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Plato (Πλάτων)

Plato: copy of portrait bust by Silanion
Full name Plato (Πλάτων)
Born c. 428–427 BC[1]
Athens
Died c. 348–347 BC (age approx 84)
Athens
Era Ancient philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Platonism
Main interests Rhetoric, Art, Literature, Epistemology, Justice, Virtue, Politics, Education, Family, Militarism
Notable ideas Platonic realism

Plato (pronounced /ˈpleɪtoʊ/, Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn, "broad"[2]; 428/427 BC[a] – 348/347 BC), was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the foundations of natural philosophy, science, and Western philosophy.[3] Plato was originally a student of Socrates, and was as much influenced by his thinking as by what he saw as his teacher's unjust death.

Plato's sophistication as a writer is evident in his Socratic dialogues; thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters have been ascribed to him. Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts.

Although there is little question that Plato lectured at the Academy that he founded, the pedagogical function of his dialogues, if any, is not known with certainty. The dialogues since Plato's time have been used to teach a range of subjects, including philosophy, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, and other subjects about which he wrote.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Birth and family

The definite place and time of Plato's birth are not known, but what is certain is that he belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. Based on ancient sources, most modern scholars believe that he was born in Athens or Aegina[b] between 429 and 423 BC.[a] His father was Ariston. According to a disputed tradition, reported by Diogenes Laertius, Ariston traced his descent from the king of Athens, Codrus, and the king of Messenia, Melanthus.[4] Plato's mother was Perictione, whose family boasted of a relationship with the famous Athenian lawmaker and lyric poet Solon.[5] Perictione was sister of Charmides and niece of Critias, both prominent figures of the Thirty Tyrants, the brief oligarchic regime, which followed on the collapse of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War (404-403 BC).[6] Besides Plato himself, Ariston and Perictione had three other children; these were two sons, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a daughter Potone, the mother of Speusippus (the nephew and successor of Plato as head of his philosophical Academy).[6] According to the Republic, Adeimantus and Glaucon were older than Plato.[7] Nevertheless, in his Memorabilia, Xenophon presents Glaucon as younger than Plato.[8]

Ariston tried to force his attentions on Perictione, but failed of his purpose; then the ancient Greek god Apollo appeared to him in a vision, and, as a result of it, Ariston left Perictione unmolested.[9] Another legend related that, while he was sleeping as an infant, bees had settled on the lips of Plato; an augury of the sweetness of style in which he would discourse philosophy.[10]

Ariston appears to have died in Plato's childhood, although the precise dating of his death is difficult.[11] Perictione then married Pyrilampes, her mother's brother,[12] 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.[13] Pyrilampes had a son from a previous marriage, Demus, who was famous for his beauty.[14] Perictione gave birth to Pyrilampes' second son, Antiphon, the half-brother of Plato, who appears in Parmenides.[15]

In contrast to his reticence about himself, Plato used to introduce his distinguished relatives into his dialogues, or to mention them with some precision: Charmides has one named after him; Critias speaks in both Charmides and Protagoras; Adeimantus and Glaucon take prominent parts in the Republic.[16] From these and other references one can reconstruct his family tree, and this suggests a considerable amount of family pride. 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".[17]

Name

According to Diogenes Laërtius, the philosopher was named Aristocles after his grandfather, but his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, dubbed him "Platon", meaning "broad," on account of his robust figure.[18] According to the sources mentioned by Diogenes (all dating from the Alexandrian period), Plato derived his name from the breadth (platytês) of his eloquence, or else because he was very wide (platýs) across the forehead.[19] In the 21st century some scholars disputed Diogenes, and argued that the legend about his name being Aristocles originated in the Hellenistic age.[c]

Education

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".[20] Plato must have been instructed in grammar, music, and gymnastics by the most distinguished teachers of his time.[21] Dicaearchus went so far as to say that Plato wrestled at the Isthmian games.[22] Plato had also attended courses of philosophy; before meeting Socrates, he first became acquainted with Cratylus (a disciple of Heraclitus, a prominent pre-Socratic Greek philosopher) and the Heraclitean doctrines.[23]

Later life

Plato may have traveled in Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Cyrene.[24] 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.[25] The Academy was "a large enclosure of ground which was once the property of a citizen at Athens named Academus... some, however, say that it received its name from an ancient hero",[26] and it operated until AD 529, when it was closed by Justinian I of Byzantium, who saw it as a threat to the propagation of Christianity. Many intellectuals were schooled in the Academy, the most prominent one being Aristotle.[27]

Throughout his later life, Plato became entangled with the politics of Syracuse. According to Diogenes Laertius, Plato initially visited Syracuse while it was under the rule of Dionysus. During this first trip Dionysus's brother-in-law, Dion of Syracuse, became one of Plato's disciples, but the tyrant himself turned against Plato. Plato was sold into slavery and almost faced death in Cyrene, a city at war with Athens, before an admirer bought Plato's freedom and sent him home. After Dionysius's death, according to Plato's Seventh Letter, Dion requested Plato return to Syracuse to tutor Dionysus II and guide him to become a philosopher king. Dionysius II seemed to accept Plato's teachings, but he became suspicious of Dion, his uncle. Dionysus expelled Dion and kept Plato against his will. Eventually Plato left Syracuse. Dion would return to overthrow Dionysus and ruled Syracuse for a short time before being usurped by Calippus, a fellow disciple of Plato.

Plato and Socrates

Plato and Socrates in a medieval depiction

Plato makes it clear, especially in his Apology of Socrates, that he was one of Socrates' devoted young followers. In that dialogue, 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 (33d-34a). 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 (38b). 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" (Phaedo 59b).

The relationship between Plato and Socrates is problematic, however. Aristotle, for example, attributes a different doctrine with respect to the ideas to Plato and Socrates (Metaphysics 987b1–11), but Plato never speaks in his own voice in his dialogues. 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" (341c); if the Letter is Plato's, the final qualification seems to call into question the dialogues' historical fidelity. In any case, Xenophon and Aristophanes seem to present a somewhat different portrait of Socrates than Plato paints. Some have called attention to the problem of taking Plato's Socrates to be his mouthpiece, given Socrates' reputation for irony.[28]

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

Philosophy

Recurrent themes

Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds his Timaeus and gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms

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. A boy in ancient Athens was socially located by his family identity, and Plato often refers to his characters in terms of their paternal and fraternal relationships. Socrates was not a family man, and saw himself as the son of his mother, who was apparently a midwife. 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. Crito reminds Socrates that orphans are at the mercy of chance, but Socrates is unconcerned. In the Theaetetus, he is found recruiting as a disciple a young man whose inheritance has been squandered. Socrates twice compares the relationship of the older man and his boy lover to the father-son relationship (Lysis 213a, Republic 3.403b), 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. Many dialogues, like these, suggest that man-boy love (which is "spiritual") is a wise man's substitute for father-son biology (which is "bodily").

In several dialogues, Socrates floats the idea that Knowledge is a matter of recollection, and not of learning, observation, or study.[29] He maintains this view somewhat at his own expense, because in many dialogues, Socrates complains of his forgetfulness. Socrates is often found arguing that knowledge is not empirical, and that it comes from divine insight. In many middle period dialogues, such as the Phaedo, Republic and Phaedrus Plato advocates a belief in the immortality of the soul, and several dialogues end with long speeches imagining the afterlife. More than one dialogue contrasts knowledge and opinion, perception and reality, nature and custom, and body and soul.

Several dialogues tackle questions about art: Socrates says that poetry is inspired by the muses, and is not rational. He speaks approvingly of this, and other forms of divine madness (drunkenness, eroticism, and dreaming) in the Phaedrus (265a–c), and yet in the Republic wants to outlaw Homer's great poetry, and laughter as well. In Ion, Socrates gives no hint of the disapproval of Homer that he expresses in the Republic. 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.

On politics and art, religion and science, justice and medicine, virtue and vice, crime and punishment, pleasure and pain, rhetoric and rhapsody, human nature and sexuality, love and wisdom, Socrates and his company of disputants had something to say.

Metaphysics

"Platonism" is a term coined by scholars to refer to the intellectual consequences of denying, as Socrates often does, the reality of the material world. In several dialogues, most notably the Republic, Socrates inverts the common man's intuition about what is knowable and what is real. 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. In the Theaetetus, he says such people are "eu a-mousoi", an expression that means literally, "happily without the muses" (Theaetetus 156a). In other words, such people live without the divine inspiration that gives him, and people like him, access to higher insights about reality.

