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PLATO 427-348/47 BCE An introduction. Socrates and Plato Socrates himself (see pp. 7-8) wrote nothing; we know what we do about him mainly from the writings.

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Presentation on theme: "PLATO 427-348/47 BCE An introduction. Socrates and Plato Socrates himself (see pp. 7-8) wrote nothing; we know what we do about him mainly from the writings."— Presentation transcript:

1 PLATO 427-348/47 BCE An introduction

2 Socrates and Plato Socrates himself (see pp. 7-8) wrote nothing; we know what we do about him mainly from the writings of his pupil Plato, a philosophical and literary genius of the first rank. It is very difficult to distinguish between what Socrates actually said and what Plato put into his mouth, but there is general agreement that the Apology, which Plato wrote as a representation of what Socrates said at his trial, is the clearest picture we have of the historical Socrates.

3 Socrates on Trial  Apology corrupting the youth He is on trial for impiety and “ corrupting the youth.” He deals with these charges, but he also takes the opportunity to present a defense and explanation of the mission to which his life has been devoted.

4 A defiant speech The Apology is a defiant speech; Socrates rides roughshod over legal forms and seems to neglect no opportunity of outraging his listeners. But this defiance is not stupidity (as he hints himself, he could, if he had wished, have made a speech to please the court), nor is it a deliberate courting of martyrdom.

5 No compromise It is the only course possible for him in the circumstances if he is not to betray his life’s work, for Socrates knows as well as his accusers that what the Athenians really want is to silence him without having to take his life. What Socrates is making clear is that there is no such easy way out; he will have no part of any compromise that would restrict his freedom of speech or undermine his moral position.

6 the improvement of the soul The speech is a sample of what the Athenians will have to put up with if they allow him to live; he will continue to be the gadfly that stings the sluggish horse. improvement of the soul He will go on persuading them not to be concerned for their persons or their property but first and chiefly to care about the improvement of the soul. He has spent his life denying the validity of worldly standards, and he will not accept them now.

7 refused to disobey the laws He was declared guilty and condemned to death. Though influential friends offered means of escape (and there is reason to think the Athenians would have been glad to see him go), Socrates refused to disobey the laws ; in any case he had already, in his court speech, rejected the possibility of living in some foreign city.

8 execution no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death The sentence was duly carried out. And in Plato’s account of the execution we can see the calmness and kindness of a man who has led a useful life and who is secure in his faith that, contrary to appearances, “ no evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.”

9 Dramatic form The form of the Apology is dramatic: Plato re-creates the personality of his beloved teacher by presenting him as speaking directly to the reader. In most of the many books that he wrote in the course of a long life, Plato continued to feature Socrates as the principal speaker in philosophical dialogues that explored the ethical and political problems of the age.

10 The Republic the Republic These dialogues ( the Republic the most famous) were preserved in their entirety and have exerted an enormous influence on Western thought ever since.

11 Plato and Athenian politics the execution of Socrates by the courts of democratic Athens disgusted him with politics and prompted his famous remark that there was no hope for the cities until the rulers became philosophers or the philosophers, rulers. His attempts, however, to influence real rulers―the tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse in Sicily and, later, his son—ended in failure.

12 399 BCE The death of Socrates in 399 B.C., coming as it did around the turn of the century, has made it a convenient point of demarcation in the history of Greek philosophy.

13 “pre-Socratic philosophers” Thus Socrates’ predecessors of the sixth and fifth centuries are commonly called the “pre-Socratic philosophers.” cosmological Socrates represents a shift in emphasis within Greek philosophy, away from the cosmological concerns of the sixth and fifth centuries toward political and ethical matters.

14 Plato (427-348/47) Plato (427-348/47) was born into a distinguished Athenian family, active in affairs of state; a close observer he was undoubtedly a close observer of the political events that led up to Socrates’ execution.


16 Academy 388 BCE After Socrates’ death, Plato left Athens and visited Italy and Sicily, where he seems to have come into contact with Pythagorean philosophers. In 388 Plato returned to Athens and founded a school of his own, the Academy, where young men could pursue advanced studies.

