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Plato who was he ? /Plato biography and contribution

Philosopher king of Plato(427-347) BCE

Get a glimpse into the mind of the one and only Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher that changed history! Explore his life, writing and see what drove him to pursue philosophy.

What was the name of Plato university ? 

The Academy (Ancient Greek: Ἀκαδημία) was founded by Plato in c. 387 BC in Athens. Aristotle studied there for twenty years (367–347 BC) before founding his own school, the Lyceum.

Did Plato have a wife ?

No. Plato didn't marry.

What is Plato known for?

He is best known for his dialogues, in which he explored moral dilemmas through conversations between characters based on real-life figures from the ancient world. One of his most famous works was The Republic, in which he discussed the ideal form of government for a society. 

What is the Platonic ideal of love?

 The Platonic ideal of love is love in its perfect and purest form. All other imperfect forms of love derive from the eternal form of love. "At touch of love everyone become a poet" - 

plato of philosophy
Plato philosopher

Plato who was he ?

Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. It was Plato who had the greater effect upon subsequent ages. I say this for two reasons: first, that Aristotle himself is an outcome of Plato; second, that Christian theology and philosophy, at any rate until the thirteenth century, was much more Platonic than Aristotelian. It is necessary, therefore, in a history of philosophic thought, to treat Plato, and to a lesser degree Aristotle, more fully than any of their predecessors or successors.

Plato biography and contribution

Plato was born in 428-7 B.C., in the early years of the Peloponnesian War. He was a well-to-do aristocrat, related to various people who were concerned in the rule of the Thirty Tyrants. He was a young man when Athens was defeated, and he could attribute the defeat to democracy, which his social position and his family connections were likely to make him despise. He was a pupil of Socrates, for whom he had a profound affection and respect; and Socrates was put to death by the democracy. It is not, therefore, surprising that he should turn to Sparta for an adumbration of his  ideal commonwealth. Plato possessed the art to dress up illiberal suggestions in such a way that they deceived future ages, which admired the Republic without ever becoming aware of what was involved in its proposals. It has always been correct to praise Plato, but not to understand him. This is the common fate of great men. My object is the opposite. I wish to understand him. 

Plato most famous work republic. Plato was the genius of his age. Plato had a positive view of women. Plato disliked democracy because of the death of his master. Idea of Plato: Theory of forms, Hyperuranion, Platonic idealism, Khôra, Metaxy, Platonic realism

''The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.'' - Alfred North Whitehead, he was English Mathematician and also philosopher. 

In 387 BCE, Plato founded a philosophical school called ''Academy'' named after the Greek hero Acdemus. Today every university and institutions have name Academy.   

Plato real name was pseudonym and Plato nickname was that means “broad.” Plato’s nickname could have referred either to the philosopher’s broad shoulders or to the breadth of his great intellect. 'broad' was given  by his wrestling-master because of his sturdy frame or by admirers for the breadth of his teaching.

 His youth coincided with the most disastrous period of Athenian history. After a bitter struggle, which lasted over a quarter of a century, the Peloponnesian war ended in the complete downfall of Athens as a political power. And the internal affairs of the State were in no less confusion than the external. Here, as elsewhere, a triumphant democracy had developed into mob-rule. Then at the close of the Peloponnesian war, the aristocratic party again came into power with the Thirty Tyrants, among whom were some of Plato’s own relatives. But the aristocratic party, so far from improving affairs, plunged at once into a reign of bloodshed, terror, and oppression. 

These facts have an important bearing upon the history of Plato’s life. If he ever possessed any desire to adopt a political career, the actual condition of Athenian affairs must have quenched it. An aristocrat, both in thought and by birth, he could not accommodate himself to the rule of the mob. And if he ever imagined that the return of the aristocracy to power would improve matters, he must have been bitterly disillusioned by the proceedings of the Thirty Tyrants. Disgusted alike with the democracy and the aristocracy he seems to have retired into seclusion. He never once, throughout his long life, appeared as a {166} speaker in the popular assembly. He regarded the Athenian constitution as past help.

