Plato is known as one of the greatest philosophers. His original name was Aristocles, but in his school days he got the nickname Platon, meaning boroad, becuase of his broad shoulders.
Plato was born in Athens, to a very wealthy and aristocratic family, in about 429 BCE . When he was young, he went to listen to Socrates and learned a lot from him. He became his disciple in 409 BCE. He was very sad when Socrates was executed in 399 BCE, when Plato was just 30 years old. Plato began to write down some of the conversations he had heard Socrates have. Practically everything we know about Socrates comes from what Plato wrote down.
He left Athens and visited the Greek cities of Africa and Italy, absorbing Pythagorean notions. He soon became the tutor of a young prince in Sicily. He tried to bring up the pirince to be a good guardian for his people. But after 12 years, Plato gave up and returned to Athens in 387 BCE. He founded a school that might have been the first university. It was called the Academy, because of the legendary Greek that lived on the grounds. It was a big success and he stayed there for the rest of his life, 40 more years. Plato spent a lot of his time writing books including the republic, the laws and the apoogy. He alos taught Aristotle at the Academy.
Plato died at 82, in 347 BC. He supposedly died after a wedding party of one of his students, in his sleep. His students at the Academy preserved and copied all of his writings.
Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phædo Cratylus, Theætetus, Sophist, Statesman Parmenides, Philebus, Symposium, Phædrus Alcibiades, 2nd Alcibiades, Hipparchus, Rival Lovers Theages, Charmides, Laches, Lysis , Euthydemus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno Hippias major, Hippias minor, Ion, Menexenus Clitophon, Republic, Timæus, Critias Minos, Laws, Epinomis, Letters
We are not sure if all of these were written by Plato, but they probably were.
We know so much about Plato's teaching, because of the dialogues he wrote between Socrates and other philosophers. His dialogues consist of Socrates asking questionsand proving, through these questions, that the erson had the wrong idea on the subject. They never really seem to answer the question they begin with.
But later, Plato began to develop his own philosophy and the Socrates of the later dialogues seems to do more teaching than questioning. He began to write down not just Socrates' ideas, but also his own. One of his early works is the Republic, which describes what Plato thought would be a better form of government. PLato thought most people were stupid, and shouldn't vote. Instead the 'smarter' people should do this for them.
He also thought a lot about nature and how it works. He though that everything had a sort of ideal form. Like the idea of a chair, but and actual chair was an imitation of the ideal chair we think of. He tried to explain this through the famous metaphor of the cave. He said we are like people in a cave, we think we understand the world but we don't. We are trapped in our bodies and can only see the shadown on the wall. One of his goals in life was to help us understand the real world.
According to Plato, people also have ideal forms. Our ideal form is our soul. THe soul is made up of natural desires, our will, to resist our desires and our reason which tells us when to resist and when not to. If these parts of your sould are balaced, you will lead a good life. If they are unbalanced, you will be a bad person. This is all explained in Book IV of The Republic.
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