Plato

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Plato Biography Plato was born in Athens of an aristocratic family. He recounts in the Seventh Letter, which, if genuine, is part of his autobiography, that the spectacle of the politics of his day brought him to the conclusion that only philosophers could be fit to rule. After the death of Socrates in 399, he travelled extensively. During this period he made his first trip to Sicily, with whose internal politics he became much entangled. He visited Sicily at least three times in all and may have been richly subsidised by Dionysius. On return from Sicily he began formal teaching at what became the Academy. Plato is generally regarded as the inventor of the philosphical argument as we know it, and many would claim that the depth and range of his thought have never been surpassed. Works Plato's fame rests on his Dialogues, which are all preserved. They are usually divided in three periods, early, middle, and late. The early dialogues establish the figure of Sokrates, portrayed as endlessly questioning, shattering the false claims of his contemporaries. The middle dialogues are not in dialogue form and do not exhibit the Socratic method. The middle dialogues defend the doctrines commonly thought of as Platonism. In the late works, especially the last and longest dialogue, the Laws, Plato returns to the character of the ideal republic in a more sober manner, with civic piety and religion taking much of the burden of education away from philosophy. THE Republic of Plato is the longest of his works with the exceptionof the Laws, and is certainly the greatest of them. There are nearerapproaches to modern metaphysics in the Philebus and in the Sophist;the Politicus or Statesman is more ideal; the form and institutions... ... middle of paper ... ...ther all the persons mentioned inthe Republic could ever have met at any one time is not a difficulty which would have occurred to an Athenian reading the work fortyyears later, or to Plato himself at the time of writing (any more thanto Shakespeare respecting one of his own dramas); and need not greatlytrouble us now. Yet this may be a question having no answer "whichis still worth asking," because the investigation shows that we cannot argue historically from the dates in Plato; it would be uselesstherefore to waste time in inventing far-fetched reconcilements ofthem in order avoid chronological difficulties, such, for example,as the conjecture of C. F. Hermann, that Glaucon and Adeimantus arenot the brothers but the uncles of Plato, or the fancy of Stallbaumthat Plato intentionally left anachronisms indicating the dates atwhich some of his Dialogues were written.

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