Socrates's idea that reality is unavailable to those who use their senses is what puts him at odds with the common man, and with common sense. Socrates says that he who sees with his eyes is blind, and this idea is most famously captured in his allegory of the cave, and more explicitly in his description of the divided line. The allegory of the cave (begins Republic 7.514a) 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.

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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

The allegory of the cave (often said by scholars to represent Plato's own epistemology and metaphysics) is intimately connected to his political ideology (often said to also be Plato's own), that only people who have climbed out of the cave and cast their eyes on a vision of goodness are fit to rule. Socrates claims that the enlightened men of society must be forced from their divine contemplations and compelled to run the city according to their lofty insights. 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. 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.

The word metaphysics derives from the fact that Aristotle's musings about divine reality came after ("meta") his lecture notes on his treatise on nature ("physics"). The term is in fact applied to Aristotle's own teacher, and Plato's "metaphysics" is understood as Socrates' division of reality into the warring and irreconcilable domains of the material and the spiritual. The theory has been of incalculable influence in the history of Western philosophy and religion.

Theory of Forms

The Theory of Forms typically refers to Plato's belief that the material world as it seems to us is not the real world, but only a shadow of the real world. Plato spoke of forms in formulating his solution to the problem of universals. The forms, according to Plato, are roughly speaking archetypes or abstract representations of the many types and properties (that is, of universals) of things we see all around us.

Epistemology

Many have interpreted Plato as stating that knowledge is justified true belief, an influential view which informed future developments in modern analytic epistemology. This interpretation is based on a reading of the Theaetetus wherein Plato argues that belief is to be distinguished from knowledge on account of justification. Many years later, Edmund Gettier famously demonstrated the problems of the justified true belief account of knowledge. This interpretation, however, imports modern analytic and empiricist categories onto Plato himself and is better read on its own terms than as Plato's view.

Really, in 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). More explicitly, Plato himself argues in the Timaeus that knowledge is always proportionate to the realm from which it is gained. 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. And opinions are characterized by a lack of necessity and stability. 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. It is only in this sense that Plato uses the term "knowledge."

In the Meno, Socrates uses a geometrical example to expound Plato's view that knowledge in this latter sense is acquired by recollection. 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 knowledge must be present, Socrates concludes, in an eternal, non-experiential form.

The State

Papirus Oxyrhynchus, with fragment of Plato's Republic

Plato's philosophical views had many societal implications, especially on the idea of an ideal state or government. There is some discrepancy between his early and later views. Some of the most famous doctrines are contained in the Republic during his middle period, as well as in the Laws and the Statesman. However, because Plato wrote dialogues, it is assumed that Socrates is often speaking for Plato. This assumption may not be true in all cases.

Plato, through the words of Socrates, asserts that societies have a tripartite class structure corresponding to the appetite/spirit/reason structure of the individual soul. The appetite/spirit/reason stand for different parts of the body. The body parts symbolize the castes of society.[30]

  • Productive Which represents the abdomen. (Workers) — the labourers, carpenters, plumbers, masons, merchants, farmers, ranchers, etc. These correspond to the "appetite" part of the soul.
  • Protective Which represents the chest. (Warriors or Guardians) — those who are adventurous, strong and brave; in the armed forces. These correspond to the "spirit" part of the soul.
  • Governing Which represents the head. (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.

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. Instead of rhetoric and persuasion, Plato says reason and wisdom should govern. As Plato puts it:

"Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophise, 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." (Republic 473c-d)
Plato in his academy, drawing after a painting by Swedish painter Carl Johan Wahlbom

Plato describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" (Republic 475c) and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine. According to him, sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. A large part of the Republic then addresses how the educational system should be set up to produce these philosopher kings.

However, it must be taken into account that the ideal city outlined in the Republic is qualified by Socrates as the ideal luxurious city, examined to determine how it is that injustice and justice grow in a city (Republic 372e). According to Socrates, the "true" and "healthy" city is instead the one first outlined in book II of the Republic, 369c–372d, containing farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and wage-earners, but lacking the guardian class of philosopher-kings as well as delicacies such as "perfumed oils, incense, prostitutes, and pastries", in addition to paintings, gold, ivory, couches, a multitude of occupations such as poets and hunters, and war.

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. 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. The ideal city is not promoted, but only used to magnify the different kinds of individual humans and the state of their soul. However, the philosopher king image was used by many after Plato to justify their personal political beliefs. The philosophic soul according to Socrates has reason, will, and desires united in virtuous harmony. A philosopher has the moderate love for wisdom and the courage to act according to wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge about the Good or the right relations between all that exists.

Wherein it concerns states and rulers, Plato has made interesting arguments. For instance he asks which is better - a bad democracy or a country reigned by a tyrant. He argues that it is better to be ruled by a bad tyrant, than be a bad democracy (since here all the people are now responsible for such actions, rather than one individual committing many bad deeds.) This is emphasised within the Republic as Plato describes the event of mutiny onboard a ship.[31] Plato suggests the ships crew to be in line with the democratic rule of many and the captain, although inhibited through ailments, the tyrant. Plato's description of this event is parallel to that of democracy within the state and the inherent problems that arise.

According to Plato, a state which is made up of different kinds of souls, will overall decline from an aristocracy (rule by the best) to a timocracy (rule by the honorable), 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)[citation needed].

Unwritten Doctrine

For a long time Plato's unwritten doctrine[32][33][34] had been considered unworthy of attention. Most of the books on Plato seem to diminish its importance. Nevertheless the first important witness who mentions its existence is Aristotle, who in his Physics (209 b) 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 teaching (ἄγραφα δόγματα)." The term ἄγραφα δόγματα literally means unwritten doctrine and it stands for the most fundamental metaphysical teaching of Plato which he disclosed only to his most trusted fellows and kept secret from the public.

The reason for not revealing it to everyone is partially discussed in Phaedrus (276 c) where Plato criticizes the written transmission of knowledge as faulty, favoring 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." The same argument is repeated in Plato's Seventh Letter (344 c): "every serious man in dealing with really serious subjects carefully avoids writing." In the same letter he writes (341 c): "I can certainly declare concerning all these writers who claim to know the subjects which I seriously study ... there does not exist, nor will there ever exist, any treatise of mine dealing therewith." Such secrecy is necessary in order not "to expose them to unseemly and degrading treatment" (344 d).

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. The content of this lecture has been transmitted by several witnesses, among others Aristoxenus who describes the event in the following words: "Each came expecting to learn something about the things which are generally considered good for men, such as wealth, good health, physical strength, and altogether a kind of wonderful happiness. 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." 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) ... one might also learn this from Speusippus and Xenocrates and the others who were present at Plato's lecture on the Good"

Their account is in full agreement with Aristotle's description of Plato's metaphysical doctrine. 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. 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" (987 b). "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. 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). Further, he assigned to these two elements respectively the causation of good and of evil" (988 a).

The most important aspect of this interpretation of Plato's metaphysics is the continuity between his teaching and the neoplatonic interpretation of Plotinus[35] or Ficino[36] which has been considered erroneous by many but may in fact have been directly influenced by oral transmission of Plato's doctrine. The first 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.[37] All the sources related to the ἄγραφα δόγματα have been collected by Konrad Gaiser and published as Testimonia Platonica.[38] These sources have subsequently been interpreted by scholars from the German Tübingen School such as Hans Joachim Krämer or Thomas A. Szlezák.[39]

Works

Platon-2b.jpg
Part of the series on:
The Dialogues of Plato
Early dialogues:
ApologyCharmidesCrito
EuthyphroFirst Alcibiades
Hippias MajorHippias Minor
IonLachesLysis
Transitional & middle dialogues:
CratylusEuthydemusGorgias
MenexenusMenoPhaedo
ProtagorasSymposium
Later middle dialogues:
RepublicPhaedrus
ParmenidesTheaetetus
Late dialogues:
ClitophonTimaeusCritias
SophistStatesman
PhilebusLaws
Of Doubtful Authenticity:
AxiochusDemodocus
EpinomisEpistlesEryxias
HalcyonHipparchus
MinosRival Lovers
Second AlcibiadesSisyphus
Theages
Plato's The Republic, Latin edition cover, 1713

Thirty-five dialogues and thirteen letters have traditionally been ascribed to Plato, though modern scholarship doubts the authenticity of at least some of these. Plato's writings have been published in several fashions; this has led to several conventions regarding the naming and referencing of Plato's texts.

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. An overview of Plato's writings according to this system can be found in the Stephanus pagination article.

