Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle, two philosophers in the 4th century, hold polar views on politics and philosophy in general. This fact is very cleverly illustrated by Raphael’s “School of Athens” (1510-11; Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican), where Plato is portrayed looking up to the higher forms; and Aristotle is pointing down because he supports the natural sciences. In a discussion of politics, the stand point of each philosopher becomes an essential factor. It is not coincidental that Plato states in The Republic that Philosopher Rulers who possess knowledge of the good should be the governors in a city state.

His strong interest in metaphysics is demonstrated in The Republic various times: for example, the similes of the cave, the sun, and the line, and his theory of the forms. Because he is so involved in metaphysics, his views on politics are more theoretical as opposed to actual. Aristotle, contrarily, holds the view that politics is the art of ruling and being ruled in turn. In The Politics, he attempts to outline a way of governing that would be ideal for an actual state. Balance is a main word in discussing Aristotle because he believes it is the necessary element to creating a stable government.

His less metaphysical approach to politics makes Aristotle more in tune with the modern world, yet he is far from modern. Plato’s concept of what politics and government should be is a direct result of his belief in the theory of forms. The theory of forms basically states that there is a higher “form” for everything that exists in the world. Each material thing is simply a representation of the real thing which is the form. According to Plato, most people cannot see the forms, they only see their representation or their shadows, as in the simile of the cave.

Only those who love knowledge and contemplate on the reality of things will achieve understanding of the forms. Philosophers, who by definition are knowledge lovers, are the only beings who can reach true knowledge. This concept has to be taken a step further because in The Republic, Plato states that philosophers should be the rulers since they are the only ones who hold the form of the good. Plato seems to be saying that it is not enough to know the forms of tables or trees, one must know the greatest form–form of the good–in order to rule.

The reasoning is: if you know the good, then you will do the good. Therefore, philosopher rulers are by far the most apt to rule. In The Republic, Plato builds around the idea of Philosopher Rulers. Even though it is not his primary point, it certainly is at the core of his discussion of the ideal state. The question that arises is, ‘Why do you need ideal states which will have philosophers as rulers? ‘ There are many layers to the answer of this question. The first thing is that a state cannot be ideal without having philosophers as rulers.

This answer leads to the question, ‘Then why do you need ideal states to begin with? ‘ The Republic starts with a discussion of Justice which leads to the creation of the ideal state. The reason why an ideal state is needed is to guarantee the existence of Justice. This does not mean, though, that there cannot be states without Justice. Actually, Plato provides at least two reasons why the formation of a state cannot be avoided. These are: 1. human beings are not self-sufficient so they need to live in a social environment, and 2. ch person has a natural aptitude for a specified task and should concentrate on developing it (The Republic, pp 56-62). Although a person is not self-sufficient, a composition of people–a state–satisfies the needs of all its members. Furthermore, members can specialize on their natural fortitudes and become more productive members of society. States are going to form, whether purposefully or coincidentally. For this reason, certain rules have to be enacted for the well-being of the state. The main way to institutionalize rules is through government and in the form of laws.

Plato’s The Republic is not an explication of laws of the people. It is a separation of power amongst three classes–Rulers, Auxiliaries, Commoners–that makes the most of each person’s natural abilities and strives for the good of the community. The point is to create a harmonious unity amongst the three classes which will lead to the greater good of the community and, consequently, each individual. The three classes are a product of different aptitude levels for certain tasks amid various individuals. Plato assigns different political roles to different members of each class.

It appears that the only classes that are allowed to participate in government are the Auxiliaries and, of course, the Philosopher Rulers. The lower class does not partake in politics because they are not mentally able. In other words, they do not understand the concept of the forms. Thus, it is better to allow the Philosophers, who do have this knowledge, to lead them. Providing food and abode for the Guardians is the only governmental responsibility the lower class has. The Auxiliaries are in charge of the military, police, and executive duties.

Ruling and making laws is reserved for the Philosopher Rulers whose actions are all intended for the good of the state. To ensure that public good continues to be foremost on each Ruler’s agenda, the Rulers live in community housing, hold wives/children in common, and do not own private property. The separation of classes is understood by everybody Self-interest, which could be a negative factor in the scheme of things, is eliminated through a very moral oriented education system. All these provisions are generated to maintain unity of the state.

The most extravagant precaution that Plato takes is the Foundation Myth of the metals. By making the people believe, through a myth, that the distinction of each class is biological as well as moral, Plato reassures that there won’t be any disruption in the harmony of the state. Whereas Plato’s The Republic is a text whose goal is to define Justice and in doing so uses the polis, Aristotle’s The Politics’s sole function is to define itself–define politics. Aristotle begins his text by answering the question: “Why does the state exist?

His answer is that the state is the culmination of natural associations that start with the joining of man and woman (“pair”), which have a family and form a “household”; households unite and form villages; villages unite and form the state. This natural order of events is what is best because it provides for the needs of all the individuals. Aristotle, like Plato, believes that a person is not self-reliant. This lack of sufficiency is the catalyst in the escalating order of unions among people. In The Politics, it appears that Aristotle is not very set on breaking down society.

His argument says that there are different classes in society, but they are naturally defined. For example, he devotes a lot of time to an explanation of the “naturalness” of slaves and their role in society. Aristotle is also very sexist and explicitly states so. His view is that women are inferior to men in all senses. Perhaps the most pertaining to our discussion is the citizen, whose role is purely political. Both Plato and Aristotle seem to agree that some people are not capable of practicing an active role in political life.

Plato’s reason is that the lower class is not mentally adept for the intricacies of higher knowledge on the good. Aristotle seems to base his opinion on a more political issue. He believes that only those that fully participate in their government should be considered citizens of the state. For this reason, he excludes workers as citizens because they would not have the required time to openly participate in politicking. The Aristotelian polis, as opposed to Plato’s, is a city with a large middle class which promotes stability and balances the conflicting claims of the poor and the rich.

Aristotle combines elements of democracy with elements of aristocracy, again to balance opposing claims. Because he is aware that human interest is an inextricable entity, the distribution of scarce and valuable goods is in proportion to contribution to the good of the polis. This system provides for the self interested who believe that those who work harder should receive more. Another point is that the citizens rule and are ruled in turn, insofar as the mixed social system allows. This is permissible because of the strong involvement of the citizens in government; it is what one would call a “true democracy.

Overall, a spirit of moderation prevails. The philosophies of Aristotle and Plato have been around for over sixteen centuries, yet today it is difficult to find specific instances where either philosophy is applied. This may be a result of the fact that today’s political philosophy differs from both philosopher’s. While Aristotle and Plato uphold the good of the community or state above individual good, today’s constitution includes a bill of rights that guarantees the rights of each individual in the nation. Having these individual rights is a necessity for today’s citizens.

Going back in history to 1787 will show that one of the reasons there was controversy in the ratification of the constitution was that it did not include a Bill of Rights. When the drafters promised that as soon as the constitution was ratified, a Bill of Rights would be added, the doubting states proceeded to ratify it. According to Plato and Aristotle, a Bill of Rights is not necessary because it does not improve the good of the community. Another point of discrepancy between the philosophers and today’s society involves the topic of slavery.

Aristotle argues for the naturalness of slavery in The Politics, yet slavery has been considered grotesque for quite some time. In correlation to slavery, there is the undermining of the female population by Aristotle. Although Plato is a lot less discriminatory, he also believes women are the sub-species. While women have had to fight endless battles to achieve the recognition they deserve, today it is a well accepted fact (generally) that women are as capable as men in performing tasks.

Naturally, since Aristotle and Plato have been around for such a long time, our society certainly contains some of their influences in a general sense. For example, today it is believed that certain people are born with certain capacities. Intelligence has been attributed to genetics. Because of the different intelligence levels among people, we have different classes–for example: advanced, intermediate, and beginners. In their appropriate level, each person develops his or her abilities to the highest potential. This concept is sometimes at odds with the ideal of equality, ie. we are all human beings.

Yet, in essence, it does not take away from the ideal because we are all humans, but we differ in certain capacity levels to complete tasks. Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophy have helped shape present thought, though, by no means, mandate our practices. The philosophers are very community oriented while we value the individual. Besides differing with today’s standards, each philosopher is in his own way distinct. Plato is very attracted to metaphysical philosophy, while Aristotle is much more methodical. Both perspective views are and will continue to puzzle students for years to come.

Socrates and Plato: Significant Philosophers of Ancient Greece

The Unexamined Life is not Worth Living. This is the famous quote proclaimed by Socrates, a controversial philosopher of ancient Athens. He believed that anyone could lead a significant and meaningful existence by examining his or her own life and ideas very thoroughly. (Soccio) Socrates was wise in respect to the fact that he never accepted a truth that was told to him, without getting incontestable evidence to back it up. He made the realization that people believed in things without even knowing where their ideas came from.

In ancient Athens, citizens believed in many gods and myths associated with them. There was no evidence whatsoever to back up their religious claims. (Fiero) Philosophy to Socrates was the souls pursuit of salvation, signifying that Socrates was somewhat of a religious individual. (Palacios) He believed that he was guided by God, and occasionally was inspired by his divine presence. In fact, according to Platos Defense of Socrates, Socrates said that a god swayed him into not involving himself in politics.

He did not want to hurt anyone by following unjust politics. (Beck) On the other hand, Socrates was quite skeptical of the belief in many gods. Once, when he approached a famous priest he asked, What is piety? ” It is honoring the gods and doing their will, the priest replied. Confused, Socrates asked, “But there are many gods of Greece. They often fight among themselves in our myths. Is their one god I should obey, or how do I know when to support one god and when to follow another? The priest was embarrassed by his question and witnesses snickered.

Philips) This kind of questioning was typical of Socrates. His search for knowledge by asking questions is known as the Socratic Method. (Soccio) Socrates was put to death in 399 B. C. E. for allegedly corrupting the youth of Athens, by questioning the nature of their beliefs. (Fiero) Socrates most famous student, Plato, took Socrates teachings one-step further after his death. He was angered by the death of his friend, and began to distrust government; namely, the Athenian democracy.

He thought that a rule by majority was corrupt, and that the majority of people were not bright enough to make decisions for the state. Plato attempted to demonstrate that there was proof of a divine goodness by several illustrations. Such illustrations include his famous Divided Line, The Simile of the Sun, and The Allegory of the Cave. In these expressions, he aims to pick apart the foundation of knowledge and where it comes from. He believed that human souls could ultimately reach the highest level of reality and have a total understanding of all things.

In other words, the soul who had reached the highest level of understanding no longer needed to question or perceive things, because he would recognize and comprehend pure knowledge or pure goodness. (Soccio) In a way, I think Plato was trying to prove what God is. He is different from Socrates in that way, because Socrates was really only trying to distinguish fact from myth here on earth. Both were very concerned with moral issues, however. The Ancient Greek philosophy was absorbed by the conquering Romans, and has a profound effect on the way modern western philosophers think.

Plato a great philosopher

Plato was a great philosopher and one of the first true intellectuals of his time. In his life he educated Aristotle, founded the Academy, Europes first university, and did numerous experiments and established some of the first thoughts on many subjects. Plato was truly one of Greeces gifts to the world. Plato was born into a very prominent family in Greece. He had bloodlines that went back to the Kings of Athens through his father, Ariston.

His mother, Perictione was related to the lawmaker Solon. Its not sure when Plato was born, but we can guess about 420 BC. At an early age, he was interested in politics and became a student of Socrates. In 399 BC, Socrates was killed in Athens. Fearing his own life, Plato traveled to Italy, Egypt, and Sicily. Coming back to Athens in 387, he established his Academy. He taught there politics, philosophy, biology, and anatomy.

Among his students was Aristotle, who would grow to be a philosopher, too. In 367, Plato tried to combine his philosophical teachings and politics in Sicily to teach the emperor of Syracuse. His experiment failed then and again in 361. He spent the rest of his years teaching at Academy and studying until he died in 348 BC. His works, however, live on. His works in anatomy and politics especially are famous to this day. His views of classes and the perfect state can still teach us a lot to this day.

Plato’s Republic: The Virtues

In Robin Waterfield’s translation of The Republic,Socrates attempts to give a definition of justice. At the end of Book II he began a detailed description of the construction of a good city. The good city is a relation to the human soul, and its four virtues. In the following paper I will discuss the virtues, what they are and where they are found. Also discussed will be the foundation, arrangement, and the interconnectedness with each one. Next discussed would be the 3 “H’s” and the understanding Aristotle has on the role of happiness in the moral life.

Lastly, I will discuss the experience that I ad that related to Leonitus. The four virtues used by Plato are prudence, courage, temperance, and justice. Plato relates the virtues to a community, which is made up of the rulers, army, and workers. Now the base line is the workers, and they do not try to blend with the army as the army doesn’t blend with the rulers. When all of these do their own job, the community becomes one. The first virtue to be discussed is prudence.

Prudence, also known as wisdom, is found in the rulers. The people who have it are those rulers” (428d) In order to have wisdom one must be resourceful, in which he/she has btained knowledge. Plato says, ” resourcefulness is obviously a kind of knowledge it’s not ignorance which makes people resourceful; it’s knowledge. ” (428b) The second virtue is courage, which is found in the military section of the community. Courage is not the virtue of standing in front of a tank and say it will not hurt me, that is stupidity. Courage is the ability to apply what you have been taught: what is to be feared and what is not to be feared.

Plato relates retention to courage, “I’m saying courage is a sort of retentionthe retention of notion. ” (429c) The ability for one to retain what one has learned s courage. “Ability to retain under all circumstances a true and lawful notion about what is feared and what is not to be feared is what I’m calling courage. ” (430b) The next virtue temperance, is found in the workers of Plato’s community. Temperance, also known as self-discipline, is needed by the workers, so that they do not desire to be in the ruler’s position.

It is seen that each position has its own importance in the community, and for the community to function correctly each one must agree on their position in life. Plato relates, ” in this community the rulers and their subjects agree on ho the rulers should be. ” (431e) Temperance is also used to control the desire to go against one’s free-will. Plato says, “To be self-disciplined is somehow to order and control the pleasures and desires. ” (430e) The last virtue to be discussed is Justice otherwise known as morality. Justice is found when all of the three work together, and no crimes are committed.

If one breaks pattern then the community becomes immoral, or if one becomes out of place then it is immoral. “when each of the three classes perform its own function and does its own job in the community, then this is morality” (434c) Now I will discuss the human soul, containing three parts. The human soul is a larger version of Plato’s community, therefore each of the virtues relate to the human soul. The first part is reason, which is the capacity to think rationally. Next is passion, which is the fighting for what is right, and the two together work as allies. the rational part is wise and looks out for the whole of the mind, isn’t it right for it to rule, and for the passionate part to be its subordinate and its ally. ” (441e)

As passion and reason work together, passion is found in the military. The last part is esire, which can be found in temperance, and is closely related to passion. Desire is the temptation to do what is wrong, but self-discipline corrects it. “desirous part, which is the major constituent of an individual’s mind and is naturally insatiably greedy for things. (442a) Justice is again found in all three parts of the soul, because when they all work together justly, the are successful.

The virtues are arranged in a hierarchical pyramid, in which the rulers are found at the top. The top resembles the highest position, in which the rulers are in charge of the community. The next position is the military, hich takes orders from the rulers and sends orders to the workers, which are last on the pyramid. The only virtue that cannot be placed in the pyramid is justice. Justice is found in all three of the virtues, therefore it reigns in all of them.

The way that the virtues are arranged makes it impossible for any of them to mix, be missing, or trade places. One must have all four virtues to be completely moral. Each virtue is directly related to each other in an indirect way. “The rational part will do the planning, and the passionate part the fighting. The passionate part will obey the ruling part and mploy its courage to carry out the plans. ” (442b) The three “H’s” which underlie each virtue are Head, Habitual, and Happiness. In the Head the person must contain the rational ability to know what he/she is doing.

In the Habitual, the person does something all the time aimed toward the good. In Happiness, the person must simply be happy at what they are doing. When the three “H’s” are obtained one is considered moral, or just, and also has underlied all of the virtues. Aristotle thinks that our aim in life is to live a moral life, and be happy doing it. All human actions are aimed toward the good, and to be real is o fulfill one’s goal. The story I will use for my reflection on Leonitus’ experience, began in my freshman year of high school.

There was a person in my freshmen class, that came across as the class nerd. He assumed a nickname of “Pottsy”, close to his last name. Pottsy began to run cross-country in his junior year to win an award his senior year. My senior year of cross-country was the best year of my life. I was the captain of the team, and was able to meet many different people from around the state and country. I was looked upon by all of my peers, and coaches treated me with the highest respect. Everyone was angry with him for oining, when all he wanted to do was be a part of something.

He wanted to be a part of the closest sport in high school. The sixty of us refused to let him in, and chided him all the way through the season. Being a captain I had to assume the right and not the wrong. At the beginning of the year I followed my rationality, but towards the end, my self-discipline gave in to pressure. I called him names, started more amusement, and lowered myself to a different level. This level went from ruler to worker, and made him the military. My triangle became shapeless, and the virtues that failed me were courage, and temperance.

This is because I lacked the courage to stand up for him, and I lost temperance for doing what is right. My temperance was reshaped, and my courage was rebuilt, when the coach lost respect in me. After attending a retreat, I remembered what I had done, and wrote him a letter of apology. I was utterly disgusted with myself, but I feel that you learn from experiences, and now my triangle has been reshaped. In conclusion, I enjoyed discussing the main elements of Plato’s Republic, the virtues. I have recaptured many events that have occurred in my life, and plan to live closer to the triangle.

Plato – Greek philosopher

Plato (circa 428-c. 347 BC), Greek philosopher, one of the most creative and influential thinkers in Western philosophy. Plato was born to an aristocratic family in Athens. When Plato was a child, his father died, and his mother married Pyrilampes, who was an associate of the statesman Pericles As a young man Plato had political ambitions, but he became disillusioned by the political leadership in Athens.

Plato witnessed the death of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian democracy in 399 BC. In 387 Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the institution often described as the first European university. Aristotle was the Academy’s most prominent student. Pursuing an opportunity to combine philosophy and practical politics, Plato went to Sicily in 367 to tutor the new ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius the Younger, in the art of philosophical rule. Works

Plato’s writings were in dialogue form; philosophical ideas were advanced, discussed, and criticized in the context of a conversation or debate involving two or more persons. The earliest collection of Plato’s work includes 35 dialogues and 13 letters. The earliest represent Plato’s attempt to communicate the philosophy and dialectical style of Socrates. Several of these dialogues take the same form. Middle and Late Dialogues The dialogues of the middle and later periods of Plato’s life reflect his own philosophical development.

The writings of the middle period include Gorgias (a consideration of several ethical questions), Meno (a discussion of the nature of knowledge), the Apology (Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial against the charges of atheism and corrupting Athenian youth), Crito (Socrates’ defense obedience to the laws of the state), Phaedo (the death scene of Socrates, in which he discusses the theory of Forms, the nature of the soul, and the question of immortality), the Symposium (Plato’s outstanding dramatic achievement, which contains several speeches on beauty and love), the Republic (Plato’s supreme philosophical achievement, which is a detailed discussion of the nature of justice). The works of the later period include the Theaetetus (a denial that knowledge is to be identified with sense perception), Parmenides (a critical evaluation of the theory of Forms), Sophist (further consideration of the theory of Ideas, or Forms), Philebus (a discussion of the relationship between pleasure and the good), Timaeus (Plato’s views on natural science and cosmology), and the Laws (a more practical analysis of political and social issues). At the heart of Plato’s philosophy is his theory of Forms, or Ideas.

Ultimately, his view of knowledge, his ethical theory, his psychology, his concept of the state, and his perspective on art must be understood in terms of this theory. Plato’s theory of Forms and his theory of knowledge are so interrelated that they must be discussed together. Influenced by Socrates, Plato was convinced that knowledge is attainable. First, knowledge must be certain and infallible. One consequence of this view was Plato’s rejection of empiricism, the claim that knowledge is derived from sense experience. Furthermore, the objects of sense experience are changeable phenomena of the physical world. Hence, objects of sense experience are not proper objects of knowledge.

Plato’s own theory of knowledge is found in the Republic, particularly in his discussion of the image of the divided line and the myth of the cave. In the former, Plato distinguishes between two levels of awareness: opinion and knowledge. Claims or assertions about the physical or visible world, including both commonsense observations and the propositions of science, are opinions only. The higher level of awareness is knowledge, because there reason, rather than sense experience, is involved. The myth of the cave describes individuals chained deep within the recesses of a cave. The shadowy environment of the cave symbolizes for Plato the physical world of appearances.

Escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave symbolizes the transition to the real world, the world of full and perfect being, the world of Forms, which is the proper object of knowledge. The theory of Forms may best be understood in terms of mathematical entities. For Plato, therefore, the Form “circularity” exists, but not in the physical world of space and time. It exists as a changeless object in the world of Forms or Ideas, which can be known only by reason. Forms have greater reality than objects in the physical world both because of their perfection and stability and because they are models, resemblance to which gives ordinary physical objects whatever reality they have. Circularity, squareness, and triangularity are excellent examples, then, of what Plato meant by Forms.

An object existing in the physical world may be called a circle or a square or a triangle only to the extent that it resembles (“participates in” is Plato’s phrase) the Form “circularity” or “squareness” or “triangularity. ” Plato extended his theory beyond the realm of mathematics. An object is beautiful to the extent that it participates in the Idea, or Form, of beauty. Everything in the world of space and time is what it is by virtue of its resemblance to, or participation in, its universal Form. The ability to define the universal term is evidence that one has grasped the Form to which that universal refers. Plato conceived the Forms as arranged hierarchically; the supreme Form is the Form of the Good, which, like the sun in the myth of the cave, illuminates all the other Ideas.

In philosophical language, Plato’s theory of Forms is both an epistemological (theory of knowledge) and an ontological (theory of being) thesis. The Republic, Plato’s major political work, is concerned with the question of justice and therefore with the questions “what is a just state” and “who is a just individual? ” The ideal state, according to Plato, is composed of three classes. The economic structure of the state is maintained by the merchant class. Security needs are met by the military class, and political leadership is provided by the philosopher-kings. Plato associates the traditional Greek virtues with the class structure of the ideal state.

Temperance is the unique virtue of the artisan class; courage is the virtue peculiar to the military class; and wisdom characterizes the rulers. Justice, the fourth virtue, characterizes society as a whole. Plato divides the human soul into three parts: the rational part, the will, and the appetites. Ethics Plato’s ethical theory rests on the assumption that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms. As indicated previously, the ultimate Form for Plato is the Form of the Good, and knowledge of this Form is the source of guidance in moral decision making. Art Again, his approach is related to his theory of Forms. The physical flower is one step removed from reality, that is, the Forms.

This also meant that the artist is two steps removed from knowledge, and, indeed, Plato’s frequent criticism of the artists is that they lack genuine knowledge of what they are doing. Artistic creation, Plato observed, seems to be rooted in a kind of inspired madness. Plato’s influence throughout the history of philosophy has been monumental. Plato’s impact on Jewish thought is apparent in the work of the 1st-century Alexandrian philosopher Philo Judaeus. Under the leadership of Marsilio Ficino, members of the Academy studied Plato in the original Greek. Plato’s influence has been extended into the 20th century by such thinkers as Alfred North Whitehead, who once paid him tribute by describing the history of philosophy as simply “a series of footnotes to Plato. “

Plato`s Euthyphro

One of the most interesting and influential thinkers of all time was Socrates, whose dedication to careful reasoning helped form the basis for philosophy. Socrates applied logical tricks in the pursuit for the truth. Consequently, his willingness to call everything into question and his determination to accept nothing less than an adequate account of the nature of things made him one of the first people to utilize critical philosophy.

Although he was well known for his philosophical ways of thinking, Socrates never wrote anything down, so we re dependant on his students, like Plato, for any detailed knowledge of his methods or ways of thinking. One of the early dialogues in which Plato had written was Euthyphro. The Euthyphro dialogue begins with Socrates becoming involved in a touchy conversation with an over confident young man, Euthyphro. Socrates finds Euthyphro perfectly certain of his own ethical morality even in the situation of prosecuting his own father in court.

Socrates asks him to define what piety, or moral duty really is. He asks for something more than just ists of what pious actions are. Euthyphro is supposed to provide a general definition that captures the very basic nature of what piety is. Euthyphro claims that he knows what it is to be pious, but every answer he offers is subjected to the full force of Socrates’ critical thinking. Socrates systematically refutes Euthyphro’s suggestion that what makes right actions right is that the gods love, or approve of them.

First, there is the problem that since questions of right and wrong often create endless disputes, the gods re likely to disagree among themselves about moral matters just as often as we do, making some actions both right and wrong. Socrates lets Euthyphro off the hook on this one by agreeing with him, but only for purposes of continuing the discussion. More importantly, Socrates instigates a formal problem for Euthyphro from a deceivingly simple question, “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods? Neither choice can do the justice for which Euthyphro intends his definition of piety.

If right actions are pious only because the gods love them, then moral rightness is completely optional, depending only on the impulses of the gods. But if the gods love right actions only because they are already right, then there must be some non-divine source of values, which we might come to know separately from their love. Plato’s final answer to the question of what makes a pious act pious is to say that there is a form, piety itself, by virtue of which a pious act is pious.

Socrates Plato and Christianity Through the Eyes of Friedrich Nietzsche

Socrates has undoubtedly had a major impact upon western philosophy and society in general. Plato, whose work is essentially an elaboration and expansion upon that of Socrates, has had a similar effect. Naturally, these two philosophers have been subjects of immense academic interest for over two thousand years. With this great interest comes both praise and criticism. One of the most critical writers to attack these legendary philosophers was Friedrich Nietzsche.

Here I will examine Nietzsches arguments, draw evidence to support such arguments, and discuss his notion of Christianity as an extension of such philosophy. From Nietzsches viewpoint, Socrates and Plato were to Greek society symptoms of societal decay, or as Nietzsche usually puts it decadence (Nietzsche 39). In his attack on Western Philosophy throughout Twilight of the Idols, he purports the main weakness of Socrates to be evident in the delivery of his philosophy, or more specifically dialectics.

Socrates was never a rich man and belonged to the lowest of the socioeconomic classes in Athens. Nietzsche claims that, With dialectics the rabble gets on top, the rabble in this case being Socrates (Nietzsche 41). Socrates repeatedly takes on the government in various matters such as the weakness of democracy the connection of justice and holiness. He uses dialectics with such techniques as elenchus to use complex arguments to loosely back up his statements or to confuse his opponent into submission.

Before Socrates, the dialectical manner of argument was widely looked down upon. The good society considered dialectics as bad manners. Parents warned their children against such arguments purporting that such arguments were not to be trusted. Nietzsches rationale for this mistrust was that honest things should be able to stand alone as honest without the implication of a complex argument. In Athens, where authority lay primarily in commands as opposed to reason and discussion, the dialectician is not usually taken seriously (Nietzsche 41).