Not much is known of the philosopher’s youth. He composed poems. He was given the best education that an Athenian citizen of those days could obtain. His teacher, Cratylus, was a follower of Heraclitus, and Plato no doubt learned from him the doctrines of that philosopher. It is improbable that he allowed himself to remain unacquainted with the disputations of the Sophists, many of whom were his own contemporaries. He probably read the book of Anaxagoras, which was easily obtainable in Athens at the time. But on all these points we have no certain information. What we do know is that the decisive event in his youth, and indeed in his life, was his association with Socrates.

For the last eight years of the life of Socrates, Plato was his friend and his faithful disciple. The teaching and personality of the master constituted the supreme intellectual impulse of his life, and the inspiration of his entire thought. And the devotion and esteem which he felt for Socrates, so far from waning as the years went by, seem, on the contrary, to have grown continually stronger. For it is precisely in the latest dialogues of his long life that some of the most charming and admiring portraits of Socrates are to be found. Socrates became for him the pattern and exemplar of the true philosopher.

After the death of Socrates a second period opens in the life of Plato, the period of his travels. He migrated first to Megara, where his friend and fellow-disciple Euclid was then founding the Megaric school. The Megaric philosophy was a combination of the thought of Socrates with that of the Eleatics. And it was no doubt here, at {167} Megara, under the influence of Euclid, that Plato formed his deeper acquaintance with the teaching of Parmenides, which exercised an all-important influence upon his own philosophy. From Megara he travelled to Cyrene, Egypt, Italy, and Sicily. In Italy he came in contact with the Pythagoreans. And to the effects of this journey may be attributed the strong Pythagorean elements which permeate his thought.

 In Sicily he attended the court of Dionysius the Elder, tyrant of Syracuse. But here his conduct seems to have given grave offence. Dionysius was so angered by his moralizings and philosophical diatribes that he put Plato up to auction in the slave market. Plato narrowly escaped the fate of slavery, but was ransomed by Anniceris, the Cyrenaic. He then returned to Athens, his travels having occupied a period of about ten years.

With the return of Plato to Athens we enter upon the third and last period of his life. With the exception of two journeys to be mentioned shortly, he never again left Athens. He now appeared for the first time as a professional teacher and philosopher. He chose for the scene of his activities a gymnasium, called the Academy. Here he gradually collected round him a circle of pupils and disciples. For the rest of his life, a period of about forty years, he occupied himself in literary activity, and in the management of the school which he had founded. His manner of life was in strong contrast to that of Socrates. Only in one respect did he resemble his master. 

He took no fees for his teaching. Otherwise the lives of the two great men bear no resemblance to each other. Socrates had gone out into the highways and byways in search of wisdom. He had wrangled in  the market-place with all comers. Plato withdrew himself into the seclusion of a school, protected from the hubbub of the world by a ring of faithful disciples. It was not to be expected that a man of Plato’s refinement, culture, and aristocratic feelings, should appreciate, as Socrates, the man of the people, had done, the rough and-tumble life of the Athenian market-place. Nor was it desirable for the advancement of philosophy that it should be so. The Socratic philosophy had suffered from the Socratic manner of life. It was unmethodical and inchoate. Systematic thought is not born of disputes at the street corner. For the development of a great world-system, such as that of Plato, laborious study and quiet seclusion were essential.

This period of Plato’s master-ship was broken only by two journeys to Sicily, both undertaken with political objects. Plato knew well that the perfect State, as depicted in his “Republic,” was not capable of realization in the Greece of his own time. Nevertheless, he took his political philosophy very seriously. Though the perfect republic was an unattainable ideal, yet, he thought, any real reform of the State must at least proceed in the direction of that ideal. One of the essential principles of the “Republic” was that the rulers must also be philosophers. Not till philosopher and ruler were combined in one and the same person could the State be governed upon true principles.

Now, in the year 368 B.C., Dionysius the Elder died, and Dionysius the younger became tyrant of Syracuse. Dionysius despatched an invitation to Plato to attend his court and give him the benefit of his advice. Here was an opportunity to experiment. Plato could train and educate a {169} philosopher-king. He accepted the invitation. But the expedition ended disastrously. Dionysius received him with enthusiasm, and interested himself in the philosophical discourses of his teacher. But he was young, impetuous, hot-headed, and without genuine philosophic bent. His first interest gave place to weariness and irritation. Plato left Syracuse a disappointed man; and returned to Athens. Nevertheless, after the lapse of a few years, Dionysius again invited him to Syracuse, and again he accepted the invitation. But the second journey ended in disaster like the first, and Plato was even in danger of his life, but was rescued by the intervention of the Pythagoreans. He returned to Athens in his seventieth year, and lived till his death in the seclusion of his school, never again attempting to intervene in practical politics. 

