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The Philosophy of Plato

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					The Philosophy of Plato
          A Brief History of Plato
 Born in Athens in 427 BCE
 Disciple of Socrates

 Plato’s philosophy was influenced by
  Socrates
 Founded the Academy, to train leaders in
  philosophy, in Athens in 387
                 Plato’s Dialogues
 Early Dialogues       Middle Dialogues         Later Dialogues
Apology              Gorgias              Symposium

Crito                Meno                 Phaedo

Laches               Euthydemus           Republic,   Books 2-10
Euthyphro            Hippias I and II     Timaeus

Republic,   Book 1   Cratylus             Laws



•Most of Plato’s philosophical writing is in the form of
dialogues
•Total of 42 Dialogues
•Socrates is used in all of Plato’s Dialogues
                Early Dialogues
 Wrote them before he had a philosophy of
  his own
 Socrates is portrayed historically accurate

 Mainly critical of the moral views of others
              Middle Dialogues
 Begins coming up with his own philosophy
 Develops some metaphysical (philosophical
  principles) and epistemological (nature of
  knowledge) positions.
 Begins introducing his theory of the forms
  into his writing
                Late Dialogues
 Socrates is used purely to advance Plato’s
  own views
 His approach is constructive—used mainly
  to develop his own mature philosophical
  system
                General Ideas
 Inherited Socrates’s philosophy
 Attempted to complete it by adding a
  foundation in metaphysics
 Believed philosophy must render man
  morally better
            The Socratic Philosophy
 The only real wisdom is knowing that you
  know absolutely nothing
 The highest good is the improvement of the
  soul—the care for wisdom and truth
 Virtue is knowledge
    – Evil and wrongdoing come from lack of
      knowledge or ignorance
             Plato’s Metaphysics
 There is a distinction between ―things‖ and
  ―forms‖
 This must be understood before being able
  to understand Plato
 ―Things‖ are what we can perceive with our
  senses
 ―Forms‖ are eternal and static
            Theory of Knowledge
                Thought           Objects
                Reason        Higher Forms
               (Dialectic)
                                                 Intelligible
Knowledge
                                                   World
              Understanding   Forms of Science
               (Science and   and Mathematics
              Mathematics)

                 Belief       Things, Objects
              (Perception)
 Opinion                                         Visible World
               Conjecture        Shadows,
             (Imagination)        Images,
                                Reflections
          Imagination or Conjecture
                         Level 1

 Imagination is the lowest level on the
  divided line of knowledge
 Mental activity is at a minimum
    – Awareness of shadows, optical illusions, and
      the like
                            Belief
                            Level 2

 Begins to have common sense
 Perception of concrete objects occur at this
  level
    – Recognition of things such as three-
      dimensional visible objects
   Classification and organization of perceived
    objects begin at this level
     Rational Understanding or Intellect
                        Level 3

 The crossing of the line represents the
  change from the knowledge of a plumber to
  the knowledge of a civil engineer
 Perception of abstract objects occur at this
  level
                              Reason
                                Level 4

   Highest level of knowledge
   Mind uses the method of dialectic
    – Dialectic is the crown-science of all sciences
   Dialectic identifies all of the forms
   A philosopher can attain the knowledge of
    dialectic through love of truth, which enables him
    to reach the Idea of the Good, the supreme form
    – The Idea of the Good gives truth which makes the
      forms intelligible
                The Theory of Two Worlds
       Sensible World                  World of the Forms
appearance (seems real)            reality (is real)

immanent (within space and time)   transcendent (beyond space and time)

becoming (ever changing)           being (eternal and unchanging)

particular and imperfect           absolute and perfect

many instances (copy; imitation)   one essence (archetype)

perceived by senses                known by reason

subjective (dependent upon my      objective (exist independently of my
perception)                        mind)
Examples: a computer, a person     Examples: Justice, Goodness
          The World of the Forms
 The world of Forms is the ―real‖ world
 Forms are abstract

