Plato was a famous Greek philosopher and mathematician from Athens that is now well known throughout the world. He lived from 427 B. C. E. to 347 B. C. E. He’s famously known for being Socrates’ student and the teacher of Aristotle. He has many writings that explored justice, beauty, and equality as well as containing discussions in aesthetics, political philosophy, theology, cosmology, epistemology, and the philosophy of language. His writings were highly influenced by Socrates as he would convey and expand on the ideas and techniques of his teacher.
Plato founded the Academy which was the first institution of higher learning in the Western World and offered subjects like astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. Plato along with Socrates and Aristotle led the foundation of Western philosophy and science. Plato has thirtysix dialogues that have been used to teach a wide range of subjects like philosophy, logic, ethics, rhetoric, and mathematics. Little is known about Plato’s early life due to lack of primary sources from the time period but much of his life has been constructed by scholars through his writings.
Plato was born around 428 B. C. E. in Athens. It’s believed that he belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. His father Ariston died when he was a child and his mother Perictione remarried the politician Pyrilampes. Plato had three siblings: two brothers, Adeimantus and Glaucon, and one sister, Potone. Plato grew up during the Peloponnesian War which was from 431 B. C. E. to 404 B. C. E. He became an adult around the time of Athens’ final defeat by Sparta and the political chaos that came afterwards. According to Diogenes, Plato was named after his grandfather Aristocles.
He gained the nickname Platon, meaning “broadshouldered”, for his broad and strong figure. When he was young Plato became a devoted follower of Socrates with his recollections of Socrates’ lived-out philosophy and style of constant questioning becoming the basis for his early dialogues. Athens is the capital of Greece and it’s where Plato was born. In ancient times Greece was divided into city states, with Athens and Sparta being the most powerful and important. Much is known about Athens because it produced many writers and artists, whose work has survived to this day.
Athens was the largest and most powerful Greek state. It was a city full of beautiful public buildings, shops, and public baths. Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war, was the patron of Athens. Ancient Athens didn’t have a king but was ruled by the people as a democracy. Just like many children of noble class, Plato was taught by some of Athens’ finest educators He studied at a gymnasium owned by Dionysios, and at the palaistra of Ariston of Argos. He was educated in philosophy, poetry, grammar, music, painting, and gymnastics by renowned Athenian teachers including the philosopher Cratylus.
According to Aristotle, Plato developed the foundations of his metaphysics and epistemology by studying the doctrines of Craylus, and the work of Pythagoras and Parmenides. Plato also had wrestled at the Isthmian games and performed well. Plato is famously known as a writer and philosopher. His most influential work is the Republic, which discusses the virtues of justice, courage, and wisdom. It works with the main question of how to live a good life. After meeting Socrates and becoming his disciple is when Plato adopted his teacher’s philosophy and style of debate.
That’s also when he started to direct his studies toward the question of virtue and the formation of a noble character. Earlier in his life Plato was in military service from 409 BC to 404 B. C. When the Peloponnesian War ended in 404 B. C. , he joined the Athenian oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants. The violence of the group had quickly caused Plato to leave it. Before Plato was even a writer or philosopher, he had planned on taking a political career.
When democracy was restored in Athens in 403 B. C. , he had hopes of pursing his original goal but Socrates’ execution in 399 B. C. had a strong effect on Plato and that caused him to abandon the idea of working in politics. After Socrates’ death, Plato leaves Athens with some of Socrates’ other friends and he travels for twelve years. After 399 B. C. was when Plato began to write extensively but no one knows for sure if he was writing before Socrates’ death. Scholars divide Plato’s major work into three distinct groups, with the first being known as the Socratic Dialogues because of how close he stays in the text to Socrates’ teachings.
They most likely were written during the years of his travels between 399 B. C. and 387 B. C. Other texts in this group include the Apology, Crito, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Euthyphro, and Hippias Minor and Major. When Plato returns to Athens in around 387 B. C. is when he founded his philosophical school called the Academy. Overall, Plato has made a lasting impact on philosophy and the nature of humans. His work covered a large spectrum of interests and ideas like mathematics, science, nature, morals, and political theory.
His beliefs on the importance of mathematics in education has proven to be essential for understanding the entire universe. His work on the use of reason to create a more fair and just society that’s focused on equality of individuals established the foundation of modern democracy. He was able to lead the foundation of Western philosophy and science along with Socrates and Aristotle. The Academy flourished for nearly three centuries but was eventually destroyed. Without Plato, as well as Socrates and Aristotle, modern philosophy wouldn’t be the same.