Plato's Philosophical Influence Plato's upbringing and instruction from Socrates further developed Plato's philosophy, which affected the thinking of today. Plato was born in the year of 348 in Athens. Plato was born in the month of Thargelion (May-June) 428-7 B.C. to Ariston and Perictione. He died at the age of eighty or eighty-one in 348-7 B.C. Plato's birth fell in the fourth year of the Archidamian war. His influence has stayed profound from early to modern times as he set ahead vital problems and concepts facing philosophy, psychology, logic, and politics. This Greek philosopher was one of the most important and original thinkers of the early world.
Plato came from a wealthy family and was very profitable at the educational facilities wealthy families were able to afford in Athens. Plato met Socrates around the age of twenty and their teacher-pupil relationship lasted between eight and ten years. He had quite an interest in other philosophers, but only before he met Socrates. In Plato's early career he was commited to poetry. These interests were all apart of his search of wisdom, and whom under Socrates his devotion came deeper in. Socrates' death gave Plato the courage to travel to Egypt, Magna Graecia, and Sicily. These trips were to influence the Dionysius' in approval to his ideal system of government. He did not succeed in his efforts to influence the two rulers, causing him to be thrown into prison. However, a friend came to free him and he returned to his school, the Platonic Academy, in Athens. At his school there was more attention given to literary form and less use of the method of illustration that depicted the Socratic manner of display. Among his some of his works the more genuine include, "Phaedrus", "Protagoras", "Phaedo", "The Republic", "Minos", and the "Ion" (Taylor 12). In his writings he uses dialogue with a technique that no one has used before. He was able to form the Socratic method of question and answer through it. Plato was devoted to writing and teaching until he reached the age of eighty, in which he died in the middle of around 348-347 B.C.
Plato's philosophy came from the Socratic teaching, which taught that the only true knowledge is a knowledge by means of concepts. The concept portrays all the reality of a thing, a principle of knowledge, and Being (Wilbur-Allen 10). For example, "if the concept represents all the reality of things, the reality must be something in the ideal order...for the concept, Plato substitutes the idea" (Mendenhall 109). Plato completes Socrates' work when he teaches that the objectively real ideas are the foundation and justification of scientific knowledge (Taylor 16). The Platonic theory of Ideas is an attempt to solve the question about the problem of change. Plato stated that, "The Eleatics are right in maintaining that reality does not change for the ideas are immutable" (Wilbur-Allen 10). Then he assumes a world of ideas apart from the world of experiences. He also views that all humans' souls were once residing in that high world. That is when we notice in the "shadow-world" around us a "phenomenon" (Taylor 518). There is a pleasant amazement at the differences it enjoyed in the previous being. This is what the duty of philosophy is, to try and climb higher from the "knowledge of phenomena to the realities" (More 310).
Plato had a lifelong conviction that it is the essential responsibility of the philosopher, whose highest personal happiness would be found in the life of tranquil thought of truth and serving as a legislator (Taylor 2). Not only did he believe this, but he lived it. Philosophy or loving and single-minded devotion to truth is the gift of God to man. This is all untrue if there is no bearing fruit in humble service to their friends (Taylor 3). All deserving civilization is fed by these ideas, and after confusion or forgetfulness, the Western world has released the sense of noble living it had sought after in the Platonic writings. Plato has been called the "father of all heresies in religion and science" (Taylor 4). He felt that he was the spiritual heir of two great men previous to him, Socrates and Pythagoras. These two men have influenced the later ages through Plato in to today's thought. Aristotle, Plato's disciple cannot be forgotten when speaking of Plato's influence; Plato shared great inspiration to Aristotle while teaching him (Taylor 4).
Socrates greatly influenced Plato while he was young, impacting his philosophy that has molded people throughout history. Plato's works are some of the finest writings, his style was unique and unparalled. Through his works other writers such as Shakespeare have been inspired to write in different forms as well. It is through these writers that Plato remains as one of the most influential and original philosophers from the ancient to modern days.
Mendenhall, J.W. Plato and Paul or Philosophy and Christianity. Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham, 1886.
More, Paul Elmer. The Religion of Plato. New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1970.
Taylor, Alfred Edward. Platonism and Its Influence. New York: Cooper Square Publishers, Inc., 1963.
Taylor, Alfred Edward. Plato: The Man and His Work. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1956.
Wilbur, James B, Harold J. Allen. The Worlds of Plato and Aristotle. American Book Company.