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    Plato and Descartes

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    1. How does Plato's view on the nature of reality differ from Aristotle's? Which view do you find most compelling and why?

    2. Explain the Cartesian proof for the existence of god. Does his version of god resemble any of the concepts of the divine proposed by the major world religions? Can his account apply to more than one?

    Please include references.

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    Solution Preview

    You have asked a question that falls right into some of my main areas of expertise. Remember, I can't answer the question for you, but only give you the "tools" to make sense out of it.

    1. Plato and Aristotle

    This has been the perennial question of western philosophy. There is so much written on it that it really defines description. In the simplest terms, the distinction is between the two different concepts of "essence." For Aristotle, the essence of a thing (a class of objects) is inherently a part of its physical structure. An essence?or that which makes a thing a thing?is not a physical thing, but a spiritual (or ideal) reality that exists even when the object itself changes.

    Remember, Aristotle holds that these essences are real, but are actually "in" things as a part of their very structure. Plato can't make sense out of that idea. They can't be in the same place.

    For Plato, an essence is something separate from physical things. There is an ideal realm of Forms or Ideas that serve as the basic blueprint of reality. Think of the relations between the definition of a triangle and specific triangular things that we see every day. What, actually, is that definition? Is it mere words? Is it an object? Is it just a verbal shortcut for our understanding? Yet, without it, we could no know what a triangle is. Specific triangles never ...

    Solution Summary

    The solution provides information, assistance and advise on the questions (see above) with regards to the philosophies of Plato and Descartes.