Plato and Aristotle, two world renown philosophers lived more than two thousand years ago. Aristotle was Plato's student, and they were good friends for 20 or so years. One would therefore assume that their views would be very similar, due to the long amount of time they spent together. However, this is not the case, and even though the basis of their ideas has some small similarities, their take on religion is quite different. Plato takes a dualistic approach in his work, and Aristotle settles for a semi-dualistic, semi-naturalist approach. In the following essay, the theories and beliefs of the authors will be analyzed individually, and then they will be compared.
To begin with, Plato (428-347 BCE), suggested that there was one God, guided by the Forms (Irwin 112). For one to understand what Plato meant by this, it is important to analyze the way Plato viewed the world. Plato claims that there are Forms, and that a Form is the one and only, in which all other examples of a virtue partake (90). For instance, instead of having many different examples of beauty, there is only the Form of beauty. The Forms Plato explains, are eternal and cannot be known through the senses, but by being in touch with the soul's acquired knowledge (90). He asserts that the Forms are basically the building bricks of our world and that they compose everything we know. For instance, how does one know that a dog is a dog? Chihuahuas for example, are very different from poodles, yet children at a very young age, know that both are dogs. Plato would argue that we know the Form dog, and therefore can classify all dogs as being part of this Form. Plato expands his use of Forms to build on his views on religion. He suggests that the world is an artifact and that a Demiurge (Greek for craftsman), guided by the Forms built it (112). Unlike Homeric gods, who are controlled by human emotions, Plato sees this Demiurge as the purest and most perfect being, void of malice and evil ("Plato: Political Philosophy.