Plato (/ˈplt/ PLAY-toe;[2] Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thought and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning on the European continent.

Roman copy of a portrait bust c.370 BC
Born428/427 or 424/423 BC
Died348/347 BC (aged c.80)
Athens, Greece
Notable work
EraAncient Greek philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Notable students
Main interests
Notable ideas

Along with his teacher, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato is a central figure in the history of Ancient Greek philosophy and the Western and Middle Eastern philosophies descended from it.[lower-alpha 1] He has also shaped religion and spirituality.[5] The so-called neoplatonism of his interpreter Plotinus greatly influenced both Christianity (through Church Fathers such as Augustine) and Islamic philosophy (through e.g. Al-Farabi). In modern times, Friedrich Nietzche diagnosed Western culture as growing in the shadow of Plato (famously calling Christianity "Platonism for the masses"), while Alfred North Whitehead noted: "the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."[6]

Plato was an innovator of the written dialogue and dialectic forms in philosophy. He raised problems for what later became all the major areas of both theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy. His most famous contribution is the theory of Forms known by pure reason, in which Plato presents a solution to the problem of universals, known as Platonism (also ambiguously called either Platonic realism or Platonic idealism). He is also the namesake of Platonic love and the Platonic solids.

His own most decisive philosophical influences are usually thought to have been, along with Socrates, the pre-Socratics Pythagoras, Heraclitus and Parmenides, although few of his predecessors' works remain extant and much of what we know about these figures today derives from Plato himself.[lower-alpha 2] Unlike the work of nearly all of his contemporaries, Plato's entire body of work is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years.[8] Although their popularity has fluctuated, Plato's works have consistently been read and studied.[9]

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