Plato was one of the greatest classical Greek philosophers. He lived from 427 BC to 348 BC. He was a student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle. Plato wrote about many ideas in philosophy that are still talked about today. One modern philosopher, (Alfred North Whitehead), said that all philosophy since Plato has just been comments on his works.
Plato wrote his books in the form of dialogues—people talking about ideas, and sometimes disagreeing about them. This makes Plato's books more interesting to read.
Socrates is usually the main person in Plato's dialogues. Usually, Socrates talks with people about their ideas, and tries to see if they believe anything that is illogical. Other people in the stories often become angry with Socrates because of this. People who study Plato argue about whether Socrates really said the same things that Plato makes him say, or whether Plato just used Socrates as a character, to make the ideas he was talking about seem more important.
One of Plato's most famous works is The Republic (In Greek, Politeia, or 'city'). In that work, he describes Socrates's vision of an "ideal" state. The method of questioning in this dialogue, called the Socratic method, is as important as the content. The Republic contains ideas of Socrates: "Socrates said it, Plato wrote it."
The Laws is Plato's longest dialogue and probably his last.
There are many dialogues that were supposed to be written by Plato. This list includes those he probably did write.
- Lesser Hippias
- The Republic
Plato and Socrates in a medieval depiction
Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds his Timaeus and gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in The Forms.
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