For more than another decade he dwelt and taught in Athens. Plato life was serene, quiet, and happy. He died peacefully at the age of eighty-two.

Plato contribution in philosophy 

Plato most famous contribution is the Theory of forms, where he presents a solution to the problem of universals. Plato was an pioneer of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy. He raised problems for what later became all the major areas of both theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy. The most important matters in "Plato's philosophy " are: first, his Utopia, which was the earliest of a long series second, his theory of ideas, which was a pioneer attempt to deal with the still unsolved problem of universals; third, his arguments in favour of immortality; fourth, his cosmogony.

The contribution of Plato have had an immense influence on the development of Western thought, both in philosophy and science. His teachings provided a foundation for Aristotelianism, which was the official doctrine of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. During this period, his teachings were accepted as fundamental truths in universities. Even today, his theories continue to be debated and provide food for thought in the fields of ethics and metaphysics. Plato was the first holistic philosopher. Plato's philosophy deals with each subject of his philosophy. Plato wrote on everything and he gave different ideas too.  Plato dialogues on Socrates is one of the best work.

Plato's Theory of Forms.

One of Plato's most famous contributions to philosophy is his theory of Forms. According to this theory, there exists a realm of abstract, eternal, and unchanging Forms or Ideas that are more real than the physical world we experience through our senses. For example, there is a perfect Form of a circle that exists independently of any physical circle we might draw. This theory has had a lasting impact on Western philosophy, influencing everything from metaphysics to aesthetics.

The Allegory of the Cave.

Another enduring legacy of Plato's contributions to philosophy is his famous allegory of the cave. In this allegory, Plato describes a group of people who have been chained in a cave their entire lives, facing a wall and only able to see shadows of objects passing by. He uses this allegory to illustrate his belief that our perception of reality is limited by our senses and that true knowledge can only be attained through philosophical inquiry and contemplation. This allegory has been interpreted and analyzed by philosophers and scholars for centuries, and continues to be a powerful metaphor for understanding the nature of reality and the pursuit of knowledge.

Plato on writing 

Plato method of  writing is called dialogue means dialectic. He always made main character Socrates and others but he never made himself main character in his philosophy work.  Plato’s writings take the form of dialogues. In the majority of these, the chief part is taken by Socrates, into whose mouth Plato puts the exposition of his own philosophy. In a few, as for example the “Parmenides,” other speakers enunciate the Platonic teaching, but even in these Socrates always plays an important rôle. Plato was not only a philosopher, but a consummate literary artist. The dialogues are genuinely dramatic, enlivened by incident, humour, and life-like characterization. Not only is the portrait of Socrates drawn with loving affection, but even the minor characters are flesh and blood.

What did Plato write

A most important element of Plato’s style is his use of myths. He does not always explain his meaning in  the form of direct scientific exposition. He frequently teaches by allegories, fables, and stories, all of which may be included under the one general appellation of Platonic myths.

Plato influenced 

Plato was influenced by Pythagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus , and Socrates.

The purely philosophical influences on Plato were also such as to predispose him in favour of Sparta. These influences, speaking broadly, were: Pythagoras, ParmenidesHeraclitus , and Socrates.

From Pythagoras Plato derived the Orphic elements in his philosophy: the religious trend, the belief in immortality, the other-worldliness, the priestly tone, and all that is involved in the simile of the cave; also his respect for mathematics, and his intimate intermingling of intellect and mysticism.  Plato academy symbol was triangle related to Pythagoras school. 

Plato said '' Let no man enter who does not know geometry.'' (mathematic)

One day Plato called the people of Athens to listen to a lecture and the title was ''what's good?'' but Plato gave a lecture on mathematics. People were shocked. 

From Parmenides he derived the belief that reality is eternal and timeless, and that, on logical grounds, all change must be illusory.

