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Aristotle on God

A question whose answer has been much disputed in various circles is whether Aristotle's doctrine of God is essentially Platonic. There are, certainly, distinctions between the views of the two philosophers, and their views were not static, thus making the task of answering this question similar to trying to hit a moving target. This paper will take the position that at its foundation, Aristotle's doctrine of God is fundamentally Platonic.

One of the reasons that Aristotle's doctrine of God can be considered Platonist is that Aristotle started out being a student of Plato (Kreis). Like many admiring students, Aristotle was at first an ardent admirer of Plato's thinking, particularly since Plato was several decades older at the time. However, as time went on, Aristotle's thinking diverged from Plato's in some respects. For example, "Plato believed that "there is an essence or Form or Absolute behind every object in the phenomenal world," insisting that "man was born with knowledge," while Aristotle believed that "knowledge comes from experience" (Kreis). Plato's philosophical tradition was rationalism, with knowledge being a priori (prior to experience), while Aristotle's philosophical tradition was empiricism, with knowledge being a posteriori (posterior to, or after, experience) (Kreis).

Although the differences between Plato's and Aristotle's philosophies appear to make them diametrically opposed, these are somewhat superficial differences, similar to those of Christians who argue over whether Christ had a belly button or not. Aristotle's views do diverge from Plato's, but they are also derived from them. Plato contends that "the First Mover," or God, "is an immaterial soul, not a material thing at all" (Koons). Aristotle also argues that "the Unmoved Mover must be immaterial, since if He were material, He could move other things only by moving Himself, which would raise the necessity of explaini...

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Aristotle on God. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 21:54, July 01, 2022, from