A Critical Analysis of the Learning Theories of Plato and Aristotle


Plato and Aristotle produced distinct theories of learning. Plato’s theory of learning was based on a deductive model whereby one first knows the original or the archetypes and deduces the particular through an intuitional process. Learning is essentially for Plato a process or discernment. For Aristotle, the learning process began with the observation of regularities in empirical phenomena and a through an inductive process of deliberation and systemic reasoning to the original or archetype. For Aristotle, our knowledge starts from sense data, i.e. particulars, and goes to universals. For Plato, our knowledge starts from the knowledge of universals and goes to the particular. This paper examines the differences in Aristotle’s and Plato’s theory of learning and further discusses how a Kantian epistemology and learning theory provides a more compelling answer to the debate over whether or not leaning is an inductive or a deductive process.


Epistemology, Learning Theory, Induction, Deduction


Adult, Community, and Professional Learning


Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


  • Dr. John Ray
    • Professor, Liberal Studies, United States Montana, United States
    • Professor--Liberal Studies Department--Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte, Montana. Teach courses in political science, public policy and communications. PhD--University of Wisconsin in political science. Published in the areas of political theory, rhetorical theory and philosophy. Teaching areas: American Government, Social Problems, Public Administration, International Relations, Group Dynamics, Conflict Resolution and Communication Theory. Conference presentations in the United States, Canada, Germany and England.