea of forms works in today’s society. The idea of the perfect person stands alone on top ontologically. The individual man or woman would come next and there is no chance of there being the perfect person. African-American, Caucasian, and Asian people would be considered the being in his proposal and less important than the form and particular of a person. Plato focuses his attention more on the idea of an object rather than on the specific type of object. In addition to his idea on forms, he also believes in the idea of innatism.
Plato also focuses on the soul and innatism. Innatism is the idea that people are born with knowledge of the concepts of equality, justice, and piety. Plato talks about how people’s souls have these ideas in them; these ideas come out in a process called recollection. When Plato mentions recollection, he talks about how everything people have known and everything they will ever know already exist in people and as time flies, people remember this knowledge. For example, when looking at two long pieces of wood, a person knows that these two long pieces of wood are equal in length and height based on prior knowledge of size and other mathematic concepts. Another example includes the idea of having déjà vu. Déjà vu is when something happens to a person and that same person swears that the event has occurred before. Sometimes, this phenomenon occurs when people dream about a certain event and it occurs exactly how it does in their dreams. However, déjà vu also come from past experiences that seem very similar to the current situation. Despite Plato focusing on one, Aristotle puts his attention on the many, and in this case, the substance.
Aristotle argues that the particular, or the substance, is the most important part of the being. He starts out specific and ends up broad. In the case of a horse, he would say that the horse is more important than the idea or category of horse and the category of horse have more value than the category of mammal. Scientifically, the order goes physical horse, the species horse, and the genus mammal. Another idea that Aristotle believes in is empiricism. Empiricism states that people are not born with knowledge; rather, people learn as they grow and obtain knowledge through experiences. When talking about the life of an empiricist, he says their life is purposive. Purposive means that their lives are going someplace. In addition to empiricism, Aristotle also believes in the four causes and the order of ontology.
According to Aristotle, the four causes of an object are material, formal, efficient, and final. The material cause is what the object is composed of. The formal cause is the design of an object. The efficient cause of an object is how the object was produced. The final cause is the substance of the object. For example, the material cause of a clay bowl would be the clay. The bowl’s formal cause would be its overall design. The person who made the bowl would be considered the efficient cause of the object. The final cause of the clay bowl is the finished product. Along with the four causes, Aristotle talks about telos and the ontology order. The telos is the