According to the introduction of this article, Plato and Aristotle both held that "the world experienced via the senses is what is real."

I do not doubt this point when it comes to Aristotle. But did Plato hold this as well? It seems that Plato's theory of forms locates the truly real in a otherwordly realm, not in the sensible particulars.

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    NO; see Plato: "central doctrines that are advocated in his writings: The world that appears to our senses is in some way defective and filled with error, but there is a more real and perfect realm, populated by entities (called “forms” or “ideas”) that are eternal, changeless, and in some sense paradigmatic for the structure and character of the world presented to our senses." Feb 18, 2021 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


No, and it is not what is stated in that article either

This is a misunderstanding due to a problematic formulation in that article. The four points, one of which you quote, are not exactly "the views of Aristotle and Plato", but common views on knowledge they both took as a starting point. That is why the article says that the theories are build upon these widely accepted beliefs, which means the theories do differ from them in some respect. Let me go through the argument made in the article:

Both Plato and Aristotle based their theories on four widely accepted beliefs:

  • Knowledge must be of what is real
  • The world experienced via the senses is what is real
  • Knowledge must be of what is fixed and unchanging
  • The world experienced via the senses is not fixed and unchanging

This set of beliefs is inconsistent, but I would say it is still commonly held. The article goes on to say:

These points led to a sceptic point of view which both philosophers wished to target, as both agreed knowledge is possible

In other words: If we keep all of these points as valid, knowledge is impossible (skepticism), since knowledge cannot possibly be of the world we experience through the senses and at the same time be of the real and of the fixed and unchanging. And, consequently:

In order to overcome this prevalent contradiction in the argument, it became necessary that each philosopher choose a point to disregard and prove to be unnecessary. Plato chose to reject the claim that the world experienced through the senses is what is real

Thus, Plato obviously did not share this belief.

  • Thanks for clarifying this. So, this four-premise syllogism seems to be a very insightful way of distinguishing Plato from Aristotle. Is this unique to this article, or have you seen this presented elsewhere?
    – Doubt
    Feb 19, 2021 at 13:58
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    @Doubt I think I never encountered these formulations as such, nor in syllogistic form. But the first point is correspondence, the second one fidelity, the third is about coherence/constancy and the fourth one is pointing out the lack of reliability of the senses. So these are the classical catch-phrases you will encounter in epistemology. I think it is quite an original way to frame this, albeit it does not necessarily transfer neatly to other epistemological theories.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Feb 20, 2021 at 10:13

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