Sophie’s World: Notes
What is the difference between a society that condemns to
death a great man such as Socrates, and one that treats such a
man with respect and uses his gifts for the benefit of all?
Plato, 428-347 BC, Athens
 Pupil of Socrates
 Age 29 at trial and death of Socrates, greatly affected by event
 After Socrates death he left Greece and spent 12 years traveling
through Italy, Sicily, Egypt and Cyrene on a quest for knowledge
 At 40, he returned to Athens and founded a school in the Grove of
 First published work was Apology, an account of the trial of
 Wrote in the form of dialogues, often using Socrates as a main
 Thus it is difficult to know which ideas are Plato’s and which are
his teachers
 Famous for The Republic, an account of an ideal society ruled by
philosopher kings
The Theory of Ideas
 The physical world, the objects we perceive with our senses, is an
ephemeral illusion.
 The objects we perceive represent imperfect manifestations of a
perfect form
 The perfect forms, which are not present in the physical world, are
called ideas
 Ideas, according to Plato, can only be known through use of the
 Physical forms we know through perception, which changes or
 Ideal forms we know through our reason, which is constant and
The Power of Reason
 Plato believed that the faculty of reason is innate to human beings,
we are born with it
 True knowledge is eternal and can only be attained through use of
 All perfect forms, or ideas, are imprinted within us from birth, and
it is within our power to recall these ideas.
 The sum of all knowledge is The Good, a power that sheds light
upon all things (some call this Plato’s God)
The Soul
 Man is a dual creature, a temporary physical body, and an
immortal soul
 The soul enters the body from the world of Ideas and when waking
forgets the existence of the Ideas.
 When we use our reason we begin to recollect the immutable
Ideas, this creates a longing for the soul to return to the Idea world
 The longing of the soul to return to its origin, Plato called love
“Ignorance, the root and the stem of every evil.”
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled
by evil men.”
“Necessity, who is the mother of invention."