The Sun of Knowledge: Platonic Epistemology as Discussed in The Republic The history of philosophy can be viewed as the result of the work of an obscure Athenian whose voluminous works, penetrating questions, novel ideas, and didactic teachings have shaped the flow of nearly all philosophic thought. It has been said that the influence of the ancient Greek philosopher named Plato has laid the foundation for Western culture. Plato was born to an aristocratic family in Athens in 428/427 B.C. As a young man, Plato studied poetry, but later under the tutelage of the famed Socrates, turned to philosophy, who introduced him to the ethical importance of the pursuit of wisdom. Plato was also influenced by the writings of pre-Socratic thinkers Pythagoras and Parmenides in the areas of mathematics, metaphysics, and epistemology.
Plato: Works and Contributions The Ancient Greeks have been credited with many contributions to society throughout history. From Science to Art and Literature, the Greeks have heavily influenced some of the cultures that later followed such as the Romans in the 700’s. Out of these contributions non other was more influential to modern times than Philosophy. The Greek word “Philosophy”, the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life (Webster). Western Philosophy as we know it today was studied by many such as Anaximander and Hippocrates and even Socrates, who taught to use systematic questioning to explain the truths of the universe by teaching his students to take nothing for granted.
Plato: The Life of Plato Plato was born around 427 BC, in Athens Greece to rich and politically involved family. Plato's parents spared no expense in educating him; he was taught at the finest schools. He was taught by Socrates and defended Socrates when he was on trial. Plato traveled to Italy and may have even visited Egypt before founding The Academy. Plato also visited Sicily and instructed a young king there before returning to The Academy to teach for twenty years before his death in 347 BC at the age of eighty.
Little is known of his early years, but he was given the finest education Athens had to offer the scions of its noble families, and he devoted his considerable talents to politics and the writing of tragedy and other forms of poetry. His acquaintance with Socrates altered the course of his life. The compelling power which Socrates's methods and arguments had over the minds of the youth of Athens gripped Plato as firmly as it did so many others, and he became a close associate of Socrates. The end of the Peloponnesian War (404 BC) left Plato in an irreconcilable position. His uncle, Critias, was the leader of the Thirty Tyrants who were installed in power by the victorious Spartans.
Aristotle and Plato are two of the most influential philosophers in history. Plato was Socrates’ greatest student and in turn taught Aristotle. In time, Aristotle became Plato’s greatest student. Together Aristotle and Plato, along with Socrates, laid the groundwork for what we now know as Western philosophy and science. Plato, in addition to being a philosopher, wrestled at the Olympic level, is one of the classical Greek authors, mathematicians and the founder of The Academy, the first higher learning institute in the west.
Plato who lived from 427 BCE – 347 BCE was one of the world’s best known and greatly read philosophers. He was a student of Socrates and the Dialogues of Plato are thought to be the recorded teachings of Socrates. In the beginning of the Dialogues Plato tried to preserve some of his master’s teachings and views and in the later parts it is thought that Plato used Socrates as an advertiser for his own views. Some of Plato’s works include the Apology, one of three works that recount Socrates’ last days, the Crito, which is about prison and why Socrates refuses to escape, and the Phaedo, which relays his last day with friends spent discussing the immortality of the soul and his death. After Socrates’ death Plato, horrified, left Athens only to return in 387 BCE to found the Academy.