One tradition regarding the arrangement of Plato's texts is according to tetralogies. This scheme is ascribed by Diogenes Laertius to an ancient scholar and court astrologer to Tiberius named Thrasyllus.

In the list below, works by Plato are marked (1) if there is no consensus among scholars as to whether Plato is the author, and (2) if scholars generally agree that Plato is not the author of the work. Unmarked works are assumed to have been written by Plato.

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

Plato's Dialogues

The exact order in which Plato's dialogues were written is not known, nor is the extent to which some might have been later revised and rewritten.

Lewis Campbell was the first[40] to make exhaustive use of stylometry to prove objectively 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[41] that the Laws was written after the Republic; cf. Diogenes Laertius Lives 3.37). 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.[42]

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,[43] though Plato's works are still often characterized as falling at least roughly into three groups.[44] The following represents one such division which is relatively common.[45] 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.

Early dialogues

Socrates figures in all of these, and they are considered the most faithful representations of the historical Socrates; hence they are also called the "Socratic dialogues." Most of them consist of Socrates discussing a subject, often an ethical one (friendship, piety) with a friend or with someone presumed to be an expert on it. Through a series of questions he will show that apparently they do not understand it at all. It is left to the reader to figure out if "he" really understands "it". This makes these dialogues "indirect" teachings.

The following are often considered "transitional" or "pre-middle" dialogues:

Middle dialogues

Late in the early dialogues Plato's Socrates actually begins supplying answers to some of the questions he asks, or putting forth positive doctrines. This is generally seen as the first appearance of Plato's own views. The first of these, that goodness is wisdom and that no one does evil willingly, was perhaps Socrates' own view. What becomes most prominent in the middle dialogues is the idea that knowledge comes of grasping unchanging forms or essences, paired with the attempts to investigate such essences. The immortality of the soul, and specific doctrines about justice, truth, and beauty, begin appearing here. The Symposium and the Republic are considered the centerpieces of Plato's middle period. The Parmenides and Theaetetus are often considered to come late in this period and transitional to the next, as they seem to treat the Theory of Forms critically (Parmenides) or not at all (Theaetetus).

Late dialogues

Latin incunabulum of Plato's Timaeus, 1491

The Parmenides presents a series of criticisms of the theory of Forms which are widely taken to indicate Plato's abandonment of the doctrine. Some recent publications (e.g., Meinwald (1991)) have challenged this characterisation. In most of the remaining dialogues the theory is either absent or at least appears under a different guise in discussions about kinds or classes of things (the Timaeus may be an important, and hence controversially placed, exception). Socrates is either absent or a minor figure in the discussion. An apparently new method for doing dialectic known as "collection and division" is also featured, most notably in the Sophist and Statesman, explicitly for the first time in the Phaedrus, and possibly in the Philebus. A basic description of collection and division would go as follows: interlocutors attempt to discern the similarities and differences among things in order to get clear idea about what they in fact are. One understanding, suggested in some passages of the Sophist, is that this is what philosophy is always in the business of doing, and is doing even in the early dialogues.

The late dialogues are also an important place to look for Plato's mature thought on most of the issues dealt with in the earlier dialogues. There is much work still to be done by scholars on the working out of what these views are. The later works are agreed to be difficult and challenging pieces of philosophy. On the whole they are more sober and logical than earlier works, but may hold out the promise of steps towards a solution to problems which were systematically laid out in prior works.

Narration of the dialogues

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. 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). 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.

The three dialogues, Phaedo, Symposium, and Theaetetus, also begin in dramatic form but then proceed to virtually uninterrupted narration by followers of Socrates, and all, apparently, based on their distant memory or secondhand reports. Phaedo, an account of Socrates' final conversation and hemlock drinking, is narrated by Phaedo to Echecrates in a foreign city many years after the execution took place. The Symposium is narrated by Apollodorus, a Socratic disciple, apparently to Glaucon. 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. In the beginning of the Theaetetus (142c-143b), Euclides says that he compiled the conversation from notes he took based on what Socrates told him of his conversation with the title character. The rest of the Theaetetus is presented as a "book" written in dramatic form and read by one of Euclides' slaves (143c). Some scholars take this as an indication that Plato had by this date wearied of the narrated form.[46] With the exception of the Theaetetus, Plato gives no explicit indication as to how these orally transmitted conversations came to be written down.

Trial of Socrates

The trial of Socrates is the central, unifying event of the great Platonic dialogues. Because of this, Plato's Apology is perhaps the most often read of the dialogues. In the Apology, Socrates tries to dismiss rumors that he is a sophist and defends himself against charges of disbelief in the gods and corruption of the young. Socrates insists that long-standing slander will be the real cause of his demise, and says the legal charges are essentially false. Socrates famously denies being wise, and explains how his life as a philosopher was launched by the Oracle at Delphi. 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.

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. Five dialogues foreshadow the trial: In the Theaetetus (210d) and the Euthyphro (2a–b) Socrates tells people that he is about to face corruption charges. In the Meno (94e–95a), 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. 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 (521e–522a). In the Republic (7.517e), Socrates explains why an enlightened man (presumably himself) will stumble in a courtroom situation. The Apology is Socrates' defense speech, and the Crito and Phaedo take place in prison after the conviction. 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.

Unity and Diversity of the Dialogues

Two other important dialogues, the Symposium and the Phaedrus, are linked to the main storyline by characters. In the Apology (19b, c), Socrates says Aristophanes slandered him in a comic play, and blames him for causing his bad reputation, and ultimately, his death. In the Symposium, the two of them are drinking together with other friends. 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. Charmides and his guardian Critias are present for the discussion in the Protagoras. Examples of characters crossing between dialogues can be further multiplied. The Protagoras contains the largest gathering of Socratic associates.

In the dialogues for which Plato is most celebrated and admired, Socrates is concerned with human and political virtue, has a distinctive personality, and friends and enemies who "travel" with him from dialogue to dialogue. 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. For example, Socrates praises the wisdom of Euthyphro many times in the Cratylus, but makes him look like a fool in the Euthyphro. 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. However, Socrates tells Theaetetus in his namesake dialogue that he admires Prodicus and has directed many pupils to him. Socrates' ideas are also not consistent within or between or among dialogues.

Platonic Scholarship

"The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." (Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, 1929).

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

The Medieval scholastic philosophers did not have access to the works of Plato, nor the knowledge of Greek needed to read them. Plato's original writings were essentially lost to Western civilization until they were brought from Constantinople in the century of its fall, by George Gemistos Plethon. 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.[citation needed] Medieval scholars knew of Plato only through translations into Latin from the translations into Arabic by Persian and Arab scholars. These scholars not only translated the texts of the ancients, but expanded them by writing extensive commentaries and interpretations on Plato's and Aristotle's works (see Al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes).

Only in the Renaissance, with the general resurgence of interest in classical civilization, did knowledge of Plato's philosophy become widespread again in the West. 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 de Medici, saw Plato's philosophy as the basis for progress in the arts and sciences. By the 19th century, Plato's reputation was restored, and at least on par with Aristotle's.

Notable Western philosophers have continued to draw upon Plato's work since that time. Plato's influence has been especially strong in mathematics and the sciences. He helped to distinguish between pure and applied mathematics by widening the gap between "arithmetic", now called Number Theory and "logistic", now called arithmetic. He regarded logistic as appropriate for business men and men of war who "must learn the art of numbers or he will not know how to array his troops," while arithmetic was appropriate for philosophers "because he has to arise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being."[47] 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; the last of these summarised his approach by reversing the customary paraphrase of Aristotle's famous declaration of sedition from the Academy (Nicomachean Ethics 1096a15), from Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas ("Plato is a friend, but truth is a greater friend") to Inimicus Plato sed magis inimica falsitas ("Plato is an enemy, but falsehood is a greater enemy"). Albert Einstein drew on Plato's understanding of an immutable reality that underlies the flux of appearances for his objections to the probabilistic picture of the physical universe propounded by Niels Bohr in his interpretation of quantum mechanics.[citation needed] Conversely, thinkers that diverged from ontological models and moral ideals in their own philosophy, have tended to disparage Platonism from more or less informed perspectives. Thus Friedrich Nietzsche attacked Plato's moral and political theories, Martin Heidegger argued against Plato's alleged obfuscation of Being, and Karl Popper argued in The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) that Plato's alleged proposal for a government system in the Republic was prototypically totalitarian. 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. 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 thinkers acknowledge as 'the crisis of the West.'

