• [43] The Forms See also: Plato’s theory of Forms In the dialogues Socrates regularly asks for the meaning of a general term (e. g. justice, truth, beauty), and criticizes
    those who instead give him particular examples, rather than the quality shared by all examples.

  • His own most decisive philosophical influences are usually thought to have been, along with Socrates, the pre-Socratics Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, although few
    of his predecessors’ works remain extant and much of what is known about these figures today derives from Plato himself.

  • Many have interpreted Plato as stating – even having been the first to write – that knowledge is justified true belief, an influential view that informed future developments
    in epistemology.

  • [32] Aristotle suggests that Socrates’ idea of forms can be discovered through investigation of the natural world, unlike Plato’s Forms that exist beyond and outside the ordinary
    range of human understanding.

  • [90] Modern reception See also: Transmission of the Greek Classics Plato’s thought is often compared with that of his most famous student, Aristotle, whose reputation during
    the Western Middle Ages so completely eclipsed that of Plato that the Scholastic philosophers referred to Aristotle as “the Philosopher”.

  • [79] Whereas those classified as “early dialogues” often conclude in aporia, the so-called “middle dialogues” provide more clearly stated positive teachings that are often
    ascribed to Plato such as the theory of Forms.

  • [c] Influences Socrates Main article: Socratic problem Plato never speaks in his own voice in his dialogues; every dialogue except the Laws features Socrates, although many
    dialogues, including the Timaeus and Statesman, feature him speaking only rarely.

  • [80] It should, however, be kept in mind that many of the positions in the ordering are still highly disputed, and also that the very notion that Plato’s dialogues can or
    should be “ordered” is by no means universally accepted,[81][e] though Plato’s works are still often characterized as falling at least roughly into three groups stylistically.

  • [72] The text of Plato as received today apparently represents the complete written philosophical work of Plato, based on the first century AD arrangement of Thrasyllus of

  • “[8] Born: 428/427 or 424/423 BC, Athens, Greece; Died: 348 BC (aged c. 75-76 or 79-80), Athens, Greece; Notable work: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Meno, Protagoras,
    Gorgias, Symposium, Phaedrus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, Republic, Timaeus Laws; Era: Ancient Greek philosophy; School: Platonic Academy; Notable students: Aristotle; Main interests: Epistemology, Metaphysics Political philosophy; Notable ideas:
    Allegory of the cave, Cardinal virtues, Form of the Good, Theory of forms, Divisions of the soul, Platonic love, Platonic solids Biography Little is known about Plato’s early life and education.

  • “Platonism” and its theory of Forms (also known as ‘theory of Ideas;) denies the reality of the material world, considering it only an image or copy of the real world.

  • [42] Philosophy In Plato’s dialogues, Socrates and his company of disputants had something to say on many subjects, including several aspects of metaphysics.

  • Plato’s well-known answer rests upon the fundamental responsibility to seek wisdom, wisdom which leads to an understanding of the Form of the Good.

  • [13] Plato gives little biographical information, but refers at various points to some of his relatives with a great degree of precision, including his brothers, Adeimantus,
    and Glaucon, in the Plato’s Republic.

  • Plato views “The Good” as the supreme Form, somehow existing even “beyond being”.

  • [60][61][62] Plato made abundant use of mythological narratives in his own work;[63] It is generally agreed that the main purpose for Plato in using myths was didactic.

  • That the modern theory of justified true belief as knowledge, which Gettier addresses, is equivalent to Plato’s is accepted by some scholars but rejected by others.

  • “[67] Karl Popper, on the other hand, claims that dialectic is the art of intuition for “visualising the divine originals, the Forms or Ideas, of unveiling the Great Mystery
    behind the common man’s everyday world of appearances.

  • The soul See also: Plato’s theory of soul For Plato, as was characteristic of ancient Greek philosophy, the soul was that which gave life.

  • [47] He uses this idea of reincarnation to introduce the concept that knowledge is a matter of recollection of things acquainted with before one is born, and not of observation
    or study.

  • “[86] It is, however, said that Plato once disclosed this knowledge to the public in his lecture On the Good, in which the Good is identified with the One (the Unity), the
    fundamental ontological principle.

  • Scholars debate whether he intends the theory to be literally true, however.

  • Many of the greatest early modern scientists and artists who broke with Scholasticism, with the support of the Plato-inspired Lorenzo (grandson of Cosimo), saw Plato’s philosophy
    as the basis for progress in the arts and sciences.

  • [3] Legacy Unwritten doctrines Main articles: Plato’s unwritten doctrines and Allegorical interpretations of Plato Plato’s unwritten doctrines are,[83][84][85] according to
    some ancient sources, the most fundamental metaphysical teaching of Plato, which he disclosed only orally, and some say only to his most trusted fellows, and which he may have kept secret from the public, although many modern scholars[who?]

  • Albert Einstein suggested that the scientist who takes philosophy seriously would have to avoid systematization and take on many different roles, and possibly appear as a
    Platonist or Pythagorean, in that such a one would have “the viewpoint of logical simplicity as an indispensable and effective tool of his research.

