Plato: Most Influential Thinker of History

Pages: 3 (978 words) Published: November 3, 2008
Plato, or Aristocles as is his real name, was one of the most influential thinkers of history. Plato set up a school called the Academy in Athens in 387 BC. He wrote down his ideas in the form of dialogues, or discussions between people. The dialogues explain Plato's metaphysics or ideas on subjects such as politics, law, science, education, art, and the nature of knowledge. One of the best known dialogues is The Republic, in which Plato describes his idea of an ideal, or perfect, government. All of his metaphysics are derived from teachings learned from Socrates, his mentor. Not always agreeing with Socrates, Plato developed his own philosophical identity though how much influence Socrates had is still being debated. Plato gives us many views each which could and have filled many books with specific analysis. So any analysis given is an overview at best. Plato’s philosophical doctrine has three main features: the theory of knowledge as recollection, the conception of the tripartite soul and the theory of forms (Hare, 23). The theory that knowledge is recollection rests on the belief that the soul is not only eternal but also preexistent. According to Plato, the tripartite (human) soul has three parts: reason, appetite, and spirit (or will). These parts correspond to the three classes of society in a just city. The three classes in the republic were Guardians (The Philosopher King), Auxiliaries/Soldiers (Keep the workers in their place), Merchants/Workers (Self interested). Individual justice consists in maintaining these three parts in the correct power relationships, which reason ruling, spirit aiding reason, and appetite obeying. Appetite is the largest aspect of our tripartite soul. It is the seat of all our various desires for food, drink, sexual gratification and other such pleasures. It contains both necessary desires, which should be indulged (such as the desire to eat enough to stay alive), unnecessary desires, which should be limited (such as the...
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