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For other uses, see Plato (disambiguation) and Platon (disambiguation). Plato_sentence_0


BornPlato_header_cell_0_1_0 428/427 or 424/423 BC

Athens, GreecePlato_cell_0_1_1

DiedPlato_header_cell_0_2_0 348/347 BC (age c. 80)

Athens, GreecePlato_cell_0_2_1

Notable workPlato_header_cell_0_3_0 Plato_cell_0_3_1
EraPlato_header_cell_0_4_0 Ancient Greek philosophyPlato_cell_0_4_1
RegionPlato_header_cell_0_5_0 Western philosophyPlato_cell_0_5_1
SchoolPlato_header_cell_0_6_0 PlatonismPlato_cell_0_6_1
Notable studentsPlato_header_cell_0_7_0 Plato_cell_0_7_1
Main interestsPlato_header_cell_0_8_0 Plato_cell_0_8_1
Notable ideasPlato_header_cell_0_9_0 Plato_cell_0_9_1

Plato (/ˈpleɪtoʊ/ PLAY-toe; Greek: Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Plato_sentence_1

He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Plato_sentence_2

Plato has also often been cited as one of the founders of Western religion and spirituality. Plato_sentence_3

The so-called Neoplatonism of philosophers like Plotinus and Porphyry greatly influenced Christianity through Church Fathers such as Augustine. Plato_sentence_4

Alfred North Whitehead once noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." Plato_sentence_5

Plato was the innovator of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy. Plato_sentence_6

Plato is also considered the founder of Western political philosophy. Plato_sentence_7

His most famous contribution is the theory of Forms known by pure reason, in which Plato presents a solution to the problem of universals known as Platonism (also ambiguously called either Platonic realism or Platonic idealism). Plato_sentence_8

He is also the namesake of Platonic love and the Platonic solids. Plato_sentence_9

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 we know about these figures today derives from Plato himself. Plato_sentence_10

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. Plato_sentence_11

Although their popularity has fluctuated over the years, the works of Plato have never been without readers since the time they were written. Plato_sentence_12

Biography Plato_section_0

Early life Plato_section_1

Main article: Early life of Plato Plato_sentence_13

Birth and family Plato_section_2

Due to a lack of surviving accounts, little is known about Plato's early life and education. Plato_sentence_14

Plato belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. Plato_sentence_15

According to a disputed tradition, reported by doxographer Diogenes Laërtius, Plato's father Ariston traced his descent from the king of Athens, Codrus, and the king of Messenia, Melanthus. Plato_sentence_16

According to the ancient Hellenic tradition, Codrus was said to have been descended from the mythological deity Poseidon. Plato_sentence_17

Plato's mother was Perictione, whose family boasted of a relationship with the famous Athenian lawmaker and lyric poet Solon, one of the seven sages, who repealed the laws of Draco (except for the death penalty for homicide). Plato_sentence_18

Perictione was sister of Charmides and niece of Critias, both prominent figures of the Thirty Tyrants, known as the Thirty, the brief oligarchic regime (404–403 BC), which followed on the collapse of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC). Plato_sentence_19

According to some accounts, Ariston tried to force his attentions on Perictione, but failed in his purpose; then the god Apollo appeared to him in a vision, and as a result, Ariston left Perictione unmolested. Plato_sentence_20

The exact time and place of Plato's birth are unknown. Plato_sentence_21

Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens or Aegina between 429 and 423 BC, not long after the start of the Peloponnesian War. Plato_sentence_22

The traditional date of Plato's birth during the 87th or 88th Olympiad, 428 or 427 BC, is based on a dubious interpretation of Diogenes Laërtius, who says, "When [Socrates] was gone, [Plato] joined Cratylus the Heracleitean and Hermogenes, who philosophized in the manner of Parmenides. Plato_sentence_23

Then, at twenty-eight, Hermodorus says, [Plato] went to Euclides in Megara." Plato_sentence_24

However, as Debra Nails argues, the text does not state that Plato left for Megara immediately after joining Cratylus and Hermogenes. Plato_sentence_25

In his Seventh Letter, Plato notes that his coming of age coincided with the taking of power by the Thirty, remarking, "But a youth under the age of twenty made himself a laughingstock if he attempted to enter the political arena." Plato_sentence_26

Thus, Nails dates Plato's birth to 424/423. Plato_sentence_27

According to Neanthes, Plato was six years younger than Isocrates, and therefore was born the same year the prominent Athenian statesman Pericles died (429 BC). Plato_sentence_28

Jonathan Barnes regards 428 BC as the year of Plato's birth. Plato_sentence_29

The grammarian Apollodorus of Athens in his Chronicles argues that Plato was born in the 88th Olympiad. Plato_sentence_30

Both the Suda and Sir Thomas Browne also claimed he was born during the 88th Olympiad. Plato_sentence_31

Another legend related that, when Plato was an infant, bees settled on his lips while he was sleeping: an augury of the sweetness of style in which he would discourse about philosophy. Plato_sentence_32

Besides Plato himself, Ariston and Perictione had three other children; two sons, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a daughter Potone, the mother of Speusippus (the nephew and successor of Plato as head of the Academy). Plato_sentence_33

The brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon are mentioned in the Republic as sons of Ariston, and presumably brothers of Plato, though some have argued they were uncles. Plato_sentence_34

In a scenario in the Memorabilia, Xenophon confused the issue by presenting a Glaucon much younger than Plato. Plato_sentence_35

Ariston appears to have died in Plato's childhood, although the precise dating of his death is difficult. Plato_sentence_36

Perictione then married Pyrilampes, her mother's brother, who had served many times as an ambassador to the Persian court and was a friend of Pericles, the leader of the democratic faction in Athens. Plato_sentence_37

Pyrilampes had a son from a previous marriage, Demus, who was famous for his beauty. Plato_sentence_38

Perictione gave birth to Pyrilampes' second son, Antiphon, the half-brother of Plato, who appears in Parmenides. Plato_sentence_39

In contrast to his reticence about himself, Plato often introduced his distinguished relatives into his dialogues, or referred to them with some precision. Plato_sentence_40

In addition to Adeimantus and Glaucon in the Republic, Charmides has a dialogue named after him; and Critias speaks in both Charmides and Protagoras. Plato_sentence_41

These and other references suggest a considerable amount of family pride and enable us to reconstruct Plato's family tree. Plato_sentence_42

According to Burnet, "the opening scene of the Charmides is a glorification of the whole [family] connection ... Plato's dialogues are not only a memorial to Socrates, but also the happier days of his own family." Plato_sentence_43

Name Plato_section_3

The fact that the philosopher in his maturity called himself Platon is indisputable, but the origin of this name remains mysterious. Plato_sentence_44

Platon is a nickname from the adjective platýs () 'broad'. Plato_sentence_45

Although Platon was a fairly common name (31 instances are known from Athens alone), the name does not occur in Plato's known family line. Plato_sentence_46

The sources of Diogenes Laërtius account for this by claiming that his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, dubbed him "broad" on account of his chest and shoulders, or that Plato derived his name from the breadth of his eloquence, or his wide forehead. Plato_sentence_47

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." Plato_sentence_48

His true name was supposedly Aristocles (Ἀριστοκλῆς), meaning 'best reputation'. Plato_sentence_49

According to Diogenes Laërtius, he was named after his grandfather, as was common in Athenian society. Plato_sentence_50

But there is only one inscription of an Aristocles, an early archon of Athens in 605/4 BC. Plato_sentence_51

There is no record of a line from Aristocles to Plato's father, Ariston. Plato_sentence_52

Recently a scholar has argued that even the name Aristocles for Plato was a much later invention. Plato_sentence_53

However, another scholar claims that "there is good reason for not dismissing [the idea that Aristocles was Plato's given name] as a mere invention of his biographers", noting how prevalent that account is in our sources. Plato_sentence_54

Education Plato_section_4

Ancient sources describe him as a bright though modest boy who excelled in his studies. Plato_sentence_55

Apuleius informs us that Speusippus praised Plato's quickness of mind and modesty as a boy, and the "first fruits of his youth infused with hard work and love of study". Plato_sentence_56

