Plato was born in, 427 B.C., in the city of Athens to an upper-class family. His parents
were Ariston and the other was Pericton. Plato's real name was Aristocles. He was called Platon
due to the fact that he had a broad forehead and broad shoulders.
Plato only recorded two facts, about himself, by himself. They were that he was present in
the court room at the trial of Socrates, and that he was one of the friends that offered to pay any
fine that may be imposed on Socrates. The other was that he was absent from the famous death
scene, of Socrates, in 399 B.C., owing to an illness, but this may just be literary fiction. Plato was
a pupil of Cratylus before he met Socrates. Also, before he met Socrates he was into poetry and
enjoyed writing it. But when he met Socrates he totally devoted himself to philosophy, and burnt
all of his poems. When Socrates died, Plato spent some time traveling around the Mediterranean
Sea. The places that he traveled to included Greece, Egypt, and parts of Italy. In 387 B.C. he
founded the Academy which was located in Athens. After Plato died, his nephew, Speusippus,
inherited the Academy. The Academy functioned all the way until 529 A.D. when Justinian I took
it down. Due to Plato's origin he probably should have had a political career, but turned to
philosophy when he went under the influence of Socrates. In the 7th of 13 letters that Plato wrote
he says that mankind's fate was hopeless unless men's education underwent a deep change.
In 346 B.C. Plato died at the age of 80 or 81. When he died he was the head of the
Academy, but as I mentioned earlier, his nephew Speusippus inherited it at that point.
The center of Plato's philosophy was the "Theory of Knowledge". Plato was convinced
that knowledge was attainable, and that propositions derived from sense experience have a degree
of probability. He also believed that objects of sense aren't proper objects of knowledge. A myth
helps to explain part of The Theory of Knowledge. Here is the myth.
Some individuals were chained deep inside a cave. Since no sunlight can enter the depths
of the cave the people inside it can't see anything but some shadows which were cast by models
or statues of animals and objects that are passed before a brightly burning fire. One individual
broke free and made it outside on the cav into the sunlight. With the aid of the sun, that person
sees for the first time the real world and returns to the cave with the message that the only things
they have seen heretofore are shadows and appearances and that the real world awaits them if
they are willing to struggle free of their bonds. Plato believes that the shadowy environment of
the cave symbolizes the physical world of appearances. After they escaped into the sun-filled
setting outside the cave symbolizes the transition to the real world, the world of Forms. Plato
meaning circularity, squareness, and triangularity as Forms. The "Nature of Forms" inspired
Plato believed that the ideal state in the "Political Theory" was divided into three classes.
They were the merchant class which maintained the economic structure, the military class which
met the security needs, and the person's class which was determined by an educational process
which begins at birth and ended when the maximum level of education was reached. Whoever
completed the entire process would become a philosopher-king. Plato also associates the
traditional Greek virtues with the class structure of the ideal state. Temperance is the unique
virtue of the artisan class. Courage is the virtue peculiar to the military class, and wisdom
characterizes the rulers.
Plato also studied "Ethics". His theory rest on the assumption that virtue is knowledge
and can be taught, which has to be understood in terms of his theory of Forms.
Plato had an antagonistic view of art and the artist. This theory is related to the Theory of
Forms. In this theory if we use a flower as an example. According to Plato it is a copy of the
universal Forms "flowerness" and "beauty". A picture of the flower is 2 steps removed from
reality. Plato then implying the artist was 2 steps removed from reality meaning they lacked
knowledge of what they were doing.
Plato's philosophical influence has carried into the 20th century.
Plato's philosophical work has effected democracy in many ways. One of them is that he
made it so only extremely smart people could be leaders of the government due to the Political
Theory. He also made it so people smart enough to be in military combat could be in the military.
And also making it so people not so smart couldn't be in the military which would risk the lives of
innocent people, and made them merchants.
Plato ended up contributing a lot to the government and the people in this world.