Philosopher Biography: Who Was Plato?

Biography of Plato, a Greek philosopher, born into a distinguished family.

Plato was Greek philosopher, born into a distinguished family either in Athens or on the island of Aegina where his father had an estate. He received the education in music and gymnastics of a wellborn Athenian youth, under the limitations imposed by the seige created for Athens by the Peloponnesian War. Plato was influenced by the teachings of Cratylus and Socrates and of the schools of Italy, which he later visited.

The range of Plato's knowledge was vast. He developed a deep insight into all the arts and sciences, including mathematics, physics, astronomy, politics, ethics, esthetics, poetry, painting, sculpture, and music. He remained a devoted follower of Socrates until Socrates death. He traveled extensively in Greece, southern Italy, Sicily, and even Egypt and Northern Africa.

Plato's writings were arranged in groups of four. The dialog form used by Plato came naturally out of Greek drama, the Athenian habit of discussion and the use of dialog by Socrates.

Plato's philosophy was that all learning and all experience are the recollection of idea through the suggestion and association of their imperfect copies in the world of sense: for instance, the aspect of mortal beauty awakens in a lover immortal memories of the soul's earlier vision of the idea of beauty.

Plato had a great influence on Aristotle and other Greek philosophers. His works also influenced the Greek and Latin Fathers of the Christian church. The study of Plato's doctrines and the influence of his thought are of continuing importance in psychology, ethics, esthetics and other disciplines.

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