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Plato_Lecture_Notes - Plato(427-347 BCE Although Plato was...

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Plato (427-347 BCE) Although Plato was raised to be a politician and rule Athens, he gave that up to study with Socrates and become a philosopher. After Socrates’s death, Plato wanted to memorialize his mentor and honor his dedication to philosophical inquiry. The early dialogues describe the kinds of conversations Socrates really might have had. As Plato’s own philosophy matured, the “Socrates” character of his dialogues became less of a portrayal of the real “Socrates” and more an advocate of Plato’s own thought. Early – Socrates professes his ignorance; searches for an understanding of virtue and morality but ultimately acknowledges the limits of human knowledge; no deep interest in mathematics or metaphysics - human well-being doesn’t consist in wealth, power, or fame but in virtue - a good person can never be truly harmed by an evil one - possessing a virtue consists of having a deep philosophical or intellectual understanding of a concept or subject matter - an unexamined life is not worth living Middle and Late – “Socrates” gives definitions for things like justice, courage, temperance, and wisdom; subject-matter of the dialogues is wide ranging: epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, and political theory; fine tunes the Theory of the Forms in the face of new objections Phaedo We can justify our belief that the soul is immortal by appealing to the Theory of the Forms. According to this theory, there exists a realm of objects utterly different from the world with which we are familiar. The objects in this realm are changeless, revealed to us through thought (not sensation), different from both body and soul, and eternal. Plato often uses the Greek terms eidos and idea to designate these objects; these are translated as “Form” and “Idea.” Theory of the Forms Throughout his writings, Plato continues to develop his Theory of the Forms. In the Phaedo , Plato says that there are Forms of Equality, Beauty, Goodness, Justice, and Piety however he gives us no way of deciding what else should be on the list. In the Republic , he tells us that whenever a term is applied to many different things, there is a Form corresponding to the term. He thinks that commonplace objects (like beds, tables, birds), moral properties, and mathematical objects all have Forms. In the Statesmen , Plato makes the theory more precise: he doesn’t think there are Forms corresponding to terms that are not supported by a justified classification of reality into groups. He uses
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“Greeks” and “barbarians” as an example.
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