Historical theories from the world allow us to base our own ethical and moral theories we learn as children and on a daily basis to determine our life decisions, professionally and personally. Plato is just one of the critical figures that have created a basic layout of how societies should be balanced. He was born in 428 B.C.E and passed away eighty years or so later. Since he was conceived in one of the most thriving cities of Greece, Athens, during the Age of the Pericles, he was in the perfect position to meet such influential people such as Socrates, his teacher, and his student Aristotle. Plato was born into a wealthy family during this period when monarchy was eliminated by Cleithere’s introduction to democracy after the tyranny of Isagoras. The progressing introduction to democracy and philosophy were creating the “cradle of democracy in the western civilization” (Prastacos). Many professors today call this the Golden Age due to its centre for arts and learning. As Professor Jeremy McInerney Ph.D. first expresses to his students when taking the Age of Pericles courses at the University of Pennsylvania, “We call it the “Golden Age”—the period during the 5th century B.C. when the Greek city-state of Athens experienced a cultural flowering of extraordinary power and importance for Western culture” (McInerney). Since people were progressing in their ideas, society could not consider Plato to be disliked. Especially after the execution of Socrates, Plato had many friends since people were blaming the teacher of treason for corrupting the youth, which is written and described in Plato’s Apology. However, the political sides of society, that Plato strived to avoid, did not agree with his theoretical ideas new aspects on religions.
Plato was a teacher as well as a student and was able to learn his ethical philosophy from Socrates and continue them through his Academy and pupils such as Aristotle. His pupil created Aristotelianism, which replicated the basics of Plato’s doctrine with a more rough tone. Platonism, or Plato’s doctrine on lifestyle, is explained especially well in the book called The Mind of Plato, by A.E. Taylor. The author’s description of the philosopher’s ethical theories originated from Plato’s words, “Man’s life is a perpetual search for something he has not got, though without it he can never be at peace with himself” (Taylor (1960), 12). In a unity, he wanted to express that our happiness does not depend on what we aim for, but how we use it. On the following diagram I simplified the categorization of his terms. From a modern perspective, people interpret that the reason is what gives the passion a purpose, which contains humans’ desires. Human nature makes our psyche have different parts that we have to learn to harmonize. A simple example is eating sweets on a diet. Our reasoning is that if we eat sweets it will obviously not help with getting fitter. Then there is the desire to eat the delicious goodness because we crave it. The Passion in between is when we take into consideration what we learned or what we are striving for, such as losing 5lbs. Mastering our own desires and passions with reason allows us to be in control of ourselves. With all of Plato’s works incorporated in our philosophical beliefs during such a crucial era, we now consider it to be common sense.
400 years after Plato’s death our society has gathered writings, 13 letters, manuscripts, and books that endlessly elaborate Platonism. Plato’s beliefs have incorporated into modern beliefs since it was introduced during this influential time of the Golden Age. He had a few poetic pieces, however he strongly opposed poetry calling it, “Inspiration negatives responsibilities; you get no personal credit for the good you do while inspired” (Moravcsik, 138). Plato, after learning a bit from Socrates, believed that enthousiasmos was coming from a source of madness, similarly to cults and possessive religions. A quote by A.E. Taylor in the book Platonism and It’s Influence said, “His influence, like the pressure of the atmosphere, goes undetected because we never really get free from it” (Taylor (1963), 57). Plato’s style of thinking has become incorporated in our traditional lives.
McInerney, J. (2014, January 1). Age of Pericles. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/age-of-pericles.html
Moravcsik, J., & Temko, P. (1982). Plato and the Poets. In Plato on beauty, wisdom, and the arts (Vol. 1, pp. 1-150). Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield.
Prastacos, P., Soderquist, A., & Wang, P. (2011, June 14). Ancient Culture Greek and Civilization. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from http://www.leadershipclassics.org/AncientGreekCulture&Civilization.html
Taylor, A. (1960). Life and Writings. In The mind of Plato (originally Plato). Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Press.
Taylor, A. (1963). The Rule of Life. In Platonism and its influence (pp. 1-131). New York: Cooper Square.
Google. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2015, from philosopher plato