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Greek Philosopher Plato

The Greek philosopher Plato lived approximately from 428 B.C. to 348 B.C. Besides a philosopher, Plato was also a mathematician, writer, and creator of the Academy, a higher learning institution in Athens that was the first of its kind in the Western world and solidified Plato's style of philosophy and science. Plato became involved with two other famous philosophers of that time period: Socrates was his mentor and Aristotle was his student. You can find Plato's influence today in logic, ethics, and mathematics.

Greek Philosopher Plato

Education and the Academy

Plato was most likely taught grammar, music, and various gymnastics sports like wrestling. As he studied, Plato was often praised for his quick wit and intelligence and humbleness. He also took different courses in philosophy before Socrates became his mentor and, for a short time, studied under Cratylus, a philosopher who gave up speaking because he felt language was impossible. Instead, he communicated only with his fingers.

After trips to Italy, Sicily, Cyrene, Egypt, and other Mediterranean countries, Plato returned to Athens at forty years old and created the Academy. This school was one of the first organized learning institutions of the Western world. The name for school came from a man named Academus, who was owner of the plot of land where the school was built. The Academy stayed in operation until 529 A.D. when it closed because Justinian I thought it was a threat to the spread of Christianity.

Greek Philosopher Plato's Doctrines and Teachings

Much of Plato's philosophy is based on change in the real world, which he postulated into theories he wrote as dialogues between his mentor, other students, and teachers of the time. The Republic is Plato's famous dialogue that basically showcases the problem of how to live a good life. Two questions emerge that attempt to answer and support the idea:

  • What would the ideal state look like?
  • How can you define a just person?

Those two questions deal with the arts, the path of the soul, the afterlife existence, and the education and governing of the people, the. To answer the questions, Plato's ideas seek to divide people by natural strength, courage, and intelligence. Depending on the level of each attribute, citizens are suite for different professions, such as farming, policing, smithing, and governing.

An aristocracy is Greek philosopher Plato's definition of an ideal state. Aristocracy comes from the Greek word meaning "rule by the best." According to Plato, there are three levels of society: producers, auxiliaries, and guardians. Each varying degree of the above-mentioned attributes places citizens on a certain level. The producers are involved in productive work and are made up of the majority of the population. The auxiliaries typically entail the police or members of the army. Finally, the guardians have control of the state.

In the ideal state, wisdom reflects from the guardians, courage from the auxiliaries, and strength from the producers. To have this ideal state, the temperance must remain solid and consistent. If one of the groups didn't obey a higher group, then this state had intemperance.

The Dialogues

In order to accurately represent Socrates' teaching, Plato wrote a series dialogues conveying his mentor's conversational dealings. Most of the dialogues investigate one issue, which is never really answered conclusively. Examples of topics include divine approval and problems with appealing authority. Later on, Plato wrote dialogues defending his own philosophical thinking, such as the idea that no one knowingly commits wrong acts or that virtue can or cannot be taught.

Greek philosopher Plato was one of the most influential philosophers of Western Civilization and remains a well-read author for his phenomenal work, The Republic. If you want to read amazing writing about human beings and profound thoughts on societies and classes of people, read some of Plato's work.