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He had Dion exiled and Plato placed under "house arrest. One of his more promising students there was Aristotle, who would take his mentor's teachings in new directions. Plato's final years were spent at the Academy and with his writing. The circumstances surrounding his death are clouded, though it is fairly certain that he died in Athens around B.

Some scholars suggest that he died while attending a wedding, while others believe he died peacefully in his sleep. Plato's impact on philosophy and the nature of humans has had a lasting impact far beyond his homeland of Greece. His work covered a broad spectrum of interests and ideas: mathematics, science and nature, morals and political theory. His beliefs on the importance of mathematics in education have proven to be essential for understanding the entire universe.

His work on the use of reason to develop a more fair and just society that is focused on the equality of individuals established the foundation for modern democracy. We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletter to receive stories about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives.

Socrates was a Greek philosopher and the main source of Western thought. Little is known of his life except what was recorded by his students, including Plato. Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, together with Socrates and Plato, laid much of the groundwork for western philosophy. Ancient Greek statesman Pericles, leader of Athens from — B. Although very little is known about the life of Greek poet Homer, credited with being the first to write down the epic stories of The Iliad and The Odyssey, the impact of his tales continue to reverberate through Western culture.

Euripides was one of the great Athenian playwrights and poets of ancient Greece, known for the many tragedies he wrote, including Medea and The Bacchae. El Greco was a Greek artist whose painting and sculpture helped define the Spanish Renaissance and influence various movements to come. French philosopher Auguste Comte — greatly advanced the field of social science, giving it the name "sociology" and influenced many 19th-century social intellectuals.

Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher during the Enlightenment era of the late 18th century. His best known work is the 'Critique of Pure Reason. Although Hippocrates probably didn't write the famous oath that bears his name, it serves as foundation for the oath medical school graduates take at the start of their careers.

This can sound strange to our contemporaries, to whom art is a free, singular activity not subordinate to any values except strictly aesthetic ones.

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However, to Plato, in The Republic , art is an imitation in which the reality engendered can never present itself innocently, indifferently, or as a simple exercise of imagination that would invite receptors to experience possible ways of life, by taking them off their everyday routine and widening their horizons. With regard to poetry, the notion of imitation is related to that of narrative.

The least the real author appears, assuming representations as his own, the greater the power of dissimulation of the appearance created. In his dialogues, Plato represents characters and directly reproduces their speeches; he describes the spaces where the action takes place, and at times narrates indirectly a few dialogical actions. Could his philosophical works, since they are organized in dialogues, with characters, be legitimately considered poetic?

Is it possible to deny the creative talent of the Platonic writing, the beauty of the images created in his works, the seduction of his metaphors? Apparently, the philosopher does not consider a dialogue a fictional imitation, but the account of an event. Most important, however, is not the description of a particular narrative as such, but the problems presented to thought in their universality, the concepts and definitions. Certainly, the experience of thinking cannot be reproduced and fully understood through the dialogue — which is but an image, an imitation —, hence why written philosophy is combined with the philosophy that is spoken , said , and experienced in the real meetings of Plato and his interlocutors, and this has been highly valued by way of understanding the Platonic thought REALE, It could even be said that there is an insufficiency inherent to every representation, to every sign, in relation to immediate experience, to noetic intuition.

The spoken, and even more the written word, is unfit for describing the act of thinking. The philosopher is aware that any speech is only an imitation , an image , hence why he has no pretension to establish any truth in the strict dimension of language, which, by itself, cannot found anything.

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What grants truth to philosophy is not language, but the pre-linguistic, the ontological sphere that precedes even thought as a way of reasoning, an operation of combination of speech elements. This can be verified in the dialogue of Adeimantus and Socrates about the knowledge of good:. It is necessary to understand the criticism of imitation and fiction as the refusal to grant language the power and legitimacy to create reality or take appearance as the foundation of itself.

It is true that Plato does use allegoric, figurative phrases to refer to the ontological level. The best known of such is the comparison between the sun — sensible — and the good — intelligible:. However, the philosophical discourse is also just an image, it bears no truth by itself. It works as a didactic resource, a sort of transposition device for an extra-linguistic content which, to the philosopher, does not work as a sign of equivalence, but can only cause in the soul a desire to behold the original. Therefore, it can be said that poets will pose a risk to the Republic if they keep on their pretension of mastering a universal art, encompassing all the others.

Insofar as each individual or group needs to fulfill their own duty, without interfering in the domains of others, the poet will only be tolerated if he limits himself to the specificity that concerns him in the social whole. In this consists the concept of justice, i. The main problem, common to sophists and poets alike, consists in their difficulty to define their activity as an art, and their concomitant tendency to see themselves as bearers of a universal, general knowledge, which would be a claim proper of philosophy.

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In the dialogues analyzed here, the Socratic-Platonic habitual structure of refutation of these mentioned arts is repeated. Therefore, both sophistics and poetry are denied competence to speak knowledgeably of objects and practices pertaining to the various professional roles that should form the polis. Likewise, they cannot occupy themselves with totality and unity, which can only show in the intuition of essences, because poets and sophists deal but with particular intuitions and sensible appearances.

Plato speaks about arts and the fine arts — the sensible beauty — as the realm of appearance, diversity, and multiplicity, on an ontological level, and of opinion, on a gnoseological level. He counters them with the being and episteme , a concern of philosophy, the only that occupies itself with beauty in itself PLATO, It is in the name of philosophy and the space it reserves in the political life to be established — by means of a strictly planned form of education — that the Platonic philosophy presents itself as a criticism of the position granted to art and poetry by the Greek tradition then in effect.