Text history

The oldest surviving manuscript for about half of Plato's dialogues is the Clarke Plato (MS. E. D. Clarke 39), which was written in Constantinople in 895 and acquired by the Oxford University in 1809.[48]

Criticism

Friedrich Nietzsche set himself in direct opposition to Socrates and Plato, regarding Plato especially as the fundamental source of nihilism in the West.

Carl Sagan said of Plato: "Science and mathematics were to be removed from the hands of the merchants and the artisans. This tendency found its most effective advocate in a follower of Pythagoras named Plato." and: "He (Plato) believed that ideas were far more real than the natural world. He advised the astronomers not to waste their time observing the stars and planets. It was better, he believed, just to think about them. Plato expressed hostility to observation and experiment. He taught contempt for the real world and disdain for the practical application of scientific knowledge. Plato's followers succeeded in extinguishing the light of science and experiment that had been kindled by Democritus and the other Ionians."[49]

See also

Notes

a. ^ The grammarian Apollodorus argues in his Chronicles that Plato was born in the first year of the eighty-eighth Olympiad (427 BC), on the seventh day of the month Thargelion; according to this tradition the god Apollo was born this day.[50] According to another biographer of him, Neanthes, Plato was eighty-four years of age at his death.[50] If we accept Neanthes' version, Plato was younger than Isocrates by six years, and therefore he was born in the second year of the 87th Olympiad, the year Pericles died (429 BC).[51] According to the Suda, Plato was born in Aegina in the 88th Olympiad amid the preliminaries of the Peloponnesian war, and he lived 82 years.[52] Sir Thomas Browne also believes that Plato was born in the 88th Olympiad.[53] Renaissance Platonists celebrated Plato's birth on November 7.[54] Wilamowitz-Moellendorff estimates that Plato was born when Diotimos was archon eponymous, namely between July 29 428 BC and July 24 427 BC.[55] Greek philologist Ioannis Kalitsounakis believes that the philosopher was born on May 26 or 27 427 BC, while Jonathan Barnes regards 428 BC as year of Plato's birth.[56] For her part, Debra Nails asserts that the philosopher was born in 424/423 BC.[54]

b. ^ Diogenes Laertius mentions that Plato "was born, according to some writers, in Aegina in the house of Phidiades the son of Thales". Diogenes mentions as one of his sources the Universal History of Favorinus. According to Favorinus, Ariston, Plato's family, and his family were sent by Athens to settle as cleruchs (colonists retaining their Athenian citizenship), on the island of Aegina, from which they were expelled by the Spartans after Plato's birth there.[57] Nails points out, however, that there is no record of any Spartan expulsion of Athenians from Aegina between 431-411 BC.[58] On the other hand, at the Peace of Nicias, Aegina was silently left under Athens' control, and it was not until the summer of 411 that the Spartans overran the island.[59] Therefore, Nails concludes that "perhaps Ariston was a cleruch, perhaps he went to Aegina in 431, and perhaps Plato was born on Aegina, but none of this enables a precise dating of Ariston's death (or Plato's birth).[58] Aegina is regarded as Plato's place of birth by Suda as well.[52]

c. ^ Plato was a common name, of which 31 instances are known at Athens alone.[60]

Footnotes

  1. ^ St-Andrews.ac.uk, St. Andrews University
  2. ^ Diogenes Laertius 3.4; p. 21, David Sedley, Plato's Cratylus, Cambridge University Press 2003
  3. ^ "Plato". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2002. 
  4. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, III
    * D. Nails, "Ariston", 53
    * U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Plato, 46
  5. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, I
  6. ^ a b W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy', IV, 10
    * A.E. Taylor, Plato, xiv
    * U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Plato, 47
  7. ^ Plato, Republic, 2.368a
    * U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Plato, 47
  8. ^ Xenophon, Memorabilia, 3.6.1
  9. ^ Apuleius, De Dogmate Platonis, 1
    * Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, I
    "Plato". Suda. 
  10. ^ Cicero, De Divinatione, I, 36
  11. ^ D. Nails, "Ariston", 53
    * A.E. Taylor, Plato, xiv
  12. ^ Plato, Charmides, 158a
    * D. Nails, "Perictione", 53
  13. ^ Plato, Charmides, 158a
    * Plutarch, Pericles, IV
  14. ^ Plato, Gorgias, 481d and 513b
    * Aristophanes, Wasps, 97
  15. ^ Plato, Parmenides, 126c
  16. ^ W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, IV, 11
  17. ^ C.H. Kahn, Plato and the Socratic Dialogue, 186
  18. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, IV
  19. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, IV
    * A. Notopoulos, The Name of Plato, 135
  20. ^ Apuleius, De Dogmate Platonis, 2
  21. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, IV
    * W. Smith, Plato, 393
  22. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, V
  23. ^ Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1.987a
  24. ^ McEvoy, James (1984). "Plato and The Wisdom of Egypt". Irish Philosophical Journal (Belfast: Dept. of Scholastic Philosophy, Queen's University of Belfast) 1 (2). ISSN 0266-9080. http://poiesis.nlx.com/display.cfm?clientId=0&advquery=toc.sect.ipj.1.2&infobase=postoc.nfo&softpage=GetClient42&view=browse. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  25. ^ Huntington Cairns, Introduction to Plato: The Collected Dialogues, p. xiii.
  26. ^ Robinson, Arch. Graec. I i 16.
  27. ^ "Biography of Aristotle". ClassicNote. GradeSaver LLC. http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/authors/about_aristotle.html. Retrieved 2007-12-03. 
  28. ^ Leo Strauss, The City and Man (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), 50–1.
  29. ^ Baird, Forrest E.; Walter Kaufmann (2008). From Plato to Derrida. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-158591-6. 
  30. ^ Gaarder, Jostein (1996). Sophie's World. New York City: Berkley. pp. 91. 
  31. ^ The Republic; p282
  32. ^ Rodriguez- Grandjean, Pablo. Philosophy and Dialogue: Plato's Unwritten Doctrines from a Hermeneutical Point of View, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, in Boston, Massachusetts from August 10–15, 1998.
  33. ^ Reale, Giovanni, and Catan, John R., A History of Ancient Philosophy, SUNY Press, 1990. ISBN 0791405168. Cf. p.14 and onwards.
  34. ^ Krämer, Hans Joachim, and Catan, John R., Plato and the Foundations of Metaphysics: A Work on the Theory of the Principles and Unwritten Doctrines of Plato with a Collection of the Fundamental Documents, (Translated by John R. Catan), SUNY Press, 1990. ISBN 0791404331, Cf. pp.38-47
  35. ^ 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 rather 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."
  36. ^ 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. Marsilio Ficino, Briefe des Mediceerkreises, Berlin, 1926, p. 147.
  37. ^ H. Gomperz, Plato's System of Philosophy, in: G. Ryle (ed.), Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Philosophy, London 1931, pp. 426-431. Reprinted in: H. Gomperz, Philosophical Studies, Boston, 1953, pp. 119-24.
  38. ^ K. Gaiser, Testimonia Platonica. Le antiche testimonianze sulle dottrine non scritte di Platone, Milan, 1998. First published as Testimonia Platonica. Quellentexte zur Schule und mündlichen Lehre Platons as an appendix to Gaiser's Platons Ungeschriebene Lehre, Stuttgart, 1963.
  39. ^ For a bried description of the problem see for example K. Gaiser, Plato's enigmatic lecture "On the Good", Phronesis 25 (1980), pp. 5-37. A detailed analysis is given by Krämer in his Plato and the Foundations of Metaphysics: A Work on the Theory of the Principles and Unwritten Doctrines of Plato With a Collection of the Fundamental Documents, Albany: SUNY Press, 1990. Another good description is by Giovanni Reale: Toward a New Interpretation of Plato, Washington, D.C.: CUA Press, 1997. Reale summarizes the results of his research in A History of Ancient Philosophy: Plato and Aristotle, Albany: SUNY Press, 1990. However the most complete analysis of the consequences of such an approach is given by Thomas A. Szlezak in his fundamental Reading Plato, New York: Routledge, 1999. Another supporter of this interpretation is the german philosopher Karl Albert, cf. Griechische Religion und platonische Philosophie, Hamburg, 1980 or Einführung in die philosophische Mystik, Darmstadt, 1996. Hans-Georg Gadamer is also sympathetic towards it, cf. J. Grondin, Gadamer and the Tübingen School and Gadamer's 1968 article Plato's Unwritten Dialectic reprinted in his Dialogue and Dialectic. Gadamer's final position on the subject is stated in his introduction to La nuova interpretazione di Platone. Un dialogo tra Hans-Georg Gadamer e la scuola di Tubinga, Milano 1998.
  40. ^ p. 9, John Burnet, Platonism, University of California Press 1928.
  41. ^ 1264b24-27
  42. ^ p. xiv, J. Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works, Hackett 1997.
  43. ^ Richard Kraut, "Plato", Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 24 June 2008; Malcolm Schofield (1998, 2002), "Plato", in E. Craig (Ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Routledge.com, accessed 24 June 2008; Christopher Rowe, "Interpreting Plato", in H. Benson (ed.), A Companion to Plato, Blackwell 2006.
  44. ^ T. Brickhouse & N. Smith, "Plato", The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, accessed 24 June 2008.
  45. ^ See W. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. 4, Cambridge University Press 1975; G. Vlastos, Socrates: Ironist and Moral Philosopher, Cambridge University Press 1991; T. Penner, "Socrates and the Early Dialogues", in R. Kraut (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato, Cambridge University Press 1992; C. Kahn, Plato and the Socratic Dialogue, Cambridge University Press 1996; G. Fine, Plato 2: Ethics, Politics, Religion, and the Soul, Oxford University Press 1999.
  46. ^ sect. 177, J. Burnet, Greek Philosophy, MacMillan 1950.
  47. ^ Boyer, Carl B. (1991). "The age of Plato and Aristotle". A History of Mathematics (Second ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.. pp. 86. ISBN 0471543977. "Plato is important in the history of mathematics largely for his role as inspirer and director of others, and perhaps to him is due the sharp distinction in ancient Greece between arithmetic (in the sense of the theory of numbers) and logistic (the technique of computation). Plato regarded logistic as appropriate for the businessman and for the man of war, who "must learn the art of numbers or he will not know how to array his troops." The philosopher, on the other hand, must be an arithmetician "because he has to arise out of the sea of change and lay hold of true being."" 
  48. ^ Manuscripts - Philosophy Faculty Library
  49. ^ Cosmos, "The Backbone of Night", episode 7
  50. ^ a b Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, II
  51. ^ F.W. Nietzsche, Werke, 32
  52. ^ a b "Plato". Suda. 
  53. ^ T. Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, XII
  54. ^ a b D. Nails, The Life of Plato of Athens, 1
  55. ^ U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Plato, 46
  56. ^ "Plato". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2002.  | birth_place = *"Plato". Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios Volume V (in Greek). 1952. 
  57. ^ Diogenes Laertius, Life of Plato, III
  58. ^ a b D. Nails, "Ariston", 54
  59. ^ Thucydides, 5.18 | birth_place = * Thucydides, 8.92
  60. ^ W. K. C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, IV, 10
    * L. Tarán, Plato's Alleged Epitaph, 61

