Plato of Athens

By Linda Mihalic

The root of all greatness of mind and soul flourishes not in earth but in heavenly realms whence it is fed of supernal Light. Without that Light, no embodied soul can overcome the gravity of sensory appetites, impulses, and urges. The soul needs to rise, to stand aloft on the shoulders of the giants gone before him to see the spiritual truth of reality. Plato understood this, for he stood on the shoulders of such great men as Pythagoras and Socrates to see farther and more clearly than others of his time—and of all time—to comment and explicate the spiritual truths to which he became privy. Isaiah di Trani the Elder, a brilliant Jewish Talmudist of the 13th Century, wrote of Plato’s clear vision of reality:

“I applied to myself the parable of the philosophers. For I heard the following from the philosophers. The wisest of the philosophers asked: ‘We admit that our predecessors were wiser than we. At the same time we criticize their comments, often rejecting them and claiming that the truth rests with us. How is this possible?’ The wise philosopher responded: ‘Who sees further, a dwarf or a giant? Surely a giant for his eyes are situated at a higher level than those of the dwarf. But if the dwarf is placed on the shoulders of the giant who sees further?…So too we are dwarfs astride the shoulders of giants. We master their wisdom and move beyond it. Due to their wisdom we grow wise and are able to say all that we say, but not because we are greater than they.’”


“The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition
is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” – Alfred North Whitehead


Plato is rightly known as the father of Idealism with his doctrine of Ideas, which some today call Forms. His Ideas have always found favor among mystics, metaphysicians, and those philosophers who seek to know God through His First Principles. In the Ideas, you find the Ideals. Everything you can perceive is authored by God’s universal, absolute, transcendent Mind.

Plato’s enormous impact on later philosophy, education, and culture can be traced to three interrelated aspects of his philosophical life: his written philosophical dialogues, the teaching and writings of his student Aristotle (whose interpretation of Plato’s meaning too often missed the mark), and the educational organization he created, i.e., “the Academy.” Plato founded the Academy in Athens in 387 B.C., which lasted in various forms until the emperor Justinian closed it in 529 A.D.


Plato’s Dialogues: We include the Benjamin Jowett translations, and those of the Loeb Classical Library Edition, including R. G. Bury, Harold N. Fowler, W. R. M. Lamb, and Paul Shorey. Other translations include R. D. Archer-Hind, George Bruges, Thomas Maguire, and A. E. Taylor. These translations are variously based on the rescensions of John Burnet (Platonic Opera) C. F. Hermann, (Platonis Dialogi), Martin von Schanz (Platonis Opera quae feruntur omnia), the Codex Clarkianus, and the Codex Venetus.


Life of Plato: Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, R. D. Hicks, Translator. Loeb Classical Library edition.


Plato, the Philosopher: In Representative Men: Seven Lectures, Ralph Waldo Emerson examined the lives and achievements of certain great men, beginning with Plato of Athens.


Plato: The Academy


The Platonic Academy of Athens: The World’s First University, by Nick Kampouris.


Plato’s Myths: The Soul’s Immortality, the Myth of the Afterlife, the Divine Judgment of Naked Souls, the Parable of the Ship, the Cave, the Myth of Er, the Soul’s Androgyne, Love’s Ascent to Beauty, and Prometheus and Epimetheus.


Plato: A. E. Taylor’s meticulously researched and insightful biography.
Plato: The Man and His Work: Volume I
Plato: The Man and His Work: Volume II: A. E. Taylor considered Platonism to be the most original and influential of all philosophies.
Platonism and Its Influence: A. E. Taylor chronicles the astonishing and pervasive influence of Plato’s philosphy on Western life and religion.


An Essay on The Platonic Ethics
An Essay on The Platonic Idea: Thomas Maguire, a classical scholar and metaphysician, was a thoroughgoing idealist in philosophy, whose chosen masters were Plato and Berkeley.


The Unity of Plato’s Thought
What Plato Said: Paul Shorey, translator of Plato’s Republic, Loeb Classical Library Edition, argues against the modern critics who use the statistical method to confirm, refute, or correct “alleged inconsistencies, contradictions, or developments in Platonic doctrine.” Shorey seeks to emend the resulting “misplaced emphasis, disregard of the context, and positive mistranslation.”

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Plato of Athens
428 B.C. — 348 B.C.
Premier Greek philosopher, the Father of Idealism in its many facets: philosophy, metaphysics, ontology, theology, psychology, mysticism, aesthetics, ethics, education, literature, and politics.


Plato


References

Di Trani, Isaiah. “Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants,” quoted by Shnayer Z. Leiman, in Tradition,, 27:3. The Rabbinical Council, 1993.

Editors. “Plato,” Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2015.

Kraut, Richard. “Plato,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2015, Edward N. Zalta, ed.

Laertius, Diogenes. “Plato” in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Robert Drew Hicks, trans. London: Heinemann, 1926.

Laertius, Diogenes. “Plato” in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, C. D. Yonge, trans. London: H.C. Bohn, 1853.

Meinwald, Constance C. “Plato”. Encyclopedia Britannica, May 22, 2020.

O’Connor, J. J. and E. F. Robertson. “Plato,” The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1999. Retrieved April 29, 2015.

O’Connor, J.J. and E. F. Robertson. “Mathematical Quotations by Plato,” The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1999. Retrieved February 19, 2015.

Taylor, Robert. The Diegesis: Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity. London: R. Carlile and J. Brooks, 1829.


Recommended Reading

Karderas, Nicholas. “The Greek Miracle: How Plato Can Save Your Life.” Psychology Today Online. Retrieved April 29, 2015.

Wolfe, Alexandra. “What Would Plato Say?” Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Philosophy. Wall Street Journal. April 4, 2014.