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In the end of Book VII of The Republic , as he concludes the discussion on the forms of government and how these forms relate with the soul and the virtues, Plato, speaking through Socrates, ironically identifies tragedy with a school of wisdom — quoting Euripides as its emblematic author — but which, in fact, would contribute to raise tyranny and, consequently, democracy as its originary, adjacent counterpart. Still in the perspective of a usual opinion with which neither Plato nor Socrates agree, the dialogue of the latter with Adeimantus thus reads:. Verily, then, tragedy is a wise thing and Euripides a great tragedian.

Yes, he said, and he also praises tyranny as godlike; and many other things of the same kind are said by him and by the other poets. This is another argument, a factual one, given in order to justify refusing the poetic and tragic tradition in the education of the polis. Hence why it appeared as a necessary outcome, susceptible of consensus even with poets, that poetry was incompatible with the polis imagined by Plato. With regard to these tragic poets, the philosopher says:. Book X, the last one of The Republic , deals to a great extent with poetry in general, i.

The ground of the argument is the refusal of mimesis the imitative poetry , because of its ambiguity, because it is a pharmacon : it can vary from soul remedy to soul poison, depending on the level of global knowledge of the appreciator and his capacity to discern essence from appearance, paradigm from copy. Here, the supreme artificer demiurge , who was supposed to have created the universal paradigms of things, is compared with the philosopher, who intuits them as they are, in a first level of reflection ; then, the ordinary artificer makes particular things according to the universal paradigms, such as a bed or a table, in a second level imitation; finally, there is the painter who imitates the particular sensible bed or table, in a third level or reflection imitation of imitation.

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The work of the imitative artist can be compared to the passive, inert reflex produced by a mirror as it reflects, like an illusion, the image of sensible things. Before any formal qualities inherent to the poetic work and its linguistic structure, Plato submits, in The Republic , the determination of value of such production to the ideal of truth, i.

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The Platonic judgment is not centered in accepting the idea of autonomy of art, nor in a scale of aesthetic values inherent to the internal structure of the artwork. No sufficient justification is to be found in its effects of beauty created by images and metaphors, or by metre and harmony of sound. For reasons identical to the ones presented thus far, Plato reproaches even more intensely images that are not imitations on any level, such as dreams and delusions, or the mere wonderful inventions of imagination.

Through these, monstrous, invisible, and hybrid beings are conceived — the anthropomorphization of gods, animals, or any other type of character composition, as well as the conception of impossible, absurd, and contradictory scenes, events, or plots. Poetry can serve as an important didactic instrument to convince citizens about certain truths that might otherwise be out of reach for the majority who did not and will not achieve the rigor of ontological contemplation, linguistic expression and the arguments of philosophical demonstrations.

However, if it is admissible to make a pedagogical use of the allegorical, figurative, and metaphoric instruments of poetry to translate ideal truths in order to reach non-philosopher, the purpose will by no means be to produce delight or sensible pleasure. Platonic allegories, which abound in dialogues, particularly in The Republic , aim to educate in the truth of things that are always equal to themselves and that ultimately and decisively serve reason, not the sensible passions of the soul. It is therefore a matter of restraining and controlling passions by means of reason and a philosophy-based education.

Plato seems to admit the pedagogical use of poetry subordinated to philosophy, as it allows an easier approximation to the popular soul. Consistently with the assumptions of The Republic , arguments are made against poetry for political reasons. The poet as such is allowed to defend the place of his own activity, with the sensible means — figured and imagetic — he has at his disposal. As for non-poets, the argumentation suitable to them would be made with common language, without measure or rhythm features.

In both cases, the assumptions of the discussion are already in place in The Republic , both for affirming and denying justice, goodness, beauty, and truth. Poetry, with its means and from its position, would hardly be able to show philosophers a paideia sufficiently formative as a tecne which could dispense with the philosophical education. As for appreciators of art works, taken over by a non-technical motivation, they could, as Plato had already been doing in The Republic , find formative potentialities in those works — non-technical or sensible potentialities, that is.

All this leads to the conviction that the only way to overcome the negativities of poetry as a whole would not consist, therefore, in engendering a superior form of poetry-making, since poetry-making is essentially limited to the sensibility of sensible passions. The truth of poetry, in the condition of sensibility, could only be reached in philosophy. It is not only the king who must become a philosopher in the Republic , but also the poet.

Book I sets up these challenges. Yet he offers no definition of his own, and the discussion ends in aporia —a deadlock, where no further progress is possible and the interlocutors feel less sure of their beliefs than they had at the start of the conversation.

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The Republic moves beyond this deadlock. Nine more books follow, and Socrates develops a rich and complex theory of justice. On the road, the three travelers are waylaid by Adeimantus, another brother of Plato, and the young nobleman Polemarchus, who convinces them to take a detour to his house. Socrates and the elderly man begin a discussion on the merits of old age.

This discussion quickly turns to the subject of justice. Cephalus, a rich, well-respected elder of the city, and host to the group, is the first to offer a definition of justice. Cephalus acts as spokesman for the Greek tradition.


His definition of justice is an attempt to articulate the basic Hesiodic conception: that justice means living up to your legal obligations and being honest. Socrates defeats this formulation with a counterexample: returning a weapon to a madman. You owe the madman his weapon in some sense if it belongs to him legally, and yet this would be an unjust act, since it would jeopardize the lives of others.