According to Nietzsche, dialectics are such cowardly weapons that they should be used only as a last resort. He believes this cowardice to lie in the way the opponent must prove he was an idiot rather than the dialectician proving his wisdom (Nietzsche 42). Socrates used dialectics as a substitute for true superiority over his stronger opponents, and thus made his way to the forefront of Greek philosophy. Nietzsche asserts that Socrates ideas, rather than working toward their intended purpose of developing thought and bringing wisdom to a new level, instead worked against the progress of society.

This problem stems from Socrates equation of reason with virtue with happiness. By this, Socrates was merely trying to suppress his dark desires by producing a so-called permanent daylight of reason (Nietzsche 44). He, as well as many other philosophers of his time, believed that in attacking that which was commonly thought to be this moral decadence, he could somehow elude such decadence himself. The way in which he combats the decadence is simply another, disguised expression of decadence.

He seemed to bask in a sort of rational daylight in a bright, circumspect, life (Nietzsche 44). He believed himself to be living without instinct and in opposition therein. This rationalism at any cost was simply another sickness, and certainly not a path, as it was intended to be, back to health and happiness. Socrates even seems to realize this in retrospect towards the end of his life: Socrates is no physicianDeath alone is the physician hereSocrates has been a long time sick (Nietzsche 44).

Socrates may have finally realized that, as Nietzsche believes, As long as life is ascending, happiness and instinct are one (Nietzsche 44). Socrates endeavors to escape basic human instinct, as it could easily be labeled as the root of societal decay towards a more barbaric society. However, Nietzsche believes that one must accept and embrace this intrinsically influential element of the human psyche to be able to deal realistically with the rest of ones self and ones peers before societal advancement can occur (Nietzsche 49).

For someone, such as Socrates, to acknowledge and hope for another higher world (e. g. the afterlife) does nothing but brings about decadence in the tangible, more important world by trying to escape it. Socrates declares in section 41c of Platos Apology: You too, gentleman of the jury must look forward to death with confidence, and fix your minds on this one belief, which is certain: that nothing can harm a good man either in life or after death. This statement well illustrates Socrates fatal error.

His concentrated hope and belief in another world has taken away from his interest in the present one: he becomes total indifferent as to whether he lives and can in some way be of benefit to mankind or whether he dies and can be at a state of intellectual peace without such benefit. What is even worse is that he spreads this message to others and increases the overall indifference in society towards the tangible world, thus leading to decadence. Socrates was certainly corrupting the youth with such divine distraction and, as I am sure Nietzsche would agree, was quite guilty of this charge brought against him.

The philosophy of Socrates led to the similar philosophy of Plato, and by the time of Plato, Greek philosophy had deviated greatly from the ideas of the Hellenism, often defined as an unrestricted type of pagan love of life, which Nietzsche unabashedly embraced as the purest, Dionysian lifestyle, in contrast to Platos moralistic way of life. Similar to Socrates, Plato is frightened by reality and seems to flee into a state of metaphysical idealism.

His proposal of Platonic Forms is a way to express perfection that is unattainable, but belongs to a higher world for which one must take great effort and strive towards. The implication of this notion for Plato and his followers is that which is referred to as a moral good is established as the supreme concept (Nietzsche 117). It is obvious that Christianity is well on its way to power. Nietzsche realizes fully the growth of such a dogmatic, monotheistic religion as Christianity out of idealistic Platonism:

In the great fatality of Christianity, Plato is that ambiguity and fascination called the ideal, which made is possible for the nobler natures of antiquity to misunderstand themselves and to step on too the bridge which led to the Cross. (Plato 117) Although this suggestion seems to be a simple reiteration of Schopenhauers concept of Christianity as Platonism for the masses, it brings up some other important proposals as the basis for the popularity of Christianity. One of these is that the Churchs power has direct relation to the ambiguity of the afterlife.

It is quite impossible to determine the absolute existence of an afterlife, so one can only speculate. However, the Church is fueled by this speculation, that in the case that an afterlife does exist, only those who have spent their lives contemplating it and striving towards pleasing the Supreme Being or beings to meet the requirements of entry will be enjoy its deliverance from the pains of hell. Also, simple-minded people, such as the earlier, more barbaric followers of the church, are easily excited by the supernatural notions of the unknown, in this case an afterlife, and thus this fascination comes into play.

To illustrate more clearly the connection between these ancient philosophers and the largest religion in the modern world, we can examine how the two entities operate in terms of society. Christianity, like Socrates and Plato, takes the side of everything weak. It too idealizes the opposition of human instinct. More specifically, it attacks those instincts, which serve as a preservation of strength in life. The most important of these instincts is undoubtedly the intellect. The Church teaches that the supreme values of the intellect are inherently sinful.

They dismiss these values as misleading to the Will of God and label them as temptations. Furthermore, Nietzsche purports that life itself is an instinct for growth, and that it leads to an accumulation of forces towards power. Where this well-known Will to Power is lacking, there is decline in mankind. The actions of the Church thus lead to decadence, as they discourage such an instinct for growth in the tangible world, and thus a disguised form of nihilism is a powerful component in Christianity. (Nietzsche 129)

This effect disestablishes the Will to Power and puts power into the hands of the weak, who label themselves the good. This is well illustrated in the first essay, Good and Evil, Good and Bad, of Nietzsches The Geneology of Morals, where he discusses a transvaluation of values. He first separates the act of deciding value into two divisions: the aristocratic system of valuations and the priestly system of valuations. The aristocratic system, spawning from a warrior class, appreciates a strong physique, exuberant health and conditions that guarantee its preservation: combat, adventure, the chase, war games, etc.

The priestly class, in contrast, has impotence as their only weapon. As a result, they turn to hate. Their hate is the most violent, cerebral, and poisonous of all hates (Nietzsche GM 167). In the case of the priestly class being separate from the aristocratic class, and the former being lower in power than the latter, comes the transvaluation of values, simply defined as the process by which good becomes bad and bad becomes good (Nietzsche GM 167). Nietzsche views the two thousand-year slave revolt of the Jews as the most vivid example of this reversal of values.

The common Judeo-Christian proverb, The meek shall inherit the earth, and conversely that the noble and mighty ones will be damned, well illustrates the common disposition of hateful vengeance in the Jews towards the aristocracy (Nietzsche GM 167). Such mutual ideals and virtues spawned the growth of the deepest and most sublime love (an essential precursor to the organization of a religion), which had the same aims of hatred power and victory over the stronger but with a subtler and more seemingly positive path (Nietzsche GM 168).

This love culminated in the form of Jesus, who brought blessing and victory to the weak and sinful. Jesus is, however, a paradoxical blessing to the Jews. Looking at only the superficial aspects of the situation, it seems that Jesus death spawns the destruction of Israel. However, with the opposition of Israels enemies towards the killing of Jesus, these enemies are tricked, so to speak, in to accepting Jesus as the crucified God who let himself die for the benefit of mankind (Nietzsche GM 169). They thus side with Jesus, a poor Jew, and the weak, priestly class has now defeated the strong, aristocratic class.

Although not all of Nietzsches arguments are not as strong and well supported, he draws an astounding picture of how ancient Greek philosophy is so intricately related to Christianity. The morals and values of the modern Church are largely the product of ancient philosophy developing into moral revolutions. From Nietzsche, he learns of the supposed evils that are hidden beneath the surface of such objects, which appear to be quite innocent in nature. In summary, our examination of the criticism brought about against Socrates gives us an altogether more objective view of his philosophy and seems to put it into context.

The beliefs of Plato and Aristotle

The beliefs of Plato and Aristotle can be both valid and invalid in many different ways. This is true for many ancient philosophers. Their ideas can often be hard to touch upon due to changes in things such as time, society, technology and even knowledge. I believe that neither Plato nor Aristotle has complete grasp on their philosophy of life, for as much as the two contradict one another, they also tie in with each other and logically, I believe, one can almost not make sense without the other. I was assigned to choose one of the two whos beliefs I agree with more for this essay.

Personally, as I mentioned already, I think neither is completely valid and I also believe that without Platos views coming into play, Aristotles views are quite pass. I was also assigned to write this essay using examples of personal experience. Although regardless I do ultimately agree with the ideas of Aristotle over those of Plato, I also feel that ultimate agreement with Plato in this essay would be somewhat illogical and contradicting of the itinerary expected. For Aristotle believes in experience as reason and Plato does not.

Platos philosophy I believe contradicts its self in more then the way Aristotle rings to our attention about the senses being separate from the mystical world of the minds. I also somewhat disagree with this Aristotle on this as is evident later on in this essay. I think it is also a contradiction on Platos behalf to say that experience fools us, but to also believe that people with expertise should have power over those without. I dont understand how one can have expertise on anything without experience.

Without the word experience the word expertise would not even exist. I do however, agree with Plato on the fact that life experiences can indeed fool or deceive, but without being ooled or deceived by experience, we would have nothing to learn from. This is where I believe the two views of these philosophers tie in together. Aristotle believes we live life through personal experience. Without the mistakes and deceptions given to us through experience, as spoken about in Platos philosophy, we wouldnt have as much concrete experience to live our lives through.

I believe experience comes with mistakes and learning through them , and although Plato identifies that experience causes mistakes through his philosophy, he gives us no chance in that same philosophy to use those mistakes and what we often learn through hem. Aristotles theory gives us a chance to live and learn which in reality is the way life works. An experience is not done with once a mistake or deception has been incorporated into it. The mistake or deception is often more valued and kept close at hand to be improved on a future situation of that sort or to avoid a reoccurrence.

These points are more valid though the ideas of Aristotle. Such instances in our lives where the tie in between the two philosophers is evident includes such emotions as love, greed, fear, and guilt and our actions we take pon these emotions as well as all emotions in general. Plato claims that the physical senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing and seeing are the basis to all things in life over experience. Imagine ones life however, although emotions cannot always be identified as accurately as the direct physical senses, without feelings such as love or fear.

If a human falsely identifies love, or hate for that matter, which are common mistakes people make throughout life, there is no deeper way to look into and identify such things as true for the future. If one did not have fears to overcome, life would tand without challenge. Although today many of these things are often taken for granted, they all offer learning experiences, as Aristotle would agree, and can often impact our lives in a much more radical way then anything related to the physical senses.

In relation to this issue of physical senses vs. motional senses, such an example to compare and contrast the two is sex. Sex is a physical act, as the five senses are physical and is supposed to come into play after the emotion love is found between two people. In contrary, humans are often fooled by the physical world of sex, elieving good, passionate, addictive sex is equal to love. This is in too many cases false and an instance that sides me a bit with Plato. Perhaps this is evidence that the world of idea and the world of the senses are indeed separate.

This instance however, also makes me disagree with Plato as well. I see this as proof that the senses can fool you as much as experience can, if not more. Another reason, and the last issue I will touch upon in this essay, that I agree more with Aristotle is his theory of final cause. I am a firm believer in seeing is believing. This is a contributing factor to my disbelief in any religion. I use the basis that we have nothing concrete, nothing positively true to tell us what happened before our creation and what the cause of our creation is.

I find it ridiculous to choose one of a lottery of beliefs that often times contradict one another just for the sake of believing in something. Some things just arent known and perhaps are not meant to be known. If one day something were to be proven based on a religion or other regarding our creation and such related topics that go hand in hand with religion, I feel it would be better to ee and then believe rather then to have our beliefs shattered.

In conclusion, the views I posses are ones I learn through everyday experience ranging from small little issues life hands me to the big challenging ones. Although my views can be as close or as distant to those of both Aristotle and Plato, I believe Aristotle and I have a similar grasp on the way life and beliefs work. My thoughts and ideas might be of a simpler philosophy then the two philosophers separate and combined, but Ibelieve a lot of what I say and feel on such topics is very true and evident, and often times more realistic to out lives.

The rhetorical views Plato presents in Gorgias

Speech was omnipotent to Gorgias. As a result, he spent all his time instructing exclusively in the art of Rhetoric. He claimed not to teach virtue, arete, because virtue is different for everyone. For example, political, excellence, and moral virtues differ from person to person. The focus of Gorgias is rhetoric. Plato’s views eventually work their way to the surface though his representation of characters in the dialogues. Some of the rhetorical views Plato presents in Gorgias, are the roles flattery plays in persuasion, the relationship between knowledge and truth, and a just use of rhetoric.

Gorgias taught a technique called karios, recognizing and acting at the opportune time. It involves having the right words to say at the right time and waiting for the best moment in time to make a statement or ask a leading question. In order to be a master of karios, one has to know what to say, what they are not allowed to say, and then decide between side stepping an issue and countering it. Realizing the moral fiber of the argument, in reference to the situation, is a key to having fine timing. Gorgias makes his rhetoric seem poetic by means of literary elements like antithesis and karios.

However, Socrates had a different view about rhetoric and its artistic qualities. According to Socrates, “rhetoric seems not to be an artistic pursuit at all, but that of a shrewd, courageous spirit which is naturally clever at dealing with men; and I call the chief part of it flattery” (23). Socrates sees through the artful poetry and views rhetoric as flattery. I agree that rhetoric is “smooth talk”, but it performs its purpose well. One of its purposes is persuasiveness. Using flattery can be a helpful tool for persuading.

Protagoras would probably counter Socrates’ argument by reminding him that although flattery is part of rhetoric, it is also a subject worth studying because of the need for public speaking. One must also be able to recognize an attempt to flatter and be able to counter it with the right response. Protagoras would counter Plato’s claim by emphasizing the need to study areas of rhetoric for survival in a community that is litigious, like Athens. One of the complaints Plato had with rhetoric is that a good rhetorician can persuade anything without having knowledge of the subject.

Near the beginning of the discourse, he talks about a physician that cannot convince his patient to take the medicine needed to restore the patients’ health. When the rhetorician is present, the patient is convinced. The rhetorician has limited medical understanding compared to the physician, but using skill of rhetoric, they able to assume qualifications to give advice. When Gorgias boasts that he can obtain patient obedience better than the physician, he is also saying that what he knows is more important than the knowledge of medicine.

In summary, the ability to persuade becomes more significant. Using this story, Plato manipulates that rhetoric creates belief without knowledge. Plato argues that for something to be “knowledge” it must be definite and factual. When Socrates is discussing this with Polus, he explains by saying, “truth, you see, can never be refuted” (37). I agree with the previous. Anyone can acquire information, but that is different from possessing understanding. Knowledge comes from truth. Beliefs are opinions and there fore created.

What shocks me is the potential for evil and injustice by creating false beliefs. If an excellent rhetorician can persuade someone to act certain way, without themselves having much knowledge in the area, the only thing keeping the rhetorician from persuading people through trickery are the virtues of the rhetorician. However, the Sophist Protagoras would completely disagree because one cannot know anything to be certain and true because truth is relative. Truth can be disguised because not all options are presented.

Using the apagogic method, one presents the feasible alternatives. This allows the audience to choose. Yet again, the advantage and power is on the rhetorician’s side in this case because they can choose to withhold possible alternatives to help guide or distract the audience. As a result, the rhetorician can use rhetoric unjustly to persuade and audience. Rhetoric, when used unjustly, exceeds its purpose as a virtuous art. According to Socrates, rhetoric is not an art, but a fake that deceives and misleads. “Rhetoric is justice what cookery is to medicine” (26).

In this statement, Socrates defines rhetoric as a false impression of justice and discusses what he believes are false arts, such as cookery and beatification. From his perspective, each of these flawed pursuits chases a more creditable counter part, such as medicine or gymnastics. The key distinction between the true and the false arts is that the false arts deceptively target the pleasant and create a false impression of value. Cooking tasty food is pleasant to eat, but will not cure any disease like genuine medicine will.

Just as the false routine of cookery is to the true art of medicine, rhetoric produces a vacant image of something more wholesome and real. I think that the invention of rhetoric and the influence to warp a belief that is available to the rhetorician that Plato dislikes about rhetoric. In an earlier discussion, Socrates states that, “The rhetorician, then is not a teacherbut merely a creator of beliefs” (14). Protagoras would deny his claim. He did not want to mislead, and is very notable for his desire to improve civil standards indirectly by influencing the education that significant leaders received.

He wanted to give men the education they needed to be successful contributors to civil life. Protagoras would probably argue against the way it is presented by Socrates’ biased views of rhetoric as something evil that is corrupted and abused. On the other hand, toward the end of the book Socrates gives a final address and he is says that there was another art that was overlooked. This art combines medicine and gymnastics. Socrates says, “This is the reason whythe art of medicine and gymnastic is by right their master” (96).

By now, his overall tone of rhetoric has changed and Socrates starts adapting rhetorical techniques that he disagreed with in the beginning discussions. Using rhetorical techniques, he begins to lead the conversation. His use of rhetoric become obvious at the end when Callicles says, “I don’t know how it is, Socrates, that you always manage to twist the argument around until it’s upside down! ” (87). Socrates now stars to manipulate the conversation by using rhetorical language. Callicles had good reason to question Socrates’ strategies.

Throughout the whole discussion Callicles was being pushed around by Socrates. Protagoras might say that Callicles is responding weak and irresponsible in his arguments. Plato’s Gorgias, is an interesting conversation that tackles thoughts and questions about rhetoric. Plato’s views of rhetoric are revealed through the role that flattery plays in persuasion, knowledge and truth, and the just use of rhetoric. As I read, I thought about how I would answer the questions that were presented. I realized that Plato’s claims of rhetoric are cloaked within the dialogue of the characters.

The Republic of Plato

Plato was born around the year 428 BCE into an established Athenian household with a history of political connections — including distant relations to both Solon and Pisistratus. Plato’s parents were Ariston and Perictone, his older brothers were Adeimantus and Glaucon, and his younger sister was Potone. In keeping with his family heritage, Plato was destined for the political life. But the Peloponnesian War, which began a couple of years before he was born and continued until well after he was twenty, led to the decline of the Athenian Empire.

The war was followed by religious movement that led to the execution of Plato’s mentor, Socrates. Together these events forever altered the course of Plato’s life. Plato studied in many forms of poetry as a young man, only later turning to philosophy. Aristotle tells us that sometime during Plato’s youth the philosopher-to-be became acquainted with the doctrines of Cratylus, a student of Heraclitus, who, along with other Presocratic thinkers such as Pythagoras and Parmenides, provided Plato with the basis of his teachings.

Upon meeting Socrates, however, Plato directed his thoughts toward the question of virtue. The formation of a noble character was to be before all else. Indeed, it is a mark of Plato’s brilliance that he was to find in metaphysics and epistemology a host of moral and political implications. How we think and what we take to be real have an important role in how we act. Thus, Plato came to believe that a philosophical approach toward life would lead one to being just and, ultimately, happy.

It is difficult to determine the precise chain of events that led Plato to the intricate web of beliefs that unify metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and politics into a single inquiry. We can be certain, however, that the establishment of a government by Sparta (after the chaos of Athens’ final defeat in 404), and the events that followed, dramatically affected the direction of his thinking. Two of Plato’s relatives, Critias (his mother’s uncle) and Charmides (his mother’s brother) played roles in politics.

Critias was identified as one of the more extreme members and chief advocate of the government, while Charmides played a smaller role as one of the Eleven, a customs/police force which oversaw the Piraeus. The government made a practice of confiscating the estates of wealthy Athenians and resident aliens and of putting many individuals to death. In an effort to implicate Socrates in their actions, the government ordered him to arrest Leon of Salamis. Socrates, however, resisted and was spared punishment only because a civil war eventually replaced the corrupt government with a new and most radical democracy.

A general amnesty, the first in history, was issued absolving those who participated in the reign of terror and other crimes committed during the war. But because many of Socrates’ associates were involved with the corrupt government, public sentiment had turned against him, and he now had the reputation of being anti-democratic. In what appears to be a matter of guilt-by-association, a general prejudice was ultimately responsible for bringing Socrates to trial in 399 on the charges of corrupting the youth, introducing new gods into the city, atheism, and engaging in unusual religious practices.

During his trial, which is documented in Plato’s Apology, Socrates explained that he had no interest to engage in politics, because a certain divine sign told him that he was to foster a just and noble lifestyle within the young men of Athens. This he did in casual conversations with whomever he happened to meet on the streets. When Socrates told the court that if set free, he would not stop this practice, claiming that he must follow the voice of his god over the dictates of the state, the court found him guilty (though by a narrow margin), and he was executed one month later.

This final sequence of events must have weighed heavily on Plato, who then turned away from politics, somewhat jaded by the unjust behavior of the government, disappointed by the acts of the democracy, and forever affected by the execution of Socrates. Whether or not Plato began to write philosophical dialogues prior to Socrates’ execution is a matter of debate. But most scholars agree that shortly after 399 Plato began to write more frequently. Although the order in which his dialogues were written is a matter of debate. This divides Plato’s writings into three broad groups.

The first group, generally known as the “Socratic” dialogues, was probably written between the years 399 and 387. These texts are called “Socratic” because here Plato appears to remain relatively close to what the historical Socrates thought and taught. One of these, the Apology, was probably written shortly after the death of Socrates. The Crito, Laches, Lysis, Charmides, Euthyphro, Hippias Minor and Major, Protagoras, Gorgias and Ion, were probably written throughout this twelve year period as well, some of them, like the Protagoras and Gorgias, most likely at its end.

Plato was forty the first time he visited Italy. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Athens and founded the Academy, located nearly a mile outside the city walls and named after the hero Academus. The Academy included a nice grove of trees, gardens, a gymnasium and many shrines — including one dedicated to Athena herself, the goddess of the city. Plato created his own cult association, setting aside a portion of the Academy for his purposes and dedicating his cult to the Muses.

Soon this ‘school’ became rather well-known on account of its common meals and easy lifestyle, modified, of course, to suit a new agenda. Indeed, Plato’s Academy was famed for its moderate eating and talk as well as all the appropriate sacrifices and religious observences. Overshadowing all of that was its philosophical activity. It seems that over the next twenty six years Plato’s philosophical speculation became more profound and his dramatic talents more refined. During this period Plato could have written the Meno, Euthydemus, Menexenus, Cratylus, Republic, Phaedrus, Symposium and Phaedo.

These texts differ from the earlier in that they tend toward the grand speculation that provides us with many hallmarks of Platonism, such as the method of hypothesis, the recollection theory and, of course, the theory of ideas, or forms, as they are sometimes called. We know little of the remaining thirteen years in Plato’s life. Probably sick of his wanderings and misfortunes in Sicily, Plato returned to the philosophical life of the Academy and, most likely, lived out his days conversing and writing.

During this period, Plato could have written the so-called “later” dialogues, the Parmenides, Theatetus, Sophist, Statesman, Timaeus, Critias, Philebus and Laws, in which Socrates plays a relatively minor role. Plato died in 347, leaving the Academy to Speusippus, his sister’s son. The Academy served as the model for institutions of higher learning until it was closed by the Emperor Justinian in 529 CE, almost one thousand years later. The Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exception of the Laws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearer approaches to modern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist.

The institutions of the state are more clearly laid out in the Laws; as works of art, the Symposium and the Protagoras are of higher excellence. But no other dialogue of Plato has the same view and the same style; no other shows an equal knowledge of the world, or contains more of those thoughts which are new as well as old. Nowhere in Plato is there more use of imagery, or dramatic power. None of his works connect politics with philosophy as well as The Republic. The Republic is the center around which the other Dialogues may be grouped; here philosophy reaches the highest point to which ancient thinkers had attained.

Plato was the first who conceived a method of knowledge. The sciences of logic and psychology, which have supplied so many instruments of thought to after-ages, are based upon the analyses of Socrates and Plato. The Republic is the third part of a still larger work which was to have included an ideal history of Athens, as well as a political and physical philosophy. The fragment of the Critias has given birth to a world-famous fiction, second only in importance to the tale of Troy and the legend of Arthur.

This mythical tale, of which the subject was a history of the wars of the Athenians against the Island of Atlantis, is supposed to be founded upon an unfinished poem of Solon, to which it would have stood in the same relation to the poems of Homer. It would have told of a struggle for freedom, intended to represent the conflict of Persia and Hellas. We can only guess why the great design was abandoned, maybe because he had lost his interest in it, or because advancing years hindered the completion of it. In this section of the paper I will discuss the relation of certain texts of Plato’s writing, The Republic, to Christian teachings.

Plato believed the individual possessed three virtues: wisdom, courage, and justice. Also, if each man did their own work they would have no problem being just. A temperate man is a man at harmony that rules with reason. Plato asks the question,” Is justice to an individual the same as justice to the state? If the case is put to us, must we not admit that the just State, or the man who is trained in the principles of such a State, will be less likely than the unjust to make away with a deposit of gold or silver? “* This passage makes a small reference to the commandment, thou shall not steal.

This next passage makes a reference to three of our commandments. “A just man will never be guilty of sacrilege, theft, or treachery either to his friends or to his country. No one will be less likely to commit adultery, or to dishonor his father and mother, or fail to follow religious duties. ” This reference to the commandments proves that our beliefs that are held by many people, even in the old world. Justice is an important virtue, it is needed to run yourself and a country properly, Plato believed this also. It is no secret to any person that being just is a proper way to live your life.

Many of the passages in The Republic discribe justice as an important virtue, justice is one of the virtues that Catholics are called to follow, too. Plato describes justice as being concerned with the inward man and not the outward, we must not let the appearance of a person block our judgement of right and wrong. A person cannot let their feelings for a person or object hinder their judgement either. It isn’t just a Catholic belief that we should look to the inside to judge a person’s character, humans are taught that from their parents early on in life.

A just man sets in order his own life, and is his own master and his own law. ” I agree with Plato on this point because before you can believe in anything you have to believe in yourself. Plato describes injustice as: ” strife which rises up against the three principles, it is like a rising up of the soul against the whole, an assertion of unlawful authority, which is made by a rebellious subject against a true prince. ” Another teaching is that the soul cannot be satisfied with the material goods of the world, but it needs just acts to feel “whole” or complete.

This is also something the church teaches, nothing can take the place of God in your life, you won’t feel whole unless you fill the void in your soul with faith and not the material things. According to Plato, justice is the beauty and well being of the soul and vice the disease and weakness of the soul, this is very similar to the teaching that sin is tainted on the soul, something like a virus or a smudge on a mirror. If we act justly we can strengthen our soul to ward off temptation.

Plato’s Symposium Essay

Plato’s Symposium provides us with many different views and theories about love. This drunken discussion of Eros presents ideas which have not lost their relevance in the millennia since. Many things have changed and there have been a lot of different views on almost every subject known to man, but the thoughts voiced in the Symposium still hold truth today. However being what it was, and that is many different peoples thoughts on the subjectof Eros, there is a wide variety of theories to choose from. Which of these speculations strikes a chord of truth in one’s soul?

Diotima speaks through Socrates (who is speaking hrough Plato) when she gives her version of where love came from. She says that Love is the child of Resource and Poverty, conceived on the day that Aphrodite was born. Poverty had come to the feast to beg and found Resource drunk and passed out. Poverty saw an opportunity to gain more resources, so she slept with him and became pregnant with Love. Love is a follower of Aphrodite because He was conceived at the party following her birth, and because “He is naturally a lover of beauty and Aphrodite is beautiful”(Gill, 203c) Because of who His mother is Love is always poor and homeless.

