Plato is born at Athens, Greece.
427 BCE - 347 BCE
Life of the Greek philosopher Plato.
Plato meets Socrates, abandons aspiration to be playwright.
Plato turns away from politics toward philosophy.
Trial and death of the philosopher Socrates, who taught in the court of the Agora.
Plato flees to Megara with other followers of Socrates.
c. 398 BCE - c. 380 BCE
Plato's second trip to Syracuse.
Final attempt by Plato to make Syracusan king a philosopher-king.
Plato dies at his Academy.
c. 204 CE - 270 CE
By far the most important disciple of Socrates, however, was Plato, a scion of one of the most noble Athenian families, who could trace his ancestry back to the last king of Athens and to Solon (c. 630–c. 560 bce ), the great social and political reformer.
As a very young man, Plato became a fervent admirer of Socrates in spite of the latter’s plebeian origins. Contrary to his master, however, who always concerned himself with the attitudes of individuals, Plato believed in the importance of political institutions. In his early youth he had observed that the Athenian masses, listening to the glorious projects of ambitious politicians, had engaged in foolhardy adventures of conquest, which led in the end to total defeat in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bce ). When, in consequence of the disaster, democracy was abolished, Plato at first set great hopes in the Thirty Tyrants—especially since their leader, Critias, was a close relative. But he soon discovered that—to use his own words—the despised democracy had been gold in comparison with the new terror. When the oligarchy was overthrown and the restored democracy, in 399 bce , adopted a new law code—in fact, a kind of written constitution containing safeguards against rash political decisions—Plato again had considerable hope and was even inclined to view the execution of Socrates as an unfortunate incident rather than a logical consequence of the new regime. It was only some years later, when demagogy appeared to raise its head again, that he “despaired and was forced to say that things would not become better in politics unless the philosophers would become rulers or the rulers philosophers.” He wrote a dialogue, the Gorgias, violently denouncing political oratory and propaganda, and then traveled to southern Italy in order to study political conditions there. Again, however, he found the much-vaunted dolce vita of the Greeks there, in which the rich lived in luxury exploiting the poor, much worse than in the democracy at Athens. But at Syracuse he met a young man, Dion (c. 408–354 bce )—brother-in-law of the ruling tyrant, Dionysius I (c. 430–367 bce )—who listened eagerly to his political ideas and promised to work for their realization if any occasion should arise. On his return to Athens, Plato founded the Academy, an institution for the education of philosophers, and in the following years he produced, besides other dialogues, his great work, Republic, in which he drew the outlines of an ideal state. Because it is the passions and desires of human beings that cause all disturbances in society, the state must be ruled by an elite that governs exclusively by reason and is supported by a class of warriors entirely obedient to it. Both ruling classes must have no individual possessions and no families and lead an extremely austere life, receiving the necessities of life from the working population, which alone is permitted to own private property. The elite receives a rigid education to fit it for its task. At the death of Dionysius, Dion induced Plato to come to Syracuse again to try to persuade Dionysius’s successor, Dionysius II (flourished 4th century bce ), to renounce his power in favour of a realization of Plato’s ideals. But the attempt failed, and in his later political works, the Statesman and the Laws, Plato tried to show that only a god could be entrusted with the absolute powers of the philosopher-rulers of his republic. Human rulers must be controlled by rigid laws, he held—though all laws are inevitably imperfect because life is too varied to be governed adequately by general rules. But the Laws still placed strict restrictions on the ownership of property.
Plato Timeline - History
Timeline of Psychology (387BC to Present)
387 BC Plato suggested that the brain is the mechanism of mental processes.
335 BC Aristotle suggested that the heart is the mechanism of mental processes.
1774 AD Franz Mesmer detailed his cure for some mental illness, originally called mesmerism and now known as hypnosis.
1793 Philippe Pinel released the first mental patients from confinement in the first massive movement for more humane treatment of the mentally ill.
1808 Franz Gall wrote about phrenology (the idea that a person's skull shape and placement of bumps on the head can reveal personality traits.
1834 Ernst Heinrich Weber published his perception theory of 'Just Noticeable Difference,' now known as Weber's Law.
1848 Phineas Gage suffered brain damage when an iron pole pierces his brain. His personality was changed but his intellect remained intact suggesting that an area of the brain plays a role in personality.
