Aristotle was quite different from Plato in his mental constitution and orientation. While Plato was a poet, mystic and an ethico-religious thinker, Aristotle was more of a scientist, a logician and an austere thinker. He was more of a realist in the sense that he believed the concepts(as called by Socrates) or Universals(as called by Plato) aren’t independent in themselves, that it is the concepts and universals as we call it that are in the things, the particulars, and not the other way round! There can be no universals without percepts.
For Plato, ideas are substances. Aristotle does not accept this. He also refuses to accept matter as a substance. He defines substance logically as that which has independent existence and also that it always is a subject and never a predicate. So basically, that which is a substance, according to Aristotle, can only be the subject and not the predicate. For example :
GOLD is HEAVY. Here, “gold” is the subject and the substance while heavy is the universal, the predicate. The predicates, like as they depend always on the subject, similarly the universals always depend on the particulars and not the other way round.
The reason why he also rejects to accept matter as matter as substance is because matter,by itself, is formless and an indeterminate thing. It doesn’t have an identifiable form. Thus, by itself it cannot be substance.
So what all precisely were the qualifications that were necessary for something to be a substance? (According to Aristotle, obviously :P)
According to Aristotle, something can be called a substance if it comprised of the following three elements :
a) A universal (like the “cowness” in cow which is a substance)
b) An unknown substratum called “Matter”
The famous line which the then went on to say
“It’s neither the matter that exists, nor the form…. what exists is a formless matter”
A universal cannot exist without qualities, and neither can “qualities” be defined to anything meaningful. (You cannot say just “tall”, there got to be a “thing” or a “particular” that is tall!)
Also, he was also more concerned with “becoming” rather than “being”. He believed in flux, changes and movements, reason why he propounds potentiality and actuality.
But ultimately, like his master Plato, Aristotle goes on to say that everything eventually ends to the pure form of God, which he calls as Actus Purus or Prime Mover. Similarities with Plato include teleogical similarity, soul being immortal and perfection of god as Actus Purus.
Now since comparisons between Aristotle and Plato is a vast topic which doesn’t necessarily deal with more widely than what I covered, the new post will be about something different from this, obviously talking about Aristotle’s Philosophy!