He is quite tough from sleeping n the ground or in doorways and from wearing no shoes. Because of who His mother is, He is always in need, but because of who His father is He is constantly scheming to get good and beautiful things. He’s clever, and skilled in hunting, magic and acquiring knowledge. Neither immortal nor mortal, Love can spring to life in a day and then die before that day is over. He can come back to life again like his father Resource, but cannot hold onto the resources he has.

Being between mortality and immortality, Diotima calls Love “a great spirit”(Gill,202e). These great spirits are sort of go-betweens for the Gods nd Humanity. They convey prayers and sacrifices from us to the Gods, and commands and gifts from the Gods to us. Because of them the universe is all interconnected and whole. The Gods never communicate directly to Humans, but always use these spirits to convey their commands. These are what priests, prophets and oracles speak to. Love is also between wisdom and ignorance, since neither the gods nor the ignorant love wisdom.

The Gods already have it so the do not desire it, therefore love has no part in it. The ignorant don’t love wisdom or want it, because they are satisfied with themselves. Since they do not think they need wisdom, they do not desire or love it. Therefore Love lies between wisdom and ignorance. In fact the only ones who love wisdom are those between wisdom and ignorance, such as Love himself. Wisdom is beautiful, and Love is a lover of beauty, ergo Love is a lover of wisdom. Since Love is for things that Love does not yet have, this too proves that He is not wise.

Yet it would not do to call the great spirit Love completely ignorant, so we again see that he falls between the two. The reason for this is his parents: “His father is wise and resourceful while his other has neither quality”(Gill,204c). Diotima tells Socrates (and Socrates tells the Symposium) that Love is also between beautiful and ugly, since love must be of something that it does not have and Love is of beauty. Therefore Love cannot have beauty. But one cannot call Love ugly, so He ends up between these two as well.

Similarly Love is not good because love must be of good. But one could hardly call love bad, and so again He falls between the two. I think that this is definitely a plausible account of love. People like to think of love as being this sweet and wonderful thing, when really it can be quite ough and demanding. However you can’t say that it is a horrible and ugly thing (unless you have recently been burned by it, and even then the sentiment fades with time). Love falls between wondrous sweetness and the heart-wrenchingly bitter.

When we love something it is often something we cannot obtain, and once we have it in our possession we tend to fall out of love with it. From people to objects, Humans seem interested only in what they do not have at the time. We are constantly seeking that which is beautiful and good and that which we do not have. If we do get our hands on what we have been eeking after, and do not fall out of love with it immediately, we seek to hold on to it forever. Since nothing is permanent this is just another thing we cannot have and therefore want to love.

I loved the idea of Poverty and Resource being a God and Goddess. The whole Greek way of thinking about Gods and Goddesses sits well with me because I believe that we create them with our emotions and needs. Because of this it makes sense that the Gods and Goddesses would be fallible, and have many of the same quirks and problems that Humans have. In fact it makes sense that these same quirks and troubles ould be amplified, seeing how these creatures are so much more powerful than we. The idea of a Goddess coming to a feast to beg is an interesting one.

She is the representative of the impoverished who often come to the gates of houses in which feasts are being held to beg for food. But being a Goddess, would she even need food, and why could she not come by it herself? It is as if her very being is made up of necessity that cannot be come by, even to a Goddess. It is almost a humorous play on words that “Poverty formed a plan of relieving her lack of resources by having a child by Resource”(Gill,203c). Why didn’t anyone think of that before?? One would think that Resource would be quite popular indeed!

However her plan didn’t seem to work so well. Though we do not hear much about her after this point in the story, it does not seem that having a child like Love would help her situation very much: he is as homeless and shoeless as she. There were a few points I thought were weak. The Olympian Gods were definitely fallible, and did many things that seemed to mess things up for themselves and for the Human race. Often lecherous and greedy, these were definitely not the perfect infinite God of so many eligions today.

This is one of the things I like the most about them, but part of Diotima’s arguments were based on not calling the Gods bad, ugly, nor anything too negative. This could have been out of fearful respect, but if one wishes to have a meaningful philosophical conversation, one should not *censored*-foot around anything. Socrates seemed all too willing to agree that the Gods could not possibly be anything but beautiful and good. Another weakness in the argument is that Socrates accepts that Love cannot be ugly and bad because he wouldn’t “dare to suggest that any of the gods is not eautiful and happy”(Gill,202c).

But right after that it is decided that Love is not a God because a God must be beautiful and happy. It was already established that Love is not beautiful and happy because He wants things of beauty and goodness (which would bring Him happiness). So why can’t He be ugly and unhappy? He may be a great spirit, but no where is it written that great spirits have to be beautiful and happy. This myth about love is somewhat unusual. I have not seen one quite like it anywhere else, in other Greek mythology or any other religious or cultural mythology. It accurately sums up the qualities nd traits of love.

It discusses the pleasant side of love, as well as the side that can be unlikable. It provides us with an origin that makes some logical sense and which provides explanations for all of loves traits. I think that of all of the myths about love that I have read I like this one the best. It holds on to its relevancy even after more than two thousand years. The feelings and thoughts expressed in this story (and in much of the rest of the Symposium for that matter) act as a sort of time capsule proving that while many things change, Human emotions mostly stay the same.

Plato On Justice

Plato (428-347 BC) The Greek philosopher Plato was among the most important and creative thinkers of the ancient world. His work set forth most of the important problems and concepts of Western philosophy, psychology, logic, and politics, and his influence has remained profound from ancient to modern times. Plato was born in Athens in 428 BC. Both his parents were of distinguished Athenian families, and his stepfather, an associate of Pericles, was an active participant in the political and cultural life of Periclean Athens.

Plato seems as a young man to have been destined for an aristocratic political career. The xcesses of Athenian political life, however, both under the oligarchical rule (404-403) of the so-called Thirty Tyrants and under the restored democracy, seem to have led him to give up these ambitions. In particular, the execution (399) of Socrates had a profound effect on his plans. The older philosopher was a close friend of Plato’s family, and Plato’s writings attest to Socrates’ great influence on him.

After Socrates’ death Plato retired from active Athenian life and traveled widely for a number of years. In 388 BC he journeyed to Italy and Sicily, where he became the friend of Dionysius the Elder, ruler of Syracuse, nd his brother-in-law Dion. The following year he returned to Athens, where he founded the Academy, an institution devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences. Most of his life thereafter was spent in teaching and guiding the activities of the Academy.

When Dionysius died (367), Dion invited Plato to return to Syracuse to undertake the philosophical education of the new ruler, Dionysius the Younger. Plato went, perhaps with the hope of founding the rule of a philosopher-king as envisioned in his work the Republic. The visit, however, ended (366) in failure. In 361, Plato went to Syracuse again. This visit proved even more disastrous, and he returned (360) to the Academy. Plato died in 347 BC. Plato’s published writings, of which apparently all are preserved, consist of some 26 dramatic dialogues on philosophical and related themes.

The precise chronological ordering of the dialogues remains unclear, but stylistic and thematic considerations suggest a rough division into three periods. The earliest dialogues, begun after 399 BC, are seen by many scholars as memorials to the life and teaching of Socrates. Three of them, the Euthyphro, Apology, and Crito, describe Socrates’ conduct immediately before, during, and after his trial. The early writings include a series of short dialogues that end with no clear and definitive solution to the problems raised.

Characteristically, Plato has Socrates ask questions of the form “What is X? ” and insist that he wants not examples or instances of X but what it is to be X, the essential nature, or Form, of X. In the Charmides the discussion concerns the question “What is temperance? ; in the Laches, “What is courage? in the Euthyphro, “What is holiness? ” The first book of he Republic may originally have been such a dialogue, devoted to the question “What is justice? Socrates holds that an understanding of the essential nature in each case is of primary importance, but he does not claim himself to have any such understanding.

A formal mode of cross-examination called elenchus, in which the answers to questions put by Socrates are shown to result in a contradiction of the answerer’s original statement, reveals the ignorance of the answerer as well. Typically, these answerers are self-professed experts (the title characters of the Gorgias and Protagoras, for example, were eading Sophists; thus their inability to provide a definition is particularly noteworthy.

In the Apology, Socrates describes his mission as one of exposing this ignorance, an exposure he takes to be a necessary preliminary to true wisdom. Although the dialogues appear to end in ignorance, the dialectical structure of each work is such that a complex and subtle understanding of the concept emerges. The dialogues of the middle period were begun after the founding of the Academy. Here more openly positive doctrines begin to emerge in the discourse of Socrates. The dialogues of this period include what is widely hought to be Plato’s greatest work, the Republic.

Beginning with a discussion on the nature of justice, the dialogue articulates a vision of an ideal political community and the education appropriate to the rulers of such a community. Justice is revealed to be a principle of each thing performing the function most appropriate to its nature, a principle of the proper adjudication of activity and being. In political terms, this principle is embodied in a society in which citizens perform the tasks for which they are best suited; in the individual human soul the principle is to be discovered when each part of he soul performs its proper and appropriate function.

Reason in both instances is to rule, but in both the political community and the individual soul, justice is ideally coupled with the virtue of temperance, the harmony and self-mastery that results when all elements agree as to which should do what. Thus the rule of reason is not a tyranny but the harmonious rule of the happily unified individual and society. In the middle books of this dialogue, Plato develops, as an account of the nature of being and understanding, the theory of Forms foreshadowed in his earlier writings.

The Form is introduced as a principle explaining individual instances of being X, the very thing itself that is meant by the name X and that is the transcendent object of understanding what it is to be X. The Forms constitute a realm of unchanging being to which the world of individual changing objects is subordinate. The Form of good enjoys a unique status, responsible for the being and intelligibility of the world as a whole. In the Theaetetus the nature of understanding itself is explored.

A critique of suggested definitions shows that understanding, or knowledge, involves judgment oncerning the being of things, not a mere acquaintance with them in perception or simple mental awareness. The Phaedo and the Symposium are dramatically elaborate pieces dealing, respectively, with death and love. The Phaedo, which represents Socrates’ final hours, considers the nature of the soul and portrays the philosophical life as a separation of soul from body, which prepares the philosopher for death. In the Symposium, Socrates portrays love as the creative attraction toward the beautiful and the good itself.

In the dialogues of the later period, begun after Plato returned from Syracuse, the figure of Socrates ecedes into the background. In the Sophist and Statesman the central figure is an unnamed visitor from Elea. The Sophist shows how a proper understanding of appearance depends on an account of being and nonbeing and of the relation between particulars and Forms. In the Parmenides the theory of Forms comes under exacting scrutiny, and arguments are presented to show that the Forms cannot be entities of the same sort as those whose being they explain.

The Timaeus presents a semimythical description of the origin and nature of the universe, and the Philebus considers the place of pleasure in the good life. In the Laws, Plato’s longest and last work a model constitution for an ideal city is considered. Central to Plato’s thought is the power of reason to reveal the intelligibility and order governing the changing world of appearance and to create, at both the political and the individual level, a harmonious and happy life. Socrates’ view that virtue is a form of understanding and that the good life must consequently be grounded in knowledge.

It is refined into the view that philosophical education is to effect a harmony between reason and passion, life of self-mastery in which reason governs the will not as something alien to it but as its natural guide and source. The doctrine of recollection, according to which learning is the remembering of a wisdom that the soul enjoyed prior to its incarnation, is a mythical statement of this view that neither reason nor the intelligible order that it reveals is alien to the human soul.

This order–seen by Plato as providing an account both of the being and of the intelligibility of the world of appearance–is articulated in the theory of Forms. Forms are the principles of being in the world, of the fact that the orld presents itself as instances of being this or that, as well as the principles of human understanding of those instances of being. The nature and intelligibility of the world of appearance can thus be accounted for, in Plato’s view, only by recognizing it as an “image” of the truly intelligible structure of being itself, which is the world of Forms.

The relationship between Forms and particulars, or between the world of being and the world of appearance, was recognized by Plato to be deeply problematic. He remained clear, however, that no theory could fail to recognize both features of the world ithout falling prey to either the relativism of Heraclitus or the monism of Parmenides, both of which destroy the very possibility of being and understanding. Plato sees the world of being itself governed by the Form of the good, as also the source of value and the object of proper desire.

The philosopher is thus pictured as in love with the Forms, that is, in love with the world as it truly is. His wish to see through the world of flux to the true principles of its being is thus basically an act of love. This love is not simply an attraction to the good but a creative force for the procreation of the good. Directed toward others, it is the power of education, the bringing to birth of understanding and virtue through the process of dialectic, as portrayed in Socrates’ relation to the youths about him.

Reason for Plato, as for the Greek tradition in general, is most clearly manifest in logos, the word, and language, as the medium in which reason articulates being, is a central topic throughout the dialogues. Plato was impressed by the fact that language has the capacity both to articulate the intelligibility of the world and to belie the world’s true being. He constantly addresses the question of how to purge anguage of its potential deceptiveness, how to win the fidelity of words to the world.

Bad poetry and bad rhetoric alike are pathological forms of the inescapable dissociation of word and world; the Platonic question is how to make this dissociation benign. The central vehicle that Plato envisions for this purpose is dialectic, the dialogue that refines and articulates the true shape and tendency of speech and understanding. This dialectic is presented mimetically in the dialogues themselves, which are thus not simply presentations of philosophical views but representations of philosophy at work, of human eings engaged in the distinctively human and highly civilized activity of rational conversation.

The influence of Plato’s thought is seen in the continuing vitality of the Platonic tradition through subsequent centuries. The major philosophers of late Hellenism, most notably Plotinus and Proclus, were self-professed Platonists. After the closing of the Academy, Neoplatonism continued to flourish in the Islamic and Byzantine world, and Latin Neoplatonism was a strong intellectual factor throughout the Middle Ages. During the Renaissance there occurred a great rebirth of Platonic thought in the West.

The Byzantine philosopher Giorgius Gemistus Pletho (c. 355-1452) introduced the study of Plato to Renaissance Florence, and the subsequent translations and commentaries of Marsilio Ficino and others laid the groundwork for a flourishing school of Platonic thought in the Florentine Academy. In 17th-century England the rationalistic theologians known as the Cambridge Platonists based much of their thinking on Plato. The 19th and 20th centuries have witnessed, besides the important influence of Plato on the Romantic Movement, the development of a strong Anglo-European tradition of Platonic scholarship.

Plato, the best known of all the great Greek philosophers

Plato was the best known of all the great Greek philosophers. Platos original name was Aristocles, but in his school days he was nicknamed Platon (meaning broad) because of his broad shoulders. Born in Athens circa B. C. 427, Plato saught out political status. But during the Athenian democracy, he did not activly embrace it. Plato devoted his life to Socrates, and became his disciple in B. C. 409. Plato was outraged when Socarates was executed by the Athenian democrats in B. C. 399. He later left Athens convinced democracy wouldnt make it.

Years after Plato romed the Greek cities in Africa and Italy absorbing philosphical knowledge and then returning to Athens in B. C. 387. There he later created the first University on the ground of famous Greek Academus, which was later called the Academy. He remained at the Academy for the remainder of his life omitting 2 brief periods. He visited Syracuse and Greek Sicily to serve as a tutor for the new king, Dionysis II. Which ended out very badly when the King acted like a king, instead of a philospher. Perhaps Platos worse student.

He later returned to Athens and died in his early 80s, circa B. C. 347. Platos work is argueably the most popular and influential of its kind ever published. His most popular work are transcripts, or dialogues between the great Socrates and himself. These dialogues are the basis of our general knowlege between Socrates views and Platos views. Plato was much like Socrates, in that he was mostly interested in moral philosophy and overlooked science [natural philosophy]. He considered the natural science as an inferior knowledge, not worthy of his time.

Plato loved mathematics mainly because, back then, it idealized abstractions and seperated from the material world. Plato thought mathematics was the purest form of thoughts, and had nothing to do with everyday life. That doesnt nessacarily apply to the matters of today. Plato belived in mathematics so much that he sketched a quote above the doorway of the Academy that stated, Let no one ignorant of mathematics enter here. Plato believed that mathematics, in ideal form, could be applied to the heavens. He expresses this in his dialogue of Timaeus, his scheme of the universe.

In his dialogue Timaeus Plato creates a fictioinal tale of Atlantis to put a moralistic spin in the dialogue. Atlantis, as we all know, is the fictional city of which everyone and everything was moraly perfect. Needless to say, people today still think that the city of Atlantis exsisted, even though the theory isnt moot. Today, Platos work still influences us. The Academy stood teaching until A. D. 529, when the Roman Emperor, Justinian ordered the close of it. Even though he was paganist, Christians [like yourself] were influenced and entertained by the wonderful dialogues of Socrates and Plato.

Plato’s Symposium Essay

Plato’s Symposium provides us with many different views and theories about love. This drunken discussion of Eros presents ideas which have not lost their relevance in the millennia since. Many things have changed and there have been a lot of different views on almost every subject known to man, but the thoughts voiced in the Symposium still hold truth today. However being what it was, and that is many different peoples thoughts on the subjectof Eros, there is a wide variety of theories to choose from. Which of these speculations strikes a chord of truth in one’s soul?

Diotima speaks through Socrates (who is speaking hrough Plato) when she gives her version of where love came from. She says that Love is the child of Resource and Poverty, conceived on the day that Aphrodite was born. Poverty had come to the feast to beg and found Resource drunk and passed out. Poverty saw an opportunity to gain more resources, so she slept with him and became pregnant with Love. Love is a follower of Aphrodite because He was conceived at the party following her birth, and because “He is naturally a lover of beauty and Aphrodite is beautiful”(Gill, 203c) Because of who His mother is Love is always poor and homeless.

He is quite tough from sleeping n the ground or in doorways and from wearing no shoes. Because of who His mother is, He is always in need, but because of who His father is He is constantly scheming to get good and beautiful things. He’s clever, and skilled in hunting, magic and acquiring knowledge. Neither immortal nor mortal, Love can spring to life in a day and then die before that day is over. He can come back to life again like his father Resource, but cannot hold onto the resources he has.

Being between mortality and immortality, Diotima calls Love “a great spirit”(Gill,202e). These great spirits are sort of go-betweens for the Gods nd Humanity. They convey prayers and sacrifices from us to the Gods, and commands and gifts from the Gods to us. Because of them the universe is all interconnected and whole. The Gods never communicate directly to Humans, but always use these spirits to convey their commands. These are what priests, prophets and oracles speak to. Love is also between wisdom and ignorance, since neither the gods nor the ignorant love wisdom.

The Gods already have it so the do not desire it, therefore love has no part in it. The ignorant don’t love wisdom or want it, because they are satisfied with themselves. Since they do not think they need wisdom, they do not desire or love it. Therefore Love lies between wisdom and ignorance. In fact the only ones who love wisdom are those between wisdom and ignorance, such as Love himself. Wisdom is beautiful, and Love is a lover of beauty, ergo Love is a lover of wisdom. Since Love is for things that Love does not yet have, this too proves that He is not wise.

Yet it would not do to call the great spirit Love completely ignorant, so we again see that he falls between the two. The reason for this is his parents: “His father is wise and resourceful while his other has neither quality”(Gill,204c). Diotima tells Socrates (and Socrates tells the Symposium) that Love is also between beautiful and ugly, since love must be of something that it does not have and Love is of beauty. Therefore Love cannot have beauty. But one cannot call Love ugly, so He ends up between these two as well.

Similarly Love is not good because love must be of good. But one could hardly call love bad, and so again He falls between the two. I think that this is definitely a plausible account of love. People like to think of love as being this sweet and wonderful thing, when really it can be quite ough and demanding. However you can’t say that it is a horrible and ugly thing (unless you have recently been burned by it, and even then the sentiment fades with time). Love falls between wondrous sweetness and the heart-wrenchingly bitter.

When we love something it is often something we cannot obtain, and once we have it in our possession we tend to fall out of love with it. From people to objects, Humans seem interested only in what they do not have at the time. We are constantly seeking that which is beautiful and good and that which we do not have. If we do get our hands on what we have been eeking after, and do not fall out of love with it immediately, we seek to hold on to it forever. Since nothing is permanent this is just another thing we cannot have and therefore want to love.

I loved the idea of Poverty and Resource being a God and Goddess. The whole Greek way of thinking about Gods and Goddesses sits well with me because I believe that we create them with our emotions and needs. Because of this it makes sense that the Gods and Goddesses would be fallible, and have many of the same quirks and problems that Humans have. In fact it makes sense that these same quirks and troubles ould be amplified, seeing how these creatures are so much more powerful than we. The idea of a Goddess coming to a feast to beg is an interesting one.

She is the representative of the impoverished who often come to the gates of houses in which feasts are being held to beg for food. But being a Goddess, would she even need food, and why could she not come by it herself? It is as if her very being is made up of necessity that cannot be come by, even to a Goddess. It is almost a humorous play on words that “Poverty formed a plan of relieving her lack of resources by having a child by Resource”(Gill,203c). Why didn’t anyone think of that before?? One would think that Resource would be quite popular indeed!

However her plan didn’t seem to work so well. Though we do not hear much about her after this point in the story, it does not seem that having a child like Love would help her situation very much: he is as homeless and shoeless as she. There were a few points I thought were weak. The Olympian Gods were definitely fallible, and did many things that seemed to mess things up for themselves and for the Human race. Often lecherous and greedy, these were definitely not the perfect infinite God of so many eligions today.

This is one of the things I like the most about them, but part of Diotima’s arguments were based on not calling the Gods bad, ugly, nor anything too negative. This could have been out of fearful respect, but if one wishes to have a meaningful philosophical conversation, one should not *censored*-foot around anything. Socrates seemed all too willing to agree that the Gods could not possibly be anything but beautiful and good. Another weakness in the argument is that Socrates accepts that Love cannot be ugly and bad because he wouldn’t “dare to suggest that any of the gods is not eautiful and happy”(Gill,202c).

But right after that it is decided that Love is not a God because a God must be beautiful and happy. It was already established that Love is not beautiful and happy because He wants things of beauty and goodness (which would bring Him happiness). So why can’t He be ugly and unhappy? He may be a great spirit, but no where is it written that great spirits have to be beautiful and happy. This myth about love is somewhat unusual. I have not seen one quite like it anywhere else, in other Greek mythology or any other religious or cultural mythology. It accurately sums up the qualities nd traits of love.

It discusses the pleasant side of love, as well as the side that can be unlikable. It provides us with an origin that makes some logical sense and which provides explanations for all of loves traits. I think that of all of the myths about love that I have read I like this one the best. It holds on to its relevancy even after more than two thousand years. The feelings and thoughts expressed in this story (and in much of the rest of the Symposium for that matter) act as a sort of time capsule proving that while many things change, Human emotions mostly stay the same.

The Life Of Plato

Plato was born in 427 B. C. into a wealthy family that was both aristocratic and politically influential. His family had a rich history of political connections and consisted of his parents, Ariston and Perictione, his older brothers Adeimantus and Glawcon, and later a younger sister, Potone. “In keeping with his family heritage, Plato was destined for the political life”(Beavers and Planeaux). During Platos early years he was instructed by eminent teachers in grammar, music, and gymnastics.

Plato also had literary aspirations directed particularly toward creative work in poetry and tragedy”(Sahakian 32). Plato mainly engaged in many forms of poetry, only later turning to philosophy. As a young man, during the final years of the Peloponnesian War when Athens was in urgent need of manpower, Plato served in the army. According to Sahakian, Plato seemed destined to pursue a public career until he became a disciple of Socrates (Sahakian 32). Plato was in his twenties when he directed his inquires toward the question of virtue.

Plato became a faithful disciple of Socrates not only through Socrates’ remaining life, but after his death as well. Cornford believed: “It was the unique good fortune of Socrates to have, among his young ompanions, one who was not only to become a writer of incomparable skill, but was, by native gift, a poet and a thinker no less subtle than Socrates himself”(Cornford 55).

Plato was twenty-eight when Socrates died and he was committed to refining and extending the Socratic principles. He also devoted his time to defining the Socratic method of inquiry against criticism. From Socrates Plato learnt that problems of human life were to be solved by the morality of aspiration and the pursuit of an invariable ideal of perfection” (Cornford 63). Behind all of Plato’s beliefs is a Socratic motive in which he derived. Plato unified his beliefs of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and politics into a single inquiry.

He found that the formation of a noble character was to be before all else. The format in which Plato used to unify his beliefs is unknown, but events during his life, like the chaos of Athens final defeat in 404 B. C. re believed to help his unification. During this time of unification, Plato began to travel.

“Plato was forty when he visited Italy for the first time and shortly thereafter he returned to Athens and founded the Academus Academy, located nearly a mile outside the city walls and named after the Attic hero Academus” (Beavers and Planeaux). The Academy was an independent institution of learning and can be seen as the precursor of today’s modern university.

Falikowski writes that: “The Academy was a quiet retreat where teachers and students could meet to pursue knowledge… Students throughout Greece enrolled to portake in the adventure of learning and to experience personal growth toward wisdom” (Falikowski 15). The primary goal of the Academy was to educate citizens for statesmanship. Plato, like Socrates, did not except fees for his teaching. The Academy was left to the son of Plato’s sister, Speusippus, when Plato died in 347B. C. Emperor Justinian then closed the Academy in 529B. C. Vision of the Soul “In his writings, Plato addressed perennial questions like “What constitutes the good life? ” and “What sort of individual should I strive to become? (Falikowski 16).

To answer such questions, Plato paid particular attention to the soul. Plato assigned the human soul an intermediary position between the World of Becoming and the World of Ideal Being. The soul to him was immortal by nature, even though it is not external. The soul unlike physical things, can survive change. Plato envisioned the soul as having three divisions with individual duties. These divisions were made up of the reason, spirit, and appetite. The reason is the part we might refer to as the intellect, “It seeks knowledge and understanding.

The ability to think and make up our minds before we act, is by means of reason” (Falikowski 17). In other words, it is passion, which includes our self-assertive tendencies. “As the emotional element of the psyche, spirit manifests itself in our need to love and be loved” (Falikowski 17). When we wish to make an impression, to make us be accepted and or admired by others, or when we work hard to be liked, our spirit is our motivating orce. The third division is our appetite. The appetite or “desire,” the physical side of our selves, seeks to satisfy our biological instinctive urges.

According to Falikowski: “Plato describes it metaphorically using the example of a charioteer in control of two horses. The charioteer symbolizes the faculty of reason; the horses represent appetite and spirit. One horse (appetite) “needs no touch of the whip, but is guided by word and admonition only. ” The other horse (spirit) is unruly, “the mate of insolence and pride… hardly yielding to whip and spur. ” While the charioteer (reason) has a clear ision of the destination and the good horse is on track, the bad horse “plunges and runs away, giving all manner of trouble to his companion and charioteer” (Falikowski18).