References

Primary sources (Greek and Roman)

Secondary sources

  • Browne, Sir Thomas (1646-1672). Pseudodoxia Epidemica. 
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1986). A History of Greek Philosophy: Volume 4, Plato: The Man and His Dialogues: Earlier Period. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-31101-2. 
  • Kahn, Charles H. (2004). "The Framework". Plato and the socratic dialogue: The Philosophical Use of a Literary Form. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-64830-0. 
  • Nails, Debra (2006). "The Life of Plato of Athens". A Companion to Plato edited by Hugh H. Benson. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1-405-11521-1. 
  • Nails, Debra (2002). "Ariston/Perictione". The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics. Hackett Publishing. ISBN 0-872-20564-9. 
  • Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm (1967). "Vorlesungsaufzeichnungen". Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (in German). Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-110-13912-X. 
  • Notopoulos, A. (April 1939). "The Name of Plato". Classical Philology (The University of Chicago Press) 34 (2): 135–145. doi:10.1086/362227. 
  • "Plato". Encyclopaedia Britannica. 2002. 
  • "Plato". Encyclopaedic Dictionary The Helios Volume XVI (in Greek). 1952. 
  • "Plato". Suda. 10th century. 
  • Smith, William (1870). "Plato". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. http://www.ancientlibrary.com/smith-bio/2725.html. 
  • Tarán, Leonardo (2001). Collected Papers 1962-1999. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9-004-12304-0.. 
  • Taylor, Alfred Edward (2001). Plato: The Man and his Work. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-41605-4. 
  • Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Ulrich von (2005 (first edition 1917)). Plato: his Life and Work (translated in Greek by Xenophon Armyros. Kaktos. ISBN 960-382-664-2. 

Further reading

  • Allen, R.E. (2006). Studies in Plato's Metaphysics II. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-18-6
  • Ambuel, David (2006). Image and Paradigm in Plato's Sophist. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-004-9
  • Bakalis, Nikolaos (2005). Handbook of Greek Philosophy: From Thales to the Stoics Analysis and Fragments, Trafford Publishing ISBN 1-4120-4843-5
  • Barrow, Robin (2007). Plato: Continuum Library of Educational Thought. Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-8408-5. 
  • Cadame, Claude (1999). Indigenous and Modern Perspectives on Tribal Initiation Rites: Education According to Plato, pp. 278–312, in Padilla, Mark William (editor), "Rites of Passage in Ancient Greece: Literature, Religion, Society", Bucknell University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8387-5418-X
  • Cooper, John M. & Hutchinson, D. S. (Eds.) (1997). Plato: Complete Works. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. ISBN 0-87220-349-2. 
  • Corlett, J. Angelo (2005). Interpreting Plato's Dialogues. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-02-5
  • Durant, Will (1926). The Story of Philosophy. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-671-69500-2. 
  • Derrida, Jacques (1972). La dissémination, Paris: Seuil. (esp. cap.: La Pharmacie de Platon, 69-199) ISBN 2-02-001958-2
  • Field, G.C. (Guy Cromwell) (1969). The Philosophy of Plato (2nd ed. with an appendix by R. C. Cross. ed.). London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198880405. 
  • Fine, Gail (2000). Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN 0-19-875206-7
  • Garvey, James (2006,). Twenty Greatest Philosophy Books. Continuum. ISBN 0826490530. 
  • Guthrie, W. K. C. (1986). A History of Greek Philosophy (Plato - The Man & His Dialogues - Earlier Period), Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-31101-2
  • Guthrie, W. K. C. (1986). A History of Greek Philosophy (Later Plato & the Academy) Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-31102-0
  • Havelock, Eric (2005). Preface to Plato (History of the Greek Mind), Belknap Press, ISBN 0-674-69906-8
  • Hamilton, Edith & Cairns, Huntington (Eds.) (1961). The Collected Dialogues of Plato, Including the Letters. Princeton Univ. Press. ISBN 0-691-09718-6. 
  • Irwin, Terence (1995). Plato's Ethics, Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN 0-19-508645-7
  • Jackson, Roy (2001). Plato: A Beginner's Guide. London: Hoder & Stroughton. ISBN 0-340-80385-1. 
  • Kochin, Michael S. (2002). Gender and Rhetoric in Plato’s Political Thought. Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 0-521-80852-9. 
  • Kraut, Richard (Ed.) (1993). The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-43610-9. 
  • Krämer, Hans Joachim (1990). Plato and the Foundations of Metaphysics. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-791-40433-1. 
  • Lilar, Suzanne (1954), Journal de l'analogiste, Paris, Éditions Julliard; Reedited 1979, Paris, Grasset. Foreword by Julien Gracq
  • Lilar, Suzanne (1963), Le couple, Paris, Grasset. Translated as Aspects of Love in Western Society in 1965, with a foreword by Jonathan Griffin London, Thames and Hudson.
  • Lilar, Suzanne (1967) A propos de Sartre et de l'amour , Paris, Grasset.
  • Lundberg, Phillip (2005). Tallyho - The Hunt for Virtue: Beauty,Truth and Goodness Nine Dialogues by Plato: Pheadrus, Lysis, Protagoras, Charmides, Parmenides, Gorgias, Theaetetus, Meno & Sophist. Authorhouse. ISBN 1-4184-4977-6. 
  • Melchert, Norman (2002). The Great Conversation: A Historical Introduction to Philosophy. McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-19-517510-7. 
  • Meinwald, Constance Chu (1991). Plato's Parmenides. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506445-3. 
  • Miller, Mitchell (2004). The Philosopher in Plato's Statesman. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-16-2
  • Mohr, Richard D. (2006). God and Forms in Plato - and other Essays in Plato's Metaphysics. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-01-8
  • Moore, Edward (2007). Plato. Philosophy Insights Series. Tirril, Humanities-Ebooks. ISBN 978-1-84760-047-9
  • Nightingale, Andrea Wilson. (1995). "Genres in Dialogue: Plato and the Construct of Philosophy", Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052148264X
  • Reale, Giovanni (1990). A History of Ancient Philosophy: Plato and Aristotle. SUNY Press. ISBN 0-791-40516-8. 
  • Reale, Giovanni (1997). Toward a New Interpretation of Plato. CUA Press. ISBN 0-813-20847-5. 
  • Sallis, John (1996). Being and Logos: Reading the Platonic Dialogues. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21071-2. 
  • Sallis, John (1999). Chorology: On Beginning in Plato's "Timaeus". Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21308-8. 
  • Sayre, Kenneth M. (2006). Plato's Late Ontology: A Riddle Resolved. Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-09-4
  • Seung, T. K. (1996). Plato Rediscovered: Human Value and Social Order. Rowman and Littlefield. ISBN 0847681122
  • Szlezak, Thomas A. (1999). Reading Plato. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-18984-5. 
  • Taylor, A. E. (2001). Plato: The Man and His Work, Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-41605-4
  • Vlastos, Gregory (1981). Platonic Studies, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-10021-7
  • Vlastos, Gregory (2006). Plato's Universe - with a new Introducution by Luc Brisson, Parmenides Publishing. ISBN 978-1-930972-13-1
  • Zuckert, Catherine (2009). Plato's Philosophers: The Coherence of the Dialogues, The University of Chicago Press, ISBN 9780226993355
  • Oxford University Press publishes scholarly editions of Plato's Greek texts in the Oxford Classical Texts series, and some translations in the Clarendon Plato Series.
  • Harvard University Press publishes the hardbound series Loeb Classical Library, containing Plato's works in Greek, with English translations on facing pages.
  • Thomas Taylor has translated Plato's complete works.
  • Smith, William. (1867 — original). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. University of Michigan/Online version. 
  • Aspects of antiquity: Discoveries and Controversies by M.I. Finley, issued 1969 by The Viking Press, Inc.
  • Interpreting Plato: The Dialogues as Drama by James A. Arieti, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-8476-7662-5

