Plato’s Philosophy Essay

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Plato who was a Greek philosopher that does not believe knowledge comes from the five senses. Plato also does think that opinions are the truth. During his life there were two big events that helped form his outlook, the Peloponnesian war and meeting Socrates. After meeting Socrates, Plato was his student until he was executed. Plato tried to carry on the teachings of Socrates by writing text and through his actions. Around 385 B.C.E. Plato founded the Academy where he taught. According to Plato there were three different levels of pollical classes; the producers, the guardians, and the auxiliaries. It took all three for the society to be civilized and able to grow. Plato strongly believed that the division should be built on labor. Plato used the Allegory of the cave to represent how getting an education is a difficult process, but anyone can do it if they want to. Plato also had interesting thoughts on the Theory of Forms and moral virtues.

Plato, a Greek philosopher, was Socrates student and the teacher of Aristotle. He was born in 428 B.C.E. A few things that Plato included were political theory, cosmology, and the philosophy of language. According to Plato life and society must be founded on knowledge that is universal, eternal and unchangeable. Everyone has an equally correct opinion, just because you do not feel what they are feeling does not make their opinion wrong. Relativists do not believe everyone’s opinion is true, they believe that they are correct, and everyone else’s opinion is wrong. Plato does not believe that everyone’s opinion is equal.

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Plato does not believe that our knowledge comes from the five senses. The senses reflect the world of constant change, just because it is true now does not mean it will stay true due to always being in a constant flux. Plato says the knowledge gained from perception should not be taken seriously and understanding comes from universal concepts. He also says justice cannot be physical. Plato believes that knowledge is objective, universal, unchanging, unavailable to the senses, and grounded in a rational understanding.

Plato experienced two big events that set his course of life, meeting Socrates and the Peloponnesian War. Plato was so impressed with Socrates, also a Greek philosopher, that he chose a life of virtue and of noble character. Plato served in the Peloponnesian War and after it was over he considered a political career but changed his mind due to the execution of Socrates. Plato chose to study philosophy instead of entering politics.

Around 399-387 B.C.E Plato focused on trying to carry on Socrates’s teachings and his philosophy. During this time Plato had written several texts, including the Apology of Socrates shortly after Socrates had died. During the middle period Plato decided to write his opinion. He wrote The Republic, which told about government ruled by philosopher kings. In the late period, Plato explores art.

Plato founded the Academy around 385 B.C.E, which he presided over until he died. The Academy showed how schools of higher learning should be. Emperor Justinian I closed the Academy because he feared that it was a threat to Christianity. Plato wanted the academy to allow future leaders learn how to build a better government.

Around 367 B.C.E Plato tutored Dionysius II. Plato wanted great things for Dionysius II, he wanted to produce a philosopher king, but Dionysius II had Plato placed on house arrest which eventually led to Plato returning to Athens and his Academy. Plato spent his final years at the Academy and writing.

Plato believed society fell into three different levels of political classes. Which included producers, guardians, and auxiliaries. Plato believed that society needed all three classes to be civilized and grow. The producers are the factory workers, farmers, and any other laborer that was responsible for creating goods or services. This group keeps the economy moving and growing. The guardians are like the police, military’s, doctors, human services, and so on. This class of people look after the wellbeing of others and defends them from both outside enemies as well as bad guys at home. The third class, the Auxiliaries, is part of the guardian class. Auxiliaries however are “more important”. This class is composed of the super wealthy and politicians. These people make all the rules for the less two classes.

Plato’s ideal society consist of two classes, the guardians and the workers. the workers can have families and work the jobs that are not reserved for the guardians (the guardians are broke down to guardians and leaders). This is built on the division of labor; letting people who are better at something do it instead of you doing it yourself. Being a guardian means you must be more advanced physically and intellectually. As stated before the guardian jobs were police, military’s, legislature etc. To be a leader you must reach “enlightenment”. No guardian can own property or have children. You must pass a physical test to test your eligibility to become a guardian.

Plato included the Allegory of the cave in his book The Republic, this helps to show Plato’s view on education. The Allegory of the cave represents Plato’s theory on knowledge and reality. In the Republic Socrates tells the story of the Allegory of the cave to Plato’s brother, Glaucon. Socrates tells how there are prisoners chained in the cave, unable to move and only able to see the shadows on the back wall from men passing along carrying different things. Eventually one of the prisoners breaks free and is forced to turn around and look at the firelight (this represents the truth), this represents enlightenment. The brightness from the fire makes the prisoner want to turn back around to avoid his hurting eyes. But, the prisoner is forced to go past the firelight into the realm of sunlight. The prisoner found it easier to look at the shadows and the reflections before he is finally able to look at the sun, the source of the reflections. The prisoner goes back into the cave because he feels bad for the prisoners still there. He tries to inform the prisoners about the truth of reality, but the prisoners assume he is dangerous because he came back and upset everyone with his opinion. The prisoners do not wish to be free because they are comfortable in their own ignorance and wish to have more information first. Plato uses this scenario to tell us that our thinking may be led in directions not supported by society. Plato also says that we only see the shadows of things and we all begin in the cave. Progressing out of the cave represents getting an education, which is a difficult process. Plato says you have to see things differently in education, if the truth changes so will your education. While everyone has the ability to learn, we do not all have the desire to learn. According to Plato, education includes a spiritual awakening and seeing the world in a different, correct way. Getting an education is a difficult process that forces on to see the truth and once the truth has been seen, it cannot be unseen.

One of Plato’s most influential contributions was the Theory of Forms. Plato basically says that the physical world is not the “real world”. Reality exists beyond the physical world. Plato favored Socrates theory on the real world. According to Plato there is two realms, the physical real and the spiritual realm. The material things, the things that we see and interact with daily, makes up the physical realm. The physical realm, also viewed as a shadow, is always changing and is not perfect. On the other hand, the spiritual realm exists beyond the physical realm. The spiritual realm is also called the Realm of Forms. These forms are abstract. Plato embraces metaphysical dualism. The definition of metaphysical dualism states that there are two different kinds of reality. There is a world in constant flux (the physical world; experience) and a world that is unchanging (knowledge).

Plato says that there were four moral virtues, each finding its place within different elements of the soul. The moral virtues were wisdom, courage, temperance (having self-control) and justice. An example of one possessing wisdom would be a military commander. Justice is reached when all other elements have reached a balance and are in correct order. Being “morally good” helps you to be in control of your life.

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