In Plato’s scenario, the charioteer’s job is to guide and control the horses. The problem is that the two horses are moving in different directions and the charioteer’s commands go unheeded. “Just as both horses are necessary to achieve the charioteer’s goal: it harnesses the power of appetite and spirit are indispensable to reason” (Falikowski 19). Like the horses, if appetite and spirit work together, the reason reaches its identified destination. In The Republic, different functioning “souls” are described using the notion of Plato’s character types” (Falikowski 27).

Plato saw the soul having five different character types, four being imperfect types, and one being the ideal character. The four imperfect types were referred to as the timarchic, democratic, tyrannical, and oligarchic characters. “The ideal character is exemplified by the philosopher king or ruler” (Falikowski 27). Plato saw the timarchic character as a soul driven by spirit. These individuals are self-assertive and spirit dominated. Usually these types are insecure and competitive. Falikowski refers to the timarchic character as looking out for number one (Falikowski 30).

The democratic character is a character, which does not distinguish between the necessary and the unnecessary. “This type of character lives from day to day, indulging in any momentary pleasure that presents itself” (Falikowski 32). Falikowski states that: Democrates are like children in a candy store. They are excited, but torn a part inside because they want everything in the store at the same time- and this is impossible (Falikowski 33). A tyrannical character is termed by Plato to be the worst. This character is the most unhappy and undesirable.

Falikowski quotes Plato saying an excessive desire for liberty at the expense of everything else is what undermines democracy and leads to the demand for tyranny” (Falikowski 33). Tyrannical characters are the least self-sufficient of all types with no control over aggressive bestial urges. The last imperfect individual discussed, is the oligarchic character. Oligarchic types are driven by appetite and lack moral convictions and inner peace. Pride, in these individuals, is usually replaced with greed, as well as replacing ambition with avarice.

Plato is again quoted by Falikowski as saying “and the higher the status of wealth and the wealthy, the lower that of goodness and good men will be” (Falikowski 31). The Philosopher Kings/Rulers are individuals that are not enslaved with physical appetites or material desires. The character type is wise, just, and display the virtue of courage. “Philosopher Kings are enlightened by fantasies and temptations, but are guided on the right path by the light of true moral goodness” (Falikowski 29). The Five Great Dialogues The Crito The Crito was a dialogue that took place in Socrates’ cell, while

Socrates counted down the days till his arranged death. Loomis breifly describes Crito by saying: “Crito, an old and tired friend of Socrates, one of those who at his trail and had volunteered to make up the sum of any fine that might be imposed on him, visits him in a last desperate effort to persuade him to allow his friends to buy off the jailers and whatever spy informers may be about and arrange for his escape that night to Thessaly or to some other place, where he can live in safety”(Loomis 63). The conservation between Socrates, and Crito himself, is what makes up the dialogue. The Phaedo was another great dialogue.

Loomis states: “The dialogue may well represent truly the grandeur, composure, and reasonableness of Socrates in the face of death and his compassionate concern for his friends whom he wished to fortify with something of his own strength” (83). The Phaedo was the dialogue that told the story of the passing hours before Socrates death. “Accordingly Phaedo, who had sat on a stool beside Socrates that last afternoon, while Socrates hand stroked his hair, tells them in full the story of what was done and said” (Loomis 83). The dialogue was narrated by Phaedo and is shared by Crito, Appollodorus, and other native Athenions.

Plato was not present, due to illness. Loomis writes, that the subject on hand was the reasons why a philosopher should welcome release from the chain of the body and be certain that his soul was immortal (83). The dialogue covers Socrates’ ideas on pain and pleasure, suicide, truth and thought, absolute justice, beauty and good, body vs. true being, seen and unseen, and others thoughts that crossed the conversation in Socrates’ final hours. The personality of Socrates and the thought of Plato together make the Phaedo what it is, an unforgettable picture of one of the most noble scenes in European literature.

The Phaedrus “Central to Plato’s thought is the soul, its nature is at the heart of the Pheadrus, when, driven by love, it express its feeling through speech (logos)”(Suzanne). The Phaedrus combines youthful freshness and a perfect philosophical maturity, which makes it unique. Ross claims that: It would be truer to describe it as standing at a transition point of Plato’s thought, in which he is passing from the assertion of the existence of ideas to study the structure of the hierarchy which they form” (Ross 81).

Ross also states that: In the Phaedrus, Plato defines temperance as the being guided by the disire f the best. We must suppose that on such lines as these he believed the essence of all the virtues to consist in some definite relation of the Idea of Good (Ross 42). The Symposium “Not long after he wrote the Phaedo, some twelve or fifteen years after Socrates’ death, Plato composed the lovely dialogue known as the Symposium” (Loomis 157). This dialogue has a lighthearted and happy atmosphere, which deals with life and love instead of death and the chances of immortality.

The main characters of the particular dialogue are Apollodorus and Socrates. Sahakian defines the Symposium: A dinner party was the setting for Plato’s Symposium, a term referring to a discussion following the presentation of papers by individuals participating in a seminar, but meaning literally drinking together, with overtones of conviviality and entertainment hence a drinking party” (Sahakian 25). The speeches that make up the Symposium are speeches about the soul driving power of love.

The Republic, according to Loomis: “Is both the greatest and the longest, except for one, of all Plato’s dialogues… No other has the same breadth of sweep, from earth to sky and back again, or attempts so earnestly to bring philosophy, the pursuit of an deal wisdom and goodness, into active, useful connection with everyday life of humanity” (218). “The Republic, however, is a mature work of his middle life. If could not be written until Plato had read the secret of Socrates’ inmost thought and formulated its essential significance” (Cornford 58).

The Republic contains ten dialogues with different aspects. Loomis states an aspect before each dialogue. Book I, he states: What is justice? Is the just life happier than the unjust? (221). He refers to Book II as the life of an well-ordered state and education of its soldier citizens in music and gymnastics, and in right ideas of God (253). Exclusion of the poets from the schools is in Book III, as well as the Value of the right sort of music and gymnastics. Book IV, he includes the virtues of such a state-wisdom, courage, and temperance.

Justice is also to be found there. The same virtues appear in life of an well-ordered individual (306). In Book V the education of women, community of wives and children in the governing classes, humanity in war, and rulers must be philosophers, are all discussed. The idea of the Good is the topic of conversation for Book VI. Loomis began quoting Book VII with the figure of mankind in the dark cave ith special education and training of rulers in science, philosophy and practice of government (398).

Book VIII and IX of the Republic touches base with Plato’s belief in character types. Book X, the last of the Republic, is “further reasons for excluding poetry form the state and the rewords of justice and wisdom in this life and the next” (Loomis 477). The Republic as a whole, deals with the Idea of good. It states, and elaborates on the Phaedo, where the Idea of good, is already stated, he claims that: “Many interpreters of Plato have said that in his system God and he Idea of good are identical; but this view cannot be maintained.

It would be truer to say two things: First, that while any Idea, and therefore the Idea of good, is for Plato always a universal, a nature, wherever he speaks of God he means a being having a nature, and in particular not goodness, but a supremely good being” (Ross 43). In the Republic, it is taught, not that goodness is good, but that the Governor of the universe is good. The Idea of man is also described in the Republic. This was the opinion of Socrates that made a man in his soul, just. The famous dialogue is concluded with “the good beyond being” and an nderstanding of what drives a “being” and types of “being” in and outside the mind.

Plato saw the soul as the principal of life and movement. The inanimate bodily self must have a motive for movement and to Plato this motive is the soul. Through Plato’s life, beginning in 427 and ending in 347 B. C. E. , he thoroughly defined his true beliefs and ideas. He also elaborated on Socrates’ true thoughts. “His importance to intellectual history was underscored by Alfred North Whitehead, who once stated that all of western philosophy is but a series of footnotes on the work of Plato” (Falikowski 15).

Plato’s Republic

Platonic philosophy begins to appear in the middle dialogues. What are the important elements of this philosophy? The middle dialogues are dominated by the theory of the Forms. This is a theory that Plato developed from certain seldom-stated assumptions that Socrates held. Socrates’ view was that the reason he and his interlocutors failed to find definitions for things was that they were stuck in case-based, specific examples. Does bravery mean fighting against a person stronger than yourself, or does it mean having the courage to back down from the fight and accept the insults of cowardice that come with that.

Does it mean having the determination to turn your father in for murder, or bravely facing him about it, because he’s your father? Such examples are bound to contradict themselves. Socrates felt that there was one bravery that was common to all these braveries, and is what makes them “brave. ” Plato sculpted this idea into his theory of Forms. The Forms are basically essences, they are that which truly defines a thing. By the time of the Republic, Plato had come around to the view that everything had Forms–not just virtues, but tangible things like beds, chairs, etc.

We are surrounded by chairs, but there is a single Form of the “chair” that is common to all of them and makes them what they are. The other thing we need to know about Platonic philosophy in the Republic (actually, this is true in all of his works) is that Plato believes wholeheartedly in an objective human Good, and he feels it is the goal of philosophy to find that Good. Plato’s work rests on morality in many places, and this provides it with both passionate credibility and intellectual weakness.

Plato rejected human sensory observation in favor of seeking the higher good of the Forms, which were the key by which humans could come to an understanding of the truth of their universe and lead happier, fuller lives. Plato’s rejection of the senses, and adherence to a normative belief at the core of his work, is the subject of many other philosophical schools’ attacks on his works, most notably the skeptics, the naturalists, and Aristotle. The Republic is an expansive work that touches on many areas of Plato’s philosophy.

And if we can understand it, we have moved a long way toward an understanding of Plato, who stands as one of the cornerstones of the Western philosophical tradition. The question at the center of the Republic is whether it is better to live justly or unjustly. To answer this question, Plato first constructs a perfectly Just City. This city has guardians, auxiliaries, and tradesman/craftsmen (the latter group comprising the majority of the populace). The guardians lead the city, and are all fully educated philosophers–they represent wisdom in the city.

The auxiliaries are less educated than the guardians, but still well-educated; they fight and represent courage. The rest of the population receives a general education. The balance of the city is guaranteed by a harsh and complicated system of eugenics that guarantees that the best people will be selected to become guardians, and everyone else assigned to roles as their worth makes appropriate. The city is moderate because the guardians, the wise part of the population, rule over the spirited auxiliaries and the baser population at large. The city is Just because everyone is doing the job that best suits their nature.

The guardians lead, the auxiliaries fight, the rest of the people work. Plato then projects this three part division onto the human soul. We all have a rational, wise part, a spirited, honor- loving part, and an appetitive, base part (desiring money, food, sex, etc. ) The soul is just when, just like the city, the rational part rules over the other two and each part of the soul does its own job. Plato then argues that the just person is happier than the unjust person for this reason, that the just person’s soul is in order, whereas the unjust person’s soul is in decay and disorder.

Secondly, the just person’s desires are satisfied, since their rational parts limits their desires, whereas the unjust person’s desires are rampant and out of control. Plato’s next two arguments depend on the just person not only being just but being a philosopher as well, and in touch with the theory of the Forms. The first of these arguments is that, because the philosopher is ruled by his rational part and understands truth, he understands the pleasure of a hedonist (a person ruled by appetite) and an honor-lover (a person ruled by spirit), whereas they both only know their own pleasures.

Then, the philosopher has credibility in judging what way of life is best, whereas no one else does. The last argument is rooted wholly in the theory of the Forms: the idea is that, speaking purely in terms of pleasure, the philosopher enjoys his pleasures, the pleasures of the Forms, more than unjust people enjoy their pleasures, pleasures of appetite or honor, because the pleasures of philosophy are greater than those of the sensible world. The Republic contains arguments on a great variety of subjects, at various levels of complexity.

Plato’s prescriptions for the Just City, and even his division of the tripartite soul, is fairly straightforward to follow, and can be taken at very literally. With the arrival of the philosopher-kings, things start to get a little more complicated. Finally, we settle on the analogy of the Line and the Sun, and the Allegory of the Cave, and we are in very difficult philosophical territory, surrounded by complexity that submits itself to a variety of interpretations.

The primary argument behind the explicit conversation about justice that is the Republic is Plato belief in a Form of the Good, an objective human good, and that the key to understanding philosophy is understanding this Form. The only way to come to such an understanding is to immerse oneself in rigorous philosophical study, and to familiarize oneself with the dialectic on a very high level. The Form of the Good casts light over all of the other Forms, and these are key to understanding the world.

The Forms are the essences of things, and they are superior to anything in the sensible world. Plato does not trust empiricism or observation as tools for coming to an understanding of things. Without the Forms, we are limited to opinion, because our senses are not reliable to give us true knowledge about anything. Knowledge and understanding come from an examination of the Forms, and only from an examination of the Forms. Plato’s view of human learning is as metaphysical as his understanding of human knowledge.

Plato’s belief in the immortal soul is the reason people are able to get in touch with the Forms. Souls themselves are as eternal and unchanging as the Forms, and they already “know” everything we learn during our lives, learning is simply a matter of helping them remember. And that is what Plato’s education does, brings people into the light of the Good, and they eventually remember all that they had forgotten about the Forms. Conclusion Plato’s philosophy in the Republic is based on two presumptions. The first is that Forms exist.

Plato deliberately places them beyond the realm of the sensible; they exist above such things, and Plato offers only common-sense arguments for their existence. Secondly, we have to believe his account that, presuming the existence of the Forms, the human mind is capable of understanding them. This is where Plato’s view of the soul becomes important, because it supports this view. As in any positive philosophy that proposes to answer important questions, at a certain level we find belief resting beneath the arguments.

Plato would of course argue that he knows about the Forms, because that is what they allow him to do, by definition. The circularity of this arrangement, Plato defines his Forms in such a way as to presuppose their existence and his knowledge of them, has been observed and criticized by centuries of skeptical thinkers. That criticism encapsulates one of the most fundamental arguments against Plato’s theory of Forms and general willingness to draw conclusions. There is no “answer” to the question, as there are no answers to many of philosophy’s most fundamental questions. There is a certain beauty to the option Plato presents.

Rather than turn your back on all judgement and conclusion because of the imperfections of human sensory perception, imperfections of which he is well aware, he chooses instead to service his philosophy to a greater Good that stands above the sensible world. The existence of this higher plane is supported by common sense. The greatness of Plato’s philosophy in the Republic is that it makes an extremely well-supported, well-reasoned argument on these virtuous assumptions, and thus does provide a comprehensive way of looking at human good, rather than hiding from any hope of drawing concrete conclusions about right and wrong.

Critics of The Republic

Critics of The Republic, Platos contribution to the history of political theory, have formed two distinct opinions on the reasoning behind the work. The first group believes that The Republic is truly a model for a political society, while the other strongly objects to that, stating it as being far too fantastic for any society to operate successfully by these suggested methods.

In an exchange between Crito and Dionysius, this argument is first introduced, with Crito siding with those who agree that The Republic is a realistic political model, and Dionysius arguing on behalf of those who doubt it as being realistic, claiming it to be a criticism of politics in general. Both sides have legitimate arguments, and there is evidence within the text to support each opinion. When Plato wrote Gorgias, he made it clear where exactly he stood on his personal involvement in politics (Cornford 1941, xix).

Unlimited power without the knowledge of good and evil is at the best unenviable, and the tyrant who uses it to exterminate his enemies and rivals is the most miserable of men–a theme to be further developed in The Republic (Cornford xx). But here, Plato was referring to the politics of his time, and critics who sided with Crito believed that The Republic was Platos way of introducing a political system in which he would feel comfortable supporting (Plato 204). Conversely though, The Republic itself is summed up this way:

Well, one would be enough to effect all this reform that now seems so incredible, if he had subjects disposed to obey; for it is surely not impossible that they should consent to carry out our laws and customs when laid down by a ruler. It would be no miracle if others should think as we do; and we have, I believe, sufficiently shown that our plan, if practicable, is the best. So, to conclude: our institutions would be the best, if they could be realized, and to realize them, though hard, is not impossible (Plato 210-211).

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle

Socrates was sixty years old, Plato, then a youth of twenty, came to him as a pupil. When Plato was sixty years old, the seventeen-year-old Aristotle presented himself, joining the Teacher’s group of “Friends,” as the members of the Academy called themselves. Aristotle was a youth of gentle birth and breeding, his father occupying the position of physician to King Philip of Macedon. Possessed of a strong character, a penetrating intellect, apparent sincerity, but great personal ambition. Aristotle was a student in the Academy during the twenty years he remained in Athens.

His remarkable intellectual powers led Plato to call him the “Mind of the School. ” After the death of his teacher, Aristotle, accompanied by Xenocrates, went to the court of Hermias, lord of Atarneus, whose sister he afterward married. When Aristotle was forty years old, Philip of Macedon engaged him as tutor for his son Alexander, then thirteen, whose later exploits gained for him the title of Alexander the Great. Philip became so interested in Aristotle that he rebuilt his native city and planned a school where the latter might teach.

When Alexander started out to conquer the world, learned men accompanied him to gather scientific facts. After his Persian conquest Alexander presented his former tutor with a sum equivalent to a million dollars, which enabled Aristotle to purchase a large library and continue his work under the most ideal circumstances. When Aristotle was forty-nine years old he returned to Athens and founded his own school of philosophy. It was known as the Peripatetic School because of Aristotle’s habit of strolling up and down the shaded walks around the Lyceum while talking with his pupils.

In the morning he gave discourses on philosophy to his more advanced pupils, who were known as his “esoteric” students. In the afternoon a larger circle gathered around him, to whom he imparted simpler teachings. This was known as his exoteric group. In passing from Plato to Aristotle, we at once become conscious of a distinct change in philosophical concepts and methods. This is all the more noticeable because of our ignorance of Aristotle’s complete system. The writings which have come down to us comprise only about a quarter of his works.

These are all incomplete, some of them seeming to be notes intended for elaboration in his lectures. They are often sketchy and obscure, highly technical and full of repetitions. Sometimes they are so abstruse that we are obliged to call upon the imagination to supply the missing links of his deductions. Before reaching our Western scholars his works passed through too many hands to remain immaculate. From Theophrastus they passed to Neleus, whose heirs kept them mouldering in subterranean caves for a century and a half.

After that his manuscripts were copied and augmented by Apellicon of Theos, who supplied many missing paragraphs, probably from his own conjectures. Although the Arabians were acquainted with Aristotle’s works from the eighth century onward, the Christian world paid little attention to them until three centuries later. In the eleventh century, however, the Aristotelian doctrine of Forms became the bone of contention which divided philosophers into two classes which, from that day to this, have remained separate.

On the one side were the Nominalists, who maintained that Universals are mere names for the common attributes of things and beings. On the other side were the Realists, whose thought crudely resembled the Platonic doctrine of Ideas as independent realities. It seems a great historic tragedy that Aristotle, who remained under the influence of Plato for nearly twenty years, failed to continue the line of teaching begun by Pythagoras and clarified by Plato. But Aristotle was not content to be a “transmitter. ” Plato claimed no originality for his ideas, giving the credit to Socrates and Pythagoras.

Aristotle’s failure in this direction may be due to the fact that, while both Pythagoras and Plato were Initiates of the Mysteries, Aristotle was never initiated and depended on logical speculation for the development of his theories. This accounts for his many divergences from the teachings of Plato, whose philosophy was based upon the wisdom of the ancient East. According to Diogenes Laertius, Aristotle fell away from his teacher while Plato was still alive, whereat Plato remarked, “Aristotle has kicked me, as foals do their mothers when they are born.

While there is evidence that Aristotle never lost his high personal regard for Plato, the fact remains that in his later writings he never mentions Plato except to refute his doctrines, maintaining that the Platonic method is fatal to science. At every period of the world’s history some philosopher has asked the eternal question: Is there, in the universe or outside of it, an underlying Reality which is eternal, immovable, unchanging? The ancient Egyptians believed, as Hermes taught: “Reality is not upon the earth, my son. Nothing on earth is real. There are only appearances.

Appearance is the supreme illusion. ” In the still more ancient East, only the eternal and changeless was called Reality. All that is subject to change through differentiation and decay was called Maya, or illusion. It is the task of Philosophy to investigate this all-important question: What is real? At first glance, Aristotle’s definition of philosophy seems to agree with Plato’s. Plato described philosophy as the science of the Idea, the science which deals with noumena rather than phenomena. Aristotle defined it as the science of the universal essence of that which is real or actual.

Plato, the Initiate, taught that there is one Reality lying behind the numberless differentiations of the phenomenal world. Aristotle maintained that there is a graded series of realities, each step in the series revealing more and more those universal relationships which make it an object of true knowledge. At the end of the series, he said, lies that which is no longer relative, but absolute. Plato taught that “beyond all finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas and principles, there is an Intelligence, or Mind, the first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea upon which all other ideas are grounded, … e ultimate substance from which all things derive their being and essence, the first and efficient Cause of all the order and harmony and beauty which pervades the Universe. ”

This he called the “World of Ideas. ” What, actually, is this Intelligence, this Cosmic Mind of which Plato spoke with such assurance? Theosophy explains that Universal Mind is not something outside the universe, but includes all those various intelligences which were evolved in a previous period of evolution. Evolution, therefore, is the further development of those intelligences.

This unfolding is the result of conscious experience, beginning in the highest state of manifested matter and descending more and more into concrete forms until the physical is reached. Then begins the ascent, plus the experience gained. Plato held that the Ideas, the Forms of things, are self-existent, and not dependent upon the ever-changing objects of the senses. The noumenon, according to Plato, is the real, the phenomenon only appearance. Aristotle wrote extensively in criticism of Plato’s doctrine of Ideas, affirming that “no universals exist over and above the individual objects and separate from them.

He refused any substantial reality to “the unity which is predicated of many individual things. ” Universal principles, he held, are real, and are the objects of our reason, as distinguished from the physical objects of sense-perception. Yet universals are real only as they exist in individuals. “It is,” he said, “apparently impossible that any of the so-called universals should exist as substance. ” This conflict between Plato and Aristotle on the subject of reality led to almost infinite controversy and confusion among later philosophers.

To the extent that Aristotle endows universals with reality, he is Platonic in thought. His commentators have endeavored to interpret Aristotle according to their predilection. One writer maintains that “according to Aristotle, the formal aspect of universality is conferred by the mind, and therefore, the universal, as such, does not exist in individual things, but in the mind alone. ” (William Turner, History of Philosophy, p. 132. )

Another points out that while both the Categories and the Metaphysics are based on the assumption of the reality of individual substances, “the Categories (cap. admits that universal species and genera can be called substances, whereas the Metaphysics (Z 13) denies that a universal can be a substance at all. ” Yet Aristotle is constrained to regard as “substance” the universal essence of a species of substance, “because the individual essence of an individual substance really is that substance, and the universal essence of the whole species is supposed to be indivisible and therefore identical with the individual essence of any individual of the species. ” (Encyc. Brit. , “Aristotle,” 11th ed. )

In maintaining this Aristotle seems to invalidate all his arguments against the existence of universals independent of particulars. It was doubtless such difficulties in the comprehension of Aristotle’s real meaning that led H. P. B. to remark upon the abstruse character of his writings, asking, “What do we know so certain about Aristotle? ” (Isis Unveiled I, 320. ) It seems that in spite of his demand for research into particulars, Aristotle was forced to return to the Platonic view of origins. This is indicated by H. P. B. ‘s explanation of his theory of Privation, Form and Matter.

As Lange points out in his History of Materialism, Aristotle’s admission of the reality of the universal, in things, “leads, in its logical consequences, little as Aristotle cared to trouble himself with these, to the same exaltation of the universal over the particular which we find in Plato. For if it is once conceded that the essence of the individual lies in the species, the most essential part of the species must again lie on a still higher plane, or, in other words, the ground of the species must lie in the genus, and so on. I, 88. ) Thus, as one of Aristotle’s translators has observed, “he is ultimately driven back to the very standpoint he derides in Platonism. ”

This writer, Hugh Tredennick, makes clear the internal contradictions in Aristotle’s thought: He is emphatic that form cannot exist in separation from matter; and yet the supreme reality turns out to be a pure form. He blames the Platonists for using metaphorical language, and yet when he comes to explain the ultimate method of causation he has to describe it in terms of love or desire.

The truth is that Aristotle’s thought is always struggling against Platonic influences, which nevertheless generally emerge triumphant in his ultimate conclusions. His great contribution to philosophy was on the side of method; but it was Plato, acknowledged or unacknowledged, who inspired all that was best in the thought of his great disciple. (Metaphysics, Introduction, I, xxx. ) The structural stresses and strains in the philosophy of Aristotle are due to his attempt to subject to critical analysis according to his own theory of knowledge the principles and ideas he had learned from Plato.

Aristotle, however, refused to recognize supersensible cognition as the source of knowledge, while the clairvoyant vision of the soul was the only channel to truth, according to Plato. But Aristotle had not this vision; hence his dependence on sense-perception and his elevation of the physical world to the status of reality. While admitting that knowledge must be in terms of concepts, of universals — thus escaping the chaos of mere empiricism — he held that we become aware of universals only by abstracting them from the phenomena of the senses.

Thus principles or universals are in things, whether they be regarded as essences or as concepts. It seems almost as though Aristotle devoted his life to the task of showing that he, Aristotle, could point the way to final truth, without being initiated into the Mysteries, and that in order to do this he constructed a theory of knowledge which did not involve initiation as a prerequisite to real knowing. For the eye of wisdom he substituted the eye of sense. Hence he is truly spoken of as the Father of Modern Science.

Plato’s science of all sciences was Dialectic, the doctrine of the Idea in Itself, just as physics is the science of the Ideas manifesting in nature, and Ethics is the science of Ideas applied to human action. Aristotle’s science of sciences was Logic, the science of analysis, the weaknesses of which form the theme of Boris Bogoslovsky’s book, The Technique of Controversy. Plato divided knowledge into two classes, the one dealing with the noumenal, the other with the phenomenal world. The first he called real knowledge, the second, opinion. In this statement we find a clear reiteration of the forty-ninth Aphorism of Patanjali.

Speaking of Wisdom — that form of knowledge which is absolutely free from error — Patanjali says: “This kind of knowledge differs from the knowledge due to testimony and inference; because, in the pursuit of knowledge based upon these, the mind has to consider many particulars and is not engaged with the general field of knowledge itself. ” (Bk. I. ) Considering real knowledge as the only object worthy of the attention of the true philosopher, Plato began by postulating certain universal principles as the basis for understanding all particular phenomena.

Aristotle, on the other hand, began with particulars and proceeded by gradual stages to the consideration of universal principles, declaring that “our knowledge of the individual precedes our knowledge of the universal. ” The inductive method, which Aristotle established in the Western world — still slavishly followed by scientific thinkers — is defended on the supposition that it deals with things as they are. Knowledge gained through sense-perception, on which all learning is dependent, according to Aristotle, is therefore more reliable than any a priori concept of an ideal reality.

