Aristotle vs. Plato
Nicomachean Ethics Book 1 Chapter 6
This is a rendition of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics for contemporary readers. Brief, understandable pieces with a short practice to integrate the wisdom into your life. No philosophical background necessary.
This particular piece is a bit complex. In it, Aristotle will argue against his teacher Plato. Plato thought all good things share a certain characteristic. Aristotle argues that good things are diverse and that the good life has a plurality to it.
Plato described the idea of the good as one unified thing. As if all good things partake in an idea called ‘good’ and share the same characteristics with each other. And to inquire into this theory in a critical manner is difficult, as the man who taught us this is dear. However, when we inquire for the truth we must remember that while our teachers are dear, it is a pious thing to honor the truth first.
The question is if all good things have one thing in common, or if goodness is a pluralistic entity. Plato says one thing, we say otherwise.
When we inquire into how we speak of the good we will notice that the good is spoken of in many different ways. The good is spoken of in relation to what something is, for example the god or the intellect. These things are good in themselves. 'Good' can also be spoken of in relation to what sort of thing it is, as we say ‘this is an honest and good man’ or something of that sort. It can also be called good in regards to its relation to something, like a fruit that is good for eating or a book that is good for reading.
Because the good can be spoken of in so many ways it is clear that the good would not be one simple thing. If that was the case, it would only be spoken of in only one of the categories mentioned alone.
For a more thorough inquiry into this topic, you should read the original [Book 1 chapter 6].
Theoretical inquiry is not complete until the abstract ideas have been clothed in concrete reality. If you want this knowledge to truly influence your life, do this practice. Be serious about living well.
Listen or read the work of a person you consider to be extremely wise slowly and critically and look for a place where you think they are wrong.