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Plato’s Academy is known as the world’s first university and “as the hearthstone of the Platonic tradition in philosophy” (Pedersen, 1997, 12). Being a student at the Academy, Aristotle was aware of changes that needed to be made and, in 335 BC, he returned to Athens to set up his own school, the Lyceum. Although Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Peripatetic School have similarities, it is their differences that are most important to the education system.

Aristotle based his ideas of teaching on his education, and “since Aristotle was himself a member of the Academy at Athens from his seventeenth to his thirty-seventh year, it is only to be expected that the school he founded in the Lyceum would bear a resemblance to Plato’s school” (Lynch, 1972, 70). Education was a large part of Aristotle’s life, and since he “spent twenty-three or more years of his life in the company of academics” (Lynch, 1972,171), these associations made an “enormous influence upon his thinking about what an institution of higher learning should be” (Lynch, 1972,171). Aristotle was well aware of what he wanted his school to be like because he had been around academics his whole life. He knew what he wanted to teach and how he wanted to teach it. He also knew the type of scholars he wanted to create and much of what he wanted was similar to what Plato, the founder of the Academy, wanted as well.

Aristotle’s motive for founding the Peripatetic School is still unclear today, however “Aristotle did set up a physically distinct institution, and part of the reason may be the obvious possibility that both during his years at the Academy and during his years away his philosophical interests had changed to the point where they were incompatible with the interests of the community in the Academy” (Lynch, 1972, 73). Aristotle enjoyed the Academy and how it was ran, however he did not feel that he was “free enough to influence the direction of philosophical activity” (Lynch, 1972, 73). Although Aristotle set up a school with many of the same intentions as Plato, Aristotle founded an institution quite different from the Academy.

In 387 BC, Plato founded his institution and called it the Academy. The Academy was originally started to “educate disciples, philosophers who in the future would occupy positions of authority in the state and be guided by true philosophy” (Gondek, 1). Plato’s Academy was unlike most institutions of its time. Rather than being known as a formal school, it was more of a gathering of people who were interested in studying mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy from Plato. This is similar to how Aristotle set up his institution. They both chose to organize their schools “as a complex and diverse community rather than as a simple group consisting of a master and his pupils”. (Lynch, 1972, 75). Aristotle’s school was also similar to the Academy because they both had two general classes. One class was most concerned with learning, while the other class was most concerned with research, quite similar to colleges and universities today.

In comparison to a more formal school, which would decide who could attend based on ranking, both Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Peripatetic school lacked hierarchies. It did not require an oath, dietary rule or secret initiation to be admitted in to the Peripatetic School or the Academy. Although Plato and Aristotle were both inspired by Pythagoras, this quality makes both schools much different from the Pythagorean community. Like the Academy, Aristotle’s School “was a very public place and, in its various capacities, an integral part of daily life in the city” (Lynch, 1972, 78). This quality was beneficial to scholars because rather than sitting in a classroom being lectured, they were going to discuss information and research in an informal setting, making it less intimidating. Also, the students were not forced to continue to attend school. Any scholar attending wither institution was free to be intellectually independent from the scholar arch; however this was more common in Plato’s Academy. Being intellectually independent from the scholar arch meant that anyone receiving an education at these institutions had the right to leave the school and go teach on their own. This derived from Ancient Greece, where scholars wanted to spread the Greek education system throughout the world. Also, scholars could leave the school to find an education elsewhere. If they did not agree with what they were being taught, they could find someone else to teach them. This was very uncommon in schools of this time. Also, what was uncommon in both schools was the fact that family background played no role in one’s acceptance to either school. If one needed to work while attending the Academy or Peripatetic School that was feasible. Unlike the doors of the Pythagorean brotherhood, the doors of both the Academy and the Lyceum were open without difficult barriers.

