From ArticleWorld

Plato is one of the most celebrated Greek philosophers. He was the student of Socrates and Aristotle’s teacher. Ancient Greeks believed him to be the son of Apollo (a Greek God) because of his wisdom.

Born in Athens in 428 BC (or it may be 427 BC as the matter is disputed), Plato grew up in an aristocratic family. He studied under Socrates and was deeply affected by his master’s trail. This lead to his visions of a society where injustice was unheard of. He traveled extensively in Europe for twelve years and returned to Athens at the age of forty. There he founded the ‘Academy’ which served as a platform for his lectures on philosophy. It was closed down in 529 AD by Justinian I of Byzantium who believed it to be Christian propaganda.


Unlike earlier philosophers, Plato wrote down his thoughts which exist in the form of manuscripts even today. His musings were recorded as ‘dialogues’. Some epigrams and letters have also been found. ‘Dialogues’ are discussions on various topics between characters by the means of questions. Socrates was a frequent character in Plato’s dialogues.

A recurrent theme found in his works is the conflict between nature and custom which deals with the effect of genetics on the physical characteristics of a person and even his intellect.

Plato’s philosophized about an ideal governing body. He classified the soul of a being into three parts :

  • Productive – Consisting of workers like carpenters, plumbers, farmers etc.
  • Protective – Consisting of warriors and those in the armed forces.
  • Governing – Consisting of rulers who are wise, just and rational.

He once remarked, “Until philosophers rule as kings or those who are now called kings and leading men genuinely and adequately philosophize…cities will have no rest from evils,..nor I think, will the human race.”

Aristotle, Plato’s student, cast a shadow on Plato’s work. In the Western Middle Ages, it was Aristotle was titled ‘The Philosopher’. Only in the Renaissance period, did an interest in Plato’s works re-emerge. His works have strongly influenced the study of science and mathematics. Even Albert Einstein drew his inspiration of quantum mechanics from Plato.


Platonism is also referred to as Exaggerated Realism. Plato’s work on metaphysics states that the world can be categorized into two distinct parts : one is the physical part, or the world of “forms” consisting of all things material; and the other, the intellectual part or perceptual world i.e. ideas, which may only be understood with the intellect.

Everything can be represented on a line of increasing reality. It is once separated through the center. One represents the intellectual and other, the perceptual world. These are then divided again through their respective centers. The intellectual part represents the general and derivative forms. The two perceptual parts stand for “real things” and shadows or reflections. This theory is famous as ‘The divided line of Plato’.