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The beginning is the most important part of the work.
Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils...

Plato [Πλάτων; Plátōn] (c. 427 BC – c. 347 BC) was an immensely influential classical Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens.

Contents

Menexenus

Let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors, or from cowardice fall behind.
  • Let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors, or from cowardice fall behind. Even as I exhort you this day, and in all future time, whenever I meet with any of you, shall continue to remind and exhort you, O ye sons of heroes, that you strive to be the bravest of men. And I think that I ought now to repeat what your fathers desired to have said to you who are their survivors, when they went out to battle, in case anything happened to them. I will tell you what I heard them say, and what, if they had only speech, they would fain be saying, judging from what they then said. And you must imagine that you hear them saying what I now repeat to you:

    Sons, the event proves that your fathers were brave men; for we might have lived dishonourably, but have preferred to die honourably rather than bring you and your children into disgrace, and rather than dishonour our own fathers and forefathers; considering that life is not life to one who is a dishonour to his race, and that to such a one neither men nor Gods are friendly, either while he is on the earth or after death in the world below.
    Remember our words, then, and whatever is your aim let virtue be the condition of the attainment of your aim, and know that without this all possessions and pursuits are dishonourable and evil.
    For neither does wealth bring honour to the owner, if he be a coward; of such a one the wealth belongs to another, and not to himself. Nor does beauty and strength of body, when dwelling in a base and cowardly man, appear comely, but the reverse of comely, making the possessor more conspicuous, and manifesting forth his cowardice.
    And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.
    And we shall most likely be defeated, and you will most likely be victors in the contest, if you learn so to order your lives as not to abuse or waste the reputation of your ancestors, knowing that to a man who has any self-respect, nothing is more dishonourable than to be honoured, not for his own sake, but on account of the reputation of his ancestors.
    The honour of parents is a fair and noble treasure to their posterity, but to have the use of a treasure of wealth and honour, and to leave none to your successors, because you have neither money nor reputation of your own, is alike base and dishonourable.
    And if you follow our precepts you will be received by us as friends, when the hour of destiny brings you hither; but if you neglect our words and are disgraced in your lives, no one will welcome or receive you. This is the message which is to be delivered to our children.

    • A speech of Aspasia, recounted by Socrates, as portrayed in the dialogue.

Gorgias

  • Rhetoric, it seems, is a producer of persuasion for belief, not for instruction in the matter of right and wrong ... And so the rhetorician's business is not to instruct a law court or a public meeting in matters of right and wrong, but only to make them believe.
  • Then the case is the same in all the other arts for the orator and his rhetoric; there is no need to know the truth of the actual matters, but one merely needs to have discovered some device of persuasion which will make one appear to those who do not know to know better than those who know.
  • The orators — and the despots — have the least power in their cities ... since they do nothing that they wish to do, practically speaking, though they do whatever they think to be best.

Critias

  • I shall argue that to seem to speak well of the gods to men is far easier than to speak well of men to men: for the inexperience and utter ignorance of his hearers about any subject is a great assistance to him who has to speak of it, and we know how ignorant we are concerning the gods.
  • All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation.

Phaedrus

Oh dear Pan and all the other Gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside.
  • Oh dear Pan and all the other Gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.
    • Sec. 279 A prayer of Socrates, as portrayed in the dialogue.
  • Friends have all things in common.
    • Sec. 279
  • The eyes which are the windows of the soul.

The Symposium

  • And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.
    • Sec. 211
  • Beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may.
    • Sec. 212

The Apology

An account of the death of Socrates
  • The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • Socrates, Sec. 38
  • Either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. ...Now if death be of such a nature, I say that to die is to gain; for eternity is then only a single night.
    • Socrates, Sec. 40
  • No evil can happen to a good man, neither in life nor after death.
    • Socrates, Sec. 41
  • The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our ways — I to die, and you to live. Which is better God only knows.
    • Socrates, Sec. 42

Phaedo

  • Man is a prisoner who has no right to open the door of his prison and run away... A man should wait, and not take his own life until God summons him.
    • 62
  • Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?
    • 72
  • Will you not allow that I have as much of the spirit of prophecy in me as the swans? For they, when they perceive that they must die, having sung all their life long, do then sing more lustily than ever, rejoicing in the thought that they are going to the god they serve.
    • 85
  • False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.'
    • 91

The Republic

The gods are not magicians who transform themselves; neither do they deceive mankind in any way.

Book I

  • But tell me, this physician of whom you were just speaking, is he a moneymaker, an earner of fees, or a healer of the sick?
    • 340-C
  • When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income.
    • 343-D
  • Mankind censure injustice fearing that they may be the victims of it, and not because they shrink from committing it.
    • 344-C
  • But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule.
    • 347-C
  • The beginning is the most important part of the work.
    • 377-B

Book II

  • And the shoemaker was not allowed by us to be husbandman, or a weaver, a builder — in order that we might have our shoes well made; but to him and to every other worker was assigned one work for which he was by nature fitted, and at that he was to continue working all his life long and at no other; he was not to let opportunities slip, and then he would become a good workman.
    Now nothing can be more important than that the work of a soldier should be well done. But is war an art so easily acquired that a man may be a warrior who is also a husbandman, or shoemaker, or other artisan; although no one in the world would be a good dice or draught player who merely took up the game as a recreation, and had not from his earliest years devoted himself to this and nothing else?
    No tools will make a man a skilled workman, or master of defence, nor be of any use to him who has not learned how to handle them, and has never bestowed any attention upon them. How then will he who takes up a shield or other implement of war become a good fighter all in a day, whether with heavy-armed or any other kind of troops?
    Yes, he [Glaucon] said, the tools which would teach men their own use would be beyond price.
  • Then the first thing will be to establish a censorship of the writers of fiction, and let the censors receive any tale of fiction which is good, and reject the bad; and we will desire mothers and nurses to tell their children the authorized ones only.
  • If we mean our future guardians to regard the habit of quarrelling among themselves as of all things the basest, should any word be said to them of the wars in heaven, and of the plots and fightings of the gods against one another, for they are not true. No, we shall never mention the battles of the giants, or let them be embroidered on garments; and we shall be silent about the innumerable other quarrels of gods and heroes with their friends and relatives. If they would only believe us we would tell them that quarrelling is unholy, and that never up to this time has there been any quarrel between citizens; this is what old men and old women should being by telling children; and when they grow up, the poets also should be told to compose for them in a similar spirit.
  • God is not the author of all things, but of good only.
  • The gods are not magicians who transform themselves; neither do they deceive mankind in any way.