1859 Charles Darwin published the On the Origin of Species, detailing his view of evolution and expanding on the theory of 'Survival of the fittest.'
1861 French physician Paul Broca discovered an area in the left frontal lobe that plays a key role in language development.
1869 Sir Francis Galton, Influenced by Charles Darwin's 'Origin of the Species,' publishes 'Hereditary Genius,' and argues that intellectual abilities are biological in nature.
1874 Carl Wernicke published his work on the frontal lobe, detailing that damage to a specific area damages the ability to understand or produce language
1878 G. Stanley Hall received the first American Ph.D. in psychology. He later founded the American Psychological Association.
1879 Wilhelm Wundt founded the first formal laboratory of Psychology at the University of Leipzig, marking the formal beginning of the study of human emotions, behaviors, and cognitions.
1883 The first laboratory of psychology in America is established at Johns Hopkins University.
1885 Herman Ebbinghaus introduced the nonsense syllable as a means to study memory processes.
1886 Sigmund Freud began performing therapy in Vienna, marking the beginning of personality theory.
1890 The term "Mental Tests" was coined by James Cattell, beginning the specialization in psychology now known as psychological assessment.
1890 Sir Francis Galton developed the technique known as the correlation to better understand the interrelationships in his intelligence studies.
1890 William James published 'Principles of Psychology,' that later became the foundation for functionalism.
1890 New York State passed the State Care Act, ordering indigent mentally ill patients out of poor-houses and into state hospitals for treatment and developing the first institution in the U.S. for psychiatric research.
1892 Foundation of the American Psychological Association (APA) headed by G. Stanley Hall, with an initial membership of 42.
1895 Alfred Binet founded the first laboratory of psychodiagnosis.
1896 Writings by John Dewey began the school of thought known as functionalism.
1896 The first psychological clinic was developed at the University of Pennsylvania marking the birth of clinical psychology.
1898 Edward Thorndike developed the 'Law of Effect,' arguing that "a stimulus-response chain is strengthened if the outcome of that chain is positive."
1900 Sigmund Freud published 'Interpretation of Dreams' marking the beginning of Psychoanalytic Thought.
1901 The British Psychological Society was founded.
1905 Alfred Binet's Intelligence Test was published in France.
1906 The Journal of Abnormal Psychology was founded by Morton Prince.
1906 Ivan Pavlov published the first studies on Classical Conditioning.
1911 Alfred Adler left Freud's Psychoanalytic Group to form his own school of thought, accusing Freud of overemphasizing sexuality and basing his theory on his own childhood.
1911 Edward Thorndike published first article on animal intelligence leading to the theory of Operant Conditioning.
1912 William Stern developed the original formula for the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) after studying the scores on Binet's intelligence test. The formula is
1912 Max Wertheimer published research on the perception of movement, marking the beginnings of Gestalt Psychology.
1913 John E. Watson published 'Psychology as a Behaviorist Views It' marking the beginnings of Behavioral Psychology.
1913 Carl G. Jung departed from Freudian views and developed his own theories citing Freud's inability to acknowledge religion and spirituality. His new school of thought became known as Analytical Psychology.
1916 Stanford-Binet intelligence test was published in the United States.
1917 Robert Yerkes (President of APA at the time) developed the Army Alpha and Beta Tests to measure intelligence in a group format. The tests were adopted for use with all new recruits in the U.S. military a year later.
1920 John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner published the Little Albert experiments, demonstrating that fear could be classically conditioned.
1921 Psychological Corporation launched the first psychological test development company, not only commercializing psychological testing, but allowing testing to take place at offices and clinics rather than only at universities and research facilities.
1925 Wolfgang Kohler published 'The Mentality of Apes' which became a major component of Gestalt Psychology.
1927 Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, published her first book expanding her father's ideas in the treatment of children.
1929 Wolfgang Kohler criticizes behaviorism in his publication on Gestalt Psychology.
1932 Jean Piaget published 'The Moral Judgment of Children' beginning his popularity as the leading theorist in cognitive development.
