Of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, who is generally considered the better philosopher? My apologies if too up for debate for any philosopher to have ever answered, as I can only find the answers of poets

Aristotle was the first accurate critic and truest judge — nay, the greatest philosopher the world ever had; for he noted the vices of all knowledges, in all creatures, and out of many men's perfections in a science he formed still one Art. Ben Jonson, The works of Ben Jonson, Vol. 9 (1816), p. 240

I don't mean to ask whose ideas are more current (Socratic irony?) or of contemporary interest (Plato has more to say?), but which of these Greek philosophers are considered to have better mastered the art, especially in terms of how it is practiced today?

I'm only asking cos a professor was talking about Aristotle with total reverence, and I wondered if that was generally the case.

  • @Richard Is whether they were right or wrong really relevant to their status. Given that they were essentially starting from nothing, it would surely be akin to an act of prophecy if they were right about anything – Nick R Jan 20 at 0:27
  • Mastered the art of what? Of thinking? Of making attractive speeches? Of posing interesting questions? Or of giving likable answers to them? – rus9384 Jan 20 at 0:30
  • @NickR a man is holding a gun to your head. He tells you... I have a mathematical problem.. you are allowed one phone call.. if you solve it you live.. otherwise.. you're sleeping with the fishes, capiche? Who do you call.. Pythagoras... Or a 22 year old maths graduate with a 1st from Oxford? Pythagoras was a genius.. but he never even considered that the square root of -1 might be useful. We learn about the ancients because it's 101. We are God's compared to them. Not because we're more intelligent.. because we have more giants on who's shoulders to stand. – Richard Jan 20 at 0:37
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    @NickR but the three above.. were not in the same league as Pythagoras. There just weren't that many authors around at the time.. so they sold a lot. I mean imagine if all you had to read was Harry potter... Shudders – Richard Jan 20 at 0:41
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    In antiquity, there were Academic (=Platonic) and Peripatetic (=Aristotelian) philosophers, and each would contend that their founder is the best. Socrates was so important that Hellenistic schools of philosophy tried to somehow link their founders to him (e.g. the Antisthenes > Diogenes link), and Crates' claim to fame (in the anecdote of how Zeno became his student) was being similar to Socrates. – b a Jan 20 at 2:39

It's impossible to answer in any objective way. Consider that that the only record of what we have of Socrates philosophy is that reported by Plato; moreover, Aristotle came after Plato, so he had the chance of critiquing Platos philosophy, whereas of course, Plato had no such chance.

Here's one view: Simone Weil rated Plato over Aristotle, as she rated ethics and spirituality over science and materialism and one ought to remind oneself here that though she was no scientist, she admired science and geometry in particular. This, no doubt, was also due to Platos influence as well as that of her brother Andre Weil, the mathematician - and who, preferred Indian philosophy to Greek - in particular, the Bhagavad Gita.

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