Lived: In Athens, Greece
Who was Plato's teacher?: Plato was an ancient Greek Philosopher who was the student of Socrates who was also a philosopher. Socrates was unpopular with the people of Athens becuase they thought that he was corrupting their people with his theories so they sentenced him to death, where Socrates had to drink the poison Hemlock. Plato's first theories are thought to consit of some of Socrates theories.
What work did Plato do?: Plato wrote a large amount of books where he explained his theories. Some of the books that he wrote included the Republic which is one of Plato's most famous books.
Plato later founded the academy where he took in students who he would teach his theories about the world and other worlds that might exist.
The Analogy of The Cave
In Plato's book 'The Republic' Plato wrote about the analogy of the cave which he used to explain theories about knowledge and the world of the forms. An analogy means that a story is used to explain his point. This story is also an allegory which means that symbols are also used. The analogy is:
A groups of prisoners are in a cave and have been there since birth. They are chained to the wall and all they know are the shadows and the echoes which they don't realise are'nt the real things themselves. One of the prisoners manages to escape and makes the long journey pass the fire in the cave and up the long track to outside of the cave into the open. Once outside of the cave, the light from the sun blinds the prisoner and for a while the prisoner can't see anything but once the prisoner has got used to the light they explore a bit. Eventually he decided to go back to the prisoners to tell them what they saw but they reject him and want to kill him because they didn't believe him.
Each part of the story symbolises something- the prisoners represent us as human beings; The cave represents the world that we live in; the shadows and echoes represent the things that we sense; the journey out of the cave represents the journey of remembering and the journey to knowledge; outside of the cave represents the world of forms; the sun represents the form of the good and the ultimate truth and the return to the prisoners relates to Socrates and the opening of the other's minds which they reject.
the analogy of the cave
This is a image of the analogy of the cave.
Plato's Theory of Knowledge
Plato talked to a slave boy and asked him questions and found that he learned Pythagoras Theorem but hasn't been taught it so Plato believed that he already knew the answers but had forgotten and now remembered.
Plato concluded that the boy must have known this in the world of forms before the sould was united with the body at birth which must mean that it is the trauma of birth and the limitations of the body that causes us to forget everything that we knew in the world of the forms before we were born in our physical bodies.
The World of forms
The world of forms is described by Plato as being:
- non-spatial (spiritual)
- a place of knowledge
- a place of reality and truth
- perfect and unchanging
- beyond time and space (transcendent)
- the original part of dualist nature as it is one of two worlds
- where our souls were before we were born in this world which we forget about when we are born
- ruled by the form of good which gives existence and intelligibility to all the other forms as well as illuminating the other forms.
The theory of the soul
Plato described the soul as being:
- Spiritual (not physical)
- the essence of a person
Tripartite means that Plato believed the soul to be made up of three parts which were:
- Spirited - Plato believed that this is like the merchant part of us.
- Appetitive - Plato believed that this is like the working class part of us.
- Reason/Rational - Plato believed that this is like the philosopher part of us, and Plato believed that this is the intellectual part of us.
Pythagorean Reincarnation is when we get born over and over again until the reason part of our soul is dominant which is when we can finally go back to the world of forms. Plato believed that the Reason part of us should always be dominant.
Plato described the soul as a chariot with the charioteer being the reason part of our soul. One of the horses represents the Appetitive part of us and the other horse represents the Spirited part of the soul.