His father contributed all which was necessary to give to his son a good education, and, therefore, Plato must have been instructed in grammar, music, and gymnastics by the most distinguished teachers of his time. Plato_sentence_57

Plato invokes Damon many times in the Republic. Plato_sentence_58

Plato was a wrestler, and Dicaearchus went so far as to say that Plato wrestled at the Isthmian games. Plato_sentence_59

Plato had also attended courses of philosophy; before meeting Socrates, he first became acquainted with Cratylus and the Heraclitean doctrines. Plato_sentence_60

Ambrose believed that Plato met Jeremiah in Egypt and was influenced by his ideas. Plato_sentence_61

Augustine initially accepted this claim, but later rejected it, arguing in The City of God that "Plato was born a hundred years after Jeremiah prophesied." Plato_sentence_62

Later life and death Plato_section_5

Plato may have travelled in Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Cyrene.Plato's own statement was that he visited Italy and Sicily at the age of forty and was disgusted by the sensuality of life there. Plato_sentence_63

Said to have returned to Athens at the age of forty, Plato founded one of the earliest known organized schools in Western Civilization on a plot of land in the Grove of Hecademus or Academus. Plato_sentence_64

The Academy was a large enclosure of ground about six stadia outside of Athens proper. Plato_sentence_65

One story is that the name of the Academy comes from the ancient hero, Academus; still another story is that the name came from a supposed former owner of the plot of land, an Athenian citizen whose name was (also) Academus; while yet another account is that it was named after a member of the army of Castor and Pollux, an Arcadian named Echedemus. Plato_sentence_66

The Academy operated until it was destroyed by Lucius Cornelius Sulla in 84 BC. Plato_sentence_67

Many intellectuals were schooled in the Academy, the most prominent one being Aristotle. Plato_sentence_68

Throughout his later life, Plato became entangled with the politics of the city of Syracuse. Plato_sentence_69

According to Diogenes Laërtius, Plato initially visited Syracuse while it was under the rule of Dionysius. Plato_sentence_70

During this first trip Dionysius's brother-in-law, Dion of Syracuse, became one of Plato's disciples, but the tyrant himself turned against Plato. Plato_sentence_71

Plato almost faced death, but he was sold into slavery. Plato_sentence_72

Anniceris, a Cyrenaic philosopher, subsequently bought Plato's freedom for twenty minas, and sent him home. Plato_sentence_73

After Dionysius's death, according to Plato's Seventh Letter, Dion requested Plato return to Syracuse to tutor Dionysius II and guide him to become a philosopher king. Plato_sentence_74

Dionysius II seemed to accept Plato's teachings, but he became suspicious of Dion, his uncle. Plato_sentence_75

Dionysius expelled Dion and kept Plato against his will. Plato_sentence_76

Eventually Plato left Syracuse. Plato_sentence_77

Dion would return to overthrow Dionysius and ruled Syracuse for a short time before being usurped by Calippus, a fellow disciple of Plato. Plato_sentence_78

According to Seneca, Plato died at the age of 81 on the same day he was born. Plato_sentence_79

The Suda indicates that he lived to 82 years, while Neanthes claims an age of 84. Plato_sentence_80

A variety of sources have given accounts of his death. Plato_sentence_81

One story, based on a mutilated manuscript, suggests Plato died in his bed, whilst a young Thracian girl played the flute to him. Plato_sentence_82

Another tradition suggests Plato died at a wedding feast. Plato_sentence_83

The account is based on Diogenes Laërtius's reference to an account by Hermippus, a third-century Alexandrian. Plato_sentence_84

According to Tertullian, Plato simply died in his sleep. Plato_sentence_85

Plato owned an estate at Iphistiadae, which by will he left to a certain youth named Adeimantus, presumably a younger relative, as Plato had an elder brother or uncle by this name. Plato_sentence_86

Influences Plato_section_6

Pythagoras Plato_section_7

Although Socrates influenced Plato directly as related in the dialogues, the influence of Pythagoras upon Plato, or in a broader sense, the Pythagoreans, such as Archytas also appears to have been significant. Plato_sentence_87

Aristotle claimed that the philosophy of Plato closely followed the teachings of the Pythagoreans, and Cicero repeats this claim: "They say Plato learned all things Pythagorean." Plato_sentence_88

It is probable that both were influenced by Orphism, and both believed in metempsychosis, transmigration of the soul. Plato_sentence_89

Pythagoras held that all things are number, and the cosmos comes from numerical principles. Plato_sentence_90

He introduced the concept of form as distinct from matter, and that the physical world is an imitation of an eternal mathematical world. Plato_sentence_91

These ideas were very influential on Heraclitus, Parmenides and Plato. Plato_sentence_92

George Karamanolis notes that Plato_sentence_93

According to R. Plato_sentence_94 M. Hare, this influence consists of three points: Plato_sentence_95


  1. 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.Plato_item_0_0
  2. 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".Plato_item_0_1
  3. They shared a "mystical approach to the soul and its place in the material world".Plato_item_0_2

Plato and mathematics Plato_section_8

Plato may have studied under the mathematician Theodorus of Cyrene, and has a dialogue named for and whose central character is the mathematician Theaetetus. Plato_sentence_96

While not a mathematician, Plato was considered an accomplished teacher of mathematics. Plato_sentence_97

Eudoxus of Cnidus, the greatest mathematician in Classical Greece, who contributed much of what is found in Euclid's Elements, was taught by Archytas and Plato. Plato_sentence_98

Plato helped to distinguish between pure and applied mathematics by widening the gap between "arithmetic", now called number theory and "logistic", now called arithmetic. Plato_sentence_99

In the dialogue Timaeus Plato associated each of the four classical elements (earth, air, water, and fire) with a regular solid (cube, octahedron, icosahedron, and tetrahedron respectively) due to their shape, the so-called Platonic solids. Plato_sentence_100

The fifth regular solid, the dodecahedron, was supposed to be the element which made up the heavens. Plato_sentence_101

Heraclitus and Parmenides Plato_section_9

The two philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides, following the way initiated by pre-Socratic Greek philosophers like Pythagoras, depart from mythology and begin the metaphysical tradition that strongly influenced Plato and continues today. Plato_sentence_102

The surviving fragments written by Heraclitus suggest the view that all things are continuously changing, or becoming. Plato_sentence_103

His image of the river, with ever-changing waters, is well known. Plato_sentence_104

According to some ancient traditions like that of Diogenes Laërtius, Plato received these ideas through Heraclitus' disciple Cratylus, who held the more radical view that continuous change warrants scepticism because we cannot define a thing that does not have a permanent nature. Plato_sentence_105

Parmenides adopted an altogether contrary vision, arguing for the idea of changeless Being and the view that change is an illusion. Plato_sentence_106

John Palmer notes "Parmenides' distinction among the principal modes of being and his derivation of the attributes that must belong to what must be, simply as such, qualify him to be seen as the founder of metaphysics or ontology as a domain of inquiry distinct from theology." Plato_sentence_107

These ideas about change and permanence, or becoming and Being, influenced Plato in formulating his theory of Forms. Plato_sentence_108

Plato's most self-critical dialogue is called Parmenides, featuring Parmenides and his student Zeno, who following Parmenides' denial of change argued forcefully with his paradoxes to deny the existence of motion. Plato_sentence_109

Plato's Sophist dialogue includes an Eleatic stranger, a follower of Parmenides, as a foil for his arguments against Parmenides. Plato_sentence_110

In the dialogue Plato distinguishes nouns and verbs, providing some of the earliest treatment of subject and predicate. Plato_sentence_111

He also argues that motion and rest both "are", against followers of Parmenides who say rest is but motion is not. Plato_sentence_112

Socrates Plato_section_10

See also: Socratic problem Plato_sentence_113

Plato was one of the devoted young followers of Socrates. Plato_sentence_114

The precise relationship between Plato and Socrates remains an area of contention among scholars. Plato_sentence_115

Plato never speaks in his own voice in his dialogues, and speaks as Socrates in all but the Laws. Plato_sentence_116

In the Second Letter, it says, "no writing of Plato exists or ever will exist, but those now said to be his are those of a Socrates become beautiful and new"; if the Letter is Plato's, the final qualification seems to call into question the dialogues' historical fidelity. Plato_sentence_117

