Plato was one of the most important classical Greek philosophers. He lived from 427 BC to 348 BC. A wealthy man, he owned at least 50 slaves and created the first university school, called "The Academy". Plato was a student of Socrates (who did not write) and the teacher of Aristotle, who founded another university, known as the Lyceum. Plato wrote about many ideas in philosophy that are still talked about today. He wrote about ideas of deductive reasoning. One modern philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, said that all philosophy since Plato has just been comments on his works.
Life[change | change source]
Socrates is usually the main person in Plato's dialogues. Usually, Socrates talks with people about their ideas, and tries to see if they believe anything that is illogical. Other people in the stories often become angry with Socrates because of this. People who study Plato argue about whether Socrates really said the same things that Plato makes him say, or whether Plato just used Socrates as a character, to make the ideas he was talking about seem more important.
One of Plato's most famous works is The Republic (in Greek, Politeia, or 'city'). In that work, he describes Socrates's vision of an "ideal" state. The method of questioning in this dialogue, called the Socratic method, is as important as the content. The Republic contains ideas of Socrates: "Socrates said it, Plato wrote it."
Philosophy[change | change source]
Plato is famous for developing the idea of the theory of forms. The concept of the world of forms states that actual things of a common nature are imperfect representations of a perfect conceptual thing. For example, there are brown dogs, grey dogs, old dogs, skinny dogs etc. that are all imperfect variants of the perfect form of “dogness”. This led him to believe in “a world of forms” and that our world is a shadow of the world of forms. He thought that all perfect forms of things came from pure perfection itself, which can be seen as God. He thought the human ability to know of nonspecific conceptions of things was proof humans had immortal souls that had been in the world of forms.
Works by Plato[change | change source]
There are many dialogues that were supposed to be written by Plato. This list includes those he probably did write.
References[change | change source]
- Lavine, T.Z. (August 1989). From Socrates to Sartre: the Philosophic Quest. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-25161-9.