Culture Philosophy

Which are you, Aristotelian or Platonic?

Are you rather Aristotelian or Platonic? A grossly exaggerated test.

Here’s an Andalusian Test unlike any other:

It starts with 2 philosophers, teacher and pupil, who shaped half of our thinking.

Plato pointing to heaven, Aristotle to the earth

The ideas of one found fertile soil in Europe, the other speaks most to the Arab World.

And Andalusia, having been dominated for 700 years by the Moorish, is the land of cross-over. Where the existence of both becomes really clear. 

You are Aristotelian when you…

Focus on honesty, justice, straight forwardness, measurability, order, utility, 1+1 is 2. 

See a Greek-Roman city map (and thus a European one). Or you thinking and calculating how you are going to level the big rock on your land and make everything as practical as possible.

You are Platonic when you…

Focus on harmony, friendship, kindness, organic lines, beauty, 1+1 is more than the sum of its parts.

See a Medina (or a Moorish neighborhood in an Andalusian village). Or you thinking and feeling how you can work with and around the big rock and how you can make everything as holistic and harmonious as possible.

You go to a bar with friends…

You are all Aristotelian: 
In a modern, square, utilitarian house you decide about which bar to go to and at what time. To then leave the house and via the most straight, utilitarian motorway or roads to go to that bar. You feel well with the clever monetization, well designed marketing, and the efficiency of the staff. Punctuality rules. You aim at faster and further.

You are all Platonic:
In a quirky, romantic or historical house, talk about going out and have a drink somewhere. You enjoy the conversation while strolling via the most relaxing or beautiful alleys. After a few chats with nice people on nice spots, for you value spontaneity and impulsivity, you go to the bar that’s most according to the flow of the moment. Harmony rules. You aim at deeper and higher.

debate-of-old-greecsTypical conversation

A: “What a nice country. I wish I could find a job here”. 
B: “Oh, you will. With all the talents you’ve got”!

If person B is Aristotelian, he has quickly collected his knowledge of the current job market, has assessed person A, and his reaction is the outcome of reason.

If however he is Platonic, he has heard that the real problem is stress and anxiousness, and his reaction is one of friendship: to bring harmony.

It goes without saying, there are dozens of shades of grey. Being a 100% one or the other would make you either terribly rude or terribly airy-fairy. Person B can also just be an optimist (also a great philosophy by the way and probably the one that gets you furthest).

To put it intellectually and according to definitions: These are two different approaches to the very same thing, one assuming that all knowledge comes from the observable world, and one carrying with it a fundamental distrust of that material world.

Can you see the fun?

Arabic sheikhs receiving German diplomats?
Aristotelian and a Platonic shaking hands after a deal?
A Platonic arriving in the bar being depressed for what he/she perceives as the ugliest roads on earth?
Why you have such waterproof partitions between the best friends on earth and the best business contacts?

Next time you are late for an appointment, you now have a perfect excuse.
“I’m sorry, I’m a follower of Plato”.


Note: Plato and Aristotle were first translated from Greek into Arabic. It were the Moors who translated them into Latin so that Europe could discover them too. Where did this happen? In Andalusia of course, during the era of Al-Andalus.


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