In any case, Xenophon's Memorabilia and Aristophanes's The Clouds seem to present a somewhat different portrait of Socrates from the one Plato paints. Plato_sentence_118

The Socratic problem asks how to reconcile these various accounts. Plato_sentence_119

Leo Strauss notes that Socrates' reputation for irony casts doubt on whether Plato's Socrates is expressing sincere beliefs. Plato_sentence_120

Aristotle attributes a different doctrine with respect to Forms to Plato and Socrates. Plato_sentence_121

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. Plato_sentence_122

In the dialogues of Plato though, Socrates sometimes seems to support a mystical side, discussing reincarnation and the mystery religions, this is generally attributed to Plato. Plato_sentence_123

Regardless, this view of Socrates cannot be dismissed out of hand, as we cannot be sure of the differences between the views of Plato and Socrates. Plato_sentence_124

In the Meno Plato refers to the Eleusinian Mysteries, telling Meno he would understand Socrates's answers better if he could stay for the initiations next week. Plato_sentence_125

It is possible that Plato and Socrates took part in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Plato_sentence_126

Philosophy Plato_section_11

Metaphysics Plato_section_12

In Plato's dialogues, Socrates and his company of disputants had something to say on many subjects, including several aspects of metaphysics. Plato_sentence_127

These include religion and science, human nature, love, and sexuality. Plato_sentence_128

More than one dialogue contrasts perception and reality, nature and custom, and body and soul. Plato_sentence_129

The Forms Plato_section_13

"Platonism" and its theory of Forms (or theory of Ideas) denies the reality of the material world, considering it only an image or copy of the real world. Plato_sentence_130

The theory of Forms is first introduced in the Phaedo dialogue (also known as On the Soul), wherein Socrates refutes the pluralism of the likes of Anaxagoras, then the most popular response to Heraclitus and Parmenides, while giving the "Opposites Argument" in support of the Forms. Plato_sentence_131

According to this theory of Forms there are at least two worlds: the apparent world of concrete objects, grasped by the senses, which constantly changes, and an unchanging and unseen world of Forms or abstract objects, grasped by pure reason (λογική). Plato_sentence_132

which ground what is apparent. Plato_sentence_133

It can also be said there are three worlds, with the apparent world consisting of both the world of material objects and of mental images, with the "third realm" consisting of the Forms. Plato_sentence_134

Thus, though there is the term "Platonic idealism", this refers to Platonic Ideas or the Forms, and not to some platonic kind of idealism, an 18th-century view which sees matter as unreal in favour of mind. Plato_sentence_135

For Plato, though grasped by the mind, only the Forms are truly real. Plato_sentence_136

Plato's Forms thus represent types of things, as well as properties, patterns, and relations, to which we refer as objects. Plato_sentence_137

Just as individual tables, chairs, and cars refer to objects in this world, 'tableness', 'chairness', and 'carness', as well as e. g. justice, truth, and beauty refer to objects in another world. Plato_sentence_138

One of Plato's most cited examples for the Forms were the truths of geometry, such as the Pythagorean theorem. Plato_sentence_139

In other words, the Forms are universals given as a solution to the problem of universals, or the problem of "the One and the Many", e. g. how one predicate "red" can apply to many red objects. Plato_sentence_140

For Plato this is because there is one abstract object or Form of red, redness itself, in which the several red things "participate". Plato_sentence_141

As Plato's solution is that universals are Forms and that Forms are real if anything is, Plato's philosophy is unambiguously called Platonic realism. Plato_sentence_142

According to Aristotle, Plato's best known argument in support of the Forms was the "one over many" argument. Plato_sentence_143

Aside from being immutable, timeless, changeless, and one over many, the Forms also provide definitions and the standard against which all instances are measured. Plato_sentence_144

In the dialogues Socrates regularly asks for the meaning – in the sense of intensional definitions – of a general term (e. g. justice, truth, beauty), and criticizes those who instead give him particular, extensional examples, rather than the quality shared by all examples. Plato_sentence_145

There is thus a world of perfect, eternal, and changeless meanings of predicates, the Forms, existing in the realm of Being outside of space and time; and the imperfect sensible world of becoming, subjects somehow in a state between being and nothing, that partakes of the qualities of the Forms, and is its instantiation. Plato_sentence_146

The soul Plato_section_14

Plato advocates a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife. Plato_sentence_147

In the Timaeus, Socrates locates the parts of the soul within the human body: Reason is located in the head, spirit in the top third of the torso, and the appetite in the middle third of the torso, down to the navel. Plato_sentence_148

Epistemology Plato_section_15

Several aspects of epistemology are also discussed by Socrates, such as wisdom. Plato_sentence_149

More than one dialogue contrasts knowledge and opinion. Plato_sentence_150

Plato's epistemology involves Socrates arguing that knowledge is not empirical, and that it comes from divine insight. Plato_sentence_151

The Forms are also responsible for both knowledge or certainty, and are grasped by pure reason. Plato_sentence_152

In several dialogues, Socrates inverts the common man's intuition about what is knowable and what is real. Plato_sentence_153

Reality is unavailable to those who use their senses. Plato_sentence_154

Socrates says that he who sees with his eyes is blind. Plato_sentence_155

While most people take the objects of their senses to be real if anything is, Socrates is contemptuous of people who think that something has to be graspable in the hands to be real. Plato_sentence_156

In the Theaetetus, he says such people are eu amousoi (εὖ ἄμουσοι), an expression that means literally, "happily without the muses". Plato_sentence_157

In other words, such people are willingly ignorant, living without divine inspiration and access to higher insights about reality. Plato_sentence_158

In Plato's dialogues, Socrates always insists on his ignorance and humility, that he knows nothing, so called Socratic irony. Plato_sentence_159

Several dialogues refute a series of viewpoints, but offer no positive position of its own, ending in aporia. Plato_sentence_160

Recollection Plato_section_16

In several of Plato's dialogues, Socrates promulgates the idea that knowledge is a matter of recollection of the state before one is born, and not of observation or study. Plato_sentence_161

Keeping with the theme of admitting his own ignorance, Socrates regularly complains of his forgetfulness. Plato_sentence_162

In the Meno, Socrates uses a geometrical example to expound Plato's view that knowledge in this latter sense is acquired by recollection. Plato_sentence_163

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). Plato_sentence_164

The knowledge must be present, Socrates concludes, in an eternal, non-experiential form. Plato_sentence_165

In other dialogues, the Sophist, Statesman, Republic, and the Parmenides, Plato himself 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. Plato_sentence_166

More explicitly, Plato himself argues in the Timaeus that knowledge is always proportionate to the realm from which it is gained. Plato_sentence_167

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. Plato_sentence_168

And opinions are characterized by a lack of necessity and stability. Plato_sentence_169

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. Plato_sentence_170

That apprehension of forms is required for knowledge may be taken to cohere with Plato's theory in the Theaetetus and Meno. Plato_sentence_171

Indeed, the apprehension of Forms may be at the base of the "account" required for justification, in that it offers foundational knowledge which itself needs no account, thereby avoiding an infinite regression. Plato_sentence_172

Justified true belief Plato_section_17

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. Plato_sentence_173

This interpretation is partly based on a reading of the Theaetetus wherein Plato argues that knowledge is distinguished from mere true belief by the knower having an "account" of the object of their true belief. Plato_sentence_174

And this theory may again be seen in the Meno, where it is suggested that true belief can be raised to the level of knowledge if it is bound with an account as to the question of "why" the object of the true belief is so. Plato_sentence_175

Many years later, Edmund Gettier famously demonstrated the problems of the justified true belief account of knowledge. Plato_sentence_176

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. Plato_sentence_177

Plato himself 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. Plato_sentence_178

Ethics Plato_section_18

Several dialogues discuss ethics including virtue and vice, pleasure and pain, crime and punishment, and justice and medicine. Plato_sentence_179

Plato views "The Good" as the supreme Form, somehow existing even "beyond being". Plato_sentence_180

Socrates propounded a moral intellectualism which claimed nobody does bad on purpose, and to know what is good results in doing what is good; that knowledge is virtue. Plato_sentence_181