1932 Walter B. Cannon coined the term homeostasis and began research on the fight or flight phenomenon.
1935 Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) was published by Henry Murray.
1936 Egas Moniz published his work on frontal lobotomies as a treatment for mental illness.
1938 Electroshock therapy was first used on a human patient.
1939 Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Test was published which eventually became the most widely used intellectual assessment.
1939 The Canadian Psychological Associated was founded.
1942 Carl Rogers published 'Counseling and Psychotherapy' suggesting that respect and a non-judgmental approach to therapy is the foundation for effective treatment of mental health issues.
1942 Jean Piaget published 'Psychology of Intelligence' discussing his theories of cognitive development.
1942 Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) was developed and fast became the most widely researched and widely accepted psychological assessment device.
1945 The state of Connecticut passed licensure legislation for psychologists, becoming the first state to recognize psychology as a protected practice oriented profession.
1945 The Journal of Clinical Psychology was founded.
1945 Karen Horney published her feministic views of psychoanalytic theory, marking the beginning of feminism.
1949 Boulder Conference outlines scientist-practitioner model of clinical psychology, looking at the M.D. versus Ph.D. used by medical providers and researchers, respectively.
1950 Erik Erikson published 'Childhood and Society,' where he expands Freud's Theory to include social aspects of personality development across the lifespan.
1952 A study on psychotherapy efficacy was published by Hans Eysenck suggesting that therapy is no more effective that no treatment at all. This prompted an onslaught of outcome studies which have since shown psychotherapy to be an effective treatment for mental illness.
1952 The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was published by The American Psychiatric Association marking the beginning of modern mental illness classification.
1952 Chlorpromazine (Thorazine) first used in the treatment of schizophrenia.
1953 B.F. Skinner outlined behavioral therapy, lending support for behavioral psychology via research in the literature.
1953 Code of Ethics for Psychologists was developed by the American Psychological Association.
1954 Abraham Maslow helped to found Humanistic Psychology and later developed his famous Hierarchy of Needs.
1957 Leon Festinger proposed his theory of 'Cognitive Dissonance' and later became an influence figure in Social Psychology.
1961 John Berry introduced the importance of cross-cultural research bringing diversity into the forefront of psychological research and application.
1961 Carl Rogers published 'On Becoming a Person,' marking a powerful change in how treatment for mental health issues is conducted.
1963 Alfred Bandura introduced the idea of Observational Learning on the development of personality.
1963 Lawrence Kolberg introduced his ideas for the sequencing of morality development.
1967 Aaron Beck published a psychological model of depression suggesting that thoughts play a significant role in the development and maintenance of depression.
1968 DSM II was published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1968 First Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) professional degree program in Clinical Psychology was established in the Department of Psychology at The University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign.
1969 Joseph Wolpe published 'The Practice of Behavior Therapy.'
1971 First Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.) awarded (from The University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign).
1973 APA endorsed the Psy.D. degree for professional practice in psychology.
1980 DSM III published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1983 Howard Gardner (professor at Harvard University) introduced his theory of multiple intelligence, arguing that intelligence is something to be used to improve lives not to measure and quantify human beings.
1988 American Psychological Society established.
1990 The emergence of managed care prompts the APA to become more political, leading to the idea of Prescribing Psychologists and equity in mental health coverage.
1994 DSM IV published by the American Psychiatric Association.
1995 First Psychologists prescribe medication through the U.S. military's psychopharmacology program.
1997 Deep Blue, the supercomputer at the time, beats the World's best chess player, Kasparov, marking a milestone in the development of artificial intelligence.
1998 Psychology advances to the technological age with the emergence of e-therapy.
1999 Psychologists in Guam gain prescription privileges for psychotropic medication.
2002 New Mexico becomes the first state to pass legislation allowing licensed psychologists to prescribe psychotropic medication.
2002 The push for mental health parity gets the attention of the White House as President George W. Bush promotes legislation that would guarantee comprehensive mental health coverage.
The Middle Ages
532: General Belisarius goes east, not west (like in the OTL to reconquer the Roman Empire) to start another war with China without informing the other members of the Confederation. With the Constantinople Kallipolis on the move through Persia and Bactria. Since China hasn't reunified into the Tang (or any) dynasty yet, they'll prove ripe for conquest if they don't get their act together.