 Things that can be perceived by the senses
  can be derived from Forms.
 The world of Forms consists of eternal and
  unchanging abstract concepts such as
  Justice and Beauty
                  The Sensible World
   The Sensible world is a shadow or imitation of the
    world of Forms
    – The shadow represents a concrete object
   It is impossible to derive a Form from a Sensible
    thing
   Sensible things only exist because of participation
   A book comes into being because it is
    participating in the form of Bookness.
      Significance of the Two World
                 Theory
 Why would Plato need to develop such a
  complicated metaphysical system?
 Plato used this system to counteract the
  Sophists’ relativism
 The Sophists believed that true and false,
  good and bad, were merely opinions.
 This would have led to the death of
  philosophy
                                                  reason
knowledge                                         intelligence

 eternal              Parmenides             Ideas/Forms

       Truth             Being              One
gods        invisible        intelligible         permanence

            visible          sensible             impermanence
mortals

       truth       Becoming                 many
                                                     illusion
                        Heraclitus
opinion                                               belief
            temporal
                The Tripartite Soul
   Man is made of 3 elements
    – Ability to use language and Reason (Head)
    – Emotional/Spirit drives such as anger and sorrow
      (Chest/Abdomen)
    – Bodily Desires and needs (Stomach)
     The Theory of the Three Types of
                  Souls
 The person dominated by reason seeks
  wisdom
 The person dominated by emotional/spirit
  drives seeks success and fame
 The person dominated by bodily appetites
  seeks material wealth
              Justice in the Soul
 Justice for a man is functioning in
  accordance with his form, the three parts of
  his soul acting together in perfect harmony.
 The dysfunction of any of the three
  elements causes the soul to lose its well-
  being
                         Plato often refers to
                         the Lyre to illustrate
                         the musical metaphor
                         of the soul.
               The Soul as Organism
 Reason may know good, but it is in conflict
  with bodily desires
 Neither a life devoted to bodily desires nor
  a life devoted to denial of bodily desires
  would be functional
 The third element, emotional drives, serves
  as a mediator of conflicts
    – It can act on behalf of either reason or the
      appetites
              Ethics: The Good Life
 Pleasure is not the highest good for humans
 Pursuing pleasure as the highest good will
  destroy you
 Highest good consists of fulfilling all three
  elements in the proper order
    – First, reason
    – Then emotional drives
    – Last, bodily appetites
        The Harmony of the Soul
 The three elements of the soul form a
  harmony like a musical harmony
 The good life is the harmoniously balanced
  life, which satisfies all three elements
 This is the Good Life, the life of human
  happiness
 Is happiness an absence of need?
 is it getting your needs/wants fulfilled?
      Speaking to Souls and the Dialectic
   When reading Plato in the future remember
    that Socrates is always speaking to the
    soul(s) of his interlocutors (those he is
    dialoguing with), which makes it extremely
    difficult discerning what Plato is trying to
    say. You must read the dialogues like you
    would a good piece of literature so you can
    determine the kind of person Socrates is
    talking too before making any conclusions.
Government and The Ideal State
 Pros/cons of caste system…
      Government and The Ideal State
   In The Republic Plato speculates on an ideal social
    structure based upon the micro division of the
    human soul to the macro division of a state’s soul.
    His goal was to create a harmonious society that
    had as little conflict/disharmony as possible.
    – The philosophers direct the state;
    – The warriors defend the state;
    – The producers must attend to the material production of
      those things that are needed by the state.
        • Divided further by skills and jobs
   Plato is strictly aristocratic
    – Philosophers direct the state because they are wise and
      they know of the Eternal Forms, the constant forms of
      Knowledge.
    – Also, they know the essence of the state and show the
      other two lower classes the way that must be followed in
      order to attain the end of the state
     The Concept of the Philosopher-King

 Plato initially thought revising the Athenian
  constitution would end the moral
  degeneration of Athens
 Then realized philosophy was the key

 Only kings that knew philosophy or
  philosophers that were kings would know
  what true justice was.
    Government and The Ideal State
   Due to the ambiguity surrounding Socrates
    and his use of irony many suggest that The
    Republic is misread by most people. Plato
    is often regarded as a totalitarian or at the
    least a highly aristocratic political thinker
    after a reading of The Republic, however a
    careful reading suggests that Plato was
    merely suggesting a hypothetical society
    that he knew would never work in reality.
    His political thoughts become more
    apparent in his other diaglogues.
                  Bibliography

   www.rit.edu/~flwstu/plato.html
   Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia
   www.philosophypages.com/hy/2f.htm#memo
   www.philosophypages.com/hy/2g.htm#jui
   www.philosophypages.com/hy/2h.htm#women
   www.radicalacademy.com/adiphilmetaphysical2.html
   From Socrates to Sartre: the Philosophic Quest
       Author: T. Z. Lavine

				
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