Graziano and Raulin (8th ed)Graziano & Raulin
Research Methods (8th edition)

Plato (ca 427-347 B.C.) was a Greek philosopher and teacher. 

The execution in 399 of his friend and teacher, Socrates, was so distressing to Plato that he abandoned his plans to become a government official and, instead, determined to devote his life to preserving and spreading Socrates’ ideas. However, the anti-Socratic feelings ran so high that Plato felt obliged to leave Athens for 12 years. 

Soon after his return, Plato founded his Academy in Athens, in which he provided education for the sons of wealthy citizens. In effect, Plato started the first university in Europe, and Athens was to remain the university center of the world for the next 800 years. Many of his students became important philosophers, such as Aristotle. (Imagine having Aristotle as one of your students?)

Plato’s work has had deep and enduring influence on western civilization. If his only contribution had been founding the Academy, he would still be a person of great importance. But Plato also influenced students who went on to make their own contributions to culture, and he left important writings that influenced culture for most of the next 2000 years. 

Plato’s philosophy dealt with critical issues, such as the nature of reality, which he defined in terms of its immaterial (i.e., abstract and transcendent) and universal character. He examined the nature of ideas--the unseen reality that, according to Plato, is not dependent upon mental processes. 

Ideas, for Plato, had their own reality. Plato examined love, distinguishing profane from sacred love. He also had much to say about ethics and politics. For example, he believed that those who govern need to be philosophers if they wish to govern well--that is, they need to be educated in ethics, morality, politics, and so on. 

Plato believed that men and women are nearly equal, and therefore should be treated so. From our perspective, the qualifier “nearly” is offensive. However, in his time, the acceptance of men and women as nearly equal was virtual heresy. Plato believed that all of education and training for men--including military service--should be available to women. He saw no reason why women could not become governors. The best way to understand Plato is to read the Republic.

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