  • Chronology No one knows the exact order Plato’s dialogues were written in, nor the extent to which some might have been later revised and rewritten.

  • [51][52] In the Sophist, Statesman, Republic, Timaeus, and the Parmenides, Plato associates knowledge with the apprehension of unchanging Forms and their relationships to
    one another (which he calls “expertise” in dialectic), including through the processes of collection and division.

  • In other words, if one derives one’s account of something experientially, because the world of sense is in flux, the views therein attained will be mere opinions.

  • [50] Plato also identified problems with the justified true belief definition in the Theaetetus, concluding that justification (or an “account”) would require knowledge of
    difference, meaning that the definition of knowledge is circular.

  • The first witness who mentions its existence is Aristotle, who in his Physics writes: “It is true, indeed, that the account he gives there [i.e.

  • In modern times, Alfred North Whitehead famously said: “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes
    to Plato.

  • His most famous contribution is the theory of forms (or ideas), which has been interpreted as advancing a solution to what is now known as the problem of universals.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche notoriously attacked Plato’s “idea of the good itself” along with many fundamentals of Christian morality, which he interpreted as “Platonism for the masses”
    in Beyond Good and Evil (1886).

  • A reason for not revealing it to everyone is partially discussed in Phaedrus where Plato criticizes the written transmission of knowledge as faulty, favouring instead the
    spoken logos: “he who has knowledge of the just and the good and beautiful … will not, when in earnest, write them in ink, sowing them through a pen with words, which cannot defend themselves by argument and cannot teach the truth effectually.

  • Although Socrates influenced Plato directly, the influence of Pythagoras, or in a broader sense, the Pythagoreans, such as Archytas also appears to have been significant.

  • [34][page needed] Pythagoreanism Main article: Pythagoreanism The mathematical and mystical teachings of the followers of Pythagoras exerted a strong influence on Plato.

  • [88] The most important aspect of this interpretation of Plato’s metaphysics is the continuity between his teaching and the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plotinus[f] or Ficino[g]
    which has been considered erroneous by many but may in fact have been directly influenced by oral transmission of Plato’s doctrine.

  • The precise relationship between Plato and Socrates remains an area of contention among scholars.

  • The works taken as genuine in antiquity but are now doubted by at least some modern scholars are: Alcibiades I (*),[d] Alcibiades II (‡), Clitophon (*), Epinomis (‡), Letters
    (*), Hipparchus (‡), Menexenus (*), Minos (‡), Lovers (‡), Theages (‡) The following works were transmitted under Plato’s name in antiquity, but were already considered spurious by the 1st century AD: Axiochus, Definitions, Demodocus, Epigrams,
    Eryxias, Halcyon, On Justice, On Virtue, Sisyphus.

  • [64] He considered that only a few people were capable or interested in following a reasoned philosophical discourse, but men in general are attracted by stories and tales.

  • [27][28] While recalling a moral lesson about frugal living Seneca mentions the meaning of Plato’s name: “His very name was given him because of his broad chest.

  • [95] Criticism Many recent philosophers have also diverged from what some would describe as ideals characteristic of traditional Platonism.

  • Socrates elicits a fact concerning a geometrical construction from a slave boy, who could not have otherwise known the fact (due to the slave boy’s lack of education).

  • The idea that mathematics and, generally speaking, abstract thinking is a secure basis for philosophical thinking as well as “for substantial theses in science and morals”.

  • But other contemporary researchers contest the idea that Plato despised rhetoric and instead view his dialogues as a dramatization of complex rhetorical principles.

  • The platonic Republic might be related to the idea of “a tightly organized community of like-minded thinkers”, like the one established by Pythagoras in Croton.

  • The only Platonic work known to western scholarship was Timaeus, until translations were made after the fall of Constantinople, which occurred during 1453.

  • Martin Heidegger argued against Plato’s alleged obfuscation of Being in his incomplete tome, Being and Time (1927), and the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued in the
    first volume of The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) that Plato’s alleged proposal for a utopian political regime in the Republic was prototypically totalitarian.

  • (10a) In the Protagoras dialogue it is argued through Socrates that virtue is innate and cannot be learned, that no one does bad on purpose, and to know what is good results
    in doing what is good; that knowledge is virtue.

  • The theory of Forms is first introduced in the Phaedo dialogue (also known as On the Soul), wherein Socrates disputes the pluralism of Anaxagoras, then the most popular response
    to Heraclitus and Parmenides.

  • Some scholars take this as an indication that Plato had by this date wearied of the narrated form.

  • [67] Simon Blackburn adopts the first, saying that Plato’s dialectic is “the process of eliciting the truth by means of questions aimed at opening out what is already implicitly
    known, or at exposing the contradictions and muddles of an opponent’s position.

  • The role of dialectic in Plato’s thought is contested but there are two main interpretations: a type of reasoning and a method of intuition.

  • According to this theory of Forms, there are these two kinds of things: the apparent world of material objects grasped by the senses, which constantly changes, and an unchanging
    and unseen world of Forms, grasped by reason.

  • He also tells us what the material substrate is of which the Forms are predicated in the case of sensible things, and the One in that of the Forms – that it is this the duality
    (the Dyad), the Great and Small.