In the Protagoras dialogue it is argued that virtue is innate and cannot be learned. Plato_sentence_182

Socrates presents the famous Euthyphro dilemma in the dialogue of the same name: "Is the pious () loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" Plato_sentence_183

(10a) Plato_sentence_184

Justice Plato_section_19

As above, in the Republic, Plato asks the question, “What is justice?” By means of the Greek term dikaiosune – a term for “justice” that captures both individual justice and the justice that informs societies, Plato is able not only to inform metaphysics, but also ethics and politics with the question: “What is the basis of moral and social obligation?” Plato_sentence_185

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. Plato_sentence_186

Plato further argues that such understanding of forms produces and ensures the good communal life when ideally structured under a philosopher king in a society with three classes (philosophers kings, guardians and workers) that neatly mirror his triadic view of the individual soul (reason, spirit and appetite). Plato_sentence_187

In this manner, justice is obtained when knowledge of how to fulfill one's moral and political function in society is put into practice. Plato_sentence_188

Politics Plato_section_20

The dialogues also discuss politics. Plato_sentence_189

Some of Plato's most famous doctrines are contained in the Republic as well as in the Laws and the Statesman. Plato_sentence_190

Because these doctrines are not spoken directly by Plato and vary between dialogues, they cannot be straightforwardly assumed as representing Plato's own views. Plato_sentence_191

Socrates asserts that societies have a tripartite class structure corresponding to the appetite/spirit/reason structure of the individual soul. Plato_sentence_192

The appetite/spirit/reason are analogous to the castes of society. Plato_sentence_193


  • Productive (Workers) – the labourers, carpenters, plumbers, masons, merchants, farmers, ranchers, etc. These correspond to the "appetite" part of the soul.Plato_item_1_3
  • Protective (Warriors or Guardians) – those who are adventurous, strong and brave; in the armed forces. These correspond to the "spirit" part of the soul.Plato_item_1_4
  • Governing (Rulers or Philosopher Kings) – those who are intelligent, rational, self-controlled, in love with wisdom, well suited to make decisions for the community. These correspond to the "reason" part of the soul and are very few.Plato_item_1_5

According to this model, the principles of Athenian democracy (as it existed in his day) are rejected as only a few are fit to rule. Plato_sentence_194

Instead of rhetoric and persuasion, Socrates says reason and wisdom should govern. Plato_sentence_195

As Socrates puts it: Plato_sentence_196


  • "Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize, that is, until political power and philosophy entirely coincide, while the many natures who at present pursue either one exclusively are forcibly prevented from doing so, cities will have no rest from evils,... nor, I think, will the human race."Plato_item_2_6

Socrates describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine. Plato_sentence_197

According to him, sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. Plato_sentence_198

A large part of the Republic then addresses how the educational system should be set up to produce these philosopher kings. Plato_sentence_199

In addition, the ideal city is used as an image to illuminate the state of one's soul, or the will, reason, and desires combined in the human body. Plato_sentence_200

Socrates is attempting to make an image of a rightly ordered human, and then later goes on to describe the different kinds of humans that can be observed, from tyrants to lovers of money in various kinds of cities. Plato_sentence_201

The ideal city is not promoted, but only used to magnify the different kinds of individual humans and the state of their soul. Plato_sentence_202

However, the philosopher king image was used by many after Plato to justify their personal political beliefs. Plato_sentence_203

The philosophic soul according to Socrates has reason, will, and desires united in virtuous harmony. Plato_sentence_204

A philosopher has the moderate love for wisdom and the courage to act according to wisdom. Plato_sentence_205

Wisdom is knowledge about the Good or the right relations between all that exists. Plato_sentence_206

Wherein it concerns states and rulers, Socrates asks which is better—a bad democracy or a country reigned by a tyrant. Plato_sentence_207

He argues that it is better to be ruled by a bad tyrant, than by a bad democracy (since here all the people are now responsible for such actions, rather than one individual committing many bad deeds.) Plato_sentence_208

This is emphasised within the Republic as Socrates describes the event of mutiny on board a ship. Plato_sentence_209

Socrates suggests the ship's crew to be in line with the democratic rule of many and the captain, although inhibited through ailments, the tyrant. Plato_sentence_210

Socrates' description of this event is parallel to that of democracy within the state and the inherent problems that arise. Plato_sentence_211

According to Socrates, a state made up of different kinds of souls will, overall, decline from an aristocracy (rule by the best) to a timocracy (rule by the honourable), then to an oligarchy (rule by the few), then to a democracy (rule by the people), and finally to tyranny (rule by one person, rule by a tyrant). Plato_sentence_212

Aristocracy in the sense of government (politeia) is advocated in Plato's Republic. Plato_sentence_213

This regime is ruled by a philosopher king, and thus is grounded on wisdom and reason. Plato_sentence_214

The aristocratic state, and the man whose nature corresponds to it, are the objects of Plato's analyses throughout much of the Republic, as opposed to the other four types of states/men, who are discussed later in his work. Plato_sentence_215

In Book VIII, Socrates states in order the other four imperfect societies with a description of the state's structure and individual character. Plato_sentence_216

In timocracy the ruling class is made up primarily of those with a warrior-like character. Plato_sentence_217

Oligarchy is made up of a society in which wealth is the criterion of merit and the wealthy are in control. Plato_sentence_218

In democracy, the state bears resemblance to ancient Athens with traits such as equality of political opportunity and freedom for the individual to do as he likes. Plato_sentence_219

Democracy then degenerates into tyranny from the conflict of rich and poor. Plato_sentence_220

It is characterized by an undisciplined society existing in chaos, where the tyrant rises as popular champion leading to the formation of his private army and the growth of oppression. Plato_sentence_221

Art and poetry Plato_section_21

Several dialogues tackle questions about art, including rhetoric and rhapsody. Plato_sentence_222

Socrates says that poetry is inspired by the muses, and is not rational. Plato_sentence_223

He speaks approvingly of this, and other forms of divine madness (drunkenness, eroticism, and dreaming) in the Phaedrus, and yet in the Republic wants to outlaw Homer's great poetry, and laughter as well. Plato_sentence_224

In Ion, Socrates gives no hint of the disapproval of Homer that he expresses in the Republic. Plato_sentence_225

The dialogue Ion suggests that Homer's Iliad functioned in the ancient Greek world as the Bible does today in the modern Christian world: as divinely inspired literature that can provide moral guidance, if only it can be properly interpreted. Plato_sentence_226

Unwritten doctrines Plato_section_22

For a long time, Plato's unwritten doctrines had been controversial. Plato_sentence_227

Many modern books on Plato seem to diminish its importance; nevertheless, the first important 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 Timaeus] of the participant is different from what he says in his so-called unwritten teachings (ἄγραφα δόγματα)." Plato_sentence_228

The term "ἄγραφα δόγματα" literally means unwritten doctrines or unwritten dogmas and it stands for 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. Plato_sentence_229

The importance of the unwritten doctrines does not seem to have been seriously questioned before the 19th century. Plato_sentence_230

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." Plato_sentence_231

The same argument is repeated in Plato's Seventh Letter: "every serious man in dealing with really serious subjects carefully avoids writing." Plato_sentence_232

In the same letter he writes: "I can certainly declare concerning all these writers who claim to know the subjects that I seriously study ... there does not exist, nor will there ever exist, any treatise of mine dealing therewith." Plato_sentence_233

Such secrecy is necessary in order not "to expose them to unseemly and degrading treatment". Plato_sentence_234

It is, however, said that Plato once disclosed this knowledge to the public in his lecture On the Good (Περὶ τἀγαθοῦ), in which the Good (τὸ ἀγαθόν) is identified with the One (the Unity, τὸ ἕν), the fundamental ontological principle. Plato_sentence_235

The content of this lecture has been transmitted by several witnesses. Plato_sentence_236

Aristoxenus describes the event in the following words: "Each came expecting to learn something about the things that are generally considered good for men, such as wealth, good health, physical strength, and altogether a kind of wonderful happiness. Plato_sentence_237