From Heraclitus he derived the negative doctrine that there is nothing permanent in the sensible world. This, combined with the doctrine of Parmenides, led to the conclusion that knowledge is not to be derived from the senses, but is only to be achieved by the intellect. This, in turn fitted in well with Pythagoreanism.

From Socrates he probably learnt his preoccupation with ethical problems, and his tendency to seek teleological rather than mechanical explanations of the world. "The Good" dominated his thought more than that of the Pre-Socratics, and it is difficult not to attribute this fact to the influence of Socrates.

Plato philosophical theory

Plato's academy first university

Plato's academy and plato who was he
Plato's academy 

 In Athens, Plato founded the Academy, a philosophical school where he taught the philosophical doctrines that would later became known as Platonism. The Academy, lasted nearly eight hundred years, until 529 CE. In that year the Roman emperor Justinian, a Christian, abolished it and banned the teaching of ‘pagan’ philosophy because it was inconsistent with Christian doctrine. But its long history before that saw a number of philosophically significant changes and developments. About eighty years after Plato’s death the 

Academy fell under the influence of scepticism when Arcesilaus (316–241 BCE) became its head, prompting Cicero to rename it ‘the New Academy’. Historians of philosophy accept this label, and treat the sceptical phase as lasting until 90 BCE when Antiochus of Ascalon rejected the sceptical teaching he had received from Philo of Larissa at the Academy. Thus commenced ‘Middle Platonism’, a stage in which Plato’s doctrines were modified by the introduction of elements of Aristotelian and Stoic thought. Middle Platonism lasted until Plotinus in the third century CE developed the Platonic tradition into the powerful school of thought that historians call Neoplatonism. The immediate consequence of Plato, and one of the greatest legacies he bequeathed, must however be accounted his star pupil, Aristotle, whose disagreements with his teacher, combined with his own genius, constituted the next major step in the history of philosophy.

Plato's Academy mosaic – the Villa of T. Siminius Stephanus in Pompeii.
Plato and his invited guests would discuss philosophy at the Academy.

Plato is widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophers in history, and his ideas continue to shape Western thought to this day.  Plato's contributions to philosophy have had a profound and lasting impact. 

Plato philosophical quotes

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” ― Plato compassion

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” ― Plato love

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” ― Plato philosophy

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” ― Plato life

“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” ― Plato good

“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” ― Plato philosophy

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” ― Plato, The Republic

“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.” ― Plato, The Symposium

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” ― Plato, The Republic

“Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” ― Plato philosophy

“Love is a serious mental disease.” ― Plato, Phaedrus

“One of the penalties of refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” ― Plato politics 

“good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws” ― Plato philosophy

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” ― Plato politic

“Ignorance, the root and stem of every evil.” ― Plato philosophy

“If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.”
- Plato, The Republic

“I'm trying to think, don't confuse me with facts.”- Plato philosophy
“...and when one of them meets the other half, the actual half of himself, whether he be a lover of youth or a lover of another sort, the pair are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy and one will not be out of the other's sight, as I may say, even for a moment...” - Plato, The Symposium

“Those who tell the stories rule society.” - Plato philosophy

“There is truth in wine and children” - Plato, Phaedrus

“Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge. ” - Plato philosophy

“The madness of love is the greatest of heaven's blessings.” - Plato, Phaedrus

“Education is teaching our children to desire the right things.” - Plato Education

“Courage is knowing what not to fear.” - Plato courage

“There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honor, and lovers of gain.” - Plato love

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill... we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” - Plato philosophy

“There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” - Plato anger

“You should not honor men more than truth.” - Plato truth

“When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them.” - Plato philosophy

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”  - Plato, The Republic

A History of Western Philosophy Book by Bertrand Russell
Jowett, B. (trans.), The Dialogues of Plato (428/27–348/47 BCE). Available online:
v0.1.pdf Annas, J., Plato: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003
Annas, J., Virtue and Law in Plato and Beyond, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017
Dancy, R. M., Plato’s Introduction of Forms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004 Fine, G. (ed.), Plato 1: Metaphysics and Epistemology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999
Irwin, T., Plato’s Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995 Kraut, R. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992
Ryle, G., Plato’s Progress, new edn, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010 
Vlastos, G., Studies in Greek Philosophy, vol. II: Socrates, Plato, and their Tradition, ed. D. W. Graham, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995

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