Some Thoughts about Two Old Guys

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So I’m connecting some dots.  Plato’s on our left; Aristotle on the right.

Plato’s concerned with the big picture.  He’s pointing upward.  He looks at life from 10,000 feet, as it were.

Aristotle is motioning at the ground.  For him, it’s the individual tree that matters, not the forest.

There’s that old story about country mouse and city mouse.  Well, Plato’s the city mouse.  He’s always looking up.  He doesn’t look at the ground when he walks.  He needs sidewalks, marble floors, smooth surfaces.  Otherwise he’d stub his toes all the time.

In Raphael’s picture, above, he’s even barefoot.  He doesn’t need shoes in cities with their smooth walkways.  As one who thinks on the macroscopic level, always in the realm of abstract ideas, why would he ever need to leave any one place (i. e., the city)?

But Aristotle, on the other hand, is preoccupied with whatever’s right in front of his nose.  He watches where he’s going and thus enjoys the stark contrasts that can be found at his feet, often seen when covering just short distances.  A country path has rocky, bumpy terrain to cross.  But no matter.  Aristotle has his shoes on.  So he can enjoy the roads between Athens and Rome without stubbing his toes, or the rugged path that traverses Mount Parnassus.  Country mouse.

I once heard a scholar remark that the Roman Catholic Church is more like Aristotle and Protestant Christianity is more like Plato–and have been contemplating this contrast ever since.  Is this the key?  Plato is the big-picture perspective.  Is that what Protestantism has going for it?  It saw the big picture where Roman Catholicism was preoccupied with the minutiae?

Maybe so.  Once upon a time, anyway.  Today, however, Protestantism strikes me as so caught up with dividing over the minutiae that I don’t see it.

How about you?  Are you more like Plato or Aristotle, more looking at the forest or at the individual tree, more a big-picture or a detail person?

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