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Aristotle Vs. Plato Learning Is Recollection

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What alternative does Aristotle offer to Plato's claim that learning is recollection? Where would Aristotle locate the mistake in Plato's argument in The Phaedo?

In his dialogues The Phaedo and Meno, Plato, through the form of Socrates, puts forth the idea that all learning is recollection. In The Phaedo, to prove that the soul is immortal, Socrates asserts the view that all learning is recollection and we simply need to be reminded of facts that our immortal souls are aware of. In Meno, Socrates attempts to show the truth of this belief by doing complex geometry with a nearby slave boy. Socrates leads the boy through a series of questions, and he answers correctly lending to Socrates' idea about learning. His brightest pupil, Aristotle, disagreed with this view and put forth a differing view in his work The Metaphysics.

In The Metaphysics, Aristotle puts forth the view that universal information is gained through experience and not recollection as Plato had said. Man connects a series of events into a causal chain through experience. For instance, gathering the fact that a certain remedy has helped two different sick people get better is simply a matter of experience. In his view, art is even greater and closer to wisdom than experience. Experience belies art, in that art is created by the formulation of universals from many individual experiences. Extracting the universal idea that the remedy given to those two people will help all people afflicted with the same sickness is a matter of art. The main difference comes in that men of art know the causes of things, while men of experience simply know how to deal with them. For instance, a carpenter may know that when wood gets wet it becomes warped, but a man of art knows the chemistry behind such a change. Therefore, a man of art is to be seen as wiser, because not only do they know what happens, they know why things happen. Also, the man of art can teach, which men regard as the highest form of wisdom, while men of experience cannot. In short, he sees wisdom as the highest form of knowledge, and it's only attainable by experience. A man of experience is wiser than the common man, and a man of art is wiser than men of experience.

Aristotle goes on to talk about how at first all the arts were directed at the necessities of life, but as time passed some arts became aimed at higher goals. The people who aimed for these higher goals looked



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