Book III

  • Can any man be courageous who has the fear of death in him?
  • And we must beg Homer and the other poets not to be angry if we strike out these and similar passages, not because they are unpoetical, or unattractive to the popular ear, but because the greater the poetical charm in them, the less are they meant for the ears of boys and men who are meant to be free, and who should fear slavery more than death.
  • A fit of laughter, which has been indulged to excess, almost always produces a violent reaction.
  • Truth should be highly valued; if, as we were saying, a lie is useless to the gods, and useful only as a medicine to men, then the use of such medicines should be restricted to physicians; private individuals have no business with them.
  • Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity — I mean the true simplicity of a rightly and nobly ordered mind and character, not that other simplicity which is only a euphemism for folly.
  • Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul; on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful; and also because he who has received this education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and with a true taste, while he praises and rejoices over and receives into his soul the good, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad, now in the days of his youth, even before he is able to know the reason why; and when reason comes he will recognise and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.
  • When the citizens of a society can see and hear their leaders, then that society should be seen as one.
  • The judge should not be young; he should have learned to know evil, not from his own soul, but from late and long observation of the nature of evil in others: knowledge should be his guide, not personal experience.
    • 409-B
  • Everything that deceives may be said to enchant.
    • 413-C

Book IV

  • Wealth is the parent of luxury and indolence, and poverty of meanness and viciousness, and both of discontent.
    • 422-A
  • The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.
    • 425-B

Book V

  • Do you know, then, of anything practiced by mankind in which the masculine sex does not surpass the female on all these points? Must we make a long story of it by alleging weaving and the watching of pancakes and the boiling pot, whereon the sex plumes itself and wherein its defeat will expose it to most laughter? ... Then there is no pursuit of the administrators of a state that belongs to a woman because she is a woman or to a man because he is a man. But the natural capacities are distributed alike among both creatures, and women naturally share in all pursuits and men in all.... Shall we, then, assign them all to men and nothing to women?
    We shall rather, I take it, say that one woman has the nature of a physician and another not, and one is by nature musical, and another unmusical? ... Can we, then, deny that one woman is naturally athletic and warlike and another unwarlike and averse to gymnastics? ... And again, one a lover, another a hater, of wisdom? And one high-spirited, and the other lacking spirit? ... Then it is likewise true that one woman has the qualities of a guardian and another not. Were not these the natural qualities of the men also whom we selected for guardians?
    • 455-C to 456-A
  • Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils — no, nor the human race, as I believe — and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.
    • 473-C

Book VII

At first he would most easily discern the shadows...
  • And at first he would most easily discern the shadows and, after that, the likenesses or reflections in water of men and other things, and later, the things themselves, and from these he would go on to contemplate the appearances in the heavens and heaven itself, more easily by night, looking at the light of the stars and the moon, than by day the sun and the sun's light.... And so, finally, I suppose, he would be able to look upon the sun itself and see its true nature, not by reflections in water or phantasms of it in an alien setting, but in and by itself in its own place....
    And at this point he would infer and conclude that this it is that provides the seasons and the courses of the year and presides over all things in the visible region, and is in some sort the cause of all these things that they had seen.
    • 516-A to 516-C; This fragment is also translated as:
And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves, then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven.... Last of all he will be able to see the sun.
  • I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.
    • 531-E
  • Bodily exercise, when compulsory, does no harm to the body; but knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
    • 536-E

Book VIII

Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike.
  • Democracy, which is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequaled alike.
    • 558-C
  • Democracy passes into despotism.
    • 562-A
  • The people have always some champion whom they set over them and nurse into greatness. ...This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.
    • 565-C
  • When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
    • 566-E

Book X

  • No human thing is of serious importance.
    • 604-C
  • We are ready to acknowledge that Homer is the greatest of poets and first of tragedy writers; but we must remain firm in our conviction that hymns to the gods and praises of famous men are the only poetry which ought to be admitted into our State. For if you go beyond this and allow the honeyed muse to enter, either in epic or lyric verse, not law and the reason of mankind, which by common consent have ever been deemed best, but pleasure and pain will be the rulers in our State....
    And now since we have reverted to the subject of poetry, let this our defence serve to show the reasonableness of our former judgment in sending away out of our State an art having the tendencies which we have described; for reason constrained us. But that she may impute to us any harshness or want of politeness, let us tell her that there is an ancient quarrel between philosophy and poetry; of which there are many proofs, such as the saying of 'the yelping hound howling at her lord,' or of one 'mighty in the vain talk of fools,' and 'the mob of sages circumventing Zeus,' and the 'subtle thinkers who are beggars after all'; and there are innumerable other signs of ancient enmity between them.
    Notwithstanding this, let us assure our sweet friend and the sister arts of imitation that if she will only prove her title to exist in a well-ordered State we shall be delighted to receive her — we are very conscious of her charms; but we may not on that account betray the truth.
    • 607-B
This fragment is also translated as:
Poetry and philosophy are always hostile to each other.

Unsorted

  • As Themistocles answered Seriphian who was abusing him and saying that he was famous not for his own merits but because he was an Athenian: "If you had been a native of my country or I of yours, neither of us would have been famous."
  • If you can discover a better way of life than office-holding for your future rulers, a well-governed city becomes a possibility. For only in such a state will those rule who are truly rich, not in gold, but in the wealth that makes happiness — a good and wise life.
This fragment is also translated as:
You must contrive for your future rulers another and a better life than that of a ruler, and then you may have a well-ordered State; for only in the State which offers this, will they rule who are truly rich, not in silver and gold, but in virtue and wisdom, which are the true blessings of life.
  • “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.”

Parmenides

  • You cannot conceive the many without the one.
    • 166

Laws

  • The greatest penalty of evildoing is to grow into the likeness of bad men.
    • 728
  • Of all animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.
    • 808
  • You are young, my son, and, as the years go by, time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain therefore awhile from setting yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.
    • 888
  • Not one of them who took up in his youth with this opinion that there are no gods ever continued until old age faithful to his conviction.
    • 888
  • Death is not the worst that can happen to men.
  • Are we assured that there are two things which lead men to believe in the Gods, as we have already stated?
    What are they?
    One is the argument about the soul, which has been already mentioned — that it is the eldest and most divine of all things, to which motion attaining generation gives perpetual existence; the other was an argument from the order of the motion of the stars, and of all things under the dominion of the mind which ordered the universe. If a man look upon the world not lightly or ignorantly, there was never any one so godless who did not experience an effect opposite to that which the many imagine. For they think that those who handle these matters by the help of astronomy, and the accompanying arts of demonstration, may become godless, because they see, as far as they can see, things happening by necessity, and not by an intelligent will accomplishing good.

In Diogenes Laërtius

Cratylus

  • I shall assume that your silence gives consent
    • XLI

Letters

Misattributed

  • Watch a man at play for an hour and you can learn more about him than in talking to him for a year.
    • Attributed to Plato in Confidence : How to Succeed at Being Yourself (1987) by Alan Loy McGinnis, this is probably a paraphrase of a statement which occurs in Letter of Advice to a Young Gentleman Leaving the University Concerning His Behaviour and Conversation in the World (1907) by Richard Lindgard: "Take heed of playing often or deep at Dice and Games of Chance, for that is more chargeable than the seven deadly sins; yet you may allow yourself a certain easie Sum to spend at Play, to gratifie Friends, and pass over the Winter Nights, and that will make you indifferent for the Event. If you would read a man’s Disposition, see him Game; you will then learn more of him in one hour, than in seven Years Conversation, and little Wagers will try him as soon as great Stakes, for then he is off his Guard."
    • Variants:
    • You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
      • Attributed to Plato in "Food Is the Frosting-Company Is the Cake (2007) by Maggie Marshall
    • You learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
    • Attributed to Plato by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, as quoted in "Aspiring philosopher Palin quotes 'Plato'" (9 July 2009)