534: the Chinese reunify temporarily together the moment Belisarius starts making strikes against them. Unfortunately this isn't soon enough and Confederation tech is way more advanced (China was so war exhausted in this timeline that they weren't able to make the progress they did in the OTL, whereas the Confederation did, mostly the Platonic Chinese, living in peace with their neighbours). Surprisingly, Justinian has massive support for this course of action. However the war only lasts 4 years this time, as the Chinese were ready and didn't have to fight such a diverse force. The so-called support didn't translate into material aid.
1000: a proper industrial revolution is now possible and goes ahead.
1066: in a shock turn of events, the selected replacement philarchon of Britain, a William of Normandy is usurped by Harold Godwinson. By 25 December, this injustice is corrected.
1090s: the philarchon of Papal Rome, known as the Pope starts a war against the eastern Kallipolic Confederacy. Some members such as the Moors, Arabs and Turks have become unusually aggressive and restricted access to the city of Jerusalem. A Crusade or Jihad or whatever a culture or faith may call a struggle is launched. This lasts 200 years, with nine primary wars and some smaller ones in between, like a load of peasants led by Petra the Hermit (chaos theory) and some children. 1215: John of England had abused his powers too much, so had to be stopped. The barons drag him to Runnymede and make him behave by signing a Great Charter.
1220: the Chinese, seeing the Confederacy divided, send the Mongol leader known forever as Genghis Khan to attack, with extraordinary success. The invasion is eventually called off. At the same time, a recon fleet goes the wrong way and ends up in the New World. What is California in the OTL is claimed for the Middle Kingdom even though they didn't even have Japan.
1485: Henry Tudor takes over the British Kallipolis. In time, leadership will go to Guardian Anne Boleyn (B0L3YN), Civilian Thomas Cranmer, Civilian Jane Grey and Civilian Mary Stuart.
1492: the first confirmed sighting of the New World for the Confederation (though Christoforo Columbo never got it into his head that his poor geography had got his crew onto an all new island chain next to an all new pair of continents rather than just the Indies, just off from India, even after everybody else realises it after comparing reports of the "Indies" from sailors following Columbo and those who went the usual way). There were reports for centuries of another land, but they couldn't be independently verified even with the advanced shipping available.
Plato grew up in the Greek city-state of Athens during the Classical Period of Ancient Greece. Although historians don't know a lot about Plato's early life they know he came from a wealthy family and likely had two brothers and a sister. He would have been taught by the best Greek teachers about various subjects including music, gymnastics, math, grammar, and philosophy.
The Peloponnesian War
Much of Plato's youth would have been influenced by the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. It is likely that Plato served in the Athenian army during his early life. The war no doubt influenced his life and his philosophy.
As Plato grew older he became more interested in academics and philosophy. He became a student and close follower to the famous philosopher Socrates. Socrates would hold conversations with his students about various aspects of politics and life. They then would break down the problem and come up with theories on the subject. Socrates teachings and learning style became the cornerstone of Plato's writings.
In 399 BC, Socrates was executed by the leaders of Athens for corrupting the youth and for not acknowledging the gods of Athens. Plato left Athens and traveled around the Mediterranean region for the next twelve years. During that time, he visited places like Italy, Egypt, and North Africa. He studied all sorts of subjects including science, math, and philosophy.
While Plato was traveling around the Mediterranean, he began to write. He wrote in an interesting style called a "dialogue". In the dialogue, Plato would introduce several characters who would discuss a topic by asking questions of each other. This form allowed Plato to explore several sides of an argument and to introduce new ideas.
Many of Plato's dialogues feature his former teacher Socrates as the main character. Most of what is known about Socrates' philosophies comes from Plato's dialogues. He wrote four dialogues about Socrates' final days including The Apology in which Socrates' defends himself before being sentenced to death.
Plato's most famous writing is The Republic. In The Republic, several characters discuss the meaning of justice and how it relates to happiness. Socrates is once again the main character in the dialogues and he discusses how being just or unjust can affect someone's life. They discuss various aspects of government and finally present the "philosopher-king" as the ideal ruler. Plato comes to the conclusion that philosophers must become kings, or kings must become philosophers.
