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Plato

Plato

Early Life

Plato was a Greek mathematician and philosopher born in Athens somewhere in between 429 and 423 BC. The details of his birth are not confirmed however it is certain that he was born in a noble and prominent family. He is said to have been a very smart child and was taught grammar, music and gymnastics following the Greek tradition of that time. He also took course in philosophy from Cratylus, a Greek philosopher, before he met Socrates. Plato was a strict follower of Socrates’s ideas and beliefs which were critically examined by many people. Plato, on the other hand was a devoted follower. He adopted almost everything about Socrates including his style, philosophy and manner of debate and just like him focused his education towards the question of virtue and the development of an honorable character.

Plato joined the military and remained in service from 409 to 404 BC. After the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC he joined the Thirty Tyrants but alienated them soon after he learned their true nature. Plato believed good politics could only be done by genuine philosophers. He did have heart for a career in politics but the execution of Socrates disheartened him so much so that he left Athens for the next twelve years along with some other friends of Socrates. During this period he studied various subjects like geometry, geology, religion and astronomy.

He wrote extensively on several topics. According to many scholars Plato’s work can be divided in three parts. The first part is called Socrates Dialogues and these were written during 399 BC and 387 BC. His ‘Apology of Socrates’ Plato clarifies his devotion to the great philosopher.

Plato travelled to Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Cyrene and returned to Athens when he was forty years of age. He then founded a school which is said to have been a highly organized school of that time. Some even call his school the ‘first European University’. Plato wanted his school to be a place where young minds could develop their knowledge and hoped it would become a place for great thinkers.

Later Life

387 till 361 BC is the time known as Plato’s middle period during which he wrote texts like ‘Meno’, ‘Euthydemus’, ‘Cratylus’, ‘Phaedrus’, ‘Syposium’ and ‘Repuglic’. These writings were more about his own philosophical beliefs and seem to have less influence from Socrates. The most influential of these works was the ‘Repuglic’ which discusses justice, virtues, courage, wisdom and moderation of a society and the individual. It talks about what a perfect state should be like the education of the citizens and the formation of the government.

In his final years Plato wrote many prominent works such as ‘Parmenides’, ‘Theatetus’, ‘Sophist’, ‘Statesmas’, ‘Critias’, ‘Philebus’ and ’Laws’. In these writings Plato covered many important topics including atheism, pantheism, censorship, mathematics, politics and religion.

Death

There are many theories about his death but no one knows for sure which one is true. We do know however that Plato died in 347 BC.


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