Thoughts of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle


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Thoughts of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle


Three Athenian philosophers flourish in Greece from 470 B. C. until 320 B. C. These philosophers were famous for their "schools of thought." The first of these is Socrates who lived from 469 until 399 B. C. He did not leave any writings behind; therefore, we know about his ways of thinking from those of whom he taught. His famous method of instruction called the Socratic method is still used today. In this method, the teacher allows students to use their own deductive reasoning to see things for themselves through a series of questions and answers. Unfortunately, many did not agree with Socrates teachings. He was accused of corrupting the youth in Athens and sentenced to death.
One of Socrates most famous students, Plato, established a second school of thought. Flourishing around 400 B. C., Plato contradicted his teacher in that he left many writings, his most famous being The Republic. He believed that a higher world of unchanging forms and ideas existed. If a person knew these forms, then he knew the truth. These things, however, could only be achieved by a mind that had been properly trained. One of his idea forms was his vision of government. He did not trust the democracy. He felt that the highest rank should belong to the philosophers who were also kings, followed by the courageous, and ended with the rest of who must have desire. He established the Academy at which he taught Aristotle.

The third school of thought was that of Aristotle (384-322 B. C.). He felt that form and matter were one, not two separate concepts. Based on his beliefs that the previous were not separable, he not unlike his teacher, tried to discover the best form of government.

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He determined that only three forms of government existed that could be deemed good - aristocracy, monarchy, and his personal favorite, a constitutional government. After much comparison, he believed that the latter type of government worked the best for most people. Aristotle went on to be a tutor for Alexander the Great.


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