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Plato grew up two brothers, Adeimantus and Glaucon, sister Potone and half-brother Antiphon. As a member of aristocracy, Plato was educated by the best teachers in Athens. He returned to Athens in BC at the age of 40 and founded the Academy, the first known higher education institution in the Western world. During his later life, Plato became involved in politics of the city of Syracuse in Sicily which was at the time a Greek colony. Diogenes Laertius reports that Plato first visited the city during the reign of the tyrant Dionysius the Elder c.

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The tyrant, however, eventually turned against the philosopher and sold him into slavery. He nearly died in Cyrene before he was bought freedom and sent home by an admirer. The latter is thought to accept his teachings but the king distrusted Dion whom he had expelled from Syracuse. In the great majority of cases only one decision is possible, but there are instances—some of crucial importance—where several courses can be adopted and where the resulting readings have widely differing import. The work of the translator imports another layer of similar judgments. Some Greek sentences admit of several fundamentally different grammatical construals with widely differing senses, and many ancient Greek words have no neat English equivalents.

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A notable artifact of the work of translators and scholars is a device of selective capitalization sometimes employed in English. Others have employed a variant of this convention in which capitalization is used to indicate a special way in which Plato is supposed to have thought of the forms during a certain period i. Still others do not use capital letters for any such purpose.

Readers will do best to keep in mind that such devices are in any case only suggestions. In recent centuries there have been some changes in the purpose and style of English translations of ancient philosophy.

The great Plato translation by Benjamin Jowett —93 , for example, was not intended as a tool of scholarship; anyone who would undertake such a study already knew ancient Greek. At the other extreme was a type of translation that aimed to be useful to serious students and professional philosophers who did not know Greek; its goal was to indicate as clearly as possible the philosophical potentialities of the text, however much readability suffered in consequence.

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Exemplars of this style, which was much in vogue in the second half of the 20th century, are the series published by the Clarendon Press and also, in a different tradition, the translations undertaken by followers of Leo Strauss — Except in a few cases, however, the gains envisioned by this notion of fidelity proved to be elusive. This is particularly true of the short, Socratic dialogues. In the case of works that are large-scale literary masterpieces, such as the Phaedrus , a translation of course cannot match the artistry of the original.

Finally, because translators of difficult technical studies such as the Parmenides and the Sophist must make basic interpretive decisions in order to render any English at all, reading their work is very far from reading Plato. In the case of these dialogues, familiarity with commentaries and other secondary literature and a knowledge of ancient Greek are highly desirable.

Plato Greek philosopher. Written By: Constance C. Top Questions. Western philosophy.

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Read more below: Dating, editing, translation. Read more below: Life. Peloponnesian War. Read More on This Topic. Learn more about how these two key philosophers were related and how their teachings differed. This was a piece of equipment used to measure the time by recording the amount of water that passed through a narrow opening over a particular period.

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Plato realised the water clock's importance and brought the concept back to Athens when he returned from his travels. In Sicily, he became involved with politics again and developed his theories about government by philosopher kings that was documented in his work The Republic. In Italy, he encountered the Pythagorean School and learned of mathematics and logical thinking. The Academy 1 was the school Plato created in Athens and to which he devoted nearly all the rest of his life.

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His main aim was to tutor the future political leaders of Athens, to improve their minds and behaviour and hence to improve the society they governed. The main subject that pupils of the Academy would have been taught was mathematics, in line with the Pythagorean method. Plato's name is known in mathematics as he is linked to the Platonic Solids - the tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron and icosahedron - three-dimensional geometric objects with all faces having the same shape. These were used in philosophy to represent the elements of the universe as the Greeks viewed them.

A key concept that the Academy taught was proof by deduction from known things, which Plato made use of in his philosophical works. Aristotle was a pupil at the Academy, as were several other well known figures in Greek history. Aristotle went on to found his own school, rather than taking up a position in the Academy, but the Academy continued after Plato died in about BC, with his successor as head of the school probably being elected by a vote.

Socrates believed that writing philosophy down was not worthwhile, because teaching and learning could only be effectively carried out through face to face dialogue and discussion.

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Even though Plato was a disciple of Socrates, he wrote 2 a considerable number of books. He wrote on a variety of topics, from mathematics and logical deduction, through love and friendship to politics. Almost all his writing was in the form of dialogue, and many of the dialogues involved Socrates discussing topics with his younger followers. That fact has led to much academic discussion about whether the writings constitute records of Socrates' philosophy, or whether Plato was just using Socrates as a mouthpiece for his own philosophy.

The truth is probably a mixture of the two. The setting of the scene of the conversations was important to Plato, as well. As a result, much of his writing is devoted to describing the location of the dialogues and the people involved. Many of the books address two or more topics as the conversations between the main characters evolve and develop, and many of the dialogues fail to reach any particular conclusion about the topic under discussion. However, the dialogues do cause people to think, and also indicate that Philosophy is a broad subject so neither Socrates nor Plato have all the answers to its questions.

The Republic is one of the most well known of Plato's books. In it, he sets out his concept of the ideal government formed of philosopher rulers in a dialogue led by Socrates, and compares the ideal to other models of government that were known at the time.