Plato

“Plato (427-347 BC) was the student of Socrates (469-399 BC) and the teacher of Aristotle. He used his dialogues to justify philosophy in relation to the common sense of the city, the pretended wisdom of the Sophists, and the pseudo-inspired teaching of the comic poets (Aristophanes–The Clouds) and the tragic poets (Sophocles–Oedipus the King or Tyrant, Antigone). He portrays Socrates as a searcher for wisdom and virtue (e.g. Meno’s question whether virtue is teachable or identical with knowledge, with its mythic account of knowing as remembering ideas known by the soul before birth); as a teacher about the best regime and about justice (The Republic, which works out the just order of the polis in terms of the just order of the soul [whose parts + virtues in ascending order are: desire governed by moderation or self-control; spiritedness or anger governed by courage; and reason governed by wisdom]; and the parable of the cave, in which the philosopher is dragged out to view the ideas directly in the connection with the Idea of the Good and who is thus made fit to be the ruler of the city precisely because he is wise and not interested in the ruling power); and as defending his way of life (‘the examined life’) in the face of the old and new accusers of the city of Athens who have put him on trial for not believing in the gods of the city and corrupting the youth (The Apology of Socrates, with its story of the oracle of Apollo as the motive for Socrates’ quest for wisdom in which he questions the statesmen (politicians who should have a knowledge of the whole), the poets (who also are supposed to have a divinely inspired view of the whole), and the artisans (who at least have real knowledge of parts), and which portrays Socrates as the new Achilles for whom the philosophic quest for knowledge of the whole and what’s highest and best is the best way to live); and as defending loyalty to the laws of the city since it makes philosophy possible (Crito). [Idealist account of knowledge, with stress on the a priori perception of ideas or universal laws instead of on sense knowing]” (Frederick Lawrence, Philosophers and Theologians, Boston College).

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