No student of Theosophy would deny the value of reasoning on the basis of many observed particulars. But he would add that this value is lost when the observer is ignorant of the fact that the phenomenal universe is in a constant state of change. How can changing phenomena be properly evaluated unless there is something changeless with which they may be compared? Philosophy, like Physics, must have its “whereon to stand. ” As Dr. A. Gordon Melvin observes in his latest book, The New Culture, The Aristotelian tends to be cocksure.

He knows what he is talking about, but he does not talk about anything of importance. For the characteristic limitation of this type of search is that it apprehends bit by bit. It knows a corner of the world as long as that corner remains stationary. But it does not know wholes or fundamentals. The veil of matter is a particularization of truth, not its full realization. Once we admit that real knowledge does exist, our next question will be: How can it be acquired? Aristotle answered the question by declaring that real knowledge can be gained only through, although not from, the senses.

The intellectual faculty discerns the principles of things in the objects of the senses, and knowledge is the product of this abstraction. There are both external and internal senses, according to Aristotle. Memory and imagination are defined as internal senses, as is also the “sense” of self-consciousness. This latter sense, he said, resides in the heart. There is no room in Aristotle’s philosophy for the doctrine of innate ideas. Considering that there is nothing in the mind which is not first an image acquired through the senses, he taught that mind itself is only the potential power to think.

All objects of thought are sensuous. Plato answered the question in another manner. He taught that the nous of man, being “generated by the divine Father,” possesses a nature akin to and homogeneous with the Divine Mind, and is therefore capable of beholding Reality. The faculty by which Reality is perceived is not a sense faculty, but one which belongs to the Soul. Theosophy describes this faculty as Intuition, by which a man may gaze directly upon ideas. Intuition is thus beyond and above the reasoning faculty, and is not dependent upon it.

The use of that faculty is gained through the form of concentration described by Patanjali in his Yoga Aphorisms. When this form of concentration is perfected one is able to cognize all the inherent qualities of any object whatsoever, becoming completely identified with the thing considered and experiencing in himself all the qualities exhibited by the object. Plato knew that the best way to awaken that faculty is by turning the mind toward universal ideas; only such sublime objects of thought can produce the steadiness necessary for true contemplation.

In many cases, the teaching of Aristotle may be regarded as the exoteric version of Platonic truth. From the same ontological principles as his teacher, Aristotle reasoned to certain conclusions which to him seemed to follow necessarily, although resulting in a contradiction with one or another of Plato’s doctrines. An instance of this kind is explained by H. P. B. : Aristotle argued that the world was eternal, and that it will always be the same; that one generation of men has always produced another, without ever having had a beginning that could be determined by our intellect.

In this, his teaching, in its exoteric sense, clashed with that of Plato, who taught that “there was a time when mankind did not perpetuate itself”; but in spirit both doctrines agreed, as Plato adds immediately: “This was followed by the earthly human race, in which the primitive history was gradually forgotten and man sank deeper and deeper”; and Aristotle says: “If there has been a first man he must have been born without father or mother — which is repugnant to nature.

For there could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there should have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg. ” The same he held good for all species, believing, with Plato, that everything before it appeared on earth had first its being in spirit. (Isis Unveiled I, 428. ) Every natural body, according to Aristotle, is brought into existence by three principles: Privation, Form, and Matter. Privation, says H. P. B. , “meant in the mind of the great philosopher that which the Occultists call the prototypes impressed in the Astral Light — the lowest plane and world of Anima Mundi.

Privation is not, however, “considered in Aristotelic philosophy as a principle in the composition of bodies, but as an external property in their production; for the production is a change by which the matter passes from the shape it has not to that which it assumes. ” (Isis Unveiled I, 310. ) As to Form, “His philosophy teaches that besides the original matter, another principle is necessary to complete the triune nature of every particle, and this is form; an invisible, but still, in an ontological sense of the word, a substantial being, really distinct from matter proper. Ibid. I, 312. )

This substantial form Aristotle called the soul. Plato, starting with universal principles, declared that the soul of man is derived from the Universal World-Soul, and is therefore identical in essence with that which is a radiation of the ever-unknown Absolute. Aristotle, starting from below, approached the subject of the soul by eliminating one by one those things which the soul is not. The conclusion he finally reached was that the soul is the form of the body.

This soul, however, is plainly the astral or psychic principle, for Aristotle says in De Anima, “It cannot be that the body is the full realization or expression of the soul; rather on the contrary it is the soul which is the full realization of some body. ” (It may be noted that the term Entelechy, which is here translated “full realization,” has been borrowed by members of the modern vitalist school of Biology to represent the formative principle of organic life.

Besides the psyche or mortal soul, Aristotle taught that there is in man a rational soul, the “creative reason,” and with Plato held this Nous to be pre-existing and eternal, although he denied that the mind-principle carries with it the knowledge gained by individual experiences in the past, speaking of metempsychosis as “absurd. ” Thus, with Aristotle, the immortal element in man seems to lose its individual character on the death of the body. Aristotle’s cosmological speculations were in many cases opposed to the teachings of Plato. Plato, for one thing, was well versed in the heliocentric system.

Aristotle adopted the astronomy of Eudoxus, which taught that the world is the center of the universe, and that it is round and stationary. He described the earth as being surrounded by a sphere of air and a sphere of fire, saying that the heavenly bodies are fixed in these spheres. In formulating his ethical system Aristotle started with Plato’s query: What is the end of life, the highest good toward which a man can aspire? Reasoning inductively, Aristotle showed that a man’s highest aim is not merely to live, for that aim he shares with the whole of nature.

Nor is it to feel, for that is shared with the animals. As man is the only being in the universe who possesses a rational soul, Aristotle concluded that man’s highest aim is the activity of the soul in conformity with reason. Although Plato taught that every man should concentrate upon the particular virtue which was most necessary for him at his own stage of evolution, he declared that Justice is the highest of all virtues, being inherent in the soul itself.

That idea is clarified by Mr. Judge’s statement that “all is soul and spirit ever evolving under the rule of law (or Justice) which is inherent in the whole. ” Aristotle, on the other hand, taught that the highest virtue is intellectual contemplation. True happiness, according to Plato, is found only in the performance of one’s own duty, which is determined individually by the degree of evolution achieved, and politically by the position one occupies in the State. Aristotle disagrees with Plato’s view that individual happiness should be sacrificed for the good of the community.

He believes that individual happiness depends not only upon virtue, but also upon wealth, pleasure and the opportunity for leisure. He does not advocate spending those leisure hours in the cultivation of any art, as he considers that artistic craftsmanship belongs to the field of manual labor, and that professional skill in any of the arts is a disgrace to a free citizen. The ideal life, from Aristotle’s point of view, seems to be one which is given over entirely to intellectual research and contemplation — the life of a cultivated and reflective country gentlemen, remote from the workaday world.

Plato vs Aristotle Report

Numerous experts in modern time regard Plato as the first genuine political philosopher and Aristotle as the first political scientist. They were both great thinkers in regards to, in part with Socrates, being the foundation of the great western philosophers. Plato and Aristotle each had ideas in how to proceed with improving the society in which they were part of during their existence. It is necessary therefore to analyze their different theoretical approaches regarding their philosophical perspectives, such as ethics and psychology.

This paper however will mainly concentrate on Aristotles views on friendship and how it impacts todays society. The main objective in Platos philosophy is a creation of a perfect society. He constructs a foundation for a utopian society in his book The Republic. The purpose of his thought process was to cleanse his society of the woes he felt plagued it and construct a new one. Plato lived during the Peloponnesian War, which consequently lead to the end of the Athenian democracy. He had eyewitness account of his mentors (Socrates) trial and execution.

Bitter and angered by the political corruption that gripped the Athenian democratic government, he disengaged from participating in politics. He strongly felt that neither a moral individual nor a state that is rational could be established in a democratic environment. Plato felt that the common man wasnt intelligent or capable of dealing with concepts that influence the state such as economics, policy of foreign affairs and other relative matters. He viewed political incumbents in Athens government as being elected for matters that were irrelevant to main factors that affected the state.

Another danger was that excessive liberty for the people of the democratic society could potentially lead to anarchy. In Platos perfect society, he forged ahead to eliminate the disease (pluralism of friendship) that plagued the human character and society (Class Notes). Essentially, Plato wanted to establish the perfect form of society, linked by one single entity. Aristotle, unlike Plato, was not focused or concerned about the idea of a perfect society, instead he wanted to improve upon the one that he was part of during his existence.

Rather than develop a framework for a society that is perfect, he suggested that society should, in it self, strive to utilize the best system it can attain. He felt that utopia was abstract and superficial. It wouldnt allow for realistic problem solving solutions. He felt that Platos view of a strict overhaul of society in general wasnt necessary. He believed that society was at its optimum and you can only improve upon the existing one. Platos perfect society would consist of three basic groups, which are Guardians (Gold), Auxiliaries (Silver), and the Artisan (Bronze).

The highest of these classes are the gold people, which consist of rulers and non-rulers. Those that are rulers are societys decision & policy makers and non-rulers occupy levels of civil servants. The fundamental prerequisite to becoming a genuine philosopher is to have knowledge of forms, thus enabling you to know the truth. Platos theory of the forms is partly logical and part metaphysical. Armed with the truth, he believed that philosophical ruler will always make the right decision, and rule with total wisdom, justice and virtue.

The rulers, he felt, wouldnt posses any money or property, they would be free of desires, excesses, and vices. The Auxiliaries (Silver) are people of strength, courage, and military capacity; they occupy a small sector of society. All auxiliaries would be subjected to a series of tests, which will check their powers of resistance to self-interest, pleasure and other temptations. The last level, Artisan (Bronze), are the workers which might be composed of farmers and artist, essentially non-skilled workers.

They would produce all the consumable and non-consumable goods deemed necessary for consumption and the continued economic viability of the society. Plato whole-heartedly felt that if ever the bronze or iron people rule the state would collapse (Class Notes). He sought to establish the concept of the gold class having wisdom, thus they should be wise and good rulers. It was imperative that those who rule be philosophers and skilled in areas that pertained to the interest of the state. Aristotles disagreed with Plato in regards to allowing one particular class to govern the state politically for indefinite period of time.

He felt that to not allow interaction among the various classes would inhibit those who posses the ability to engage in political life, an injustice. He feels Platos structure of classes is politically incorrect for the state. He quotes It is a further objection that he deprives his Guardians even of happiness, maintaining that happiness of the whole state which should be the object of legislation, ultimately he is stating that those who rule (Guardians), sacrifice their happiness for control and absolute power.

Those who are of the gold class, lead such a rigid life, that it will become necessary to impose the same strict way of life on those being governed. He places the idea of moderation on a high pedestal. Many individuals come to favor the concept of moderation because it is flexible, part liberal and part conservative. Platos ideal society is so difficult to conceive that Aristotle believes that no human being can achieve its rudimentary requirements. He decided to express in the Republic how men should conduct it self in a perfect society and what attitude they should posses.

In retrospect, Aristotle felt by using real world experience along with real people, he can see first hand how and what way can he improve society. Plato and Aristotle both agreed on justice and viewed it objectively; that is it controls the belief a life of good nature would be provided for all people no matter their ranking in society. Aristotles states In democracies, for example, justice is considered to mean equality, no oligarchies, again inequality in the distribution of office to considered just. Plato views the idea of law and justice as what sets the standard for societys behavior in a state.

Aristotle puts emphasis on the institution of the polis or civilized community. The polis was structured to allow the average individual in society to participate in political matters. This institutional forum is not the city-state or the community, but merely the larger of the two entities. It is rather a partnership between households, clans, and villages for the sake of a fully developed and self-sufficient life. The polis enables those individuals who naturally posses moral intellect and wisdom an opportunity to rise to higher positions (Class Notes).

Justice is the political good within the polis, and it must promote the common interest of the people of the state. What is seen as good must be distributed and regulated through out the state. The law is also the regulating factor that arises from equal and free people in civil institution. The well being of a society is solely based upon the connection between the effort in which the citizens of the state adhere to the law of the land. A good citizen of the state will posses prudence, moderation, and justice, and above all to rule and be ruled.

His belief contradicts Plato theory of one controlling class, governing the political matters and decisions that effect the state. The Theory of Democracy that Aristotle states is that democracy is a perversion form of government of polity (Class Notes). He clearly states The people at large should be sovereign rather than the few best. Plato on the other hand, wouldnt permit citizens to engage in public participation concerning governmental issues, as Aristotle would have enjoyed. Plato also felt that public judgments of disapproval and approval were based on emotional belief, instead of factual knowledge.

He believes that if a revolution occurred it would happened within the corridors of the palace, hence palace revolution. This type of revolution happens when there is a transmission of power from one holder of power to another. Aristotle perceives such an event occurring between the wealthy and less fortunate in society. He feels to prevent such actions, one must participate in them. Plato thinks that in a utopia a disgruntled group of Guardians will emerge and disengage themselves from the ruling law of the state.

He feels that an oligarchy two things may initiate a possible revolution: the first one is the ruler and their offspring would grow to be weak, sympathetic, and second is that the number of poor individuals will grow larger and there for be taken advantage of by the ruling class. Aristotle states that to know the factors that caused the revolution, which destroys the constitution, is to also know the principal of effect, which in turn ensure its preservation. Aristotle and Plato also have contrasting views on ethics, psychology and metaphysics.

In regards to ethics, Aristotle believes that virtue is necessary for happiness, while Plato says virtue is enough for happiness. The psychological difference between the two is that Plato feels the body is a prison for the soul; body and soul are two different entities, capable of maintaining independence from one another. As for Aristotle, he claims that the body and soul are two different things, one consisting of matter the other form. He sees everything in the universe being composed of matter and form, so its not surprising that he perceives human being are too. To him form is simply the way matter is arranged.

For example, a cat is composed in a feline way; thats what makes a cat. Human being for that matter, have a unique method of structure, too; thats their form. In fact, Aristotle strongly feels that nothing in existence can be without form and matter. If you eliminate its structure and form you have nothing left. So for Aristotle, the concept of soul without body or body without soul is incoherent. In regards to form, Plato expressed how things should be through utilizing vague language and poetry. In respect to friendship, I firmly believe that Aristotles views on friendship holds value in todays society.

First we will touch on the various points that Aristotle makes regarding friendship, then expand on his main principle in connection to modern time, if possible. Aristotle distinguishes between three types of friendship: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure and friendships of virtue. The idea behind friendship of utility is that it is founded on the idea of usefulness. The interaction among friends is only valued if there is usefulness between the two individuals. An example of this would be any automobile dealer and car buyer. Factoring in that they know each other, both need what the other can provide.

The bond that unites the two people is based on usefulness. As long as they each can provide what the other needs, it satisfies the friendship. The second concept would be friendship of pleasure, which is basically the amount of pleasure generated between the participants. An example of this would be two people engaging in a social event, such as an outdoor festival. Each of the participants enjoys the others company. They are friends because of the pleasure they bring to themselves. The last kind of friendship is the friendship of virtue. This friendship is special and unique, such that it can only be between two people.

Rather than utility and pleasure, where it can establish a group of people, this type of friendship is connected solely between two people. This type of friendship is also unique based on the fact that it can only hold any true value if both individuals are of the same virtue. People in general might regard these definitions of friend objective. Some believe that doing something for someone is solely based on the act of self fulfillment. Aristotle, I believe is not incorrect in stating that the idea in friendship in utility and pleasure is for our own sake, and the concept behind friendship of virtue is for the sake of the friend.

These three categories are arranged in a certain format that there are influenced by the next level. These bonds of friendship can arise from various forms of potential fraternal groupings. Present day possibilities can include: various college organizations, union members, national communities and any other form of groups that people find a common denominator. For Aristotle Aristotle is more philosophically inclined than Plato; he tends to get rid of ideas that are irrelevant, and he believes that the concept of forms existing separate from matter is somewhat superfluous.

He dives right into the heart of the matter. You can see Aristotle as someone who believes the world in which he occupies very satisfying just the way it is. His main focus is always connected with things that are consistent with ideal experience, without introducing unnecessary notions of concepts that cant be proven. Platos vague, poetic language in metaphysics and physics didnt stimulate inspiration; it made him uncomfortable. Both Plato and Aristotle were two men who envisioned methods on ways to improve their existing society. Plato, the political philosopher, was basically in pursuit of philosophical truth.

Aristotle was more concerned with citizenship and institutional politics. They both had developed ideas and concepts to improve society as a whole. Aristotle and Plato have had a tremendous impact on political scientists of today. In Aristotle case, he was responsible for developing various democratic ideas. Even in modern democracies like our own Aristotles ideas hold true. When we vote in the election of the ruler of our country we, theoretically, are voting for the single most excellent citizen of our nation. That is we are voting for that citizen who can do the best job of working toward our common interest.

The citizen of a state who has the greatest ability to work towards the salvation of the constitution has a great gift that can benefit all citizens. It only makes sense to allow that particular individual to lead the rest of the citizens in working towards the common interests of the state. In conclusion, these men were great thinkers. Their opinions on society and its function were quite different, but they both had the same concern, to build a better way of life for their societies they in lived in and for the societies that would come to be in the future.

Plato vs. Aristotle

Numerous experts in modern time regard Plato as the first genuine political philosopher and Aristotle as the first political scientist. They were both great thinkers in regards to, in part with Socrates, being the foundation of the great western philosophers. Plato and Aristotle each had ideas in how to proceed with improving the society in which they were part of during their existence. It is necessary therefore to analyze their different theoretical approaches regarding their philosophical perspectives, such as ethics and psychology.

This paper however will mainly concentrate on Aristotle’s views on friendship and how it impacts today’s society. The main objective in Plato’s philosophy is a creation of a perfect society. He constructs a foundation for a utopian society in his book “The Republic”. The purpose of his thought process was to cleanse his society of the woes he felt plagued it and construct a new one. Plato lived during the Peloponnesian War, which consequently lead to the end of the Athenian democracy. He had eyewitness account of his mentor’s (Socrates) trial and execution.

Bitter and angered by the political corruption that gripped the Athenian democratic government, he disengaged from participating in politics. He strongly felt that neither a moral individual nor a state that is rational could be established in a democratic environment. Plato felt that the common man wasn’t intelligent or capable of dealing with concepts that influence the state such as economics, policy of foreign affairs and other relative matters. He viewed political incumbents in Athens government as being elected for matters that were irrelevant to main factors that affected the state.

Another danger was that excessive liberty for the people of the democratic society could potentially lead to anarchy. In Plato’s perfect society, he forged ahead to eliminate the disease (pluralism of friendship) that plagued the human character and society (Class Notes). Essentially, Plato wanted to establish the perfect form of society, linked by one single entity. Aristotle, unlike Plato, was not focused or concerned about the idea of a perfect society, instead he wanted to improve upon the one that he was part of during his existence.

Rather than develop a framework for a society that is perfect, he suggested that society should, in it self, strive to utilize the best system it can attain. He felt that utopia was abstract and superficial. It wouldn’t allow for realistic problem solving solutions. He felt that Plato’s view of a strict overhaul of society in general wasn’t necessary. He believed that society was at its optimum and you can only improve upon the existing one. Plato’s perfect society would consist of three basic groups, which are Guardians (Gold), Auxiliaries (Silver), and the Artisan (Bronze).

The highest of these classes are the gold people, which consist of rulers and non-rulers. Those that are rulers are society’s decision & policy makers and non-rulers occupy levels of civil servants. The fundamental prerequisite to becoming a genuine philosopher is to have knowledge of forms, thus enabling you to know the truth. Plato’s theory of the forms is partly logical and part metaphysical. Armed with the truth, he believed that philosophical ruler will always make the right decision, and rule with total wisdom, justice and virtue.

The rulers, he felt, wouldn’t posses any money or property, they would be free of desires, excesses, and vices. The Auxiliaries (Silver) are people of strength, courage, and military capacity; they occupy a small sector of society. All auxiliaries would be subjected to a series of tests, which will check their powers of resistance to self-interest, pleasure and other temptations. The last level, Artisan (Bronze), are the workers which might be composed of farmers and artist, essentially non-skilled workers.

They would produce all the consumable and non-consumable goods deemed necessary for consumption and the continued economic viability of the society. Plato whole-heartedly felt that if ever the bronze or iron people rule the state would collapse (Class Notes). He sought to establish the concept of the gold class having wisdom, thus they should be wise and good rulers. It was imperative that those who rule be philosophers and skilled in areas that pertained to the interest of the state. Aristotle’s disagreed with Plato in regards to allowing one particular class to govern the state politically for indefinite period of time.

He felt that to not allow interaction among the various classes would inhibit those who posses the ability to engage in political life, an injustice. He feels Plato’s structure of classes is politically incorrect for the state. He quotes “It is a further objection that he deprives his Guardians even of happiness, maintaining that happiness of the whole state which should be the object of legislation”, ultimately he is stating that those who rule (Guardians), sacrifice their happiness for control and absolute power.

Those who are of the gold class, lead such a rigid life, that it will become necessary to impose the same strict way of life on those being governed. He places the idea of moderation on a high pedestal. Many individuals come to favor the concept of moderation because it is flexible, part liberal and part conservative. Plato’s ideal society is so difficult to conceive that Aristotle believes that no human being can achieve its rudimentary requirements. He decided to express in the “Republic” how men should conduct it self in a perfect society and what attitude they should posses.

In retrospect, Aristotle felt by using real world experience along with real people, he can see first hand how and what way can he improve society. Plato and Aristotle both agreed on justice and viewed it objectively; that is it controls the belief a life of good nature would be provided for all people no matter their ranking in society. Aristotle’s states ” In democracies, for example, justice is considered to mean equality, no oligarchies, again inequality in the distribution of office to considered just”. Plato views the idea of law and justice as what sets the standard for society’s behavior in a state.

Aristotle puts emphasis on the institution of the polis or civilized community. The polis was structured to allow the average individual in society to participate in political matters. This institutional forum is not the city-state or the community, but merely the larger of the two entities. It is rather a partnership between households, clans, and villages for the sake of a fully developed and self-sufficient life. The polis enables those individuals who naturally posses moral intellect and wisdom an opportunity to rise to higher positions (Class Notes).

Justice is the political good within the polis, and it must promote the common interest of the people of the state. What is seen as good must be distributed and regulated through out the state. The law is also the regulating factor that arises from equal and free people in civil institution. The well being of a society is solely based upon the connection between the effort in which the citizens of the state adhere to the law of the land. A good citizen of the state will posses prudence, moderation, and justice, and above all to rule and be ruled.

His belief contradicts Plato theory of one controlling class, governing the political matters and decisions that effect the state. The Theory of Democracy that Aristotle states is that democracy is a “perversion” form of government of “polity” (Class Notes). He clearly states “The people at large should be sovereign rather than the few best”. Plato on the other hand, wouldn’t permit citizens to engage in public participation concerning governmental issues, as Aristotle would have enjoyed. Plato also felt that public judgments of disapproval and approval were based on emotional belief, instead of factual knowledge.

He believes that if a revolution occurred it would happened within the corridors of the palace, hence palace revolution. This type of revolution happens when there is a transmission of power from one holder of power to another. Aristotle perceives such an event occurring between the wealthy and less fortunate in society. He feels to prevent such actions, one must participate in them. Plato thinks that in a utopia a disgruntled group of Guardians will emerge and disengage themselves from the ruling law of the state.

He feels that an oligarchy two things may initiate a possible revolution: the first one is the ruler and their offspring would grow to be weak, sympathetic, and second is that the number of poor individuals will grow larger and there for be taken advantage of by the ruling class. Aristotle states that to know the factors that caused the revolution, which destroys the constitution, is to also know the principal of effect, which in turn ensure its preservation. Aristotle and Plato also have contrasting views on ethics, psychology and metaphysics.

In regards to ethics, Aristotle believes that virtue is necessary for happiness, while Plato says virtue is enough for happiness. The psychological difference between the two is that Plato feels the body is a prison for the soul; body and soul are two different entities, capable of maintaining independence from one another. As for Aristotle, he claims that the body and soul are two different things, one consisting of matter the other form. He sees everything in the universe being composed of matter and form, so its not surprising that he perceives human being are too. To him form is simply the way matter is arranged.

For example, a cat is composed in a feline way; that’s what makes a cat. Human being for that matter, have a unique method of structure, too; that’s their form. In fact, Aristotle strongly feels that nothing in existence can be without form and matter. If you eliminate its structure and form you have nothing left. So for Aristotle, the concept of soul without body or body without soul is incoherent. In regards to form, Plato expressed how things should be through utilizing vague language and poetry. In respect to friendship, I firmly believe that Aristotle’s views on friendship holds value in today’s society.

First we will touch on the various points that Aristotle makes regarding friendship, then expand on his main principle in connection to modern time, if possible. Aristotle distinguishes between three types of friendship: friendships of utility, friendships of pleasure and friendships of virtue. The idea behind friendship of utility is that it is founded on the idea of usefulness. The interaction among friends is only valued if there is usefulness between the two individuals. An example of this would be any automobile dealer and car buyer. Factoring in that they know each other, both need what the other can provide.

The bond that unites the two people is based on usefulness. As long as they each can provide what the other needs, it satisfies the friendship. The second concept would be friendship of pleasure, which is basically the amount of pleasure generated between the participants. An example of this would be two people engaging in a social event, such as an outdoor festival. Each of the participant’s enjoys the others company. They are friends because of the pleasure they bring to themselves. The last kind of friendship is the friendship of virtue. This friendship is special and unique, such that it can only be between two people.

Rather than utility and pleasure, where it can establish a group of people, this type of friendship is connected solely between two people. This type of friendship is also unique based on the fact that it can only hold any true value if both individuals are of the same virtue. People in general might regard these definitions of friend objective. Some believe that doing something for someone is solely based on the act of self -fulfillment. Aristotle, I believe is not incorrect in stating that the idea in friendship in utility and pleasure is for our own sake, and the concept behind friendship of virtue is for the sake of the friend.

These three categories are arranged in a certain format that there are influenced by the next level. These bonds of friendship can arise from various forms of potential fraternal groupings. Present day possibilities can include: various college organizations, union members, national communities and any other form of group’s that people find a common denominator. For Aristotle Aristotle is more philosophically inclined than Plato; he tends to get rid of ideas that are irrelevant, and he believes that the concept of forms existing separate from matter is somewhat superfluous.

He dives right into the heart of the matter. You can see Aristotle as someone who believes the world in which he occupies very satisfying just the way it is. His main focus is always connected with things that are consistent with ideal experience, without introducing unnecessary notions of concepts that can’t be proven. Plato’s vague, poetic language in metaphysics and physics didn’t stimulate inspiration; it made him uncomfortable. Both Plato and Aristotle were two men who envisioned methods on ways to improve their existing society. Plato, the political philosopher, was basically in pursuit of philosophical truth.

Aristotle was more concerned with citizenship and institutional politics. They both had developed ideas and concepts to improve society as a whole. Aristotle and Plato have had a tremendous impact on political scientists of today. In Aristotle case, he was responsible for developing various democratic ideas. Even in modern democracies like our own Aristotle’s ideas hold true. When we vote in the election of the ruler of our country we, theoretically, are voting for the single most “excellent” citizen of our nation. That is we are voting for that citizen who can do the best job of working toward our common interest.

