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Plato A Look Into The Man And His Ideas

1794 words - 8 pages

Tim Fox
Professor Nicholas
His. 100
2/20/10
Plato
A look into the man and his ideas
Throughout history there have been many philosophers who have revolutionized thinking but perhaps the most important one was Plato. His ideas were unheard of in the times of ancient Greece and influenced not only future philosophers but the common man as well. He has written many dialogues and books over time that has expressed his ideas, like “Phadeo” and “The Republic”. These writings on society, knowledge, morals, the cosmos, virtue, and the immortal soul opened an entirely new way to think and are still being studied by students and historians today. He also founded a philosophical school in Athens ...view middle of the document...

After the execution of the man, who Plato viewed as the wisest man to ever live he left Athens for some time and grew angry and resentful towards the society, especially Athens (I could not find any concrete evidence in the books I had for this paper to support this theory. But based on some of the readings I have studied, like “The Republic” and assumptions I have made about him it just seems like this event made him angry and shaped his philosophy towards the society of the time). During this time he wrote many of the works he is famous for eventually returned to Athens to start his Academy.
It seems appropriate that the first idea that we should we dig into would be Plato’s views on the society and how it compares to the soul. The first thing Plato seems to do to set up his idea of his ideal city is make a class system. ‘These classes are the four primary virtues that Plato also uses to describe some aspects of the human soul. These four virtues/classes are as such; the guardians who possess wisdom, the auxiliaries possess courage, and the whole possess justice and moderation. The soul is very similar to the just city in that it is divided up into three different parts. The appetitive part of the soul is like the consumers of an economy in that it desires money and other material possessions. The spirited part of the soul, Plato says desires honor so these would be the auxiliaries of the city. Lastly the most important part of the soul is the rational part which desires truth and this would be represented as the guardians (rulers) of the city. According to Plato, the rational part is the guardians because that is the part that ensures the health of the whole making this aspect the best choice for a ruler’. He calls these guardians over the land Philosopher- Kings. These kings are different from regular philosophers in that they have the knowledge of the unchanging, eternal “Forms” that are hidden to the human senses. The philosopher- kings are the wisest men and are the rulers because since they have such knowledge they know what is good for the whole population of the city. Another idea that was quite revolutionary at the time that Plato proposed in his work “The Republic” was that men and women should be treated equally in this society. This alone is an idea that is way ahead of its time because women have been looked as inferior in almost every society since the birth of civilization.
Plato viewed knowledge on the grounds that it was different from belief and that our senses could not be trusted to acquire knowledge. Plato says that knowledge cannot be achieved through perception because perception can be false and therefore are we cannot trust our senses. He illustrates best in his story “Allegory of the cave” where the prisoners are chained in the cave all their life, in darkness and belief the illusions seen in the cave to be real (knowledge).
Without a doubt Plato’s most interesting idea was his Theory of Forms. According to...

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