Although there were many philosophers worthy of note, Plato is one of the most
interesting and influential persons in Western Philosophy. A note on Plato’s
name, a few sources say that his true name was Aristocles and that Plato “The Broad” was his nickname.
The Republic was one of the most known of Plato’s works. The Myth Of The
Cave was a interesting piece. It was metaphorical, it had people chained to a
wall with a fire behind them, projecting images (casting shadows) on another
wall with its light. The people named these things. They named them names like dog, bird, and tree. Later one man escaped, and saw the light of day. He realized what a tree was, and what the other things actually were. He understood all he had ever seen were the distorted shadows on the wall. He soon returned and tried to make them realize the truth. Although, they preferred the world that they knew and was familiar to them. This piece was about his view on objects. Let’s say this object is a stone. This stone, to Plato is an imperfect copy of the true “form” or “idea” of a stone. This stone could cease to be a stone, say it was crushed. Though the true form of the stone, “Stoneness” can not disappear.
The question opening The Republic is “What is justice?”. One man, Thrasymachus says justice is what the strongest decide it is, and anything in the strongest’s best interest is right. Socrates (the character in the dialogue) proves that the strong don’t usually find out what’s in their best interest, so that is not justice. Thrasymachus then leaves in anger. Socrates asks again “So what is justice?” He then states that if you could decide what a just state was, you could know what a just person was like. He then suggests that a just state should be composed of the four great virtues: Courage, Wisdom, Temperance, and Justice. He then groups the citizens according to there intelligence. The least intelligent and less brave citizens are the producers. They are the workforce. They farm, smith, and build etc. The slightly brighter, strong, and courageous people are the auxiliaries. They police and fight as the army (courage). This leaves the brightest citizens, the guardians (wisdom). They are the complete rulers. The state is just if each group obeys correctly, and then it has temperance. The Republic was his most influential work. It is a large influence in the philosophy of The Western World.
Plato’s childhood was a important time for him and his development. He was the
youngest son of Ariston and Perictione. Both their families were famous and
wealthy. They had lived in Athens for generations. When his father died his mother remarried a man named Prylampes. Plato grew up mainly in Prylampes home. According to Aristotle he studied under Cratyulus, who was taught cosmology by Heracleitus. He soon became good friends with Socrates and became his disciple in 409 B.C.
When in 399 B.C. Socrates was executed, it scarred Plato. He left Athens saying
“Until philosophers are kings, or kings are philosophers nothing will go right.” He
then traveled away from Athens, learning of things around the world, He traveled
to Egypt, Italy, and Sicily. He first traveled to Egypt, where he learned about the
water clock, otherwise known as a clepsydra. This was a piece of equipment used to measure the time. The time was measured by recording the amount of water or mercury that passed through a small narrow opening over a particular period. He realized the water clocks importance and brought it with him to Athens when he returned. Then he traveled to Italy. Once in Italy He learned about Pythagoras works and thoughts (Pythagorean ideas) the Pythagorean theorem is a rule about the sides of triangle. a proven geometric proposition saying that the square of the longest side of a right triangle is equal to the added length of the other two sides squared. He was very much influenced and formed his own theory: “... that the reality which scientific thought is seeking must be expressible in mathematical terms, mathematics being the most precise and definite kind of
thinking of which we are capable. The significance of this idea for the
development of science from the first beginnings to the present day has been
One of the most interesting things about Plato is that he had the first reference to
Atlantis. The reference was going to be a trilogy. Unfortunately it was never completed. The three parts are the complete Timaeus, the partial Critias, and the never started *BLANK*. In this story a character named Critias says that this story has been in his family for generations. It is the story of Atlantis. According to legend, Poseidon had a mortal wife, and he fathered five sets of twins with her. The first-born Atlas had the whole ocean and Continent named after him. Poseidon later split the land among each of his heirs. The Capital was amazing. It was surrounded by rings of stone and canals at the center was a hill, and a temple to Poseidon. Inside was a large gold statue of him showing him driving six winged horses. Later though the People became corrupt and greedy. The gods destroyed them. Many people have different theories on Atlantis. Some say it never existed, Some say that it did exist and is in everyday places. Here some theories on where the Ancient empire could be. People have suggested places from New Zealand to Switzerland. A convincing argument was that instead of west of the Pillars of Hercules, Atlantis was East. Additionally, not 9000 years before Plato, but only 900, so Atlantis could be a well known place, even in Plato’s time. The suggestion is that Atlantis is the island of Crete. It was once a prosperous island, seat of the Minoan Empire. Then suddenly it was gone. The Minoan Empire was vast and powerful. It is hard to believe it would just disappear. It has been found that a disaster just north of the islands of Crete could have toppled the great Empire easily. Santorinas is now a lush island paradise, a ring of beautiful islands. It was once one island with a volcano in the center. Its eruption was four times as powerful as Krakatoa. The tsunami that hit Crete might have traveled inland for over half a mile destroying towns or cities. If the fall of the Minoan Empire is the true story of Atlantis rather than a Atlantis being a myth, how did Plato get the location and time wrong? A man named Galanopoulos suggested there could have been a mistake during translation of some of the numbers, an extra zero could have been added. This would mean 900 years ago turned into 9000, and the distance from Egypt to "Atlantis" changed from 250 miles to 2,500 miles.
