Instead these other commentators insist that Plato be understood as a rationalist.
Plato describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" (Republic 475c) and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine.
Other scholars, however, read the personalities, ironies, and contexts as contributing to the philosophical meanings contained within the text as well as Plato’s overall understanding of philosophical discourse.
The Symposium and the Republic are considered to be the centerpieces of Plato's middle period.
Plato’s analyses of these ethical concepts are usually presented by first considering the most popular or ordinary ways of thinking of these concepts and moves to higher more metaphysical ways of considering them.
Plato, through the words of Socrates, asserts that the ideal society would have a tripartite class structure corresponding to the appetite/spirit/reason structure of the individual soul.
Plato was born in Athens in approximately 428 B.C.E.
Other scholars, however, claim this mystical element is “read into” Plato texts (mainly by his followers, called the Neoplatonists).
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Various alternatives are offered at how Plato received his name.
Other Platonic theories include the immortality of the soul, recollection, and specific doctrines about justice, truth, and beauty.
Throughout these stages, then, we see how Plato conceives the process of education and learning as an intellectual ascent from darkness into light.
One of the most famous elements in Plato’s philosophy is his theory of recollection.
Plato often viewed the process of life as a moving from darkness or a state of sleep toward the light and full wakefulness.
Plato’s middle dialogues, on the other hand, tend to offer hypotheses (or possible answers) to such questions of what is justice (the Republic) or what is love (the Symposium).
Instead of rhetoric and persuasion, Plato held that reason and wisdom should govern.
Some scholars believe that the nature of the dialogues changed a great deal over the course of Plato's life.
Plato uses this example in order to demonstrate that our ideas are already within us, for how else could the boy “recognize” the correct answer.
Late in the early dialogues, Plato's Socrates actually begins supplying direct answers to some of the questions he poses and so puts forth positive doctrines on the subject under discussion.
One possibility is that his wrestling coach, Ariston of Argos, dubbed him "Platon" (meaning "broad") on account of his robust figure.
Interestingly, however, unlike Aristotle, Plato did not write in the form of philosophical treatises; rather he chose to write in the dramatic form of dialogue.
In any case, in his youth Plato was a gifted wrestler and his intellectual abilities were so advanced that his fellow Greeks declared him to be the son of Apollo.
After his return to Athens at the age of 40, Plato founded one of the earliest known organized schools in Western civilization on a plot of land in the grove of Academe.
Plato recognized with Heraclitus that everything in the material world is constantly changing.
Given that he wrote in the artistic style of a dialogue means that to some extent Plato can be considered a poet as much as a philosopher.
We will die (at least physically for Plato), though the Idea will not.
According to this theory, works believed to date from earlier in Plato's life are more closely based on Socrates' thought, whereas later writings increasingly break away from the views of his former teacher.
During the twelve years following the death of Socrates, Plato traveled extensively throughout Italy, Sicily, Egypt, and Cyrene.
Plato's philosophical views had many societal implications, especially on the idea of an ideal state or government.
The exact order in which Plato's dialogues were written is not known, nor is the extent to which some might have been later revised and rewritten.
One of the main reasons for Plato’s primacy is that in Plato we have the first collected body of philosophical literature.
Plato applied this theory, in turn, to all living things.
At the conclusion of the analogy Plato even suggests a highest order of knowing which relates to the analogy of the sun.
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The example, though, hardly offers indisputable proof and so Plato’s theory of recollection has been widely contested by later philosophers, notably Aristotle.
According to a late Hellenistic account by Diogenes Laertius, Plato's given name was Aristocles.
In all of Plato’s analogies it is important to remember that he often uses metaphors from the physical world in order to reflect a relation that is similar in the intellectual world.
Plato considered philosophical knowledge to be closely aligned with mathematics because in math we achieve perfect knowledge (e.g., 2 + 2 = 4 and no other answer is possible).
In any case, Plato divided the soul into three parts: the appetitive part, the spirited or emotional part, and the intellectual part.
Many intellectuals were schooled in the Academy, the most prominent one being Plato’s pupil Aristotle.