Advertisement

Classical Roots

Chapter
  • 848 Downloads

Plato was born within living memory of the pioneers of Greek naturalistic thought. He was of noble birth, and by all accounts a gifted poet. In his youth he was strongly influenced by Socrates, so he developed a bent towards speculative thought and critical debate, particularly about matters of ethics and virtue. All Plato's work was written in the form of dialogues in which beliefs are subjected to intense critical analysis. The early dialogues focus on ethical issues and probably reflect the views of Socrates (who is usually given the major role in each debate). The middle and later dialogues reveal the mature Plato; they consider a wider range of issues, particularly the nature of knowledge and the nature of reality, with the character of Socrates often playing a lesser role.

In some of these mature dialogues, Plato scrutinised the beliefs of earlier naturalistic philosophers. He considered that the differences among them could be resolved if the claims and limitations of each were clearly specified. Searching for the requisite common ground made him focus on logic, precise definitions of terms and consistency of classification. It also made him willing to accept abstractions such as atoms and insist that mathematics – the most abstract possible way of thinking – was the basis of all understanding. Plato’s commitment to logic, mathematics and abstraction matured into a belief – the theory of forms – that perfect order was restricted to the world of ideas. The physical world, the world of material nature, contained only approximations to the perfect forms, which the mind alone could comprehend. Associated with this trend in Plato’s thought was a hint of the notion of a single God: just as he sought the common basis of his predecessors’ speculations about the nature of the world, so he sought the ‘common ground’ among the gods in which his society believed.

Keywords

Classical Learning Classical Root Greek City Violent Motion Human Guidance 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. Canfora L (trans. Ryle M) (1989) The Vanished Library. A Wonder of the Ancient World. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  2. Hare RM (1982) The Philosophy of Plato. Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Lloyd GER (1970) Early Greek Science; Thales to Aristotle. Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Lloyd GER (1991) Methods and Problems in Greek Science. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  5. Macleod R (ed) (2004) The Library of Alexandria: Centre of Learning in the Ancient World. IB Tauris, London.Google Scholar
  6. Ross WD (1959) Aristotle: A Complete Exposition of His Works and Thought. Meridian, Cleveland, OH.Google Scholar
  7. Stahl W (1962) Roman Science. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI.Google Scholar
  8. Waterlow S (1982) Nature, Change and Agency in Aristotle's Physics. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Personalised recommendations