Renaissance Men – Plato

Plato Sculpture

 

Plato

Vitals:

  • Born: 428-427 BC
  • Died: 348-347 BC
  • Known For:  Along with his teacher, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, he is one of the fathers of Western thought.

Plato benefited by one distinct advantage in his life, his teacher was Socrates.  This set his life down a different course that would ensure he would be considered one of the greatest thinkers of his time.

Plato is perhaps best known for his work in philosophy.  He spent much of his time contemplating the afterlife, as I’m sure many Greeks did.  But his best known work, The Republic, focuses more on societal and political philosophy.  In the Republic, he places society into three distinct categories: the productive (workers), the protective (warriors or guardians), and the Governing (rulers).

My favorite philosophical category that Plato worked on was Epistemology.  This is the study of knowledge and how we acquire it.  It may sound boring or useless, but the truth is that it is one of the most fascinating things I have studied.  To get a taste of Platonic Epistemology, look into the Allegory of the Cave.

His other advances are in the study of logic and rhetoric.  Plato is famous for developing and working out arguments in the most precise way possible.  He did this through his many dialogues which he wrote down and are still preserved.  This would be further improved upon by his pupil, Aristotle, and the introduction of logos, pathos, and ethos.

Overall, there are very few people who have shaped western civilization as much as plato.  We use concepts and thought daily that was developed by him without even knowing where it came from.  He, along with his other Greek counterparts, truly changed the way we view the world.  And for that he is remembered as a pre-renaissance, Renaissance Man.

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