Plato, born possibly in Athens, at a time when
Athenian democracy was already well developed.
He belonged to a wealthy and aristocratic political
Founder of the Academy in Athens, which can be
regarded as theWestern world’s first university,
and its first school of philosophy.
He died at 80 years old
Context of the time
All questions at one time were spiritual in nature, and the
Greek religion was there to answer all these questions
The rising and setting of the sun was Helios
Earthquakes and the tides were controlled by Poseidon
Ancient Science had proven these gods to be false;
With little left to answer, Science and Philosophy began to
tackle the remaining questions
Where do we come from?
What are we doing here?
What is the meaning of life and the
Questions of the time
Plato the man
Long line of Skeptics (including Socrates)
Eternal and unchanging knowledge was hard to find in the
Everything was always changing – even our senses/body
In his Socratic dialogues Plato argues through Socrates
that because the material world is changeable it is also
o Do not exist in our time and space
o They are “pure” properties
separated from all “other”
Example of the Forms
The Divided Line
Simile of the Sun
The Allegory of the Cave
Simile of the Sun
Unless there is light, our eyes cannot see,
even though they have the power of sight,
and objects that we can see exist and have
colour and shape.
It is only in the presence of light, which
comes from the sun, that we can see.
The sun also causes growth
~ The sun causes sight.
Plato thinks of sight as a power that the eye
gets from the sun, as though eyes actually
make what they see ‘visible’ in a way
similar to how the sun makes things visible.
The Form of the Good revealed
Prisoner now sees the world above the cave
He realizes the error in his thinking
He now sees the accepted form of reality,
and not the reflected reality in the shadows
The prisoner returns to this cave to tell the
others what he sees – Strange Prisoner ~>
“Nothing so educates us as a shock”
(Durant SoP, 13)
The Forms are the Causes
ofAll that Exists
The shadows on the wall represent material
objects, while the real objects are the forms
outside the cave.
The forms contribute all order and
intelligibility to objects.
Important evolution in the thinking process
Allegory of the Cave
Represents a bigger part of Plato’s Republic
o man’s quest for the Good
Man must remove misconceptions of reality
and seek what is Good
o Plato’s Philosopher King
o Model understanding
o Awareness of reality
Philosophers contemplate that which they do not know
Educate themselves to all things
Protect the needs of the many
Soul strives forTruth, Justice, and Meaning
The rational part of his soul must seek “Just”