But when the mathematical demonstrations came, including numbers, geometrical figures and astronomy, and finally the statement Good is One seemed to them, I imagine, utterly unexpected and strange; hence some belittled the matter, while others rejected it." Plato_sentence_238

Simplicius quotes Alexander of Aphrodisias, who states that "according to Plato, the first principles of everything, including the Forms themselves are One and Indefinite Duality (ἡ ἀόριστος δυάς), which he called Large and Small (τὸ μέγα καὶ τὸ μικρόν)", and Simplicius reports as well that "one might also learn this from Speusippus and Xenocrates and the others who were present at Plato's lecture on the Good". Plato_sentence_239

Their account is in full agreement with Aristotle's description of Plato's metaphysical doctrine. Plato_sentence_240

In Metaphysics he writes: "Now since the Forms are the causes of everything else, he [i.e. Plato] supposed that their elements are the elements of all things. Plato_sentence_241

Accordingly the material principle is the Great and Small [i.e. the Dyad], and the essence is the One (τὸ ἕν), since the numbers are derived from the Great and Small by participation in the One". Plato_sentence_242

"From this account it is clear that he only employed two causes: that of the essence, and the material cause; for the Forms are the cause of the essence in everything else, and the One is the cause of it in the Forms. Plato_sentence_243

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, ἡ δυάς), the Great and Small (τὸ μέγα καὶ τὸ μικρόν). Plato_sentence_244

Further, he assigned to these two elements respectively the causation of good and of evil". Plato_sentence_245

The most important aspect of this interpretation of Plato's metaphysics is the continuity between his teaching and the Neoplatonic interpretation of Plotinus or Ficino which has been considered erroneous by many but may in fact have been directly influenced by oral transmission of Plato's doctrine. Plato_sentence_246

A modern scholar who recognized the importance of the unwritten doctrine of Plato was Heinrich Gomperz who described it in his speech during the 7th International Congress of Philosophy in 1930. Plato_sentence_247

All the sources related to the ἄγραφα δόγματα have been collected by Konrad Gaiser and published as Testimonia Platonica. Plato_sentence_248

These sources have subsequently been interpreted by scholars from the German Tübingen School of interpretation such as Hans Joachim Krämer or Thomas A. Szlezák. Plato_sentence_249

Themes of Plato's dialogues Plato_section_23

Trial of Socrates Plato_section_24

The trial of Socrates and his death sentence is the central, unifying event of Plato's dialogues. Plato_sentence_250

It is relayed in the dialogues Apology, Crito, and Phaedo. Plato_sentence_251

Apology is Socrates' defence speech, and Crito and Phaedo take place in prison after the conviction. Plato_sentence_252

Apology is among the most frequently read of Plato's works. Plato_sentence_253

In the Apology, Socrates tries to dismiss rumours that he is a sophist and defends himself against charges of disbelief in the gods and corruption of the young. Plato_sentence_254

Socrates insists that long-standing slander will be the real cause of his demise, and says the legal charges are essentially false. Plato_sentence_255

Socrates famously denies being wise, and explains how his life as a philosopher was launched by the Oracle at Delphi. Plato_sentence_256

He says that his quest to resolve the riddle of the oracle put him at odds with his fellow man, and that this is the reason he has been mistaken for a menace to the city-state of Athens. Plato_sentence_257

In Apology, Socrates is presented as mentioning Plato by name as one of those youths close enough to him to have been corrupted, if he were in fact guilty of corrupting the youth, and questioning why their fathers and brothers did not step forward to testify against him if he was indeed guilty of such a crime. Plato_sentence_258

Later, Plato is mentioned along with Crito, Critobolus, and Apollodorus as offering to pay a fine of 30 minas on Socrates' behalf, in lieu of the death penalty proposed by Meletus. Plato_sentence_259

In the Phaedo, the title character lists those who were in attendance at the prison on Socrates' last day, explaining Plato's absence by saying, "Plato was ill". Plato_sentence_260

The trial in other dialogues Plato_section_25

See also: List of speakers in Plato's dialogues Plato_sentence_261

If Plato's important dialogues do not refer to Socrates' execution explicitly, they allude to it, or use characters or themes that play a part in it. Plato_sentence_262

Five dialogues foreshadow the trial: In the Theaetetus and the Euthyphro Socrates tells people that he is about to face corruption charges. Plato_sentence_263

In the Meno, one of the men who brings legal charges against Socrates, Anytus, warns him about the trouble he may get into if he does not stop criticizing important people. Plato_sentence_264

In the Gorgias, Socrates says that his trial will be like a doctor prosecuted by a cook who asks a jury of children to choose between the doctor's bitter medicine and the cook's tasty treats. Plato_sentence_265

In the Republic, Socrates explains why an enlightened man (presumably himself) will stumble in a courtroom situation. Plato_sentence_266

Plato's support of aristocracy and distrust of democracy is also taken to be partly rooted in a democracy having killed Socrates. Plato_sentence_267

In the Protagoras, Socrates is a guest at the home of Callias, son of Hipponicus, a man whom Socrates disparages in the Apology as having wasted a great amount of money on sophists' fees. Plato_sentence_268

Two other important dialogues, the Symposium and the Phaedrus, are linked to the main storyline by characters. Plato_sentence_269

In the Apology, Socrates says Aristophanes slandered him in a comic play, and blames him for causing his bad reputation, and ultimately, his death. Plato_sentence_270

In the Symposium, the two of them are drinking together with other friends. Plato_sentence_271

The character Phaedrus is linked to the main story line by character (Phaedrus is also a participant in the Symposium and the Protagoras) and by theme (the philosopher as divine emissary, etc.) The Protagoras is also strongly linked to the Symposium by characters: all of the formal speakers at the Symposium (with the exception of Aristophanes) are present at the home of Callias in that dialogue. Plato_sentence_272

Charmides and his guardian Critias are present for the discussion in the Protagoras. Plato_sentence_273

Examples of characters crossing between dialogues can be further multiplied. Plato_sentence_274

The Protagoras contains the largest gathering of Socratic associates. Plato_sentence_275

In the dialogues Plato is most celebrated and admired for, Socrates is concerned with human and political virtue, has a distinctive personality, and friends and enemies who "travel" with him from dialogue to dialogue. Plato_sentence_276

This is not to say that Socrates is consistent: a man who is his friend in one dialogue may be an adversary or subject of his mockery in another. Plato_sentence_277

For example, Socrates praises the wisdom of Euthyphro many times in the Cratylus, but makes him look like a fool in the Euthyphro. Plato_sentence_278

He disparages sophists generally, and Prodicus specifically in the Apology, whom he also slyly jabs in the Cratylus for charging the hefty fee of fifty drachmas for a course on language and grammar. Plato_sentence_279

However, Socrates tells Theaetetus in his namesake dialogue that he admires Prodicus and has directed many pupils to him. Plato_sentence_280

Socrates' ideas are also not consistent within or between or among dialogues. Plato_sentence_281

Allegories Plato_section_26

Main article: Allegorical interpretations of Plato Plato_sentence_282

Mythos and logos are terms that evolved along classical Greek history. Plato_sentence_283

In the times of Homer and Hesiod (8th century BC) they were essentially synonyms, and contained the meaning of 'tale' or 'history'. Plato_sentence_284

Later came historians like Herodotus and Thucydides, as well as philosophers like Heraclitus and Parmenides and other Presocratics who introduced a distinction between both terms; mythos became more a nonverifiable account, and logos a rational account. Plato_sentence_285

It may seem that Plato, being a disciple of Socrates and a strong partisan of philosophy based on logos, should have avoided the use of myth-telling. Plato_sentence_286

Instead he made an abundant use of it. Plato_sentence_287

This fact has produced analytical and interpretative work, in order to clarify the reasons and purposes for that use. Plato_sentence_288

Plato, in general, distinguished between three types of myth. Plato_sentence_289

First there were the false myths, like those based on stories of gods subject to passions and sufferings, because reason teaches that God is perfect. Plato_sentence_290

Then came the myths based on true reasoning, and therefore also true. Plato_sentence_291

Finally there were those non verifiable because beyond of human reason, but containing some truth in them. Plato_sentence_292

