Who was he: Plato, a noted Greek philosopher, is known for the summation of his insight into wisdom that comes via quotes many people recite from time to time as proof of their own intellect. Socrates was Plato's mentor and Aristotle his student. The actual dating of events in 400 B.C. is difficult to determine due to a lack of record-keeping at that particular time.
Plato's definition of knowledge comes from his understanding of an unchanging form of the untouchable world, whereas three-dimensional form, i.e. information that can be perceived via the senses, is limited and not true knowledge. Plato fully believed this throughout his life.
Plato was the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He helped to lay the thought processes that led to the growth of philosophy and science. Plato's sophistication as a writer is evident in his Socratic dialogues. These dialogues have been utilized as teaching aids ever since and cover numerous different subjects.
Truth, Plato believed, can only be ascertained through the spoken word, where questions and debate are encouraged and full and complete explanations prevail. It is thought that this type of teaching and learning both require great humility.
Aristotle believed the earth and earthly experiences shaped the man, while Plato looked to the heavens and heavenly forms for guidance throughout his lifetime. Socrates felt that wisdom is one of recollection of information already lived and imbued in man. He argued that knowledge is a product of divine insight.
Background: Recording of dates did not seem a particularly fruitful endeavor, while speaking and recording the wisdom of the day were paramount to philosophers and other students of truth. This leads to the fact that there is no definite day designated as Plato's birth date. It is only etimated to have been around 428 B.C.
Plato was a humble boy of great learning in many areas of study, including philosophy, music and grammar. He appeared skilled in gymnastics, and others alluded to the fact that he had wrestled in the Isthmian games. As a man, Plato was well travelled. Upon his return to Athens, Plato founded the first Western organized school of learning. It was at the Academy that Aristotle sat at the knee of Plato and ventured into areas of study that were formerly unknown to him.
Dialectic for Plato was the reasoning involved in his theories aligned with an intuition that can only be expressed by the metaphysical visualization of original divine form, or definitions found therein. To Plato, the two combined is what unlocks the many mysteries of the world.
It is most unfortunate to many free-market thinkers that Plato's political philosophy was both authoritarian and fascist. Plato believed in the rule by a few over the many and explained this philosophy, which was shared by Aristotle, in numerous dialogues. Plato is revered by many, but his ideas about how society could be organized are profoundly undemocratic.