Plato was a Greek philosopher who studied under Socrates.
After Socrates death, Plato began to write down the teachings of Socrates and would later expand his ideas.
Through Plato’s writing, we understand more about the philosophies of Socrates.
Early life of Plato
Born in Athens to a noble family in the year 428 B.C.E., Plato grew up during the last years of Pericles Golden Age of Athens.
Plato’s father, Ariston died while he was a small child. His mother, Perictione would later remarry Pyrilampes who was a prominent politician in Athens.
Growing up in Athens during the Peloponnesian War was not easy. There were a lot of political problems after Sparta defeated Athens.
Plato received an above average education as a child. He learned about poetry, gymnastics and philosophy from a famous instructor named Cratylus.
As he grew up, Plato became a star student of Socrates and was considered to be one of the youths that Socrates corrupted with his teachings.
Plato’s writings offer the best account of Socrates’s style of teaching and philosophies.
After the death of Socrates
Plato took to traveling after the death of Socrates.
He traveled for more than 12 years to places like Egypt, Italy and Sicily.
While he traveled he continued to study philosophy including teachings of the mathematician Pythagoras.
During his travel he formed a relationship with the ruling family of Syracuse. Plato would later play a role in helping the family redefine politics in Syracuse.
Opening the Academy
Upon Plato’s return to Athens in 387 B.C.E. he opened the Academy. The school was the first of its kind. The Academy was similar to a present day university.
The school attracted students from around the region. His most important student was Aristotle. His prize pupil would study under Plato for nearly 20 years.
Plato used the open-air Academy to teach his philosophies. His philosophies included that of Socrates. He believed that men and women were of equal intelligence.
Plato taught about being a just and fair person. He thought a person’s life should be based on these principals and not on wealth and power.
The Academy also taught the fine arts of music and poetry to students.
Another important subject at the school was mathematics. During Plato’s travels, he developed a love of math while learning from Pythagoras.
Pupils of the famous mathematician would lecture at the Academy.
The Academy was a unique institution in the world. After Plato’s death, students continued to flock to the Academy.
The school is believed to be the longest running institution of learning and was open for several centuries after the death of Plato in 348 B.C.E.
While teaching at the Academy, Plato developed his writings known as dialogues.
His dialogues expanded on much of what Socrates taught students. Plato believed like Socrates, that people should answer questions with more questions to gain the truth.
Plato was an excellent writer and composed more than 30 dialogues in his lifetime.
His dialogues were written in conversation tone. Students would study the dialogues in order to gain a further understanding of subject and problems.
The dialogues covered numerous subjects like politics, religion, dance, architecture, music, drama and mathematics.
The dialogues are separated into three parts and are based on Plato’s learnings from Socrates.
His early dialogues focus on Socrates and his Socratic Method of endless questioning.
Plato’s students were pushed to understand Platonic Forms which are ways people judge things like experiences and objects.
The middle dialogues concentrate more on Plato’s ideas that he develops through his own reasoning and through Socrates’s methods of questioning.
His most important dialogue is the The Republic. The dialogue explores the ideas of an individual and a nation. The dialogue is based on rulers, citizens and auxiliaries as well as the three aspects of life which are desire, reason and emotion.
Facts about Plato
- Plato was a student of the well-known Greek philosopher Socrates.
- His written dialogues offer historians the best information about Socrates.
- Plato traveled for numerous years acquiring knowledge from around the world.
- He opened the first type of university in the world named the Academy.
- Plato’s star pupil was Aristotle.
- His dialogues were written in a conversational tone and followed the Socratic Method of reasoning.
- Plato believed that the lyre was more dignified than the flute.
- His more than 30 dialogues covered subjects from architecture to drama to mathematics to music.
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