Regarding the subjects of Plato's myths they are of two types, those dealing with the origin of the universe, and those about morals and the origin and fate of the soul. Plato_sentence_293

It is generally agreed that the main purpose for Plato in using myths was didactic. Plato_sentence_294

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. Plato_sentence_295

Consequently, then, he used the myth to convey the conclusions of the philosophical reasoning. Plato_sentence_296

Some of Plato's myths were based in traditional ones, others were modifications of them, and finally he also invented altogether new myths. Plato_sentence_297

Notable examples include the story of Atlantis, the Myth of Er, and the Allegory of the Cave. Plato_sentence_298

The Cave Plato_section_27

The theory of Forms is most famously captured in his Allegory of the Cave, and more explicitly in his analogy of the sun and the divided line. Plato_sentence_299

The Allegory of the Cave is a paradoxical analogy wherein Socrates argues that the invisible world is the most intelligible ('noeton') and that the visible world ((h)oraton) is the least knowable, and the most obscure. Plato_sentence_300

Socrates says in the Republic that people who take the sun-lit world of the senses to be good and real are living pitifully in a den of evil and ignorance. Plato_sentence_301

Socrates admits that few climb out of the den, or cave of ignorance, and those who do, not only have a terrible struggle to attain the heights, but when they go back down for a visit or to help other people up, they find themselves objects of scorn and ridicule. Plato_sentence_302

According to Socrates, physical objects and physical events are "shadows" of their ideal or perfect forms, and exist only to the extent that they instantiate the perfect versions of themselves. Plato_sentence_303

Just as shadows are temporary, inconsequential epiphenomena produced by physical objects, physical objects are themselves fleeting phenomena caused by more substantial causes, the ideals of which they are mere instances. Plato_sentence_304

For example, Socrates thinks that perfect justice exists (although it is not clear where) and his own trial would be a cheap copy of it. Plato_sentence_305

The Allegory of the Cave is intimately connected to his political ideology, that only people who have climbed out of the cave and cast their eyes on a vision of goodness are fit to rule. Plato_sentence_306

Socrates claims that the enlightened men of society must be forced from their divine contemplation and be compelled to run the city according to their lofty insights. Plato_sentence_307

Thus is born the idea of the "philosopher-king", the wise person who accepts the power thrust upon him by the people who are wise enough to choose a good master. Plato_sentence_308

This is the main thesis of Socrates in the Republic, that the most wisdom the masses can muster is the wise choice of a ruler. Plato_sentence_309

Ring of Gyges Plato_section_28

A ring which could make one invisible, the Ring of Gyges is proposed in the Republic by the character of Glaucon, and considered by the rest of characters for its ethical consequences, whether an individual possessing it would be most happy abstaining or doing injustice. Plato_sentence_310

Chariot Plato_section_29

He also compares the soul (psyche) to a chariot. Plato_sentence_311

In this allegory he introduces a triple soul which composed of a charioteer and two horses. Plato_sentence_312

The charioteer is a symbol of intellectual and logical part of the soul (logistikon), and two horses represents the moral virtues (thymoeides) and passionate instincts (epithymetikon), respectively, to illustrate the conflict between them. Plato_sentence_313

Dialectic Plato_section_30

Socrates employs a dialectic method which proceeds by questioning. Plato_sentence_314

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. Plato_sentence_315

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." Plato_sentence_316

A similar interpretation has been put forth by Louis Hartz, who suggests that elements of the dialectic are borrowed from Hegel. Plato_sentence_317

According to this view, opposing arguments improve upon each other, and prevailing opinion is shaped by the synthesis of many conflicting ideas over time. Plato_sentence_318

Each new idea exposes a flaw in the accepted model, and the epistemological substance of the debate continually approaches the truth. Plato_sentence_319

Hartz's is a teleological interpretation at the core, in which philosophers will ultimately exhaust the available body of knowledge and thus reach "the end of history." Plato_sentence_320

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." Plato_sentence_321

Family Plato_section_31

Plato often discusses the father-son relationship and the question of whether a father's interest in his sons has much to do with how well his sons turn out. Plato_sentence_322

In ancient Athens, a boy was socially located by his family identity, and Plato often refers to his characters in terms of their paternal and fraternal relationships. Plato_sentence_323

Socrates was not a family man, and saw himself as the son of his mother, who was apparently a midwife. Plato_sentence_324

A divine fatalist, Socrates mocks men who spent exorbitant fees on tutors and trainers for their sons, and repeatedly ventures the idea that good character is a gift from the gods. Plato_sentence_325

Plato's dialogue Crito reminds Socrates that orphans are at the mercy of chance, but Socrates is unconcerned. Plato_sentence_326

In the Theaetetus, he is found recruiting as a disciple a young man whose inheritance has been squandered. Plato_sentence_327

Socrates twice compares the relationship of the older man and his boy lover to the father-son relationship, and in the Phaedo, Socrates' disciples, towards whom he displays more concern than his biological sons, say they will feel "fatherless" when he is gone. Plato_sentence_328

Though Plato agreed with Aristotle that women were inferior to men, in the fourth book of the Republic the character of Socrates says this was only because of nomos or custom and not because of nature, and thus women needed paidia, rearing or education to be equal to men. Plato_sentence_329

In the "merely probable tale" of the eponymous character in the Timaeus, unjust men who live corrupted lives would be reincarnated as women or various animal kinds. Plato_sentence_330

Narration Plato_section_32

Plato never presents himself as a participant in any of the dialogues, and with the exception of the Apology, there is no suggestion that he heard any of the dialogues firsthand. Plato_sentence_331

Some dialogues have no narrator but have a pure "dramatic" form (examples: Meno, Gorgias, Phaedrus, Crito, Euthyphro), some dialogues are narrated by Socrates, wherein he speaks in first person (examples: Lysis, Charmides, Republic). Plato_sentence_332

One dialogue, Protagoras, begins in dramatic form but quickly proceeds to Socrates' narration of a conversation he had previously with the sophist for whom the dialogue is named; this narration continues uninterrupted till the dialogue's end. Plato_sentence_333

Two dialogues Phaedo and Symposium also begin in dramatic form but then proceed to virtually uninterrupted narration by followers of Socrates. Plato_sentence_334

Phaedo, an account of Socrates' final conversation and hemlock drinking, is narrated by Phaedo to Echecrates in a foreign city not long after the execution took place. Plato_sentence_335

The Symposium is narrated by Apollodorus, a Socratic disciple, apparently to Glaucon. Plato_sentence_336

Apollodorus assures his listener that he is recounting the story, which took place when he himself was an infant, not from his own memory, but as remembered by Aristodemus, who told him the story years ago. Plato_sentence_337

The Theaetetus is a peculiar case: a dialogue in dramatic form embedded within another dialogue in dramatic form. Plato_sentence_338

In the beginning of the Theaetetus, Euclides says that he compiled the conversation from notes he took based on what Socrates told him of his conversation with the title character. Plato_sentence_339

The rest of the Theaetetus is presented as a "book" written in dramatic form and read by one of Euclides' slaves. Plato_sentence_340

Some scholars take this as an indication that Plato had by this date wearied of the narrated form. Plato_sentence_341

With the exception of the Theaetetus, Plato gives no explicit indication as to how these orally transmitted conversations came to be written down. Plato_sentence_342

History of Plato's dialogues Plato_section_33

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. Plato_sentence_343

Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts. Plato_sentence_344

The usual system for making unique references to sections of the text by Plato derives from a 16th-century edition of Plato's works by Henricus Stephanus known as Stephanus pagination. Plato_sentence_345

One tradition regarding the arrangement of Plato's texts is according to tetralogies. Plato_sentence_346

This scheme is ascribed by Diogenes Laërtius to an ancient scholar and court astrologer to Tiberius named Thrasyllus. Plato_sentence_347

Chronology Plato_section_34

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. Plato_sentence_348

The works are usually grouped into Early (sometimes by some into Transitional), Middle, and Late period. Plato_sentence_349

This choice to group chronologically is thought worthy of criticism by some (Cooper et al), given that it is recognized that there is no absolute agreement as to the true chronology, since the facts of the temporal order of writing are not confidently ascertained. Plato_sentence_350