There is another theory that Ireland may be Atlantis. The claim is made by a geologist named Ulf Erlingsson in his book 'Atlantis from a Geographer’s Perspective: Mapping the Fairy Land', Ulf says Plato's description of Atlantis matches Ireland perfectly. “The probability is over 99.98% that Plato was describing Ireland.” "Just like Atlantis, Ireland is 300 miles long, 200 miles wide, and widest over the middle. They both feature a central plain that is open to the sea, but fringed by mountains. No other island on earth even comes close to this description." “What has led most students astray is that Atlantis sank in the sea”, Ulf states “It is an ‘Atlantic myth’ all right – but a myth from, not about, Atlantis”. "The island that sank was Dogger Bank. It was struck by a disastrous flood-wave around 6,100 BC, and now rests deep under the waves of the North Sea." And the last Theory comes after a man studied Solon’s notebook and read the original story ,and found a map. He realized that the North Atlantic Trench could have been Atlantis.
Plato’s Academy was the school he created and devoted nearly all the rest of his life. It was named ‘The Academy’ because the strip of land it was on was once owned by a man named Academos. It was very important. It was a sort of “Pre-
university”. The Academy was an School devoted to researching and instruction in philosophy and the sciences, and Plato had control of it from 387 BC until his
death in 347 BC. His reasons for setting up the Academy had a lot to do with his
earlier trips into politics. He had disliked the values displayed by the people in
government and he hoped to train young men who would become statesmen.
However, having given them the values that Plato believed in, Plato thought that
these men would be able to improve the leadership of the cities of Greece. Platos
curriculum was very labor intensive…” the exact sciences - arithmetic, plane and
solid geometry, astronomy, and harmonics - would first be studied for ten years to
familiarize the mind with relations that can only be apprehended by thought. Five
years would then be given to the still severer study of 'dialectic'. (Dialectic is the
art of conversation and according to Plato, “dialectical skill is the ability to pose
and answer questions about the essences of things“.) The dialectician replaces
hypotheses with secure knowledge, and his aim is to ground all science, all
knowledge, on some 'unhypothetical first principle'.” The Academy ran until 529
AD when it was shut down by the Emperor Justinian who claimed it was a pagan
school. It had survived for 900 years, and is the longest surviving university known.
Plato was and still is an interesting and thought provoking Philosopher who is still
studied today for his views. Many people think he was very important and he is
still a large name in philosophy and always will be.
Nardo, Don. Ancient Philosophers, New York : Lucent Books, 2004.
Magee, Brian. The Story Of Philosophy. Detroit : Thomson/Gale, c2004.
Singer, Marcus G. “Philosophy” The World Book Encyclopedia. 2005
“Plato” The World Book Encyclopedia. 2005
Prof. Fred L. Wilson “Plato” Rochester Institute of Technology Science and Human Values “Plato” <http://www.rit.edu/~flwstv/plato.html>
Wikipedia “Plato” <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plato>
“The Lost Continent:￼“http://www.unmuseum.org/atlantis.htm
“New book identifies Ireland as Atlantis” <http://www.mythicalireland.com/ancientsites/tara/tara-atlantis.php>
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