When Plato was around 40 years old, he returned to Athens and founded a school called the Academy. Plato and other scholars taught subjects such as mathematics, philosophy, biology, and astronomy at the Academy. One of Plato's students was the famous scientist and philosopher Aristotle who studied at the Academy for nearly 20 years.
Plato died around the year 347 BC in Athens. Not much is known about this death, but he was 80 years old and likely died in his sleep. Plato's legacy lives on in modern Western philosophy. His writings have been studied for the last 2000 years and are still studied in universities today.
Before giving details of Plato's life we will take a few moments to discuss how definite the details are which we give below. The details are mostly given by Plato himself in letters which seem, on the face of it, to make them certain. However, it is disputed whether Plato did indeed write the letters so there are three possible interpretations. Firstly that Plato wrote the letters and therefore the details are accurate. Secondly that although not written by Plato, the letters were written by someone who knew him or at least had access to accurate information on his life. The third possibility, which unfortunately cannot be ruled out, is that they were written by someone as pure fiction.
Next we should comment on the name 'Plato'. In [ 13 ] Rowe writes:-
Plato was the youngest son of Ariston and Perictione who both came from famous wealthy families who had lived in Athens for generations. While Plato was a young man his father died and his mother remarried, her second husband being Pyrilampes. It was mostly in Pyrilampes' house that Plato was brought up. Aristotle writes that when Plato was a young man he studied under Cratylus who was a student of Heracleitus, famed for his cosmology which is based on fire being the basic material of the universe. It almost certain that Plato became friends with Socrates when he was young, for Plato's mother's brother Charmides was a close friend of Socrates.
The Peloponnesian War was fought between Athens and Sparta between 431 BC and 404 BC. Plato was in military service from 409 BC to 404 BC but at this time he wanted a political career rather than a military one. At the end of the war he joined the oligarchy of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens set up in 404 BC, one of whose leaders being his mother's brother Charmides, but their violent acts meant that Plato quickly left.
In 403 BC there was a restoration of democracy at Athens and Plato had great hopes that he would be able to enter politics again. However, the excesses of Athenian political life seem to have persuaded him to give up political ambitions. In particular, the execution of Socrates in 399 BC had a profound effect on him and he decided that he would have nothing further to do with politics in Athens.
Plato left Athens after Socrates had been executed and travelled in Egypt, Sicily and Italy. In Egypt he learnt of a water clock and later introduced it into Greece. In Italy he learned of the work of Pythagoras and came to appreciate the value of mathematics. This was an event of great importance since from the ideas Plato gained from the disciples of Pythagoras, he formed his idea [ 6 ] :-
Again there was a period of war and again Plato entered military service. It was claimed by later writers on Plato's life that he was decorated for bravery in battle during this period of his life. It is also thought that he began to write his dialogues at this time.
Plato returned to Athens and founded his Academy in Athens, in about 387 BC. It was on land which had belonged to a man called Academos, and this is where the name "Academy" came from. The Academy was an institution devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences, and Plato presided over it from 387 BC until his death in 347 BC.
His reasons for setting up the Academy were connected with his earlier ventures into politics. He had been bitterly disappointed with the standards displayed by those in public office and he hoped to train young men who would become statesmen. However, having given them the values that Plato believed in, Plato thought that these men would be able to improve the political leadership of the cities of Greece.
Only two further episodes in Plato's life are recorded. He went to Syracuse in 367 BC following the death of Dionysius I who had ruled the city. Dion, the brother-in-law of Dionysius I, persuaded Plato to come to Syracuse to tutor Dionysius II, the new ruler. Plato did not expect the plan to succeed but because both Dion and Archytas of Tarentum believed in the plan then Plato agreed. Their plan was that if Dionysius II was trained in science and philosophy he would be able to prevent Carthage invading Sicily. However, Dionysius II was jealous of Dion whom he forced out of Syracuse and the plan, as Plato had expected, fell apart.