Although there are many important qualities that both the Academy and Peripatetic School share, the differences are more important when being related to education. The most obvious difference between the two schools was that “Plato had sought to educate by teaching, and Aristotle wished in addition to train by research” (Pendersen, 1997, 13). Aristotle brought many new qualities to the Lyceum that did not exist in the Academy. One important quality is that Aristotle used a collection of previous literature and, according to Dϋring, created a “systematic amassing of information and material for certain purposes, generally in order to make possible a survey of a whole field of knowledge” (Dϋring, Lynch, 1972, 84). This is important to the education system because Aristotle was able to use previous collections of work to teach accurate information and research new conclusions rather than using unchanged information, making it impossible to draw new conclusions. This is similar to the dynamic system of education, which was rarely used during this time.

Aristotle also, according to Dϋring, created a “close cooperation between the head of the school and his fellow-scholars” (Dϋring, Lynch, 1972, 84). Having a close relationship with the head of the school is crucial for a scholar and was new to the education system of ancient Greece. This new concept is important because having a close relationship with the head of the school means the scholars are taught by the most intellectual and most experienced teacher of the institution.
A concept that was popularized by Aristotle was “the scientific outlook and the strictly scientific method” (Dϋring, Lynch, 1972,94). These concepts are still used today in one’s everyday education. Some may argue that Plato planted the seeds for Aristotle’s achievements, however, according to Lynch; these were “Seeds perhaps, but not roots” (Lynch, 1982, 85). Lynch also states that “it is clear that Aristotle’s views on higher education had an important effect on the internal structure of the Peripatetic community, and in a number of important ways they distinguished the Lyceum from Plato’s Academy” (Lynch, 1972, 87). Aristotle viewed higher education differently than most philosophers of that time which affected the way he ran his school. This is why Plato’s Academy is significantly different than Aristotle’s Peripatetic School. Aristotle may have had the same general ideas in the structure of his school, but the education part was very different, which is the most crucial.

At the Academy, Plato used dialectical relation in his teachings. Dialectical relation is a method of argument for solving disagreement. Each participant used logical reasoning to support their argument and eventually a conclusion was formed. This is different from debate because participants are not trying to persuade other participants; rather they are trying to come to a conclusion of the issue at hand.

In Aristotle’s treatise On Coming into Being and Passing Away, he states that “those who debate at great length and are blind to the facts are easily shown to have very limited views” (Aristotle, Lynch, 1972, 86). Aristotle moved away from dialect because he does not believe that those who are being educated can have a logical argument and formulate broad generalizations. Arguing a point without having all the facts can lead to false conclusions, which would put out wrong information to scholars. Rather than dialectical relations, Aristotle “recommended to his students to go out and seek information from people such as hunters and fishermen who had experience in the natural world. He also advised them to follow the procedure of collecting information, classifying it, and adding further material as one goes along” (Lynch, 1972, 87). These projects required a different relation among members of the Lyceum than that of the Academy. Students of the Lyceum were finding out first-hand the information they wanted to know rather than discussing with their classmates who were not necessarily experts of the subject. This is more affective to education because scholars of the Lyceum were receiving correct information from a reliable source. A scholar can then draw more logical conclusions. Someone studying at the Academy did not use the method of research that Aristotle’s students used, and therefore made false arguments. There is no point in learning if the information being taught is incorrect.

Aristotle’s distrust in dialectic meant that he also believed in discussing less and instructing more. Although Aristotle moved away from the Socratic Method, he made his teaching more understandable by using visual aids. Even in Ancient Greece, there were different types of learners, those who can learn by reading, those who can learn by listening, and those who learn by seeing and doing. One of the methods of learning is the use of visual aids. Seeing what is being taught creates a visual connection, causing some learners to have an easier time understanding the concept. This method has been significant to the education system since Aristotle first used it.

Plato did not believe that public show was necessary for education, however “not only did Aristotle give instruction to the students of the school in the evenings, but he also lectured publicly in the mornings” (Lynch, 1972, 91). Plato and Aristotle differed on ideas of public expositions. Plato believed that teaching to scholars meant only to teach to the scholars attending his Academy. Aristotle was willing to teach to anyone and everyone who wanted to learn because one of his main goals was to share his knowledge. Lynch says that “Aristotle’s school also extended its instruction more widely among the general public and did not rely on literary products alone to attract students and educate those outside the peripatetic community” (Lynch, 1972, 92). Aristotle had different goals than Plato when founding the Peripatetic School. He wanted to educate anyone who was willing and spread his knowledge as far as possible.