The citizen of a state who has the greatest ability to work towards the salvation of the constitution has a great gift that can benefit all citizens. It only makes sense to allow that particular individual to lead the rest of the citizens in working towards the common interests of the state. In conclusion, these men were great thinkers. Their opinions on society and its function were quite different, but they both had the same concern, to build a better way of life for their societies they in lived in and for the societies that would come to be in the future.

Plato vs. Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle, two philosophers in the 4th century, hold polar views on politics and philosophy in general. This fact is very cleverly illustrated by Raphael’s “School of Athens” (1510-11; Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican), where Plato is portrayed looking up to the higher forms; and Aristotle is pointing down because he supports the natural sciences. In a discussion of politics, the stand point of each philosopher becomes an essential factor. It is not coincidental that Plato states in The Republic that Philosopher Rulers who possess knowledge of the good should be the governors in a city state.

His strong interest in metaphysics is demonstrated in The Republic various times: for example, the similes of the cave, the sun, and the line, and his theory of the forms. Because he is so involved in metaphysics, his views on politics are more theoretical as opposed to actual. Aristotle, contrarily, holds the view that politics is the art of ruling and being ruled in turn. In The Politics, he attempts to outline a way of governing that would be ideal for an actual state. Balance is a main word in discussing Aristotle because he believes it is the necessary element to creating a stable government.

His less metaphysical approach to politics makes Aristotle more in tune with the modern world, yet he is far from modern. Plato’s concept of what politics and government should be is a direct result of his belief in the theory of forms. The theory of forms basically states that there is a higher “form” for everything that exists in the world. Each material thing is simply a representation of the real thing which is the form. According to Plato, most people cannot see the forms, they only see their representation or their shadows, as in the simile of the cave.

Only those who ove knowledge and contemplate on the reality of things will achieve understanding of the forms. Philosophers, who by definition are knowledge lovers, are the only beings who can reach true knowledge. This concept has to be taken a step further because in The Republic, Plato states that philosophers should be the rulers since they are the only ones who hold the form of the good. Plato seems to be saying that it is not enough to know the forms of tables or trees, one must know the greatest form–form of the good–in order to rule.

The reasoning is: if you know the good, then you will do the good. Therefore, philosopher rulers are by far the most apt to rule. In The Republic, Plato builds around the idea of Philosopher Rulers. Even though it is not his primary point, it certainly is at the core of his discussion of the ideal state. The question that arises is, ‘Why do you need ideal states which will have philosophers as rulers? ‘ There are many layers to the answer of this question. The first thing is that a state cannot be ideal without having philosophers as rulers.

This answer leads to the question, ‘Then why do you need ideal states to begin with? ‘ The Republic starts with a iscussion of Justice which leads to the creation of the ideal state. The reason why an ideal state is needed is to guarantee the existence of Justice. This does not mean, though, that there cannot be states without Justice. Actually, Plato provides at least two reasons why the formation of a state cannot be avoided. These are: 1. human beings are not self-sufficient so they need to live in a social environment, and 2. ach person has a natural aptitude for a specified task and should concentrate on developing it (The Republic, pp 56-62).

Although a person is not self-sufficient, a composition of people–a tate–satisfies the needs of all its members. Furthermore, members can specialize on their natural fortitudes and become more productive members of society. States are going to form, whether purposefully or coincidentally. For this reason, certain rules have to be enacted for the well-being of the state. The main way to institutionalize rules is through government and in the form of laws.

Plato’s The Republic is not an explication of laws of the people. It is a separation of power amongst three classes–Rulers, Auxiliaries, Commoners–that makes the most of each person’s natural abilities and strives for the good of he community. The point is to create a harmonious unity amongst the three classes which will lead to the greater good of the community and, consequently, each individual. The three classes are a product of different aptitude levels for certain tasks amid various individuals. Plato assigns different political roles to different members of each class.

It appears that the only classes that are allowed to participate in government are the Auxiliaries and, of course, the Philosopher Rulers. The lower class does not partake in politics because they are not mentally able. In other words, they do not understand the concept of the forms. Thus, it is better to allow the Philosophers, who do have this knowledge, to lead them. Providing food and abode for the Guardians is the only governmental responsibility the lower class has. The Auxiliaries are in charge of the military, police, and executive duties.

Ruling and making laws is reserved for the Philosopher Rulers whose actions are all intended for the good of the state. To ensure that public good continues to be foremost on each Ruler’s agenda, the Rulers live in community housing, hold wives/children in ommon, and do not own private property. The separation of classes is understood by everybody Self-interest, which could be a negative factor in the scheme of things, is eliminated through a very moral oriented education system. All these provisions are generated to maintain unity of the state.

The most extravagant precaution that Plato takes is the Foundation Myth of the metals. By making the people believe, through a myth, that the distinction of each class is biological as well as moral, Plato reassures that there won’t be any disruption in the harmony of the state. Whereas Plato’s The Republic is a text whose goal is to define Justice and in doing so uses the polis, Aristotle’s The Politics’s sole function is to define itself–define politics.

Aristotle begins his text by answering the question: “Why does the state exist? His answer is that the state is the culmination of natural associations that start with the joining of man and woman (“pair”), which have a family and form a “household”; households unite and form villages; villages unite and form the state. This natural order of events is what is best because it provides for the needs of all the individuals. Aristotle, like Plato, believes that a person is not self-reliant. This lack of sufficiency is the catalyst in the escalating order of unions among people. In The Politics, it appears that Aristotle is not very set on breaking down society.

His argument says that there are different classes in society, but they are naturally defined. For example, he devotes a lot of time to an explanation of the “naturalness” of slaves and their role in society. Aristotle is also very sexist and explicitly states so. His view is that women are inferior to men in all senses. Perhaps the most pertaining to our discussion is he citizen, whose role is purely political. Both Plato and Aristotle seem to agree that some people are not capable of practicing an active role in political life.

Plato’s reason is that the lower class is not mentally adept for the intricacies of higher knowledge on the good. Aristotle seems to base his opinion on a more political issue. He believes that only those that fully participate in their government should be considered citizens of the state. For this reason, he excludes workers as citizens because they would not have the required time to openly participate in politicking. The Aristotelian polis, as opposed to Plato’s, is a city with a large middle class which promotes stability and balances the conflicting claims of the poor and the rich.

Aristotle combines elements of democracy with elements of aristocracy, again to balance opposing claims. Because he is aware that human interest is an inextricable entity, the distribution of scarce and valuable goods is in proportion to contribution to the good of the polis. This system provides for the self interested who believe that those who work harder should receive more. Another point is that the citizens rule and are ruled in turn, nsofar as the mixed social system allows. This is permissible because of the strong involvement of the citizens in government; it is what one would call a “true democracy. Overall, a spirit of moderation prevails.

The philosophies of Aristotle and Plato have been around for over sixteen centuries, yet today it is difficult to find specific instances where either philosophy is applied. This may be a result of the fact that today’s political philosophy differs from both philosopher’s. While Aristotle and Plato uphold the good of the community or state above individual good, today’s onstitution includes a bill of rights that guarantees the rights of each individual in the nation. Having these individual rights is a necessity for today’s citizens.

Going back in history to 1787 will show that one of the reasons there was controversy in the ratification of the constitution was that it did not include a Bill of Rights. When the drafters promised that as soon as the constitution was ratified, a Bill of Rights would be added, the doubting states proceeded to ratify it. According to Plato and Aristotle, a Bill of Rights is not necessary because it does not improve the good of the community. Another point of discrepancy between the philosophers and today’s society involves the topic of slavery.

Aristotle argues for the naturalness of slavery in The Politics, yet slavery has been considered grotesque for quite some time. In correlation to slavery, there is the undermining of the female population by Aristotle. Although Plato is a lot less discriminatory, he also believes women are the sub-species. While women have had to fight endless battles to achieve the recognition they deserve, today it is a well accepted fact (generally) that women are as capable as men in performing tasks.

Naturally, since Aristotle and Plato have been around for such a long time, our society certainly contains some of their influences in a general sense. For example, today it is believed that certain people are born with certain capacities. Intelligence has been attributed to genetics. Because of the different intelligence levels among people, we have different classes–for example: advanced, intermediate, and beginners. In their appropriate level, each person develops his or her abilities to the highest potential. This concept is sometimes at odds with the ideal of equality, ie. we are all human eings.

Yet, in essence, it does not take away from the ideal because we are all humans, but we differ in certain capacity levels to complete tasks. Plato’s and Aristotle’s philosophy have helped shape present thought, though, by no means, mandate our practices. The philosophers are very community oriented while we value the individual. Besides differing with today’s standards, each philosopher is in his own way distinct. Plato is very attracted to metaphysical philosophy, while Aristotle is much more methodical. Both perspective views are and will continue to puzzle students for years to come.

Plato, Greek philosopher

Plato was born to an aristocratic family in Athens. His father, Ariston, was believed to have descended from the early kings of Athens. Perictione, his mother, was distantly related to the 6th- century BC lawmaker Solon. When Plato was a child, his father died, and his mother married Pyrilampes, who was an associate of the statesman Pericles. As a young man Plato had political ambitions, but he became disillusioned by the political leadership in Athens. He eventually became a disciple of Socrates, accepting his basic philosophy and dialectical style of debate: the pursuit of truth through questions, answers, and additional questions.

Plato witnessed the death of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian democracy in 399 BC. Perhaps fearing for his own safety, he left Athens temporarily and traveled to Italy, Sicily, and Egypt. In 387 Plato founded the Academy in Athens, the institution often described as the first European university. It provided a comprehensive curriculum, including such subjects as astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. Aristotle was the Academy’s most prominent student. Pursuing an opportunity to combine philosophy and practical politics, Plato went to Sicily in 367 to tutor the new ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius the

Younger, in the art of philosophical rule. The experiment failed. Plato made another trip to Syracuse in 361, but again his engagement in Sicilian affairs met with little success. The concluding years of his life were spent lecturing at the Academy and writing. He died at about the age of 80 in Athens in 348 or 347 BC. Works Plato’s writings were in dialogue form; philosophical ideas were advanced, discussed, and criticized in the context of a conversation or debate involving two or more persons. The earliest collection of Plato’s work includes 35 dialogues and 13 letters.

The authenticity of a few of the dialogues and most of the letters has been disputed. Early Dialogues The dialogues may be divided into early, middle, and later periods of composition. The earliest represent Plato’s attempt to communicate the philosophy and dialectical style of Socrates. Several of these dialogues take the same form. Socrates, encountering someone who claims to know much, professes to be ignorant and seeks assistance from the one who knows. As Socrates begins to raise questions, however, it becomes clear that the one reputed to be wise really does not know what he claims to know, and

Socrates emerges as the wiser one because he at least knows that he does not know. Such knowledge, of course, is the beginning of wisdom. Included in this group of dialogues are Charmides (an attempt to define temperance), Lysis (a discussion of friendship), Laches (a pursuit of the meaning of courage), Protagoras (a defense of the thesis that virtue is knowledge and can be taught), Euthyphro (a consideration of the nature of piety), and Book I of the Republic (a discussion of justice). Middle and Late Dialogues The dialogues of the middle and later periods of Plato’s life reflect his wn philosophical development.

The ideas in these works are attributed by most scholars to Plato himself, although Socrates continues to be the main character in many of the dialogues. The writings of the middle period include Gorgias (a consideration of several ethical questions), Meno (a discussion of the nature of knowledge), the Apology (Socrates’ defense of himself at his trial against the charges of atheism and corrupting Athenian youth), Crito (Socrates’ defense of obedience to the laws of the state), Phaedo (the death scene of Socrates, in which he discusses the theory of

Forms, the nature of the soul, and the question of immortality), the Symposium (Plato’s outstanding dramatic achievement, which contains several speeches on beauty and love), the Republic (Plato’s supreme philosophical achievement, which is a detailed discussion of the nature of justice).

The works of the later period include the Theaetetus (a denial that knowledge is to be identified with sense perception), Parmenides (a critical evaluation of the theory of Forms), Sophist (further consideration of the theory of Ideas, or Forms), Philebus (a discussion of the relationship etween pleasure and the good), Timaeus (Plato’s views on natural science and cosmology), and the Laws (a more practical analysis of political and social issues). Theory of Forms At the heart of Plato’s philosophy is his theory of Forms, or Ideas.

Ultimately, his view of knowledge, his ethical theory, his psychology, his concept of the state, and his perspective on art must be understood in terms of this theory. Theory of Knowledge Plato’s theory of Forms and his theory of knowledge are so interrelated that they must be discussed together. Influenced by Socrates, Plato was convinced that knowledge is attainable. He was also convinced of two essential characteristics of knowledge. First, knowledge must be certain and infallible. Second, knowledge must have as its object that which is genuinely real as contrasted with that which is an appearance only.

Because that which is fully real must, for Plato, be fixed, permanent, and unchanging, he identified the real with the ideal realm of being as opposed to the physical world of becoming. One consequence of this view was Plato’s rejection of empiricism, the claim that knowledge is derived from sense experience. He thought that propositions derived from sense experience ave, at most, a degree of probability. They are not certain. Furthermore, the objects of sense experience are changeable phenomena of the physical world. Hence, objects of sense experience are not proper objects of knowledge.

Plato’s own theory of knowledge is found in the Republic, particularly in his discussion of the image of the divided line and the myth of the cave. In the former, Plato distinguishes between two levels of awareness: opinion and knowledge. Claims or assertions about the physical or visible world, including both commonsense observations and the propositions of science, re opinions only. Some of these opinions are well founded; some are not; but none of them counts as genuine knowledge. The higher level of awareness is knowledge, because there reason, rather than sense experience, is involved.

Reason, properly used, results in intellectual insights that are certain, and the objects of these rational insights are the abiding universals, the eternal Forms or substances that constitute the real world. The myth of the cave describes individuals chained deep within the recesses of a cave. Bound so that vision is restricted, they cannot see one another. The only thing visible is the wall of the cave upon which appear shadows cast by models or statues of animals and objects that are passed before a brightly burning fire. Breaking free, one of the individuals escapes from the cave into the light of day.

With the aid of the sun, that person sees for the first time the real world and returns to the cave with the message that the only things they have seen heretofore are shadows and appearances and that the real world awaits them if they are willing to struggle free of their bonds. The shadowy environment of the cave symbolizes for Plato the hysical world of appearances. Escape into the sun-filled setting outside the cave symbolizes the transition to the real world, the world of full and perfect being, the world of Forms, which is the proper object of knowledge.

Nature of Forms The theory of Forms may best be understood in terms of mathematical entities. A circle, for instance, is defined as a plane figure composed of a series of points, all of which are equidistant from a given point. No one has ever actually seen such a figure, however. What people have actually seen are drawn figures that are more or less close approximations of the ideal circle. In fact, when mathematicians define a circle, the points referred to are not spatial points at all; they are logical points. They do not occupy space.

Nevertheless, although the Form of a circle has never been seen-indeed, could never be seen- mathematicians and others do in fact know what a circle is. That they can define a circle is evidence that they know what it is. For Plato, therefore, the Form “circularity” exists, but not in the physical world of space and time. It exists as a changeless object in the world of Forms or Ideas, which can be known only by reason. Forms have greater reality than bjects in the physical world both because of their perfection and stability and because they are models, resemblance to which gives ordinary physical objects whatever reality they have.

Circularity, squareness, and triangularity are excellent examples, then, of what Plato meant by Forms. An object existing in the physical world may be called a circle or a square or a triangle only to the extent that it resembles (“participates in” is Plato’s phrase) the Form “circularity” or “squareness” or “triangularity. ” Plato extended his theory beyond the realm of mathematics. Indeed, he was ost interested in its application in the field of social ethics. The theory was his way of explaining how the same universal term can refer to so many particular things or events.

The word justice, for example, can be applied to hundreds of particular acts because these acts have something in common, namely, their resemblance to, or participation in, the Form “justice. ” An individual is human to the extent that he or she resembles or participates in the Form “humanness. ” If “humanness” is defined in terms of being a rational animal, then an individual is human to the extent that he or she is rational. A particular act is courageous or cowardly to the extent that it participates in its Form. An object is beautiful to the extent that it participates in the Idea, or Form, of beauty.

Everything in the world of space and time is what it is by virtue of its resemblance to, or participation in, its universal Form. The ability to define the universal term is evidence that one has grasped the Form to which that universal refers. Plato conceived the Forms as arranged hierarchically; the supreme Form is the Form of the Good, which, like the sun in the myth of the cave, illuminates all the other Ideas. There is a sense in which the Form of the Good represents Plato’s movement in the direction of an ultimate principle of explanation.

Ultimately, the theory of Forms is intended to explain how one comes to know and also how things have come to be as they are. In philosophical language, Plato’s theory of Forms is both an epistemological (theory of knowledge) and an ontological (theory of being) thesis. Political Theory The Republic, Plato’s major political work, is concerned with the question of justice and therefore with the questions “what is a just state” and “who is a just individual? ” The ideal state, according to Plato, is composed of three classes. The economic structure of the state is maintained by the merchant class.

Security needs are met by the military class, and political leadership is provided by the philosopher-kings. A particular person’s class is determined by an educational process that begins at birth and proceeds until that person has reached the maximum level of education compatible with interest and ability. Those who complete the entire educational process become philosopher-kings. They are the ones whose minds have been so developed that they are able to grasp the Forms and, therefore, to make the wisest decisions. Indeed, Plato’s ideal educational system is primarily structured so as to produce philosopher-kings.

Plato associates the traditional Greek virtues with the class structure of the ideal state. Temperance is the unique virtue of the artisan class; courage is the virtue peculiar to the military class; and wisdom characterizes the rulers. Justice, the fourth virtue, characterizes society as a whole. The just state is one in which each class performs its own function well without infringing on the activities of the other classes. Plato divides the human soul into three parts: the rational part, the will, nd the appetites. The just person is the one in whom the rational element, supported by the will, controls the appetites.

An obvious analogy exists here with the threefold class structure of the state, in which the enlightened philosopher-kings, supported by the soldiers, govern the rest of society. Ethics Plato’s ethical theory rests on the assumption that virtue is knowledge and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms. As indicated previously, the ultimate Form for Plato is the Form of the Good, and knowledge of this Form is the source of guidance in moral ecision making. Plato also argued that to know the good is to do the good.

The corollary of this is that anyone who behaves immorally does so out of ignorance. This conclusion follows from Plato’s conviction that the moral person is the truly happy person, and because individuals always desire their own happiness, they always desire to do that which is moral. Art Plato had an essentially antagonistic view of art and the artist, although he approved of certain religious and moralistic kinds of art. Again, his approach is related to his theory of Forms. A beautiful flower, for example, is a copy or imitation of the universal Forms “flowerness” and “beauty.

The physical flower is one step removed from reality, that is, the Forms. A picture of the flower is, therefore, two steps removed from reality. This also meant that the artist is two steps removed from knowledge, and, indeed, Plato’s frequent criticism of the artists is that they lack genuine knowledge of what they are doing. Artistic creation, Plato observed, seems to be rooted in a kind of inspired madness. Influence Plato’s influence throughout the history of philosophy has been monumental. When he died, Speusippus became head of the Academy.

The school continued in existence until AD 529, when it was closed by the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, who objected to its pagan teachings. Plato’s impact on Jewish thought is apparent in the work of the 1st-century Alexandrian philosopher Philo Judaeus. Neoplatonism, founded by the 3rd-century philosopher Plotinus, was an important later development of Platonism. The theologians Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and St. Augustine were early Christian exponents of a Platonic perspective. Platonic ideas have had a crucial role in the development of Christian theology and also in medieval Islamic hought.

During the Renaissance, the primary focus of Platonic influence was the Florentine Academy, founded in the 15th century near Florence. Under the leadership of Marsilio Ficino, members of the Academy studied Plato in the original Greek. In England, Platonism was revived in the 17th century by Ralph Cudworth and others who became known as the Cambridge Platonists. Plato’s influence has been extended into the 20th century by such thinkers as Alfred North Whitehead, who once paid him tribute by describing the history of philosophy as simply “a series of footnotes to Plato. “

Plato’s Republic Essay

Critics of The Republic, Plato’s contribution to the history of political theory, have formed two distinct opinions on the reasoning behind the work. The first group believes that The Republic is truly a model for a political society, while the other strongly objects to that, stating it as being far too fantastic for any society to operate successfully by these suggested methods.

In an exchange between Crito and Dionysius, this argument is first introduced, with Crito siding with those who agree that The Republic is a realistic political model, and Dionysius arguing on behalf of those who doubt it s being realistic, claiming it to be a criticism of politics in general. Both sides have legitimate arguments, and there is evidence within the text to support each opinion. When Plato wrote Gorgias, he made it clear where exactly he stood on his personal involvement in politics (Cornford 1941, xix).

Unlimited power without the knowledge of good and evil is at the best unenviable, and the tyrant who uses it to exterminate his enemies and rivals is the most miserable of men–a theme to be further developed in The Republic (Cornford xx). But here, Plato was referring to the politics of his time, and critics who ided with Crito believed that The Republic was Plato’s way of introducing a political system in which he would feel comfortable supporting (Plato 204).

Conversely though, The Republic itself is summed up this way: Well, one would be enough to effect all this reform that now seems so incredible, if he had subjects disposed to obey; for it is surely not impossible that they should consent to carry out our laws and customs when laid down by a ruler. It would be no miracle if others should think as we do; and we have, I believe, sufficiently shown that our plan, if practicable, is the best. So, to conclude: our institutions would be the best, if they could be realized, and to realize them, though hard, is not impossible (Plato 210-211).

These institutions of which Plato speaks are described in the body of The Republic, and not only does Plato explain how they are carried out in current society, but he offers his own alterations, which is the primary cause of the arguments over the content of the book (Plato 222). In his fifth chapter, entitled The Problem Stated, Plato introduces what he believes to be wrong with the current system of politics (Plato 41). He starts by describing the Social Contract theory (Plato 53), the method used during his time, a method Plato rejected.

It says: all the customary rules of religion and moral conduct imposed on the individual by social sanctions have their origin in human intelligence and will and always rest on tacit consent. They are neither laws of nature nor divine enactments, but conventions which man who made them can alter, as laws are changed or repealed by legislative bodies. It is assumed that, if all these artificial restraints were removed, the natural man would be left only with purely egotistic instincts and esires, which he would indulge in all that Thrasymachus commended as injustice (Plato 41-42).

In response to this description, Plato wrote, First, I will state what is commonly held about the nature of justice and its origin; secondly, I shall maintain that it is always practiced with reluctance, not as good in itself, but as a thing one cannot do without; and thirdly, that this reluctance is reasonable, because the life of injustice is much the better life of the two–so people say. That is not what I think myself, Socrates; only I am bewildered by all that Thrasymachus and ever o many others have dinned into my ears; and I have never yet heard the case for justice stated as I wish to hear it (Plato 43).

Throughout this chapter, Plato makes a point to say how difficult it is to do what is right, since it seems so much easier to take the easy way out, to do the wrong (Plato 49). And in summing up this chapter, Plato had one final contribution, You must not be content with proving that justice is superior to injustice; you must make clear what good or what harm each of them does to its possessor, taking it simply in itself and leaving out of account the reputation it bears (Plato 52).

At this point, Plato has revealed his mental viewpoint on the problems in current government, and the remainder of the book deals with the ways he intends to do away with that which cripples those in politics, including corruption, various conflicts, and many traditional practices. Plato continues on to describe how luxuries are not necessities, as many prominent figures of his time had believed (Plato 61). Soonafter came his suggestions on how society should be educated (Plato 231). Not only did he intend to totally alter the curriculum, but he also wanted to change people who were educated.

To him, education was not to be limited to the wealthy, it was to be focused primarily on those who showed the greatest potential, the greatest talents. His most radical idea was to reform society based on his method of education. He rejected the idea of having a person’s place in society based on family name or wealth (Plato 111). His ideal society would have rank based on merit, ability and talent, and should a woman possess these skills, then she would have a high rank in society (Plato 153).

Not only did he want women to be included, but he also made his system of education almost rigorous, hoping to eed out those who did not belong, or who showed more talent as say a soldier rather than a mathematician (Plato 102-103). To finalize his suggested society, Plato wrote, But in reality justice, though evidently analogous to this principle, is not a matter of external behavior, but of the inward self and of attending to all that is, in the fullest sense, a man’s proper concern.

The just man does not allow the several elements in his soul to usurp one another’s functions; he is indeed one who sets his house in order, by self- mastery and discipline coming to be at peace with himself, and bringing nto tune those three parts, like the terms in the proportion of a musical scale, the highest and lowest notes and the mean between them, with all the intermediate intervals.

Only when he has linked these parts together in well- tempered harmony and has made himself one man instead of many, will he be ready to go about whatever he may have to do, whether it be making money or satisfying bodily wants, or business transactions, or affairs of state. In all these fields when he speaks of just and honorable conduct, he will mean the behavior that helps to produce and to preserve this habit of mind; and y wisdom he will mean the knowledge which presides over such conduct.

Any action which tends to break down this habit will be for him unjust; and the notions governing it he will call ignorance and folly…. we… have discovered the just man and the just state, and wherein their justice consists (Plato 142). The final installment in Plato’s ideal society is the ruler (Plato 122). He devotes and entire chapter describing the duties of a philosopher king (Plato 205).

His main arguments in favor of such a ruler include when strength fails nd they are past civil and military duties, let them range at will, free from all serious business but philosophy; for theirs is to be a life of happiness, crowned after death with a fitting destiny in the other world (Plato 207). With that said, there is now an overview of what Plato feels to be the ideal society. Elements discussed include how society is educated, categorized, as well as ruled. And some people accepted this model, and argued on Plato’s behalf, including Crito.

But as in all arguments, there must be a second party, and that group viewed this as impossible to accomplish as well as destined for ailure. Even though the arguments against The Republic are not in plain text, those who do not see eye to eye with Plato do have a valid argument, and there is enough evidence hidden between the lines of The Republic to support their statement. When Plato discussed virtues within a state (Plato 119), he mentioned wisdom, courage, temperance, and justice as the virtues that make up a state.

Those arguing against The Republic can refer to a statement made by Plato reading, Strangest of all, every one of those qualities which we approved– courage, temperance, and all the rest–tends to ruin its possessor and to wrest is mind away from philosophy (Plato 198). Here is probably the most obvious statement Plato makes that is anti-political, saying that the ideal political state cannot successfully contain elements of philosophy (Plato 29). Mentioned in the exchange is the Allegory of the Cave (Plato 227-235).

Here, Plato tries to explain why he should be taken seriously, for he is one of the few who has seen this light, and he is trying to adjust society in such a way that it would resemble the world he was exposed to when he left the cave. But he does not think that ordinary people would accept these proposals, and may ven fear Plato to be insane (Plato 231). Many other of his simplified stories can be mistaken for deliberate attacks on politics in general, rather than methods by which politics could be improved.

