Plato

(427-347 B.C.)


Plato= Nickname meaning "broad shouldered"; real name=Aristocles

-had excelled as a soldier & twice won prizes at the Isthmian games

-poet as well as philosopher

-from age 21-28 he sat under the teaching of Socrates

-deeply affected by Socrates' death

Result: Hatred of mob rule and a resolve to find a system of government whereby the wisest men might rule

Wandered 12 years beginning 399 B.C.: Egypt; Sicily; Italy; & some think Judea; returning to Athens in 387 B. C. where he founded his own school in the grove of Academus from which it got its name the Academy.

Wrote the Dialogues featuring Socrates and illustrating Socratic Method.

The Republic was his main work; Emerson said "Plato is the Republic and the Republic is Plato."

Republic format=dialogue with Plato communicating his ideas via the voice of Socrates

Human behavior flows from (1) Desire; (2) Emotion; and (3) Knowledge. These three ground springs of human behavior motivate three classes of people who play key roles in the ideal state: (1) the industrialists would produce; (2) the military would protect; and (3) the forces of science and philosophy would rule. "Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and wisdom and political leadership meet in the same man, . . . cities will never cease from ill, nor the human race" (473)

The key: universal education: Physical training for first 10 years mixed with music until age 16 when individual music lessons give way to choral singing. *Durant 22-23

Religion: essential   Durant 24

Testing: Those who fail the test join the industrial class.   Durant 24-25

Second test: After 10 more years of education; those who fail become the military class.

Religion is essential to get these classes to accept their fate. At the age of 30 those who remain are taught philosophy 5 years: metaphysics, to think clearly, and politics, to rule wisely.

The doctrine of Ideas & math is critical.   The idea is the reality; concrete particulars are mere shadows.     Durant 26-27

At age 35, philosopher-king candidates are put to test in the concrete world for 15 years. Durant 27-28

At age 50 they become the Guardians (men & women) of the state sharing in a communistic arrangement at the top, sharing the barracks, holding all things in common.

Eugenics: selective breeding on all levels

Abortion & deformed left to die at birth.

"Justice is the having and doing what is one's own."

In the individual, justice is the harmonization of the elements of the person-emotion and intellect.   Durant 33

 

 

*References are to Will Durant's Story of Philosophy, 1926, New York: Simon and Schuster.