Plato (428-354 BCE)
Athens, Greece 

Plato was born to a wealthy family and was a student of the great philosopher Socrates.  After the death of his teacher Plato founded the first university, called the Academy.  There, students focused on important questions such as "What is the self?" and "What is human nature?"  Aristotle was one of his star pupils.  Plato believed that there are unchanging truths about all things for example, there are many breeds of horses, but there are definite things that define "horseness" about them all.  He also believed that a philosopher's job is to open people's eyes to the truth and help them strive to be good and fair. Plato believed that men and women had the same intellectual powers, and was one of the first to teach that women should receive the same education as men.  Plato also believed in an unseen world where there existed perfect models of all things on Earth.  He also held that society would be at its best, and remain stable and just, with philosophers in power. Plato wrote down his teachings in the form of conversations called Dialogues. The most famous of his Dialogues are "The Republic" and "The Death of Socrates."

Classroom discussion questions:

If Plato were alive today, how would he answer the question, "Imagination or knowledge: Which has a greater impact on society?"

Can there be in reality an ideal society that Plato describes? What would this society look like?

What would our government look like today if it were run by philosophers as Plato proposed?

For more information about Plato, follow these links:

http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Plato.html

http://www.rit.edu/~flwstv/plato.html

http://classics.mit.edu/Browse/browse-Plato.html

http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/GREECE/PLATO.HTM

http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/plat.htm

http://php.iupui.edu/~cplaneau/plato_03_30.htm

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