Plato returned to Athens, but visited Syracuse again in 361 BC hoping to be able to bring the rivals together. He remained in Syracuse for part of 360 BC but did not achieve a political solution to the rivalry. Dion attacked Syracuse in a coup in 357 , gained control, but was murdered in 354 .
Field writes in [ 6 ] that Plato's life:-
In letters written by Plato he makes it clear that he understands that it will be difficult to work out his philosophical theory from the dialogues but he claims that the reader will only understand it after long thought, discussion and questioning. The dialogues do not contain Plato as a character so he does not declare that anything asserted in them are his own views. The characters are historic with Socrates usually the protagonist so it is not clear how much these characters express views with which they themselves would have put forward. It is thought that, at least in the early dialogues, the character of Socrates expresses views that Socrates actually held.
Through these dialogues, Plato contributed to the theory of art, in particular dance, music, poetry, architecture, and drama. He discussed a whole range of philosophical topics including ethics, metaphysics where topics such as immortality, man, mind, and Realism are discussed.
He discussed the philosophy of mathematics, political philosophy where topics such as censorship are discussed, and religious philosophy where topics such as atheism, dualism and pantheism are considered. In discussing epistemology he looked at ideas such as a priori knowledge and Rationalism. In his theory of Forms, Plato rejected the changeable, deceptive world that we are aware of through our senses proposing instead his world of ideas which were constant and true.
Let us illustrate Plato's theory of Forms with one of his mathematical examples. Plato considers mathematical objects as perfect forms. For example a line is an object having length but no breadth. No matter how thin we make a line in the world of our senses, it will not be this perfect mathematical form, for it will always have breadth. In the Phaedo Plato talks of objects in the real world trying to be like their perfect forms. By this he is thinking of thinner and thinner lines which are tending in the limit to the mathematical concept of a line but, of course, never reaching it. Another example from the Phaedo is given in [ 6 ] :-
Again in the Republic Plato talks of geometrical diagrams as imperfect imitations of the perfect mathematical objects which they represent.
Plato's contributions to the theories of education are shown by the way that he ran the Academy and his idea of what constitutes an educated person. He also contributed to logic and legal philosophy, including rhetoric.
Although Plato made no important mathematical discoveries himself, his belief that mathematics provides the finest training for the mind was extremely important in the development of the subject. Over the door of the Academy was written:-
In mathematics Plato's name is attached to the Platonic solids. In the Timaeus there is a mathematical construction of the elements ( earth, fire, air, and water ) , in which the cube, tetrahedron, octahedron, and icosahedron are given as the shapes of the atoms of earth, fire, air, and water. The fifth Platonic solid, the dodecahedron, is Plato's model for the whole universe.
Plato's beliefs as regards the universe were that the stars, planets, Sun and Moon move round the Earth in crystalline spheres. The sphere of the Moon was closest to the Earth, then the sphere of the Sun, then Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and furthest away was the sphere of the stars. He believed that the Moon shines by reflected sunlight.
Perhaps the best overview of Plato's views can be gained from examining what he thought that a proper course of education should consist. Here is his course of study [ 2 ] :-
The earliest comparable use of vacuum tubes in the U.S. seems to have been by John Atanasoff at what was then Iowa State College (now University). During the period 1937&ndash1942 Atanasoff developed techniques for using vacuum tubes to perform numerical calculations digitally. In 1939, with the assistance of his student Clifford Berry, Atanasoff began building what is sometimes called the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, or ABC, a small-scale special-purpose electronic digital machine for the solution of systems of linear algebraic equations. The machine contained approximately 300 vacuum tubes. Although the electronic part of the machine functioned successfully, the computer as a whole never worked reliably, errors being introduced by the unsatisfactory binary card-reader. Work was discontinued in 1942 when Atanasoff left Iowa State.
What Are the Major Accomplishments of Plato?
Plato was a philosopher and mathematician who changed the way philosophy was perceived and practiced in the Western world. He abandoned political power in the oligarchy to seek out virtue. Influenced by Socrates, Plato wrote some of the most enduring pieces of philosophical literature, which have had noted influences on every subsequent culture that read them. He founded the Academy and taught Aristotle, who also shaped Western thought and behavior.
