This chapter begins with a discussion of Plutarch’s Platonism and knowledge of Aristotle’s work. It then presents Plutarch’s most substantial discussion of how Aristotle’s philosophy compares with that of Plato. Plutarch held that Aristotle often preserves Plato’s doctrine in a more systematic form on a number of crucial issues in ethics, psychology, metaphysics, and epistemology. A different kind of systematization is provided by the case of Aristotle’s categories; this theory may be a new construction, but in Plutarch’s view, it is a development of originally Platonic elements. To the extent that Plutarch regards Aristotle as a source of Plato’s doctrine, he feels free to draw on Aristotle’s work. Thus, it is a mistake to hold that he simply used Aristotle as an ally in his polemic, compromising his Platonism. Because Plutarch is committed to Plato’s philosophy, he shows great awareness of Aristotle’s divergences from Plato’s doctrines and does not hesitate to criticize him.
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