17 The first university In 388 BCE Plato founded an Academy in Athens, often described as the first university. It provided a comprehensive curriculum, including astronomy, biology, mathematics, political theory, and philosophy. ometry/unit6/unit6.html ometry/unit6/unit6.html

18 idealism The carpenter replicates the mental idea as closely as possible in each table he makes, but always imperfectly.

19 The divine craftsman: the demiurge There is a divine craftsman who bears the same relationship to the cosmos as the carpenter bears to his tables. constructed the cosmos according to an idea or plan, so that the cosmos and everything in it are replicas of eternal ideas or forms—but always imperfect replicas because of limitations inherent in the materials available to the Demiurge.

20 Idea and material In short, there are two realms: a realm of forms or ideas, containing the perfect form of everything; and the material realm in which these forms or ideas are imperfectly replicated.

21 Allegory of the cave allegory of the cave Plato illustrated this conception of reality in his famous “ allegory of the cave,” found in book VII of the Republic. Men are imprisoned within a deep cave, chained so as to be incapable of moving their heads. Behind them is a wall, and beyond that a fire.

22 Light and shadow People walk back and forth behind the wall, holding above it various objects, including statues of humans and animals; the objects cast shadows on the wall that is visible to he prisoners.

23 Imperfect images of objects The prisoners see only the shadows cast by these objects; and, having lived in the cave from childhood, they no longer recall any other reality. They do not suspect that these shadows are but imperfect images of objects that they cannot see; and consequently they mistake the shadows for the real.

24 order and rationality of the cosmos no intention of restoring the gods of Mount Olympus, who interfered in the day-to-day operation of the universe order and rationality of the cosmos He had no intention of restoring the gods of Mount Olympus, who interfered in the day-to-day operation of the universe, but he was convinced that the order and rationality of the cosmos could be explained only as the imposition of an outside mind.

25 Physis and psyche If the physikoi found the source of order in physis (nature), he would locate it in psyche (mind). Plato depicted the cosmos as the handiwork of a divine craftsman, the Demiurge.

26 Demiurge: a mathematician Besides being a rational craftsman, the Demiurge is a mathematician, for he constructed the cosmos on geometrical principles. Plato’s account borrowed the four roots or elements of Empedocles: earth, water, air, and fire.

27 But (probably under Pythagorean influence) he reduced them to mathematical ingredients or components. Plato made these the basis of a “geometrical atomism”—associating each of the elements with one of the geometrical solids. Fire is the tetrahedron, air is the octahedron, water the icosahedron, and earth the cube. Plato also found a function for the docedahedron by identifying it with the cosmos as a whole.

28 "Let no one destitute of geometry enter my doors."

29 ARISTOTLE 384-322 B.C.

30 Not a native Athenian One member of Plato’s Academy, Aristotle, was to become as celebrated and influential as his teacher. He was not, like Plato, a native Athenian; he was born in northern Greece, at Stagira, close to the kingdom of Macedonia, which was eventually to become the dominant power in the Greek world. Aristotle entered the Academy at the age of seventeen but left it when Plato died (347 B.C.).

31 Tutor to Alexander He carried on his researches (he was especially interested in zoology) at various places on the Aegean; served as tutor to the young Alexander, son of Philip II of Macedon; and returned to Athens in 335, to found his own philosophical school, the Lyceum, where he established the world’s first research library.

32 Lyceum Lyceum At the Lyceum he and his pupils carried on research in zoology, botany, biology, physics, political science, ethics, logic, music, and mathematics.

33 Encyclopedic scope He left Athens when Alexander died in Babylon (323 B.C.) and the Athenians, for a while, were able to demonstrate their hatred on Macedon and everything connected with it; he died a year later. The scope of his written work, philosophical and scientific, is immense; he is represented here by some excerpts from the Poetics, the first systematic work of literary criticism in our tradition.

34 Poetics Aristotle’s Poetics, translated by James Hutton (1982), is the best source for the student.

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