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Plato's Life And Contributions To Society.. What Is Known About His Past, And How He Enhanced The World Around Him.

1629 words - 7 pages

Plato is a man that has, in a way, been immortalized. Even though, he lived and died thousands of years ago, his thoughts and his ideas still live on today. In order to most accurately get a feel for who Plato was, there are many factors to be looked at. First, one should look at the times in which Plato lived. This includes, but is not limited to, the culture, the common thought, and any major historical happenings. Second, one should examine Plato's specific surroundings and environment. However, most of the specific biographical information about Plato is based upon assumptions and educated guesses, none of which can be proven. Third, one should examine one of the most significant people in Plato's life, his teacher Socrates. There is much information to begotten from Socrates, though most of it is found indirectly in Plato's writings, being that Socrates never wrote anything. Fourth, and most importantly, one should study all of Plato's writings and all of Plato's theories. This includes a great deal of information, as Plato wrote many things and had many theories. This is also harder than it may sound, because Plato had no specific writing that described his beliefs in definite terms, one can only try to deduce what Plato thought by reading his many dialogues.Plato was born in Athens, Greece, in 427 B.C. and died in Athens, Greece, in 347 B.C. This time period was a couple hundred years after the beginning of the Olympic Games and the start of alphabetic writing, and a hundred or so years before the uprising of Alexander the Great, who would conquer the known world. The center of Western civilization during these times was Athens, a city-state and a democracy. This basically means Athens supported itself and the lands around it and had a somewhat organized government. The citizens of Athens governed the city, which is a big reason for its success. Also, Athenians were mostly intellectuals and preferred using their minds instead of their bodies. Whenever an argument came up, instead of physically fighting like many of their contemporaries would do, they discussed and debated the issue until a conclusion or agreement was found. In the same aspect, power was not given to the greatest fighter or the strongest warrior, but instead to those that could master words and provoke deeper thought. Because of this, many began to learn polemics, or the art of argument. These skilled debaters, also known as rhetoricians, would argue almost any case and teach their skills to anyone, for a fee. These Sophists, as they were called, were the Western world's first professors, more interested in practical subjects than with metaphysical thought. Sophists were the ones that indirectly began moral philosophy. They did this by challenging the views of the common people, which brought about strict examination of the moral standards that were present in that day. One of the most famous people falling into the category of a sophist is Socrates, who will be discussed...

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