It is believed that Plato, a student of Socrates, was one of the greatest contributors of philosophy. Proof of Plato’s notoriety in the world of philosophy can be clearly seen with his dialogues and his renowned student Aristotle. Plato’s writings are in the form of dialogues, with Socrates as the principal speaker. With his theory of Forms, he had discussed a wide range of metaphysical and ethical questions while finding inherent connections between the two.
Plato also considered epistemological questions, such as whether knowledge is justified true belief. His greatest work, The Republic, developed theories of justice. Proof of a truly great philosopher can be shown by his or her students. As mentioned before, Plato’s Academy was a breeder of philosophers. One of the most prominent philosophers to come from the Academy was Aristotle. Plato himself took Aristotle under his wing and taught him the ways of understanding and contemplating the world around him.
Plato divided his world into two aspects. These worlds have forms, the intelligible world and the perceptual world. Plato saw the perceptual world around us as imperfect copies of the intelligible forms or ideas. In the intelligible world, forms are unchangeable and perfect and only comprehensible by the use of intellect and understanding. For example, a chair is a chair because it “participates in” the Form of Chair. The forms are ideal “patterns,” unchanging, timeless, and perfect.
Plato speaks of them as self-assertion: the Form of Beauty is perfectly beautiful. This led, to the Third Man Argument that there must be an infinite number of Forms. “If it’s impossible for unlike things to be like and like things unlike, isn’t it then impossible for them to be many? Because, if they were many, they would have incompatible properties” (Plato “Parmenides” 126), this is Mary Louise Gill and Paul Ryan’s translation of Plato’s Forms of Likeness and Unlikeness.
Thus one and the same thing can be both like and unlike, or one and many, by participating in the Forms of Likeness and Unlikeness, of Unity and Plurality. Plato also believed that knowledge is innate, or inborn, and that the development of ideas is buried deep in the soul, and may be guided out by teachers. Plato drew a sharp distinction between knowledge, which is certain, and mere opinion. Opinions derive from the shifting world of sensation — knowledge derives from the world of timeless Forms, or essences.
Theaetetus stated, “It seems to me that a man who knows something perceives what he knows, and the way it appears at present, at any rate, is that knowledge is simply perception” (Cooper 168), in which Socrates agreed with that statement. In his best-known dialogue, “The Republic”, consisted of a lengthy dialogue on the nature of justice. Socrates identifies the four major virtues in the different aspects of this republic: the guardians possess wisdom, the auxiliaries possess courage, and the whole possesses justice and moderation. Plato believed that justice is the most important virtue.
Socrates said, “Justice is minding of one’s own business and not being a busybody” (Plato “The Republic” 111). Hence, the justice of an ideal republic does not reside in any particular part of the republic but rather in the structure of the republic as a whole. While Plato is best known for his work The Republic, his larger contribution to philosophy includes many such “dialogues” that are of ancient thought and debate. Plato’s knowledge and theories have survived throughout the ages and are still relevant in today’s society.
He continued to teach until the end, winning the admiration and love of his students and fellow Athenians. His contributions to philosophy will be never-ending.? Works Cited Cooper, John M. , ed. Plato Complete Works. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997. Print. Plato. Parmenides. Trans. Mary Louise Gill and Paul Ryan. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 428-347 B. C. Print. —. The Republic. Trans. Allan Bloom. : The Perseus Book Group, 1968. Print.