By Michael McDaniel
Plato was the best known of all the great Greek philosophers. Platos
original name was Aristocles, but in his school days he was nicknamed Platon
(meaning broad) because of his broad shoulders. Born in Athens circa B.C.
427, Plato saught out political status. But during the Athenian democracy, he did
not activly embrace it. Plato devoted his life to Socrates, and became his
disciple in B.C. 409. Plato was outraged when Socarates was executed by the
Athenian democrats in B.C. 399. He later left Athens convinced democracy
wouldnt make it.
Years after Plato romed the Greek cities in Africa and Italy absorbing
philosphical knowledge and then returning to Athens in B.C. 387. There he later
created the first University on the ground of famous Greek Academus, which was
later called the Academy. He remained at the Academy for the remainder of his
life omitting 2 brief periods. He visited Syracuse and Greek Sicily to serve as a
tutor for the new king, Dionysis II. Which ended out very badly when the King
acted like a king, instead of a philospher. Perhaps Platos worse student.
He later returned to Athens and died in his early 80s, circa B.C. 347.
Platos work is argueably the most popular and influential of its kind ever
published. His most popular work are transcripts, or dialogues between the great
Socrates and himself. These dialogues are the basis of our general knowlege
between Socrates views and Platos views.
Plato was much like Socrates, in that he was mostly interested in moral
philosophy and overlooked science natural philosophy. He considered the
natural science as an inferior knowledge, not worthy of his time.
Plato loved mathematics mainly because, back then, it idealized
abstractions and seperated from the material world. Plato thought mathematics
was the purest form of thoughts, and had nothing to do with everyday life. That
doesnt nessacarily apply to the matters of today. Plato belived in mathematics
so much that he sketched a quote above the doorway of the Academy that
stated, Let no one ignorant of mathematics enter here.
Plato believed that mathematics, in ideal form, could be applied to the
heavens. He expresses this in his dialogue of Timaeus, his scheme of the
In his dialogue Timaeus Plato creates a fictioinal tale of Atlantis to put a
moralistic spin in the dialogue. Atlantis, as we all know, is the fictional city of
which everyone and everything was moraly perfect. Needless to say, people
today still think that the city of Atlantis exsisted, even though the theory isnt
Today, Platos work still influences us. The Academy stood teaching until
A.D. 529, when the Roman Emperor, Justinian ordered the close of it. Even
though he was paganist, Christians like yourself were influenced and
entertained by the wonderful dialogues of Socrates and Plato.