Among these are the ideas that women could be equal to men in Plato’s ideal society (Plato 144), as well as Plato’s suggestions that such traditions as Olympian religion and poetry were not important in his educational scheme (Plato 67, 321). Although the evidence in favor of The Republic is far greater than that which opposes it, the argument itself cannot really be won. Plato consistently xpresses doubt throughout his work, which favors the opposition.

But, his ideas themselves are in no way impossible to accomplish. Plato had this to say to sum up all his beliefs, there will never be a perfect state or constitution, nor yet a perfect man, until some happy circumstance compels these few philosophers who have escaped corruption but are now called useless, to take charge, whether they like it or not, of a state which will submit to their authority; or else until kings and rulers or their sons are divinely inspired with a genuine passion for true philosophy.

If either alternative or both were impossible, we might justly be laughed at as idle dreamers; but, as I maintain, there is no ground for saying so. Accordingly, if ever in the infinity of time, past or future, or even today in some foreign region far beyond our horizon, men of the highest gifts for philosophy are constrained to take charge of a commonwealth, we are ready to maintain that, then and there, the constitution we have described has been realized, or will be realized when once the philosophic muse becomes mistress of a state. For that might happen.

Plato the Philosopher

Philosopher. According to sources, Plato was born on or around May 21, 427 (or 428) B. C. in Athens, the son of Ariston and Perictione, both of Athenian aristocratic ancestry. He lived his whole life in Athens, although he traveled to Sicily and southern Italy on several occasions, and one story says he traveled to Egypt. Little is known of his early years, but he was given the finest education Athens had to offer the scions of its noble families, and he devoted his considerable talents to politics and the writing of tragedy and other forms of poetry.

His acquaintance with Socrates altered the course of his life. The compelling power which Socrates’s methods and arguments had over the minds of the youth of Athens gripped Plato as firmly as it did so many others, and he became a close associate of Socrates. The end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BC) left Plato in an irreconcilable position. His uncle, Critias, was the leader of the Thirty Tyrants who were installed in power by the victorious Spartans. One means of perpetuating themselves in power was to implicate as many Athenians as possible in their atrocious acts.

Thus Socrates, as we learn in Plato’s Apology, was ordered to arrest a man and bring him to Athens from Salamis for execution. When the great teacher refused, his life was in jeopardy, and he was probably saved only by the overthrow of the Thirty and the reestablishment of the democracy. Plato was repelled by the aims and methods of the Thirty and welcomed the restoration of the democracy, but his mistrust of the whimsical demos was deepened some four years later when Socrates was tried on trumped up charges and sentenced to death.

Plato was present at the trial, as we learn in the Apology, but was not present when the hemlock was administered to his master, although he describes the scene in vivid and touching detail in the Phaedo. He then turned in disgust from contemporary Athenian politics and never took an active part in government, although through friends he did try to influence the course of political life in the Sicilian city of Syracuse. Plato and several of his friends withdrew from Athens for a short time after Socrates’s death and remained with Euclides in Megara.

His productive years were punctuated by three voyages to Sicily, and his literary output, all of which has survived, may conveniently be discussed within the framework of those voyages. The first trip, to southern Italy and Syracuse, took place in 388-387 BC, when Plato made the acquaintance of Archytas of Tarentum, the Pythagorean, and Dion of Syracuse and his infamous brother-in-law, Dionysius I, ruler of that city. Dionysius was then at the height of his power and prestige in Sicily for having freed the Greeks there from the threat of Carthaginian overlordship.

Plato became better friends with Dion, however, and Dionysius’s rather callous treatment of his Athenian guest may be ascribed to the jealously which that close friendship aroused. On Plato’s return journey to Athens, Dionysius’s crew deposited him on the island of Aegina, which at that time was engaged in a minor war with Athens, and Plato might have been sold as a prisoner of war had he not been ransomed by Anniceris of Cyrene, one of his many admirers.

On his return to Athens, Plato began to teach in the Gymnasium Academe and soon afterward acquired property nearby and founded his famous Academy, which survived until the philosophical schools were closed by the Christian emperor Justinian in the early 6th century A. D. At the center of the Academy stood a shrine to the Muses, and at least one modern scholar suggests that the Academy may have been a type of religious brotherhood. Plato had begun to write the dialogues, which came to be the hallmark of his philosophical exposition, some years before the founding of the Academy.

To this early period, before the first trip to Sicily, belong the Laches, Charmides, Euthyphro, Lysis, Protagoras, Hippias Minor, Ion, Hippias Major, Apology, Crito, and Gorgias. Socrates is the main character in these dialogues, and various abstractions are discussed and defined. The Laches deals with courage, Charmides with sophrosyne (common sense), Euthyphro with piety, Lysis with friendship, Protagoras with the teaching of arete (virtue), and so on. The Apology and Crito stand somewhat apart from the other works of this group in that they deal with historical events, Socrates’s trial and the period between his conviction and execution.

The unifying element in all of these works is the figure of Socrates and his rather negative function in revealing the fallacies in the conventional treatment of the topics discussed. Plato’s own great contributions begin to appear in the second group of writings, which date from the period between his first and second voyages to Sicily. To this second group belong the Meno, Cratylus, Euthydemus, Menexenus, Symposium, Phaedo, Republic, Phaedrus, Parmenides, and Theaetetus. Development of ideas in the earlier dialogues is discernible in these works.

The Meno carries on the question of the teachability of virtue first dealt with in Protagoras and introduces the doctrine of anamnesis (recollection), which plays an important role in Plato’s view of the human’s ability to learn the truth. Since the soul is immortal and has at an earlier stage contemplated the Forms, or Ideas, which are the eternal and changeless truths of the universe, humans do not learn, but remember. The impetus for learning or remembering the truth is revealed in the Symposium, where the ascent from corporeal reality to eternal and incorporeal truth is described.

The scene is a dinner party at the house of the tragic poet Agathon, and each guest contributes a short speech on the god Eros. Socrates, however, cuts through the Sophistic arguments of his friends and praises Eros not as a separate and independent god but as an intermediary between gods and men. It is Eros who causes men to seek beauty, although for a time the unenlightened lover may think that what he is really seeking is the corporeal body of his beloved.

Ultimately, however, one progresses from love of the body to love of the beauty which the body represents, and so forth, until one realizes that the ultimate goal sought is contemplation of beauty itself and of the Forms. The Forms are the true reality and impart their essence in some way to ephemeral, corporeal objects, and man may come to know this true reality through rigorous discipline of mind and body, and Plato went so far as to draw up a rough outline for a utopian state in his Republic.

Socrates is again the main character in the Republic, although this work is less a dialogue than a long discussion by Socrates of justice and what it means to the individual and the city-state. The great utopian state is described only as an analogue to the soul in order to understand better how the soul might achieve the kind of balance and harmony necessary for the rational element to control it. Just as there are three elements to the soul, the rational, the less rational, and the impulsive irrational, so there are three classes in the state, the rulers, the guardians, and the workers.

The rulers are not a hereditary clan or self-perpetuating upper class but are made up of those who have emerged from the population as a whole as the most gifted intellectually. The guardians serve society by keeping order and by handling the practical matters of government, including fighting wars, while the workers perform the labor necessary to keep the whole running smoothly. Thus the most rational elements of the city-state guide it and see that all in it are given an education commensurate with their abilities.

The wisdom, courage, and moderation cultivated by the rulers, guardians, and workers ideally produce the justice in society which those virtues produce in the individual soul when they are cultivated by the three elements of that soul. Only when the three work in harmony, with intelligence clearly in control, does the individual or state achieve the happiness and fulfillment of which it is capable. The Republic ends with the great myth of Er, in which the wanderings of the soul through births and rebirths are recounted.

One may be freed from the cycle after a time through lives of greater and greater spiritual and intellectual purity. Plato’s second trip to Syracuse took place in 367 B. C. after the death of Dionysius I, but his and Dion’s efforts to influence the development of Dionysius II along the lines laid down in the Republic for the philosopher-king did not succeed, and he returned to Athens. Plato’s final group of works, written after 367, consists of the Sophist, the Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus, Critias, and the Laws.

The Sophist, takes up the metaphysical question of being and not-being, while the Statesman concludes that the best type of city-state would be the one in which the expert is given absolute authority with no hindrance to his rule from laws or constitution. The Timaeus discusses the rationality inherent in the universe which confirms Plato’s scheme, while the Laws, Plato’s last work, once again takes up the question of the best framework in which society might function for the betterment of its citizens.

Here great stress is laid on an almost mystical approach to the great truth of the rational universe. Plato’s third and final voyage to Syracuse was made some time before 357 B. C. , and he was no more successful in his attempts to influence the young Dionysius than he had been earlier. Dion fared no better and was exiled by the young tyrant, and Plato was held in semicaptivity before being released. Plato’s Seventh Letter, the only one in the collection of 13 considered accurate, perhaps even from the hand of Plato himself, recounts his role in the events surrounding the death of Dion, who in 357 B.

C. entered Syracuse and overthrew Dionysius. It is of more interest, however, for Plato’s statement that the deepest truths may not be communicated. Plato died in 347 B. C. , the founder of an important philosophical school, which existed for almost 1,000 years, and the most brilliant of Socrates’s many pupils and followers. His system attracted many followers in the centuries after his death and resurfaced as Neoplatonism, the great rival of early Christianity.

Plato’s de-feminization of the republic

Plato’s suggestion that female guardians do everything male guardians do is a radical and revolutionary proposal in a time when women were viewed as property. However there are complexities and contradictions in the Platonic text on female equality. He makes obvious statements and allusions those women are more cowardly, less trustworthy, innately worse then men. In Book V, he emphasizes that women, as a class are equals to men in capacity, although on the whole, weaker in all pursuits. Plato’s ideal society is inadequate for the emancipation of women from the standpoint of feminism today.

His proposal is not in the interest of woman as a class whom he supposes to be depraved, but in the interest of the state. The ideal state is emancipation from woman and a complete “de-feminization” of politics. Through out the dialogues women are classed as natural inferiors, with children, slaves, and foolish people in general. “Now, one finds all kinds of diverse desires, pleasures, and pains, mostly in children, women, household slaves, and in those of the inferior majority who are called free. ” (Book IV 431c my emphasis). Plato also assumes that there is behavior specific to women and to cowardly men. …to delete the lamentations of famous men, leaving them to women (and not even to good women, either) and to cowardly men” (Book III 387d my emphasis). In Book VIII Plato states that woman are like children, amused by shiny objects; ”

And many people would probably judge it to be so, as women and children do when they see something multicolored. ” (p. 228 557c my emphasis). Even thou he states that woman and men have identical natures (Book V, 453a) in Book X he is inconsistent and observes a distinction between manly and womanish nature. this is the manly thing to do and that the behavior we praised before is womanish” (p. 277 605d). In Book V he states “it’s small minded and womanish to regard the body as your enemy” (469d my emphasis). Plato’s Republic is ambiguous and inconsistent in its treatment of woman; misogynist content contrasted with claims that both sexes have identical natures. The statement that the two sexes are not different in kind but only in degree, woman is the weaker man – always inferior in capacity (Book V, 454e), is problematic in itself.

Women are associated with men in all human activities, but that association is not one of equals (Book V, 454e). Everywhere, women are only secondary if at all “women”. Remarkably, Plato comes to the conclusion that females are first and foremost human beings, even if decidedly inferior human beings, when evaluated according to their ability to engage in characteristics human activities” (Book V, 454e). In addition, Plato considered the differences among members of the same sex far greater than average differences between the sexes in all the relevant aspects to the guidance of an ideal society” (Bluestone188).

Plato intends that the guardian class should be composed of both men and women. He maintains that there is nothing in female nature to prevent women’s participation, arguing, “there is no way of life concerned with the management of the city that belongs to a woman because she is a woman or to a men because he is a men, but the various natures are distributed in the same way in both creatures. Women share by nature in every way of life just as men do, but in all of them women are weaker then men. ” (Book V, 454e).

Then women of this sort must be chosen along with men of the same sort to live with them and share their guardianship, seeing that they are adequate for the task and akin to the men in nature ” (Book V, 456a). Plato’s concept of justice is based on each person’s doing what he is best suited for (Book III, 352d-354a). He explicitly states that there are no specifically female traits, either biological or psychological, that would naturally exclude women from these pursuits (Book V, 456a). In the Ideal State, human beings are differentiated by their natural inclinations to various pursuits.

Plato demonstrates that biological differences are relevant only to reproductive activities (Book V, 454a-454e). Plato ruptures the connection between family, private property, and woman’s roles. Childrearing will not interfere with the education and other activities of women of the guardian class (Book V, 457d). Plato establishes a set of social arrangements in which there will be no conventional family structures. Children who will be born as a result of brief periods of co-habitation in designated festival, “will be taken over by the officials appointed for the purpose, men or woman or both” (Book V, 460) and raised communally.

He does not automatically assume that children’s upbringing is by nature a female task. Men are equally competent for the task of caring for children (Book V, 458d). Woman’s special abilities were used to vindicate maintaining them out of sanctioned male fields. A patronizing determination that woman are especially dexterous for jobs associated with childcare or nurturance has conveyed the idea that woman do these things better then men there for they ought to remain in those sectors.

Plato argues that women have no special competence, men can do any thing woman can – better. Plato advocated extending the binding force of family ties to the society as a whole. He is not concerned with woman’s desires or needs. He does not care whether their present roles frustrate them, or whether they will lead more fulfilling lives as guardians then as housewives. Plato breaks the bond between mother and child and limits women’s participation in household management and nurturance if they are to participate in governance. Gender division of labor ceases.

Men and woman have identical natures and merit identical roles. Plato never discusses how to reconcile the private/public dichotomy and identical male/female natures among the third class. “Plato’s arguments are authoritarian rather then liberal and far from the arguments that woman should have equal opportunity because otherwise they lead stunted and unhappy lives and lack the means for self-development” (Bluestone 97). His Seemingly egalitarian statements about women’s capacity to rule go against the common opinion that woman are unfit for ruling.

When structuring his ideal society Plato never had women’s emancipation in mind, his primary interest was the good of the state (Book V 452a-452b). “State is only half a state if its women are allowed to run to waste” (Bluestone 42). The maturation of women was dwarfed, and the state lost the usefulness of half of its district. Plato emancipated women from the captivity of their homes, in order to subject them again to the service of the community. Plato argues for woman’s duties and not women’s rights. “Woman are to belong in common to all men” (Book V, 457c).

Rewards of more frequent intercourse are offered solely to the bravest male (Book V, 460b), displaying unequal treatment since rewards for women are ignored. Plato is amazingly liberal in his attitude towards women, he provides them with more freedom then the traditional Greeks. He does not display fear of woman’s sexuality; they were free to handle their sexuality exactly as they please as long as no children resulted (Book V, 460c). Excellent woman has usually implied a virtuous woman in terms of sexual morality, that is a chaste woman, whereas “an excellent man ” carries no such connotation.

This notorious “double standard” has been eliminated in Plato’s state (Bluestone 56). His program of eugenic control (Book V, 457c-459e) is not rationalized in the modern term’s of woman’s rights. However the enforced regulation of sexuality, until after forty, is less restrained then the sexual life of the upper-class Greek wife, whose sex life was regulated and whose mental capacities were denigrated. Plato grants women equal share in the pursuits and the education of men, as the ideal education was also for the best woman (Book V 452a).

Nevertheless, the ideal education inhibited and surpressed feminization, it was designed for future guardians, molding women into the male paragon. Plato judged men to be biologically more competent as a class in all activities, the limbs should be trained as far as possible, woman should do what men do only so far as possible (Book V, 457e). Women have always been at a disadvantage, Plato did not consider that educational practices ought to be designed to compensate for this fact. He did not think any methods were possible to correct women’s slight disadvantage.

With out changes in gender expectations, there is no way that education can be identical. Plato believed women have the capacity for education identical to men’s Book V, 457b). Equal education for female and male guardians would be sufficient to guarantee the development of an androgynous, superior group composed of assertive, dominance-oriented de-sexed females and men. He gives freedom for men and woman to develop to their highest capacities, standard male capacities. The exercises will not be modified for female needs, women will simply be added to an already existing structure.

A structure that demands their de-feminization. Plato indicates how women might live is a man’s world, but there is little doubt that it is a man’s world. Woman might become a guardian, but only by becoming honorary men: by having, men make room for them within male-defined structures. Woman will be equally responsible for formulating and enforcing the laws and establishing which traits are to be valued, however. They will be socialized into the orienting assumptions of patriarchy and be disinclined to challenge them.

Patriarchy is a system of social structures and practices in which men dominate, oppress, and exploit women. It is based on an ideology of men’s superiority over women. The subordination takes various forms: discrimination, disregard, insult, control, exploitation, oppression, and violence. De-feminized women will be perpetuating the “polis-centric” perspective of patriarchy; the valued traits will be those historically valued as masculine. The dominant group frames all competing definitions within its own perspective framework; Plato’s philosopher-queens will be unable to challenges the hegemony imposed on them.

The ideal state is liberation from woman. Woman will have same opportunities and responsibilities as man. They cease being woman and begin doing exactly what men do. In a “Feminized State” women have evident decision making position and an impact on the procedure system within the legislature (Vickers 115). In the de-feminized republic, woman will have decision-making positions but they will be thinking like men, and will have no desire to systematically introduce balancing perspectives from the “other” standpoint.

The number of women will not play a role in raising the importance of women’s problems because Distinction between men and women become meaningless, woman will adapt to the male norm. The men in the ideal society will be freed from woman’s issues because there will not be any woman’s issues. Plato denies the difference between men and women; he fails to consider women’s experience on its own terms, making female experience a norm, too. According to Plato, Woman differs from men in sexual function (Book V, 454d); she is in all other functions of life a weaker man, possessed of the same capacities but not the same strength Book V, 454e).

The ideal society will train its members to eliminate all sex difference – Women will have to adapt the ideal of manhood. Plato does woman a disservice by turning them into men, there will be no distinctions between the personality traits values in men and those valued in women because the only traits valued will be masculine. Plato’s ideal humanity is unconditionally masculine and polis-centric. He has no interest in equality for the sake of woman’s individual fulfillment. The Ideal State he envisions is one that would secure the greatest happiness for men like him.

He fails to re-claim a marginalized, devalued, subordinated, silenced, subjugated, and repressed perspective on the human condition. The Ideal City fails to balance feminine and masculine elements. (differences between the sexes are reduced to their role in procreation) This society gives woman more sexual and academic freedom then Plato’s contemporary states and perpetuates the idea that labor should not be based on gender but on ability, ideas that our society still struggles with. However, Plato’s androcentric perspectives are deficient from the standpoint of feminists today.

Equal right and responsibilities for women are not enough when “men” is center and “woman” is “other”. Plato suggests the male as the norm that woman should confound to he de-values women and fails to recognize the female as a legitimate a norm as well. Traces of misogyny (and the idea of common ownership of woman), which are exhibited throughout the dialogues, reinforce the idea that in his proposition to change the status of woman, Plato aspired to liberate men from women instead of emancipating women.

Sophists: man is the measure of all things

Subjects: Plato, Truth, Philosophy, Epistemology.

Keywords: task of Socrates, Greek philosophy, kind of good, knowledge of the mechanisms, main art, essence of the teachings of Socrates, criterion of truth.

Man and consciousness – this is a topic that enters into Greek philosophy instead of with sophists (sophists – teachers of wisdom). The most famous among them were Protagoras (490–420 years before and. E.) And Gorgias (c. 480 — c. 380 years BC).

These philosophers deepen a critical attitude towards everything. that for a person acts as a directly given, as an object of imitation or faith. They require a test of the strength of any statement, unconsciously acquired belief. uncritically accepted opinion. Sophistry fought against all that. that people lived in consciousness without certifying his law to carry. The sophists criticized the foundation of the old civilization. They saw the flaw in these reasons – morals, customs-principles – and their immediacy, which is an integral element of the tradition. From now on, the right to existence received only such a content of consciousness, which was allowed by this consciousness itself, that is, justified, proved by them. Thus, the individual became the judge of all those. that before the individual court did not allow.

Sophists are rightly called the representatives of the Greek Enlightenment: they did not so much deepen the philosophies of the past, but popularized knowledge, spreading it among wide circles of their many students. that was already acquired by the time of philosophy and science.

Sophists were the first among philosophers who began to receive tuition fees. In the V century, in most Greek city-states there was a democratic system, and therefore the influence of a person on public affairs, both judicial and political, to a large extent due to his eloquence, his oratory, his ability to find arguments in favor of his point of view and such win over the majority of fellow citizens. Sophists just offered their services to those who sought to participate in the political life of their city: they taught grammar, style, rhetoric, the ability to debate, and also gave general education. Their main art was the art of the word, and it was not by chance that they developed the norms of the literary Greek language.

With such a practical-political focus of interest, natural-philosophical problems receded into the background;

the focus was on man and his psychology: the art of persuading required knowledge of the mechanisms that govern the life of consciousness. Problems of knowledge at the same time came to the fore.

The original principle of the sophists, formulated by Protagoras, is: “Man is the measure of all things: existing, that they exist, and non-existing, that they do not exist.” That which gives pleasure to man is good, but that which causes suffering is bad. The criterion for evaluating the good and the bad here are the sensual inclinations of the individual.

Similarly, in the theory of knowledge, sophists are guided by a separate individual, declaring him – with all its features – the subject of knowledge. Everything that we know about objects, they reason, we receive through the senses; Still, sensory perceptions are subjective: what a healthy person

It seems sweet, the patient will seem bitter. Therefore, all human knowledge is only relative. Objective, true knowledge, from the point of view of sophists, is unattainable. This position in the theory of knowledge was called subjective idealism.

As we see, if the individual, or rather, even his senses, is declared the criterion of truth, then the last word of the theory of knowledge will be subjectivism, relativism, and skepticism, which considers objective truth impossible.

Note that the principle proclaimed by the Eleatics – the world of opinion does not really exist – the Sophists contrasted the opposite: only the world of opinion and there is, being is nothing but the changeable sensory world as it is manifested to individual perception. The arbitrariness of the individual becomes the guiding principle here.

Relativism in the theory of knowledge served as a justification for moral relativism: sophists showed the convention of legal norms, state laws, and moral evaluations. Just as man is the measure of all things, every human community (state) is a measure of the just and unjust.

Socrates: the individual and supra-individual in consciousness

By their criticism of the direct givenness of consciousness, the requirement to attribute all content of knowledge to the individual subject, the sophists paved the way to the acquisition of such knowledge, which, mediated by the individual’s subjectivity, would not, however, be reduced to this subjectivity. It was the activity of the sophists, who relativized all truth, that initiated the search for new forms of the authenticity of knowledge — those that could stand before the court of critical reflection. This search was continued by the great Athenian philosopher Socrates (c. 470–399 years before and e.). first the disciple of the Sophists, and then their critic.

Basically, Socrates’ philosophical interest focuses on the question of whether what is man, what is human consciousness. “Know thyself” the favorite saying of Socrates. (This sentence was written on the wall of the temple of Apollo at Delphi. It was probably not by chance that a legend reached us that the Delphic oracle when asked about who is the wisest of the Hellenes, called Socrates.)

In the consciousness of man, Socrates discovers, as it were, different levels, different layers, consisting of an individual, a carrier of consciousness. in a very complicated relationship, sometimes even entering into an insoluble collision. The task of Socrates is to discover not only the subjective but also the objective content of consciousness and to prove that it is the latter that must be the judge of the first. This higher instance is called the mind; it is capable of giving not just an individual opinion, but universal, obligatory knowledge.

But a person can acquire this knowledge only through his own efforts, and not from the outside as a ready-made one. Hence the desire of Socrates to seek the truth together, in the course of conversations (dialogues). when interlocutors, critically analyzing those opinions that are considered generally accepted, discard them one by one, until they come to such knowledge, which all recognize as true. Socrates possessed a special art – the famous irony, with the help of which he gradually generated from his interlocutors’ doubts about the truth of traditional ideas, trying to lead them to such knowledge, in the authenticity of which they would be convinced. The goal of the critical work of the mind of Socrates was to obtain a concept based on a strict definition of the subject. So, he tried to determine what justice is, what kind of good is, what is the best polity, etc.

It was no coincidence that Socrates paid so much attention to clarifying the content of the concepts of “justice”, “good”, etc. The focus of his attention, like that of the sophists, was always on questions of human life, its purpose and purpose, and a just social structure. Philosophy was understood by Socrates as the knowledge of what good and evil are. The search for knowledge about the good and the fair together, in dialogue with one or several interlocutors, itself but as if created an individual, ethical relations between people gathered together not for the sake of entertainment and not for practical matters, but for the acquisition of truth.

But philosophy — the love of knowledge — can be regarded as a moral activity if knowledge itself is already good. It is this ethical rationalism that constitutes the essence of the teachings of Socrates. The immoral act of Socrates considers the fruit of ignorance of truth: if a person knows what is good, then he will never do wrong – this is the conviction of the Greek philosopher.

A bad deed is identified here with delusion, with an error, and no one makes mistakes voluntarily, Socrates believes. And since moral evil comes from ignorance, then knowledge is the source of moral perfection. That is why philosophy, as a path to knowledge, becomes in Socrates a means of forming a virtuous man and, accordingly, of a just state. Knowledge of the good is, according to Socrates, already means following the good, and the latter leads a person to happiness.

However, the fate of Socrates himself, all his life striving to become virtuous by knowledge and encouraging his students to the same, testified that in the ancient society of the 5th century there was no harmony between virtue and happiness. Socrates, who tried to find an antidote to the moral relativism of the sophists, at the same time used many of the techniques that were characteristic of them. In the eyes of most Athenian citizens, distant from philosophy and irritated by the activities of visitors and their own sophists, Socrates differed little from the rest of the “wise men,” who criticized and discuss traditional ideas and religious cults.

In 399 BC. e. the seventy-year-old Socrates was accused of not honoring the gods recognized by the state and introducing some new gods, that he was corrupting the youth by prompting the young men not to listen to their fathers. For undermining the popular morality of Socrates was sentenced to death in court. The philosopher had the opportunity to evade punishment, fleeing from Athens. But he preferred death and in the presence of his friends and students died by drinking a cup of poison. Thus, Socrates recognized above himself the laws of his state — the very laws that he had been accused of undermining. It is characteristic. that dying Socrates did not abandon his conviction that only a virtuous person can be happy: as Plato narrates, Socrates was calm and bright in prison, until the last minute he talked with friends and convinced them that he was a happy man.

The figure of Socrates is extremely significant: not only his life but also his death symbolically reveals to us the nature of philosophy. Socrates tried to find in the very consciousness of man such strong and firm support on which the building of morality, law, and state could stand after the old the traditional foundation was already undermined by the individualistic criticism of the sophists. But Socrates, however, was understood and accepted neither by sophisticated innovators nor traditionalists-conservatives: sophists saw in Socrates a “moralist” and a “reviver of foundations”, and the defenders of traditions were a “nihilist” and a destroyer of authorities.

