The Genius of Plato

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Plato was born to an aristocratic family in Athens, Greece. When he was a child his father, Ariston, who was believed to be descended from the early kings of Athens died, and his mother, Perictione married Pyrilampes. As a young man Plato was always interested in political leadership and eventually became a disciple of Socrates. He followed his philosophy and his dialectical style, which is believed to be the search for truth through questions, answers, and additional questions. After witnessing the death of Socrates at the hands of the Athenian democracy in 399 B.C., Plato left Athens and continued to travel to Italy, Sicily, and Egypt. (Internet)

In 387 B.C. Plato founded the Academy in Athens otherwise known as the first European university. The Academy provided a wide range of curriculum including subjects such as astronomy, biology, philosophy, political theory, and mathematics. Aristotle was the Academy's most outstanding student. (Internet)

The internal affairs of the academy ruled the next 20 years of Plato's life and he wrote nothing. Many Greek youths were attracted to the new school. Plato then went to Syracuse to supervise the education of the ruling prince. Plato was not certain about the success of this adventure although he felt he could not refuse this opportunity of putting his ideas to a test. It did not work out for Plato and he returned to Athens in 360 B.C. He then devoted himself to teaching and lecturing at the Academy. He died at age 80 in Athens in 348 B.C. Before his death Plato completed the Sophist, the Politicus, the Philebus, the Timaeus and finally the Laws.



The Symposium is the most widely read of Plato's dialogues with the exception of the Republic and it is with good reason. It's literary merit is outstanding with philosophical and psychological sources (Allen)


In the early dialogues Socrates always played the leading roll. In all of them, Plato was trying to keep the spirit of Socrates alive. There are also early dialogues that portray Socrates in whimsical moods but always with a serious purpose. (Allen)

The Republic was the most revealing of all Plato's early writings. Plato believed that one could not seriously construct a political theory without a metaphysics. Therefore, we ...

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...t they don't have enough willpower to stop. It all comes down to lack of control and lack of reason. Most of what we do is not based on rational thought and even though we know that it should be we too do not have the willpower to change our lifestyles around. First of all, we wouldn't be able to survive because it would mean getting rid of all emotional thoughts and feelings and that is close to impossible. Second to live like that would seem so far out and unreal that no one would even try to attempt it. No one can live life without love, lust, hate, and fear they are things that every human being is born with and will die with. Plato always presumed that rational was good, and right, but to us in this world rational is impossible. (Swanson)


Allen, R.E. The Dialogues of Plato, Volume II. London: Yale University Press Publisher, 1991.

Grant, Michael. Cicero, Selected Works. Blatimore: Penguin Books Publisher, 1960.

Dolan, John P. The Essentials Erasmus. New York: The new American Library Publisher, 1964

Internet. Plato (circa 428-C.-347 B.C) Plato Page.

Hare, R.M. Plato. London: Oxford University Press, 1892
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