I was just going through my library shelves just now when I noticed that my collection on Plato (around ten books plus the complete works) far outweighs that of Aristotle (two books). It was then that I remembered that I read somewhere that one is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. Well no surprise who I’m partial to.
Anyway, it got me to muse about why I’m so partial to Plato. I suppose the most obvious reason is prose. Plato’s chosen vehicle for his philosophising is drama while Aristotle’s based his on lecture notes. Reading the former is so much more pleasurable than the latter.
Where Plato begin, as with any drama, a setting and a cast of characters with their own quirks and actions as well as point of view which makes reading so much pleasurable, I find Aristotle’s style in which taxonomies and definitions are to be found in almost every page of his text dry as dust. Kind of remind me of my days as a student who is forced to listen to lectures when all you want to do is just to have a nice cup of teh tarik among friends and not wanting to sprain your brain.
Perhaps more compelling as to why I prefer Plato over Aristotle is the fact that one underlying theme in Plato’s corpus is the world is not as it should be, e.g. the myth of the cave, that somewhere lies a better world waiting to be born. In the words of the contemporary philosopher, Simon Critchley, philosophy was not born of wonderment but disappointment. Because the world is not as it should be, one need to do philosophy to find what is missing and to bring it to be. I find that a powerful inducement to read Plato particularly given what is happening to the country in the past few years.
Now, I want to be clear, I think Aristotle is an important philosopher but I just seem not able to get into his works. God knows how I try.