Plato

Bibliography

Plato (427 – 347 BC) is the son of an Athenian citizen. According to its social status, it came from the Athenian slave-owning aristocracy. And of course, he was his own man in the Socratic circle. In his youth, he was a student of the Heraclitus-Kratila study group, where he became acquainted with the principles of objective dialectics, and Kratil’s tendency toward absolute relativism also influenced him. At the age of 20, he was preparing to take part in the competition as the author of the tragedy and accidentally heard a discussion in front of the Dionysian Theater in which Socrates participated. She was so fascinated that he burned his poems and became a student of Socrates. It was about the time when the Athenian fleet won the last significant victory in the Perepelon war.

Plato shared an aversion to Athenian democracy with the whole circle. After the condemnation and death of Socrates, at a time when the Democrats returned to power again, Plato went to one of the older students of Socrates – Euclid – in Megara. However, he soon returns to the city and takes an active part in her public life. After returning to Athens, he embarked on his first voyage to Southern Italy and Sicily. He is trying to realize his ideas and took part in political life on the side of the local aristocracy, then headed by Dion, son-in-law of Dionysius the Elder. Dion was a follower of Pythagorean philosophy and in his community represented an extremely reactionary wing. Political activities of Plato was not successful. Dionysius betrayed him, as a military man, to the ambassador of Sparta. At the slave market, his friends bought him, and he returns to Athens.

In Athens, Plato works intensively in the field of philosophy. During his travels, he became acquainted with the Pythagorean philosophy, which later influenced him. Diogen Laertsky believes that the teachings of Plato is a synthesis of the teachings of Heraclitus, Pythagoras and Socrates. In the same period, Plato founded his own school of philosophy, the Academy, which became the center of ancient idealism in the garden dedicated to the demigod Academ.

During the reign of the tyrant Dionysius the Younger in Syracuse, Plato again tries to get involved in the political struggle. And this time, his desire to carry out his thoughts in life do not find the expected understanding. Depressed by political failures, he returns to Athens where he dies at the age of 80.

Three periods of creativity.

His work has approximately three periods: The first begins after the death of Socrates. He creates the first dialogues and a treatise “The Apology of Socrates”. The form of all the dialogues of this period is similar in them. Socrates always speaks. He speaks with some prominent Athenian or other citizens. Socrates asks questions to someone who is considered an expert on the subject. Skillfully selected questions Socrates makes the opponent more accurately formulate his answers, and the result reveals a number of “contradictions” and absurdities. Socrates consistently, weighing all the pros and cons, draws certain conclusions.

The second period coincides with the first trip to Italy. He departs from the proper Socratic “ethical idealism” and lays the foundations of objective idealism. During this period, the influence of the philosophy of Heraclitus and the Pythagorean approach to the world somewhat intensified in Plato’s thinking. In the second half of this period, which can be roughly limited to the first and second voyages to Syracuse, Plato gives a whole positive statement of his system. Much attention during this period, Plato pays questions of the method of knowledge of ideas. He uses the term “dialectic” to define it and equates this method with the friction of a tree against a tree, which, in the end, gives rise to a spark of knowledge.

The beginning of the third period is considered the dialogue “Parmenides”. He overestimates his previous understanding of the idea, rationalizing it, giving it the character of community. Understanding the idea acquires a certain inertia (stasis). In it, the dialectic of ideas is determined by the conflict of being and non-being, which occurs directly in the realm of ideas. Thus, movement and development are introduced into the realm of ideas. The dialectic of ideas was designed to support Plato’s idealistic monism, which is the pinnacle of his rationalism. In subsequent works, the influence of Pythagorean philosophy, which strengthens mysticism and irrationalism, is becoming increasingly apparent.

The main question of philosophy.

He solves the basic question of philosophy unequivocally – idealistically. The material world that surrounds us and that we know with our feelings is only a “shadow” and is produced from the world of ideas, i.e. the material world is secondary. All phenomena and objects of the material world are transient, arise, perish and change (and therefore cannot be truly real), ideas are immutable, motionless and eternal. For these properties, Plato recognizes them as genuine, real being and elevates to the rank of the only subject of true true knowledge. Between the world of ideas, as genuine, real being, and non-being (ie, matter as such, matter in itself) exists according to Plato, apparent being, derived being (ie, the world of really real, sensually perceived phenomena and things) which separates true being from non-being. Real, real things are a combination of a priori ideas (true being) with passive, formless “receiving” matter (non-being). The relation of the idea (being) and real things (seeming being) is an important part of his philosophical doctrine. Sensually perceived objects are nothing but a likeness, a shadow in which certain patterns are reflected — ideas. But he can also meet the statement of the opposite nature. Ideas are present in things. This attitude of ideas and things opens up a certain possibility of movement towards irrationalism. He pays a lot of attention to the issue of “hierarchization of ideas”. This hierarchy represents a certain ordered system of objective idealism. The idea of ​​beauty and goodness is one of the most important ideas for Plato. It not only surpasses all real goodness and beauty in that it is perfect, eternal, and unchangeable (just like other ideas), but it also stands out above other ideas. Knowledge, or achievement, of this idea is the pinnacle of real knowledge and evidence of the usefulness of life. (works – “Feast”, “Law”, “Fedr”).

Dialogue “Menon”.

In the dialogue “Menon”, Plato demonstrates the theory of memory with the example of Socrates with a certain youth. The boy had never studied mathematics before and had no education. Socrates, on the other hand, posed the questions so well that the young man independently formulated the Pythagorean theorem. From what Plato concludes that his soul earlier, in the realm of ideas, met with the ideal attitude, which is expressed by the Pythagorean theorem. To teach in this case is nothing more than to force the soul to memories. Based on the theory of memories, he produces a certain hierarchization of the soul.

Soul.

According to Plato, the soul is incorporeal, immortal, it does not arise simultaneously with the body, but exists forever. The body obeys it. It consists of three hierarchically ordered parts: 1. mind, 2. will and noble desires 3. attraction and sensuality.

Souls in which the mind prevails, supported by will and noble aspirations, will advance the farthest in the process of remembrance. “The soul that has seen the most, falls into the fruit of a future admirer of wisdom and beauty or a person loyal to muses and love; the second is after her as the fruit of a king who observes the laws, a belligerent man and able to rule; the third is the fruit of a statesman, owner, earner; the fourth is in the fetus of a person who is diligently engaged in exercises or healing of the body; the fifth in order will lead the life of the soothsayer or the person involved in the sacraments; the sixth will follow a struggle in poetry or any other area of ​​imitation; the seventh is to be an artisan or a farmer; the eighth will be a sophist or demagogue, the ninth a tyrant. ”

Creation of the world.

“Wishing that everything was good and that nothing was as bad as possible, God took care of all the visible things that were not at rest, but in a disorderly and erratic movement; he led them from disorder to order, believing that the latter is certainly better than the former. It is impossible now and it was impossible since ancient times that the one who is the highest good, produce something that would not be the most beautiful; meanwhile, reflection has revealed to him that of all things, by nature visible, no creation, devoid of mind, can be more beautiful than that which is endowed with mind, if we compare the two as a whole; and the mind cannot dwell in anything but the soul. Guided by this reasoning, he arranged the mind in the soul, and thus built the soul in the body in the Universe, meaning to create a most beautiful creation and by its nature the best. So, according to plausible reasoning, it should be recognized that our cosmos is a living being endowed with soul and mind, and it was truly born with the help of divine providence. ”

State stand in the understanding of Plato.

The most significant for us was the work of Plato dedicated to the state system. According to his theory, the state arises because a person as an individual cannot ensure the satisfaction of his basic needs.

Several works of Plato are devoted to social and political issues: 1. treatise “The State” 2. dialogues “Laws”, “Politician”.

Written in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and other philosophers. In them, he talks about the model of the “ideal”, a better state. The model is not a description of any existing system. On the contrary, the model of such a state that has never existed anywhere, but which should arise, that is, Plato speaks about the idea of ​​the state, creates a project, a utopia.

What did he mean by an “ideal” state, and what did he refer to as a negative type of state? The main reason for the destruction of society, and at the same time the state system, lies in the “domination of vested interests”, which determine the actions and behavior of people. In accordance with this basic weakness, Plato subdivides all existing states into four varieties in order of increasing, increasing “mercenary interests” in their structure.

1. Timocracy – the power of ambitious, according to Plato, still retained the features of the “perfect” system. In a state of this type, rulers and warriors were free from agricultural and handicraft work. Much attention is paid to sports exercises, however, the desire for enrichment is already noticeable, and “with the participation of women” the Spartan way of life turns into a luxurious one, which causes the transition to oligarchy.

2. Oligarchy. In the oligarchic state, there is already a clear separation between the rich (the ruling class) and the poor, which make it possible for a completely carefree life of the ruling class. The development of oligarchy, according to the theory of Plato, leads to its degeneration into democracy.

3. Democracy. The democratic system further intensifies the disunity of the poor and rich classes of society, uprisings, bloodshed, power struggles arise, which can lead to the emergence of the worst state system – tyranny.

4. Tyranny. According to Plato, if some action is done too much, then this leads to the opposite result. Taki here: an excess of freedom in a democracy leads to the emergence of a state that does not have freedom at all, living at the whim of one person – a tyrant.

Negative forms of state power Plato contrasts his vision of an “ideal” social order. The author pays great attention to the definition in the state of the place of the ruling class. In his opinion, the rulers of the “ideal” state should be exclusively philosophers, in order for the state to be ruled by reason and reason. It is the philosophers who determine the welfare and justice of the state of Plato, because they are characterized by “… truthfulness, decisive rejection of any kind of lie, hatred for it, and love of truth.” Plato believes that any innovation in an ideal state will inevitably worsen it (it is impossible to improve the “ideal”). Obviously, it is the philosophers who will protect the “ideal” system, the laws from all kinds of innovations, because they possess “… all the qualities of the rulers and guards of the ideal state.” That is why the activity of philosophers determines the existence of an “ideal” state, its immutability. In essence, philosophers protect the rest of the people from the vice, which is any innovation in the state of Plato. No less important is the fact that, thanks to philosophers, the rule and the whole life of the “ideal” state will be built according to the laws of reason, wisdom, there will be no place for the impulses of the soul and feelings.

The basic law is that each member of society is obliged to perform only the work to which it is suitable. The author divides all residents of the “ideal” state into three classes: The lower class unites people who produce things that are necessary for the state or contribute to this; it includes a variety of people associated with handicrafts, agriculture, market operations, money, trade and resale – these are farmers, artisans, traders. Within this lower class, there is also a clear division of labor: the blacksmith cannot engage in trade, and the trader cannot become a farmer on a whim.

The second and third classes, the classes of warrior guards and rulers-philosophers, are no longer determined by professional, but by moral criteria. The moral qualities of these people Plato puts much higher moral qualities of the first class.

From all this we can conclude that Plato creates a totalitarian system of separating people into discharges, which is somewhat mitigated by the possibility of transition from class to class (this is achieved through long-term education and self-improvement). This transition is carried out under the guidance of the rulers.

It is characteristic that if even among the rulers there appears a person more suitable for the lower class, then he must be “lowered”. Thus, Plato believes that for the welfare of the state, each person should do the work for which he is best adapted. If a person does not do his own business, but inside his class, then it is not yet disastrous for the “ideal” state. When a person undeservedly from a shoemaker (first class) becomes a warrior (second class), or a soldier undeservingly becomes a ruler (third class), it threatens the entire state with collapse, therefore such a “jump” is considered a “supreme crime” against the system, because the good of the entire state as a whole, a person must do only the work to which he is best adapted.

He also believes that three of the four main virtues correspond to the three main classes:

1. Wisdom is the virtue of rulers and philosophers

2. Bravery is the virtue of warriors

3. Moderation – of the people.

The fourth justice does not apply to individual estates, but is “above estate”, a kind of “sovereign” virtue.

Interestingly, Plato, who lived in the days of the universal slaveholding system, does not pay special attention to slaves. All industrial concerns are placed on artisans and farmers. Here Plato writes that only “barbarians”, not Hellenes, can be converted into slavery during the war. However, he also says that war is an evil that arises in vicious states “for enrichment”, and in an “ideal” state of war it is necessary to avoid war, therefore, there will be no slaves. In his opinion, the highest ranks (castes) should not have private property in order to maintain unity. Nevertheless, in the “Laws” dialogue, where problems of the state structure are also discussed, Plato shifts the main economic concerns to slaves and foreigners, but condemns the soldiers. Philosophers, on the basis of reason, control the rest of the classes, restricting their freedom, and the warriors play the role of “dogs” holding the lower “herd” in obedience. This aggravates the already cruel division into discharges.

For example: Warriors do not live in the same places with artisans, working people. People of the “lower” breed exist to provide the “higher” with all necessary. The “higher ones” protect and direct the “lower ones”, destroying the weaker ones and regulating the lives of others.

The unity of people Plato considers the basis of his state. In the days of antiquity, the “golden age,” when the gods themselves controlled people, people were not born from people like now, but from the earth itself. People did not need material benefits and devoted a lot of time to philosophy. In many ways, the unity of the ancients was due to the absence of parents (all of them have one mother – the earth). Plato wants to achieve the same result, “socialized” not only human property, but also wives and children. According to Plato, men and women should not marry on their own whims. It turns out that philosophers secretly manage marriage, copulating the best with the best, and the worst with the worst. After giving birth, children are selected, and given to mothers after some time, and no one knows whose child he got, and all men (within the caste) are considered the fathers of all children, and all women are common wives of all men.

The prototype of power in Plato is a shepherd, herding a flock. If we resort to this comparison, then in the “ideal” state the shepherds are the rulers, the warriors are the guard dogs. To keep a flock of sheep in order, shepherds and dogs must be united in their actions, which the author seeks.

From the position of his ideal state, Plato classifies the existing state forms into two large groups: 1. Acceptable state forms 2. Regressive – depressive ones.

The first place in the group of acceptable state forms is its “ideal” state. To the declining, descending state forms, he attributed timocracy. In ancient Greece, Sparta of the fifth and fifth centuries referred to this type most of all. Oligarchy was significantly lower than timocracy – the power of several individuals, based on trade, usury. The main subject of irritation. Plato is a democracy in which he sees the power of the crowd, ignoble demos, and tyranny, which in ancient Greece since the 6th century. BC. represented a dictatorship against the aristocracy.

Art in understanding Plato.

Plato considers art only an imitation of the material world, i.e. not true being. And since he perceives the sensible world as a kind of ideas, art for him is only an imitation of imitation. Such contempt for art arises from the basic principles of his system of objective idealism. A certain role here is played by the fact that the heyday of ancient Greek art coincides with the heyday of slave-owning democracy that Plato hated. Understanding the power of art, the philosopher allowed it to exist in an ideal state. But it should serve religion and strengthen the power of the state. Plato puts forward a number of thoughts (the idea of ​​beauty, beauty, the social function of art, etc.), which contributed to the further development of the theory of art.

Platonic idealism

The works of Plato (427-347 BC) are a unique phenomenon in terms of highlighting a philosophical concept. This is a highly artistic, fascinating description of the very process of becoming a concept, with doubts and uncertainty, sometimes with unsuccessful attempts to resolve the question raised, with a return to the starting point, numerous repetitions, etc. It is rather difficult to single out any aspect in Plato’s work and systematically presenting it, since you have to reconstruct Plato’s thoughts from individual statements that are so dynamic that, in the process of evolution, thoughts sometimes turn into their opposite.

Plato repeatedly expressed his attitude towards mathematics and she was always highly appreciated by him: without mathematical knowledge, “a person with any natural properties would not be blissful”, in his ideal state he intended “to approve by law and convince those who intend to occupy high positions in so that they practice the science of numbering. ” The systematic widespread use of mathematical material takes place in Plato, starting with the Menon dialogue, where Plato leads to the main conclusion by means of a geometric proof. It was the conclusion of this dialogue that knowledge is a recollection that became the fundamental principle of Plato’s epistemology.

Significantly more than in gnoseology, the influence of mathematics is found in Plato’s ontology. The problem of the structure of material reality in Plato received the following interpretation: the world of things perceived through the senses is not the world of the truly existing; things continually arise and die. The world of ideas possesses true being, which are incorporeal, insensible, and act in relation to things as their causes and the images by which these things are created.

Further, in addition to sensory objects and ideas, he establishes mathematical truths that differ from sensory objects in that they are eternal and immobile, and from ideas in that some mathematical truths are similar to each other, but there is only one idea every time. In Plato, as the matter, the beginnings are big and small, and as the essence is one, for ideas (they are numbers) are obtained from big and small by introducing them to unity. The world of perception, according to Plato, is created by God. The process of building the cosmos is described in the Timey dialogue. After reading this description, it is necessary to recognize that the Creator was well acquainted with mathematics and at many stages of creation essentially used mathematical concepts, and sometimes carried out exact calculations.

Through mathematical relationships, Plato tried to characterize some of the phenomena of social life, as exemplified by the interpretation of the social relation “equality” in the dialogue “Gorgiy” and in the “Laws”. It can be concluded that Plato essentially relied on mathematics in developing the main sections of his philosophy: in the concept of “knowledge of recalling”, the doctrine of the essence of material existence, of the structure of the cosmos, in the interpretation of social phenomena, etc.

Mathematics played a significant role in the constructive design of his philosophical system. So what was his concept of mathematics?

According to Plato, mathematical sciences (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and harmony) are bestowed upon man by gods, who “produced numbers, gave the idea of ​​time, and aroused the need to explore the universe.” The original purpose of mathematics is to “purify and revitalize that organ of the human soul, frustrated and blinded by other things,” which “is more important than a thousand eyes, because truth alone is contemplated by them.” “Only no one uses it (mathematics) correctly, as a science that invariably leads to reality.” The “incorrectness” of mathematics Plato saw above all in its applicability to the solution of specific practical problems. It cannot be said that he denied the practical applicability of mathematics at all.

So, part of the geometry is needed for the “location of the camps,” “for all constructions, both during the battles themselves and during the hikes.” But, according to Plato, “for such things … a small part of the geometric and arithmetic calculations is sufficient, some of which are large, extending further, should … contribute to the easiest assimilation of the idea of ​​good.” Plato spoke negatively about the attempts to use mechanical methods for solving mathematical problems that took place in the science of that time. His dissatisfaction was also caused by his contemporaries understanding of the nature of mathematical objects.

Considering the ideas of their science as a reflection of the real connections of reality, mathematicians, along with abstract logical reasoning, widely used sensory images and geometric constructions. Plato tries his best to convince that the objects of mathematics exist separately from the real world, therefore, when studying them, it is illegal to resort to sensual evaluation.

Thus, in the historically established system of mathematical knowledge, Plato singles out only a speculative, deductively constructed component and assigns it the right to be called mathematics. The history of mathematics is mystified, the theoretical sections are sharply contrasted to the computing apparatus, the application area is narrowed to the limit. In such a distorted form, some real aspects of mathematical knowledge were one of the reasons for constructing the system of objective idealism of Plato. Indeed, mathematics in itself does not lead to idealism at all, and in order to build idealistic systems, it has to be significantly deformed.

The question of the influence exerted by Plato on the development of mathematics is rather difficult. For a long time dominated by the belief that the contribution of Plato to mathematics was significant. However, a deeper analysis led to a change in this assessment.

So, O. Neugebauer writes: “His own direct contribution to mathematical knowledge, obviously, was equal to zero … The exceptionally elementary nature of the examples of mathematical reasoning given by Plato and Aristotle does not confirm the hypothesis that Evdox or Teeth learned something Plato …

His advice to astronomers to replace observations with speculation could destroy one of the most significant contributions of the Greeks to the exact sciences. ” This argument is quite convincing; one can also agree that the idealistic philosophy of Plato as a whole played a negative role in the development of mathematics. However, we should not forget about the complex nature of this impact.

Plato belongs to the development of some important methodological problems of mathematical knowledge: the axiomatic construction of mathematics, the study of the relationship between mathematical methods and dialectics, the analysis of the basic forms of mathematical knowledge. Thus, the proof process necessarily links a set of proven positions to a system based on some unprovable provisions.

The fact that the beginnings of the mathematical sciences are “the essence of assumptions” may raise doubts about the truth of all subsequent constructions. Plato considered such a doubt unfounded. According to his explanation, although the mathematical sciences themselves, “using assumptions, leave them in a stillness and cannot give them grounds,” the assumptions find their foundations through dialectics. Plato expressed a number of other provisions that proved fruitful for the development of mathematics.

So, in the dialogue “Feast” the concept of the limit is put forward; the idea appears here as the limit of becoming things.

The criticism to which Plato’s methodology and ideological system were subjected by mathematicians, for all its importance, did not affect the very foundations of the idealistic concept. To replace the methodology of mathematics developed by Plato by a more productive system, his doctrine of ideas, the main sections of his philosophy and, consequently, his view of mathematics, should be subjected to critical analysis. This mission fell to the lot of Plato’s disciple – Aristotle.

Ancient Greek philosophers about society and social development

The difference between the philosophical analysis of society and the state from the mythological

The word philosophy is of Greek origin; it literally means “love of wisdom.” “Love for wisdom” has always been in an effort to answer questions about the essence of the world, society, man, to reveal the secret of the meaning and purpose of social life, human activity. The birth of European philosophy was associated with the works of ancient Greek thinkers, among whom Plato and Aristotle have a special place. Before characterizing their views on society and the state, it is necessary to see what was the fundamental difference between the philosophical approach to the analysis of these issues from the mythological one.

In fact, already in the myths, as you know, attempts were made to answer questions about the origin of the Universe (cosmogonic myths), man and human society (anthropogonic myths), cultural and historical progress (myths about the cultural hero). Hesiod’s concept of the “five centuries” of human history is famous: the golden, silver, copper centuries, the century of heroes, the iron age. Each of the five centuries is the result of the creation of the gods, which determine their replacement.

The philosophical analysis of social life differs from what is contained in the myths in many ways:

  • the myth does not know the difference between society and nature, does not distinguish society from nature – philosophy comes from the specifics of social life, society,
  • myth expresses its views in the form of concrete, living heroes or symbols — philosophy formulates its observations in strictly defined concepts,
  • the myth does not seek to prove, verify the truth of the provisions contained in it – philosophy proceeds from the need for evidence-based, scientific, consistent presentation of the results of the analysis,
  • the myth lives in a specific world of images, symbols, emotions – philosophy thinks by inference and theoretically sound propositions,
  • the myth proceeds from faith in it — philosophy from the conviction that the knowledge gained can be comprehended by reason, rationally.

Plato on society and the state.

Plato (428 / 427-348 / 347 BC) is also famous as a student of Socrates, who brought to us the content of the teacher’s statements, and as the first Greek thinker who founded his own philosophical school – the famous Academy (it existed for more than 900 years) , and as the largest figure in the history of European philosophical thought.

The doctrine about a society and the state is formulated by it mainly in dialogues “State” and “laws”.

In the history of social and cultural development, he singled out three main stages:

  • “dynasty”, such a form of society, when people lived, being content with what was necessary, when there were neither poor nor rich, and then, therefore, good morals reigned. There were no written laws, the power belonged to the elders of the clans and was like a royal
  • “aristocracy” i.e. the era when large settlements are created, legislation is born, electoral power appears. In this era, and the state is composed as such,
  • This state of the state and society, which can be called “ideal.”

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that Plato, in essence, defined the state as a special form of human settlement, arising from the need for mutual assistance, satisfying food and shelter needs, protecting the population and its territory, and maintaining order inside the settlement. The state and society, thus, Plato still does not differ. The state is a special form of human settlement.

A key place in his conception is occupied by the doctrine of the ideal state. An ideal state is one that satisfies the demand for justice. Justice in this case consists in the fact that conditions have been created in society that guarantee the prosperity of the entire state and take into account the natural inequality of people in their natural inclinations. There are people who by nature are endowed with reason, high morality, prudence, a sense of justice. These are philosophers who must govern the state, create laws, rule on the basis of the deep understanding of reality given to them. Others are characterized by courage, desire for military glory, valor, courage.

These are warriors whose vocation is to protect the state from external and internal enemies, to maintain order and calm. Still others are deprived of all these qualities – they must engage in crafts, plow the land, trade, and provide society with material goods. These are artisans and farmers. According to Plato, the boundary between these groups of people is impassable, as the boundary between castes is impassable. The ideal society is strictly hierarchical according to the principle of natural inclinations and inclinations of people. This is how Plato formulated the idea of ​​dividing social functions between different social groups.

According to Plato, in an ideal state, philosophers and guards (warriors) live in closed groups, within which everyone is equal, and property is common, private property and family are permissible only for members of the lower caste of farmers and artisans.

Hence it becomes clear that Plato unconditionally recognizes the priority of public, common interests over personal interests, above the state, subordinating to him a separate person.

Aristotle suggested a different interpretation of these problems.

Aristotle on society and the state.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) also belongs to the number of philosophers whose significance in the history of European philosophical thought is truly enormous. A student of the Platonic Academy, he will give up many of the views of the teacher, following the principle he formulated: “Plato is my friend, but the truth is more precious.” He is known as the creator of the new Lyceum school, as a teacher of Alexander the Great, the famous conqueror of antiquity.

Aristotle owns 158 so-called “Polity”, in which he described the political structure of the ancient Greek polis, city-states. On the basis of “Polity” he compiled “Politics”, systematically setting out material about the state and forms of government.

Unlike Plato, Aristotle emphasized that there is a difference between society and the state. In his opinion, there are various forms of unification of people: family, settlement, state.

The basis of the state is a special type of social relations – the relations of domination and subordination, which are defined by Aristotle as political relations. The state, therefore, is associated with the implementation of political powers, powers of “domination”, power.

Aristotle’s view of the ideal state also differed from the ideas of Plato. Plato, in essence, created utopia, his project had no chance of being implemented. Aristotle was repelled by the analysis of the forms of state policy described by him, their advantages and disadvantages. According to Aristotle, there were three types of “correct” forms of government in the state: monarchy, where power belongs to the hereditary ruler, aristocracy, dominated by the best, democracy, where power is exercised by citizens of the state.

However, according to Aristotle, the lack of these “correct” forms of government is that they tend to degenerate into “irregular” forms where vice and abuse reign: the monarchy can degenerate into tyranny, the aristocracy into oligarchy (the power of few their own interests, common interests), democracy – in ochlocracy (the power of the crowd, ignorant and dark). Therefore, he put forward the idea of ​​forming a “mixed state”, happily combining the virtues of democracy, aristocracy and monarchy. Aristotle called this form of state “polity”. The idea of ​​a “mixed state” gained popularity and influenced, as scientists believe, in the formation of the idea of ​​the separation of powers into legislative, executive, and judicial in the 18th century.

Thus, Aristotle, preserving Plato’s convictions in the priority of the interests of society as a whole over the interests of the individual, at the same time attached greater importance to the interests of the individual, the responsibility of the state to the citizens.