Prior to Plato, the word "philosophy" meant the "love of wisdom" and was practiced by many people with little to no application of cohesive methodologies. These people are called pre-Socratic philosophers or Sophists. Sophists viewed philosophy as a trade that could be marketed and sold. The concept of philosophy and philosophical study in which strict logical methods are used to systematically and critically examine issues originated with Plato and his dialogues. He made extensive use of informal logic, searching for fallacies and inconsistencies in arguments, and he was one of the first thinkers to apply mathematical logic. His student Aristotle further developed these processes into informal logic, which laid the groundwork for future scientific thought a thousand years later.
Plato lived in the Ancient Greek city-state of Athens. He eventually met Socrates, who became one of Plato's greatest influences. He often used Socrates as the main character in many of his dialogues, in which Plato sought out the answers to political, social, epistemological, metaphysical and ethical issues through a dialectical discourse between characters. Works considered his most influential include "Apology," "Republic," "Symposium" and "Timaeus," among many more.
Recently in Timeline Category
It was fifty years ago today that a then 27-year-old electrical engineering PhD whiz kid named Don Bitzer, along with mathematician colleague Peter Braunfeld, demonstrated the PLATO II system to the assembled dignitaries, including David Dodds Henry, the President of the University of Illinois. The event was called the "President's Faculty Conference on Improving Our Educational Aims in the Sixties" and was attended by over 100 faculty members and assorted guests.
It's a significant date because it was a very early public demonstration not only of computer-based education, but also of time-sharing and remote access of a computer system. The demo was held at the Allerton House, 30 miles to the west of the University of Illinois' ILLIAC computer at the Coordinated Sciences Laboratory.
Here's a photo from March 10th, showing Don seated on the floor, talking on the phone, trying to get things to work between Allerton and the PLATO lab back at the university:
Note the keyboard on the chair on the left. It has about 16 keys. Home-made. Built-from scratch. And the "monitor" on the chair on the right is, you guessed right, a cheap black-and-white TV.
The demo was a big success and helped propel the PLATO project forward. Within two years would arrive PLATO III, running on a more powerful CDC 1604 computer. PLATO II was a proof of concept that PLATO could run with simultaneous users, in this case two, but the idea was "N", as in, if you can run two users, it might as well be N users, with N limited merely by memory, CPU, and other resources.
Death of Socrates
Plato welcomed the restoration of the democracy, but his mistrust was deepened some four years later when Socrates was tried on false charges and sentenced to death. Plato was present at the trial, as we learn in the Apology, but was not present when the hemlock (poison) was given to his master, although he describes the scene in clear and touching detail in the Phaedo. He then turned in disgust from Athenian politics and never took an active part in government, although through friends he did try to influence the course of political life in the Sicilian city of Syracuse.
Plato and several of his friends withdrew from Athens for a short time after Socrates's death and remained with Euclides (c. 450 B.C.E. ) in Megara. His productive years were highlighted by three voyages to Sicily, and his writings, all of which have survived.
The first trip, to southern Italy and Syracuse, took place in 388 and 387 B.C.E. , when Plato met Dionysius I (c. 430 B.C.E. ). Dionysius was then at the height of his power in Sicily for having freed the Greeks there from the threat of Carthaginian rule. Plato became better friends with the philosopher Dion (c. 408 B.C.E. ), however, and Dionysius grew jealous and began to treat Plato harshly.
“[Plato is] the only Greek who has attained the porch of (Christian) truth.”
“. . . before the advent of the Lord, philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes conducive to piety being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith . . . . For God is the cause of all good things, but of some primarily, as of the Old and New Testaments and of others by consequence, as philosophy. Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly and primarily . . . . For [philosophy] was a schoolmaster to bring ‘the Hellenic mind . . . to Christ.’ Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.” (Emphasis added)
To Dean Inge and to the early Church Fathers, readers of Plato, let’s add one more name—C. S. Lewis, who writes:
“. . . if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about ‘isms’ and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. . . . The student . . . . feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew [that] the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator.”
So, in the spirit of Lewis, let’s not comment on Plato any further. Take Lewis’ advice and join Augustine, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Clement of Alexandria go read the legendary thinker for yourself. The Works of Plato collection are now in their most useful format ever.
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