Chronology was not a consideration in ancient times, in that groupings of this nature are virtually absent (Tarrant) in the extant writings of ancient Platonists. Plato_sentence_351

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. Plato_sentence_352

The remaining dialogues are classified as "late" and are generally agreed to be difficult and challenging pieces of philosophy. Plato_sentence_353

This grouping is the only one proven by stylometric analysis. Plato_sentence_354

Among those who classify the dialogues into periods of composition, Socrates figures in all of the "early dialogues" and they are considered the most faithful representations of the historical Socrates. Plato_sentence_355

The following represents one relatively common division. Plato_sentence_356

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. Plato_sentence_357

Increasingly in the most recent Plato scholarship, writers are sceptical of the notion that the order of Plato's writings can be established with any precision, though Plato's works are still often characterized as falling at least roughly into three groups. Plato_sentence_358

Early: Apology, Charmides, Crito, Euthyphro, Gorgias, (Lesser) Hippias (minor), (Greater) Hippias (major), Ion, Laches, Lysis, Protagoras Plato_sentence_359

Middle: Cratylus, Euthydemus, Meno, Parmenides, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Republic, Symposium, Theaetetus Plato_sentence_360

Late: Critias, Sophist, Statesman / Politicus, Timaeus, Philebus, Laws. Plato_sentence_361

A significant distinction of the early Plato and the later Plato has been offered by scholars such as E.R. Dodds and has been summarized by Harold Bloom in his book titled Agon: "E.R. Dodds is the classical scholar whose writings most illuminated the Hellenic descent (in) The Greeks and the Irrational ... Plato_sentence_362

In his chapter on Plato and the Irrational Soul ... Dodds traces Plato's spiritual evolution from the pure rationalist of the Protagoras to the transcendental psychologist, influenced by the Pythagoreans and Orphics, of the later works culminating in the Laws." Plato_sentence_363

Lewis Campbell was the first to make exhaustive use of stylometry to prove the great probability that the Critias, Timaeus, Laws, Philebus, Sophist, and Statesman were all clustered together as a group, while the Parmenides, Phaedrus, Republic, and Theaetetus belong to a separate group, which must be earlier (given Aristotle's statement in his Politics that the Laws was written after the Republic; cf. Plato_sentence_364

Diogenes Laërtius Lives 3.37). Plato_sentence_365

What is remarkable about Campbell's conclusions is that, in spite of all the stylometric studies that have been conducted since his time, perhaps the only chronological fact about Plato's works that can now be said to be proven by stylometry is the fact that Critias, Timaeus, Laws, Philebus, Sophist, and Statesman are the latest of Plato's dialogues, the others earlier. Plato_sentence_366

Protagoras is often considered one of the last of the "early dialogues". Plato_sentence_367

Three dialogues are often considered "transitional" or "pre-middle": Euthydemus, Gorgias, and Meno. Plato_sentence_368

Proponents of dividing the dialogues into periods often consider the Parmenides and Theaetetus to come late in the middle period and be transitional to the next, as they seem to treat the theory of Forms critically (Parmenides) or only indirectly (Theaetetus). Plato_sentence_369

Ritter's stylometric analysis places Phaedrus as probably after Theaetetus and Parmenides, although it does not relate to the theory of Forms in the same way. Plato_sentence_370

The first book of the Republic is often thought to have been written significantly earlier than the rest of the work, although possibly having undergone revisions when the later books were attached to it. Plato_sentence_371

While looked to for Plato's "mature" answers to the questions posed by his earlier works, those answers are difficult to discern. Plato_sentence_372

Some scholars indicate that the theory of Forms is absent from the late dialogues, its having been refuted in the Parmenides, but there isn't total consensus that the Parmenides actually refutes the theory of Forms. Plato_sentence_373

Writings of doubted authenticity Plato_section_35

Jowett mentions in his Appendix to Menexenus, that works which bore the character of a writer were attributed to that writer even when the actual author was unknown. Plato_sentence_374

For below: Plato_sentence_375

(*) 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. Plato_sentence_376

First Alcibiades (*), Second Alcibiades (‡), Clitophon (*), Epinomis (‡), Epistles (*), Hipparchus (‡), Menexenus (*), Minos (‡), (Rival) Lovers (‡), Theages (‡) Plato_sentence_377

Spurious writings Plato_section_36

The following works were transmitted under Plato's name, most of them already considered spurious in antiquity, and so were not included by Thrasyllus in his tetralogical arrangement. Plato_sentence_378

These works are labelled as Notheuomenoi ("spurious") or Apocrypha. Plato_sentence_379


Textual sources and history Plato_section_37

See also: List of manuscripts of Plato's dialogues Plato_sentence_380

Some 250 known manuscripts of Plato survive. Plato_sentence_381

The texts of Plato as received today apparently represent the complete written philosophical work of Plato and are generally good by the standards of textual criticism. Plato_sentence_382

No modern edition of Plato in the original Greek represents a single source, but rather it is reconstructed from multiple sources which are compared with each other. Plato_sentence_383

These sources are medieval manuscripts written on vellum (mainly from 9th to 13th century AD Byzantium), papyri (mainly from late antiquity in Egypt), and from the independent testimonia of other authors who quote various segments of the works (which come from a variety of sources). Plato_sentence_384

The text as presented is usually not much different from what appears in the Byzantine manuscripts, and papyri and testimonia just confirm the manuscript tradition. Plato_sentence_385

In some editions however the readings in the papyri or testimonia are favoured in some places by the editing critic of the text. Plato_sentence_386

Reviewing editions of papyri for the Republic in 1987, Slings suggests that the use of papyri is hampered due to some poor editing practices. Plato_sentence_387

In the first century AD, Thrasyllus of Mendes had compiled and published the works of Plato in the original Greek, both genuine and spurious. Plato_sentence_388

While it has not survived to the present day, all the extant medieval Greek manuscripts are based on his edition. Plato_sentence_389

The oldest surviving complete manuscript for many of the dialogues is the Clarke Plato (Codex Oxoniensis Clarkianus 39, or Codex Boleianus MS E.D. Plato_sentence_390

Clarke 39), which was written in Constantinople in 895 and acquired by Oxford University in 1809. Plato_sentence_391

The Clarke is given the siglum B in modern editions. Plato_sentence_392

B contains the first six tetralogies and is described internally as being written by "John the Calligrapher" on behalf of Arethas of Caesarea. Plato_sentence_393

It appears to have undergone corrections by Arethas himself. Plato_sentence_394

For the last two tetralogies and the apocrypha, the oldest surviving complete manuscript is Codex Parisinus graecus 1807, designated A, which was written nearly contemporaneously to B, circa 900 AD. Plato_sentence_395

A must be a copy of the edition edited by the patriarch, Photios, teacher of Arethas.A probably had an initial volume containing the first 7 tetralogies which is now lost, but of which a copy was made, Codex Venetus append. Plato_sentence_396

class. Plato_sentence_397

4, 1, which has the siglum T. The oldest manuscript for the seventh tetralogy is Codex Vindobonensis 54. suppl. Plato_sentence_398

phil. Plato_sentence_399

Gr. Plato_sentence_400

7, with siglum W, with a supposed date in the twelfth century. Plato_sentence_401

In total there are fifty-one such Byzantine manuscripts known, while others may yet be found. Plato_sentence_402

To help establish the text, the older evidence of papyri and the independent evidence of the testimony of commentators and other authors (i.e., those who quote and refer to an old text of Plato which is no longer extant) are also used. Plato_sentence_403

Many papyri which contain fragments of Plato's texts are among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Plato_sentence_404

The 2003 Oxford Classical Texts edition by Slings even cites the Coptic translation of a fragment of the Republic in the Nag Hammadi library as evidence. Plato_sentence_405

Important authors for testimony include Olympiodorus the Younger, Plutarch, Proclus, Iamblichus, Eusebius, and Stobaeus. Plato_sentence_406

During the early Renaissance, the Greek language and, along with it, Plato's texts were reintroduced to Western Europe by Byzantine scholars. Plato_sentence_407