Because the state had no authority of institutions, a founder of a school had free reign on how it was ran. Women were rarely educated in Ancient Greece, however, Plato’s Academy educated two women. Aristotle “saw no place for women in education” (Lynch, 1972,92). The Laws Plato says “Regarding women, also, my laws mean of course exactly what it does s regards the male sex: they too shall take part in just as many exercises” (Plato, Pedersen, 1997). This difference in opinion affected education greatly because today’s education system proves Plato’s ideas on educating women to be correct. Women who have an education make just as big of differences in the world as men who receive an education. Although even in today’s world, more males are educators of upper level education, “a 2006 study by the National Education Association showed that preschool and elementary school children are taught by 75 percent more female than male teachers” (Anderson, 1, 2009). Allowing women to teach or become educated is crucial in today’s world and it could be concluded that if Plato had never allowed women to learn in his Academy, women becoming educated could have never happened.

Part of what makes education systems different from one another is the subjects that are being stressed the most. In a private catholic school, religion is one of the main topics of discussion, while English and math are not considered as important. In a public US school today, any topic of religion cannot be discussed. A big thing that made Plato’s Academy different from Aristotle’s Peripatetic School was the fact that mathematics was an extreme topic of discussion at the Academy and was not of much importance at the Lyceum. Aristotle states in Metaphysics I “ both Aristotle and Theophrastus in their course probably devalued the importance of mathematics-the subject most stressed in the Academy-and concentrated much more on biology” (Aristotle, Lynch, 93). The curriculum depended on the individual interests of those attending the school at a particular time. Allowing the students to decide what they want to learn about is an affective method of teaching because it keeps the students interested.

According to Philo Gabriel, Plato’s ideas on philosophy focused on “mathematical truths and moral and normative truths about ideals” (Gabriel, 2010,1). This differs from Aristotle because Aristotle focused more on the scientific aspects of philosophy, such as physics and biology. While Plato focused less on the material world, Aristotle focused more on it. According to Heather Hamel, “Aristotle took Plato’s teachings of mostly physics, metaphysics, astronomy, and mathematics which Plato considered the first philosophy, and added a second philosophy which included the study of the world around us, and the mechanics of all things-especially nature” (Hamel, 2010,1). Aristotle used what he learned at the Academy and extended that knowledge by doing his own research.

Another difference between Aristotle’s Peripatetic School and Plato’s Academy was that Aristotle had a less secure position in the city of Athens than Plato. Aristotle was considered a foreigner rather than an Athenian citizen like Plato, so Aristotle’s school had less opportunity to explain Athenian politics. Since Aristotle’s Peripatetic School was not able to focus too much on politics, people referred to the Academy when wanting to follow political issues. The fortunate addition of “Demetrius of Phaleron, who studied with Theophrastus and was an accomplished orator and statesman” (Lynch, 1972, 94), was able to bring politics into the Lyceum. Demetrius, however, was one of few Athenian citizens that belonged to the Lyceum. This lack of political knowledge in the Lyceum made The Academy better known for Athenian politics.

The fact that Aristotle was not an Athenian citizen, and he had connections with Macedonia, made the Lyceum appear as a pro-Macedonian school. Since Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great and Alexander was the Greek King of Macedon, Aristotle had a great influence on Macedonian powers. This was a negative characteristic for the Lyceum because Athens was very anti-Macedonian, so events such as Alexander’s death, caused anti-Macedonian reactions, “and Aristotle was an obvious target” (Lynch, 1972, 95). Plato was born in Athens, so by having an Athenian citizenship, he did not face the same problems that Aristotle faced.

The similarities and differences between Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum are both very important to point out, however the differences are what have effected education the most. The similarities relate more to physical characteristics of the school, while the differences relate to the education. Both Plato and Aristotle are known for the development of brilliant schools and schools that educated important figures of history. Although their schools were run differently, they have both effected education in a positive manner.




The Academy Versus The Lyceum


Page Author: BriAnne Pauley

Saturday, 17 March, 2012 1:58



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