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The two texts of Plato, the Symposium, and the Republic seem to have various similarities in the definition of roles played by philosophers and philosophy. Both versions agree that a philosopher must be an individual that has a great love of knowledge. Likewise, both texts agree that philosophy is applied to influence the lifestyles of individuals. Philosophers act as role models to other society members, and that is the reason why they are expected to live a simple life so that their followers can copy their ways of life. Both the “Symposium” and the “Republic” locate the philosopher within a broader context of wisdom. Wisdom connects with philosophy in that philosophy is based on the combination of scientific knowledge and natural reason.
Aristotle and Plato discuss ethics in quite different ways that create varying perceptions of ethics. Both philosophers agree that ethics is the manner in which human beings are supposed to carry on with their lives. Aristotle in “Nicomachean Ethics” terms of ethics as not only contemplation of a better living but as the aim to create a better living as well. In simple words, Aristotle implies that human beings must strive to be good people rather than wait for goodness to create itself. Aristotle considers ethics to be a personal rather than social matter. Aristotle states “ethics is about how individuals should well live, while the study of politics is from the perspective of a lawgiver, look at the good of a whole community.” Aristotle believes that ethics is necessary if happiness is to be experienced since the two go hand in hand. He further believes that ethics can be instilled in individuals through the influence of their teachers.
Unlike Aristotle who believes that ethics is a way of life, Plato thinks that ethics is a virtual based concept. Both philosophers agree that happiness is closely linked to ethics, but they differ in their portrayal of the relationship between the two ideas. Plato portrays happiness as an elusive thing or in other words something that is difficult to find even in the existence of ethics. On the other hand, Aristotle portrays happiness as something that can be easily seen especially in the existence of ethics. Besides, Aristotle’s view of ethics seems to be based on the utilitarian theory of ethics that focuses more on the outcomes of an action or deed. In contrast, Plato’s view of ethics is based on the virtue-based theory of ethics that focus more on an individual’s values rather than the outcomes of his actions.
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