In September or October 1484 Filippo Valori and Francesco Berlinghieri printed 1025 copies of Ficino's translation, using the printing press at the Dominican convent S.Jacopo di Ripoli. Plato_sentence_408

Cosimo had been influenced toward studying Plato by the many Byzantine Platonists in Florence during his day, including George Gemistus Plethon. Plato_sentence_409

The 1578 edition of Plato's complete works published by Henricus Stephanus (Henri Estienne) in Geneva also included parallel Latin translation and running commentary by Joannes Serranus (Jean de Serres). Plato_sentence_410

It was this edition which established standard Stephanus pagination, still in use today. Plato_sentence_411

Modern editions Plato_section_38

The Oxford Classical Texts offers the current standard complete Greek text of Plato's complete works. Plato_sentence_412

In five volumes edited by John Burnet, its first edition was published 1900–1907, and it is still available from the publisher, having last been printed in 1993. Plato_sentence_413

The second edition is still in progress with only the first volume, printed in 1995, and the Republic, printed in 2003, available. Plato_sentence_414

The Cambridge Greek and Latin Texts and Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries series includes Greek editions of the Protagoras, Symposium, Phaedrus, Alcibiades, and Clitophon, with English philological, literary, and, to an extent, philosophical commentary. Plato_sentence_415

One distinguished edition of the Greek text is E. Plato_sentence_416 R. Dodds' of the Gorgias, which includes extensive English commentary. Plato_sentence_417

The modern standard complete English edition is the 1997 Hackett Plato, Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper. Plato_sentence_418

For many of these translations Hackett offers separate volumes which include more by way of commentary, notes, and introductory material. Plato_sentence_419

There is also the Clarendon Plato Series by Oxford University Press which offers English translations and thorough philosophical commentary by leading scholars on a few of Plato's works, including John McDowell's version of the Theaetetus. Plato_sentence_420

Cornell University Press has also begun the Agora series of English translations of classical and medieval philosophical texts, including a few of Plato's. Plato_sentence_421

Criticism Plato_section_39

The most famous criticism of the Theory of Forms is the Third Man Argument by Aristotle in the Metaphysics. Plato_sentence_422

Plato had actually already considered this objection with the idea of "large" rather than "man" in the dialogue Parmenides, using the elderly Elean philosophers Parmenides and Zeno characters anachronistically to criticize the character of the younger Socrates who proposed the idea. Plato_sentence_423

The dialogue ends in aporia. Plato_sentence_424

Many recent philosophers have diverged from what some would describe as the ontological models and moral ideals characteristic of traditional Platonism. Plato_sentence_425

A number of these postmodern philosophers have thus appeared to disparage Platonism from more or less informed perspectives. Plato_sentence_426

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 one of his most important works, Beyond Good and Evil (1886). Plato_sentence_427

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 Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) that Plato's alleged proposal for a utopian political regime in the Republic was prototypically totalitarian. Plato_sentence_428

The Dutch historian of science Eduard Jan Dijksterhuis criticizes Plato, stating that he was guilty of "constructing an imaginary nature by reasoning from preconceived principles and forcing reality more or less to adapt itself to this construction." Plato_sentence_429

Dijksterhuis adds that one of the errors into which Plato had "fallen in an almost grotesque manner, consisted in an over-estimation of what unaided thought, i.e. without recourse to experience, could achieve in the field of natural science." Plato_sentence_430

Legacy Plato_section_40

In the arts Plato_section_41

Plato's Academy mosaic was created in the villa of T. Plato_sentence_431 Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii, around 100 BC to 100 CE. Plato_sentence_432

The School of Athens fresco by Raphael features Plato also as a central figure. Plato_sentence_433

The Nuremberg Chronicle depicts Plato and other as anachronistic schoolmen. Plato_sentence_434

In philosophy Plato_section_42

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". Plato_sentence_435

However, in the Byzantine Empire, the study of Plato continued. Plato_sentence_436

The only Platonic work known to western scholarship was Timaeus, until translations were made after the fall of Constantinople, which occurred during 1453. Plato_sentence_437

George Gemistos Plethon brought Plato's original writings from Constantinople in the century of its fall. Plato_sentence_438

It is believed that Plethon passed a copy of the Dialogues to Cosimo de' Medici when in 1438 the Council of Ferrara, called to unify the Greek and Latin Churches, was adjourned to Florence, where Plethon then lectured on the relation and differences of Plato and Aristotle, and fired Cosimo with his enthusiasm; Cosimo would supply Marsilio Ficino with Plato's text for translation to Latin. Plato_sentence_439

During the early Islamic era, Persian and Arab scholars translated much of Plato into Arabic and wrote commentaries and interpretations on Plato's, Aristotle's and other Platonist philosophers' works (see Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, Hunayn ibn Ishaq). Plato_sentence_440

Many of these commentaries on Plato were translated from Arabic into Latin and as such influenced Medieval scholastic philosophers. Plato_sentence_441

During the Renaissance, with the general resurgence of interest in classical civilization, knowledge of Plato's philosophy would become widespread again in the West. Plato_sentence_442

Many of the greatest early modern scientists and artists who broke with Scholasticism and fostered the flowering of the Renaissance, 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. Plato_sentence_443

More problematic was Plato's belief in metempsychosis as well as his ethical views (on polyamory and euthanasia in particular), which did not match those of Christianity. Plato_sentence_444

It was Plethon's student Bessarion who reconciled Plato with Christian theology, arguing that Plato's views were only ideals, unattainable due to the fall of man. Plato_sentence_445

The Cambridge Platonists were around in the 17th century. Plato_sentence_446

By the 19th century, Plato's reputation was restored, and at least on par with Aristotle's. Plato_sentence_447

Notable Western philosophers have continued to draw upon Plato's work since that time. Plato_sentence_448

Plato's influence has been especially strong in mathematics and the sciences. Plato_sentence_449

Plato's resurgence further inspired some of the greatest advances in logic since Aristotle, primarily through Gottlob Frege and his followers Kurt Gödel, Alonzo Church, and Alfred Tarski. Plato_sentence_450

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." Plato_sentence_451

The political philosopher and professor Leo Strauss is considered by some as the prime thinker involved in the recovery of Platonic thought in its more political, and less metaphysical, form. Plato_sentence_452

Strauss' political approach was in part inspired by the appropriation of Plato and Aristotle by medieval Jewish and Islamic political philosophers, especially Maimonides and Al-Farabi, as opposed to the Christian metaphysical tradition that developed from Neoplatonism. Plato_sentence_453

Deeply influenced by Nietzsche and Heidegger, Strauss nonetheless rejects their condemnation of Plato and looks to the dialogues for a solution to what all three latter day thinkers acknowledge as 'the crisis of the West. Plato_sentence_454

W. Plato_sentence_455 V. O. Quine dubbed the problem of negative existentials "Plato's beard". Plato_sentence_456

Noam Chomsky dubbed the problem of knowledge Plato's problem. Plato_sentence_457

One author calls the definist fallacy the Socratic fallacy. Plato_sentence_458

More broadly, platonism (sometimes distinguished from Plato's particular view by the lowercase) refers to the view that there are many abstract objects. Plato_sentence_459

Still to this day, platonists take number and the truths of mathematics as the best support in favour of this view. Plato_sentence_460

Most mathematicians think, like platonists, that numbers and the truths of mathematics are perceived by reason rather than the senses yet exist independently of minds and people, that is to say, they are discovered rather than invented. Plato_sentence_461

Contemporary platonism is also more open to the idea of there being infinitely many abstract objects, as numbers or propositions might qualify as abstract objects, while ancient Platonism seemed to resist this view, possibly because of the need to overcome the problem of "the One and the Many". Plato_sentence_462

Thus e. g. in the Parmenides dialogue, Plato denies there are Forms for more mundane things like hair and mud. Plato_sentence_463

However, he repeatedly does support the idea that there are Forms of artifacts, e. g. the Form of Bed. Plato_sentence_464

Contemporary platonism also tends to view abstract objects as unable to cause anything, but it is unclear whether the ancient Platonists felt this way. Plato_sentence_465

See also Plato_section_43

Philosophy Plato_section_44


Ancient scholars Plato_section_45


Modern scholars Plato_section_46


Other Plato_section_47


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