Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 13, Issue 2, Fall 2006

Dialogue with Ancient Philosophy

Matthew S. Linck
Pages 38-44

The Harmony of Plato and Aristotle

The pervasive tendency to characterize Plato and Aristotle as philosophers who are fundamentally in opposition blocks an adequate contemporary reception of their writings. This tendency results in superficial presentations of the philosophical concerns of both thinkers and obscures the historical affinity between their global projects. This article provides an example of a reading that respects the accord between Plato and Aristotle on one crucial issue: the foundation of a good life. With respect to Plato’s Republic, I demonstrate that the harmonization of the soul is the principal goal guiding the construction of the city in speech. Following this brief reading of the Republic, I turn to Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and argue that once one understands the parameters of the inquiry, one can see that the programmatic foundation hinges on the possibility of harmonizing the multifarious capacities and faculties of the soul. In the final section of the article I suggest that this harmonic reading of Plato and Aristotle has implications for the teaching of philosophical texts generally.