.. uably caused the civil war. If everyone (in the north and the south) held a similar epistemological view (either Platos or Aristotles) then the civil war wouldnt have taken place. It seems possible that this could happen if nobody broke free from his chains to conceive of a new idea. In this case, everyone would hold a view based on Aristotles epistemology, and there would be no conflict.
It seems impossible, however, for everyone to hold a view based on a Platonic epistemology. There will always be people who gain in some way from a current situation, or, because of habituation, simply cant break from their chains to see past the shadows. It seems then, that one problem with Platos epistemology is that change cant be clean or easy. This can be seen in the struggle that our country has gone through both with the womens movement and the abolition of slavery. The civil war resulted in an estimated 620,000 deaths.
If we had lived by Aristotles epistemology, 620,000 men wouldnt have died, but we would still have slavery. The question we must ask ourselves then, is if the change is worth the trouble. In the case of slavery and the womens movement, it seems to have been worth the trouble. These ideas worked (or at least are well on their way to working), and seem to make a better society. However, I think there are examples in history where an idea didnt work or didnt create a benefit that out-weighed the struggle. General Motorss so called side-saddle gas tanks are an example of an idea that didnt work.
GM installed side-saddle gas tanks on pickup trucks from 1973 to 1989. These tanks have killed more than 700 people in explosions. If Aristotle had designed the trucks, he probably wouldnt have moved the gas tanks. He would say that gas tanks shouldnt go on the side; they arent on the side now and have never been on the side, it is obvious that the side isnt the place for gas tanks. If Aristotle designed the gas tanks, it would have saved over 700 lives.
The people who designed the gas tanks used a platonic epistemological method. They decided to try something new and unproven, they moved the gas tanks. KABOOM!!!, 700 deaths. Although this example might seem superficial, I think it proves my point. Change isnt safe; change is risky. Not only are people resistant to change (which in extreme cases, like slavery, could cause war), but change isnt proven.
It might not produce the desired outcome. At the same time, without change, humanity cant evolve. Without imagination and willingness to try new things, humanity would still be living in caves pounding rocks together. This brings me to an interesting point; it seems that Platos epistemology may be necessary for scientific innovation, but what about Aristotles epistemology? In order for human knowledge of science to evolve, it seems necessary to think outside of the box. It seems necessary to ignore conventional beliefs, so that new ideas can be conceived of. However, since science and innovation build on the study of the world around us, it also seems necessary to examine the world around us (i.e.
use Aristotelian epistemology). It seems then that the epistemological views of Plato and Aristotle are both necessary for scientific innovation. If we ignore what is tangible and visible, and if we ignore proven facts, science cant exist. If we refuse to think outside of the box, science cant evolve. At the same time, both epistemological methods seem to conflict with science.
Using Platos epistemological method, all that is physical is nothing more than a shadow of the truth. This means that it is pointless to examine and test physical things in a search for truth, because truth cant be found in these shadows. However, the study of physical interactions between tangible, material things, is essential to science because those interactions are the basis of scientific knowledge. In addition, because science builds on previous discoveries, it is necessary in science to rely on historical evidence. So, although by using Platos epistemology, imaginative new scientific discoveries could be made, there would be no previous basis to build on in making these discoveries, and any discoveries that were made would deal with irrelevant shadows shadows of reality anyway.
Using Aristotles epistemological method also seems to conflict with scientific discovery. Aristotle would look at the scientific knowledge that already exists, and believe that it is true, preventing new discoveries from being made. There would be no point in thinking outside of the box because the way things are, is the way things are. If Christopher Columbus thought like Aristotle, he never would have discovered America. After asking the educated people of the time, he would have discovered that everyone agreed that the world was flat. At the time, the earths flatness was considered scientific fact; there was no reason to believe otherwise.
Therefore, using Aristotles epistemology, Columbus would have concluded that the world was flat and stopped there. If Columbus had used Platos epistemology, he might have wondered would happen if he sailed straight out into the ocean. However, he would surely get lost at sea if he tried to find out. If he used Platos epistemology he wouldnt trust the stars as a guide, he would no nothing about winds or currents, he wouldnt even know how to work a sail. All of these things are based on tangible evidence and past experience, which according to Plato are nothing more than shallow shadows of the truth, and should be discounted.
If Columbus used a platonic epistemology, all he could have done was sit around and wonder what was across the ocean. It seems then, that the best epistemology for science, must fall somewhere between that of Aristotle and Plato. A good scientist needs to acknowledge the facts, but be open to new ideas and beware of the chains of custom and habit. This also seems to hold true in other matters, such as slavery, women, and automobile design. The best epistemology to live by isnt the epistemology of Plato, or that of Aristotle, it is a combination of the two.
A person needs to acknowledge the world around him, but be wary of the chains of custom. He needs to be open to new ideas, but keep in mind the hardships that may come with change. He should acknowledge that things might not always be as they seem, but not lose sight of reality. He should be an Aristotelian-Platonist. Philosophy.