On Plato

  • Xenophon, too, does not appear to have been very friendlily disposed towards him: and accordingly they have, as if in rivalry of one another, both written books with the same title, the Banquet, the Defence of Socrates, Moral Reminiscences. Then, too, the one wrote the Cyropaedia and the other a book on Politics ; and Plato in his Laws says, that the Cyropaedia is a mere romance, for that Cyrus was not such a person as he is described in that book. And though they both speak so much of Socrates, neither of them ever mentions the other, except that Xenophon once speaks of Plato in the third book of his Reminiscences.
  • What is Plato, but Moses speaking in Attic Greek?
    • Numenius of Apamea
    • Note: The late antique Jewish philosophers considered Plato and Moses, thus Judaism, in concord. Christians inherited this idea and actively learnt Greek philosophers to develop their theoretical thinkings.
  • Amicus Plato — amicus Aristoteles — magis amica veritas
    • Translation: Plato is my friend — Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth.
    • Isaac Newton, "Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae" [Certain Philosophical Questions] (c. 1664)
  • The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
  • With regard to this question modern physics takes a definite stand against the materialism of Democritus and for Plato and the Pythagoreans. The elementary particles are certainly not eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can actually be transformed into each other. ... The elementary particles in Plato's Timaeus are finally not substance but mathematical forms.
  • Plato is the essential Buddha-seeker who appears again and again in each generation, moving onward and upward toward the "one." Aristotle is the eternal motorcycle mechanic who prefers the "many."
  • Friendship in the Greek tradition, in the Roman tradition, in the old tradition, was always viewed as the highest point which virtue can reach. Virtue, meaning here, "the habitual facility of doing the good thing," which is fostered by what the Greeks called politaea, political life, community life. I know it was a political life in which I wouldn't have liked to participate, with the slaves around and with the women excluded, but I still have to go to Plato or to Cicero. They conceived of friendship as a supreme flowering, of the interaction which happens in a good political society.
  • But it's a false argument, because it assumes somehow that government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly was trying to develop?

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

There is more than one meaning of Plato discussed in the 1911 Encyclopedia. We are planning to let all links go to the correct meaning directly, but for now you will have to search it out from the list below by yourself. If you want to change the link that led you here yourself, it would be appreciated.


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also plato

Contents

English

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Wikipedia

Etymology

Via Latin from Ancient Greek Πλάτων (Platōn), from πλατύς (platus), broad, wide), either because of Plato's robust body, or wide forehead or the breadth of his eloquence.

Proper noun

Singular
Plato

Plural
-

Plato

  1. Greek philosopher, 427-347 BC, follower of Socrates.

Derived terms

Translations

Anagrams


Latin

Proper noun

Plato m. (Platonis)

  1. Plato, a Greek philosopher
    Lectitavisse Platonem studiose.
    To have often read Plato zealously.

Derived terms


Wikibooks

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

Contents

Introduction

This is an introduction to the works of Plato. Plato is regarded by many to be one of the West’s greatest ancient philosophers. The student of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, he wrote many books in his life time and here you will find a brief summary of his works. To find actual books themselves, look at our sister project Wikisource.

Plato was born into an Athenian aristocratic family around 427/428 BC. His father Ariston was said to be an ancestor of the last king of Athens, Crodus and his mother Perictione was a relation of the Greek politician Solon. There is not much external information about Plato's early life and most of what we know has come from his own writings. His father died when Plato was young and his mother was remarried to her uncle Pyrilampes. It is very likely that Plato knew Socrates from early childhood. Perictione's cousin Critias and her brother Charmides are known to have been friends with Socrates and they themselves were part of the oligarchic leadership of 404 BC. These connections should have led to a political career for Plato but at some stage he made a decision not to enter political life. The oligarchic leadership collapsed and democracy was restored and considering that Plato's family members had been part of the oligarchic terror must have meant that his position in Athenian society was under scrutiny. The condemning to death of Socrates by the democracy seems to have been the final political act of the state that forced Plato into exile at Megara. Plato is known to have taken refuge with Eucleides, founder of the Megarian school of philosophy and it is stated by later historians that during this period in his life he travelled extensively through Greece, Italy and Egypt. Whether these journeys took place is disputed but it is known that Plato did travel to Sicily where he met Dion, brother-in-law of the ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius I.

A note on authorship

The ordering of the dialogues is based roughly on the standard division into tetralogies. Authorship in many cases is uncertain, as we only have Plato's works as handed down through many generations of translations, forgeries, etc. Please consult the following legend.

* It is generally agreed by scholars that Plato is not the author of this work.
** It is not generally agreed by scholars whether Plato is the author of this work.
*** Consult chapter on this individual work for notes on authorship.

Works of Plato

  • Euthyphro
  • Apology
  • Crito
  • Phaedo
  • Cratylus
  • Teaetetus
  • Sophist
  • Statesman
  • Parmenides
  • Philebus
  • Symposium
  • Phaedrus
  • Alcibiades **
  • Second Alcibiades *
  • Hipparchus *
  • Rival Lovers *
  • Theages *
  • Charmides
  • Laches
  • Lysis
  • Euthydemus
  • Protagoras
  • Gorgia
  • Meno
  • Greater Hippias **
  • Lesser Hippias
  • Ion
  • Menexenus
  • Clitophon
  • Republic
  • Timaeus
  • Critias
  • Minos *
  • Laws
  • Epinomis *
  • Letters ***
  • Definitions *
  • On Justice *
  • On Virtue *
  • Demodocus *
  • Sisyphus *
  • Halcyon *
  • Eryxias *
  • Axiochus *
  • Epigrams ***

Sources

  • Plato: Complete Works, ed. Cooper, John M., 1997

All of the texts of Plato's Dialogues are available at the MIT Internet Classics Archive.


Wikispecies

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Taxonavigation

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Chelicerata
Classis: Arachnida
Ordo: Araneae
Subordo: Opisthothelae
Infraordo: Araneomorphae
Taxon: Neocribellatae
Series: Entelegynae
Superfamilia: Araneoidea
Familia: Theridiosomatidae
Subfamilia: Platoninae
Genus: Plato
Species: P. bicolor - P. bruneti - P. guacharo - P. juberthiei - P. miranda - P. troglodita

Name

Plato Coddington, 1986

Type species: Plato troglodita Coddington, 1986

References

  • Coddington, J. A. 1986. The genera of the spider family Theridiosomatidae. Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology 422: 1-96. PDF [28]
  • Platnick, N. I. 2009. The World Spider Catalog, version 9.5. American Museum of Natural History. [1]

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Bust of Plato]]Plato was a very important classical Greek philosopher. He lived from 427 BC to 348 BC. He was a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. Plato wrote about many ideas in philosophy that are still talked about today. In fact, one modern philosopher (Alfred North Whitehead) said that all philosophy since Plato was just comments on his works.

Plato wrote his books in the form of dialogues -- people talking about ideas, and sometimes disagreeing about them. This makes Plato's books more interesting to read.

Socrates is usually the main person in Plato's dialogues. Usually, Socrates talks with people about their ideas, and tries to see if they believe anything that is illogical. Other people in the stories often become angry with Socrates because of this! People who study Plato argue about whether Socrates really said the same things that Plato makes him say, or whether Plato just used Socrates as a character, to make the ideas he was talking about seem more important.

One of Plato's most famous works is The Republic (In Greek, Politeia, or 'city'). In that work, he describes Socrates's vision of an "ideal" state. The method of questioning in this dialogue, called the Socratic method, is as important as the content. The Republic contains ideas of Socrates: "Socrates said it, Plato wrote it."

Plato also wrote the Laws.

Works by Plato

We have many dialogues that were supposed to be written by Plato. But because he was such a famous philosopher, some later philosophers said that their works were really written by him, to make their works seem more important.

In the list on this page, a work is marked (1) if scholars are not sure that Plato really wrote it, and it is marked (2) if scholars generally agree that Plato did not really write it.

  • Alcibiades (1)
  • Apology
  • Axiochus (2)
  • Charmides
  • Clitophon (1)
  • Cratylus
  • Critias
  • Crito
  • Definitions (2)
  • Demodocus (2)
  • Epigrams
  • Epinomis (2)
  • Eryxias (2)
  • Euthydemus
  • Euthyphro
  • Gorgias
  • Greater Hippias (1)
  • Halcyon (2)
  • Hipparchus (2)
  • Ion
  • Laches
  • Laws
  • Lesser Hippias
  • Letters
  • Lysis
  • Menexenus
  • Meno
  • Minos (2)
  • On Justice (2)
  • On Virtue (2)
  • Parmenides
  • Phaedo
  • Phaedrus
  • Philebus
  • Protagoras
  • Rival Lovers (2)
  • Republic
  • Second Alcibiades (2)
  • Sisyphus (2)
  • Sophist
  • Statesman
  • Symposium
  • Theaetetus
  • Theages (2)
  • Timaeus

References

Lavine, T.Z. (August 1989). From Socrates to Sartre: the Philosophic Quest. Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-25161-9. 

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