  • On the other hand, if one derives one’s account of something by way of the non-sensible Forms, because these Forms are unchanging, so too is the account derived from them.

  • Although Platon was a fairly common name (31 instances are known from Athens alone),[25] the name does not occur in Plato’s known family line.

  • A variety of sources have given accounts of Plato’s death.

  • He introduced the concept of form as distinct from matter, and that the physical world is an imitation of an eternal mathematical world.

  • [b] Unlike the work of nearly all of his contemporaries, Plato’s entire body of work is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years.

  • the Dyad], and the essence is the One, since the numbers are derived from the Great and Small by participation in the One”.

  • The remaining dialogues are classified as “late” and are generally agreed to be difficult and challenging pieces of philosophy.

  • • Governing (Rulers or Philosopher Kings) – those who are intelligent, rational, self-controlled, in love with wisdom, well suited to make decisions for the community.

  • [44] Plato advocates a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife.

  • [75][76] Authenticity Thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters (the Epistles) have traditionally been ascribed to Plato, though modern scholarship doubts the authenticity
    of at least some of these.


Works Cited

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2. ^ “…the subject of philosophy, as it
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3. ^ From aristos and kleos
4. ^ (*) if there is
no consensus among scholars as to whether Plato is the author, and (‡) if most scholars agree that Plato is not the author of the work. The extent to which scholars consider a dialogue to be authentic is noted in Cooper 1997, pp. v–vi.
5. ^ Increasingly
in the most recent Plato scholarship, writers are skeptical of the notion that the order of Plato’s writings can be established with any precision.[82]
6. ^ Plotinus describes this in the last part of his final Ennead (VI, 9) entitled On the Good,
or the One (Περὶ τἀγαθοῦ ἢ τοῦ ἑνός). Jens Halfwassen states in Der Aufstieg zum Einen’ (2006) that “Plotinus’ ontology – which should be called Plotinus’ henology – is a rather accurate philosophical renewal and continuation of Plato’s unwritten
doctrine, i.e. the doctrine rediscovered by Krämer and Gaiser.”
7. ^ In one of his letters (Epistolae 1612) Ficino writes: “The main goal of the divine Plato … is to show one principle of things, which he called the One (τὸ ἕν)”, cf. Montoriola
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14. ^ Cooper 1997, p. vii.
15. ^ Whitehead 1978, p. 39.
16. ^ Diogenes
Laertius, Life of Plato, III
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Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 2005, p. 46
17. ^ Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 2005, p. 46.
18. ^ Nails 2002, p. 246.
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21. ^ Guthrie 1986, p. 11.
22. ^ Kahn 1996, p. 186.
23. ^ McEvoy 1984.
24. ^ Cairns 1961, p. xiii.
25. ^ Dillon 2003, pp. 1–3.
26. ^ Press 2000, p. 1.
27. ^ Riginos 1976,
p. 73.
28. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Book iii, 20 Archived 28 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine
29. ^ Riginos 1976, p. 194.
30. ^ Schall 1996.
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32. ^ Guthrie 1986, p. 12 (footnote).
33. ^ Sedley, David,
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34. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, IV
35. ^ Notopoulos 1939, p. 135
36. ^ Seneca, Epistulae, VI 58:29–30; translation by Robert
Mott Gummere
37. ^ Laërtius 1925, § 4.
38. ^ Strauss 1964, pp. 50–51.
39. ^ Metaphysics 987b1–11
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41. ^ Vlastos 1991.
42. ^ Metaphysics, 1.6.1 (987a)
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53. ^ Dorter 2006, p. 360.
54. ^ Jorgensen
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55. ^ Baird & Kaufmann 2008.
56. ^
Theaetetus 156a
57. ^ Fine 2003, p. 5.
58. ^ Theaetetus 210a–b
59. ^ McDowell 1973, p. 256.
60. ^ Taylor 2011, pp. 176–187.
61. ^ Lee 2011, p. 432.
62. ^ Taylor 2011, p. 189.
63. ^ Republic, Book IV.
64. ^ Blössner 2007, pp. 345–349.
65. ^
Blössner 2007, p. 350.
66. ^ Phaedrus (265a–c)
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70. ^ Chappel, Timothy.
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73. ^ Burnet 1928a, § 177.
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75. ^ Popper 1962, p. 133.
76. ^ Brumbaugh & Wells 1989.
77. ^ Allen
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78. ^ Platonis opera quae extant omnia edidit Henricus Stephanus, Genevae, 1578.
79. ^ Suzanne 2009.
80. ^ Cooper 1997, pp. viii–xii.
81. ^ Irwin 2011, pp. 64 & 74
82. ^ Fine 1999a, p. 482.
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86. ^ Dodds 2004.
87. ^
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88. ^ Cooper 1997.
89. ^ Kraut 2013; Schofield 2002; and Rowe 2006.
90. ^ Rodriguez-Grandjean 1998.
91. ^ Reale 1990. Cf. p. 14 and onwards.
92. ^ Krämer 1990. Cf. pp. 38–47.
93. ^ Phaedrus 276c
94. ^ Physics 209b
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