Plato

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There were many great philosophers who have contributed in making philosophy what it is today, one of them being Plato. In addition to being an outstanding philosopher, he was also a mathematician and a writer. One of Plato’s biggest inspirations was his very own teacher Socrates. Socrates never wrote down a word of what he said, but thankfully Plato was able to record it all down for him and wrote many dialogues about Socrates words and teachings. One of Plato’s most famous works was his dialogue, The Republic which was written in 380 BC. The Republic consists of ten books total each consisting of different topics concerning ancient philosophy.

From reading a short excerpt from the philosophical text: Western Philosophy: An Anthology (Second Edition) edited John Cottingham, Cottingham takes an excerpt from (Plato, Republic [Politeia, c.3800 BC], Bk V, 474b-483e. Trans. B. Jowett, in The Dialogues of Plato (Oxford: Clarendon, 1892), vol. lll, pp. 171-9)), Plato writes about knowledge versus opinion and Socrates views on each from a first person point of view. In the following excerpt there is an ongoing conversation between Socrates and Glaucon discussing their personal views and thoughts on knowledge and opinion. Socrates does not oppose of having opinions, he says they can later be turned into knowledge. These beliefs and opinions will only act as a guide to our knowledge. Socrates believes that opinions are very good and can be useful while one has them as they stay in our minds, but they are only temporary and eventually will leave our minds. Opinions are not of great value and will escape from our minds. This means they will not be worth much until they are tied down and figured out by working out the reason. Once they are tied down those opinions will evolve into knowledge. This knowledge is permanent and overall much better than true opinion. Knowledge is when one can thoroughly and fully explain why a certain belief is correct. Knowledge can be used to back up ones opinion by using facts and explanations from prior experience.

Socrates believed that philosophers were to rule the polis’ of Greece because they were better than all the others due to the knowledge they held. He believed that anyone who did not have knowledge and rather held to their opinions should remain as followers, that it is only possible for a leader to have knowledge and only philosophers can have knowledge. Socrates felt philosophers were the only ones who could have knowledge because they knew the process of reason. Knowledge is what makes a philosopher who he is and separates him from the rest of mankind. Philosophers are a different kind, special people, being able to see and know more than what meets the eye. Socrates believes that philosophers should be rulers and kings of Greece. Knowledge is so power that one could mange to be a king. In Socrates mind, philosophers would be the best fit to being a king and having all rule.

Knowledge and opinion are very different powers, therefore they must have different objects. Everyday objects can be told and described to be what they are in detail. For example, Iona College has a beautiful campus. This very statement is in between what is, and what is not. Knowledge is relevant to what is, and opinions are just assumptions. This is where Plato introduces us to his theory of the forms, which are absolute true objects of knowledge. Forms cannot be obtained from any of the senses, only from true knowledge. Forms are absolutes such as justice, happiness, goodness, etc. Forms are responsible for making sense of our surroundings and making sense of why things are as they are. On page 13 in John Cottingham’s book, Socrates says, "I need not remind you, that a lover, if he is worthy of the name, ought to show his love not to some one part of that which he loves, but of the whole.” meaning when someone loves something they love the entirety of it, not just a part but every part. Socrates knows that...
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