Plato (Πλάτων Plátōn; c. 427 BC – c. 347 BC) was an immensely influential classical Greek philosopher, student of Socrates, teacher of Aristotle, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens.
- 1 Quotes
- 2 Misattributed
- 3 Quotes about Plato
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- Quotations from Plato are often cited by Stephanus numbers, which are keyed to the original Greek and therefore independent of the translation used.
- Let every man remind their descendants that they also are soldiers who must not desert the ranks of their ancestors, or from cowardice fall behind. Even as I exhort you this day, and in all future time, whenever I meet with any of you, shall continue to remind and exhort you, O ye sons of heroes, that you strive to be the bravest of men. And I think that I ought now to repeat what your fathers desired to have said to you who are their survivors, when they went out to battle, in case anything happened to them. I will tell you what I heard them say, and what, if they had only speech, they would fain be saying, judging from what they then said. And you must imagine that you hear them saying what I now repeat to you:
Sons, the event proves that your fathers were brave men; for we might have lived dishonourably, but have preferred to die honourably rather than bring you and your children into disgrace, and rather than dishonour our own fathers and forefathers; considering that life is not life to one who is a dishonour to his race, and that to such a one neither men nor Gods are friendly, either while he is on the earth or after death in the world below.
Remember our words, then, and whatever is your aim let virtue be the condition of the attainment of your aim, and know that without this all possessions and pursuits are dishonourable and evil.
For neither does wealth bring honour to the owner, if he be a coward; of such a one the wealth belongs to another, and not to himself. Nor does beauty and strength of body, when dwelling in a base and cowardly man, appear comely, but the reverse of comely, making the possessor more conspicuous, and manifesting forth his cowardice.
And all knowledge, when separated from justice and virtue, is seen to be cunning and not wisdom; wherefore make this your first and last and constant and all-absorbing aim, to exceed, if possible, not only us but all your ancestors in virtue; and know that to excel you in virtue only brings us shame, but that to be excelled by you is a source of happiness to us.
And we shall most likely be defeated, and you will most likely be victors in the contest, if you learn so to order your lives as not to abuse or waste the reputation of your ancestors, knowing that to a man who has any self-respect, nothing is more dishonourable than to be honoured, not for his own sake, but on account of the reputation of his ancestors.
The honour of parents is a fair and noble treasure to their posterity, but to have the use of a treasure of wealth and honour, and to leave none to your successors, because you have neither money nor reputation of your own, is alike base and dishonourable.
And if you follow our precepts you will be received by us as friends, when the hour of destiny brings you hither; but if you neglect our words and are disgraced in your lives, no one will welcome or receive you. This is the message which is to be delivered to our children.
- Rhetoric, it seems, is a producer of persuasion for belief, not for instruction in the matter of right and wrong … And so the rhetorician's business is not to instruct a law court or a public meeting in matters of right and wrong, but only to make them believe.
- Then the case is the same in all the other arts for the orator and his rhetoric; there is no need to know the truth of the actual matters, but one merely needs to have discovered some device of persuasion which will make one appear to those who do not know to know better than those who know.
- The orators — and the despots — have the least power in their cities … since they do nothing that they wish to do, practically speaking, though they do whatever they think to be best.
- It would be better for me … that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself.
- Words spoken by Socrates, 482c
- Meno: I feel, somehow, that I like what you are saying.
Socrates: And I, Meno, like what I am saying. Some things I have said of which I am not altogether confident. But that we shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know; — that is a theme upon which I am ready to fight, in word and deed, to the utmost of my power.
- Μίμησιν μὲν γὰρ δὴ καὶ ἀπεικασίαν τὰ παρὰ πάντων ἡμῶν ῥηθέντα χρεών που γενέσθαι.
- All that is said by any of us can only be imitation and representation.
- Περὶ θεῶν γάρ, ὦ Τίμαιε, λέγοντά τι πρὸς ἀνθρώπους δοκεῖν ἱκανῶς λέγειν ῥᾷον ἢ περὶ θνητῶν πρὸς ἡμᾶς. Ἡ γὰρ ἀπειρία καὶ σφόδρα ἄγνοια τῶν ἀκουόντων περὶ ὧν ἂν οὕτως ἔχωσιν πολλὴν εὐπορίαν παρέχεσθον τῷ μέλλοντι λέγειν τι περὶ αὐτῶν: περὶ δὲ δὴ θεῶν ἴσμεν ὡς ἔχομεν.
- I shall argue that to seem to speak well of the gods to men is far easier than to speak well of men to men: for the inexperience and utter ignorance of his hearers about any subject is a great assistance to him who has to speak of it, and we know how ignorant we are concerning the gods.
- ἐπ᾽ εὐτυχίᾳ τῇ μεγίστῃ παρὰ θεῶν ἡ τοιαύτη μανία [sc. ὁ ἔρως] δίδοται
- οἷον πνεῦμα ἤ τις ἠχὼ ἀπὸ λείων τε καὶ στερεῶν ἁλλομένη πάλιν ὅθεν ὡρμήθη φέρεται, οὕτω τὸ τοῦ κάλλους ῥεῦμα πάλιν εἰς τὸν καλὸν διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων ἰόν
- As a breeze or an echo rebounds from the smooth rocks and returns whence it came, so does the stream of beauty, passing through the eyes which are the windows of the soul, come back to the beautiful one.
- Neither human wisdom nor divine inspiration can confer upon man any greater blessing than this [live a life of happiness and harmony here on earth].
- Socrates: The disgrace begins when a man writes not well, but badly.
Socrates: And what is well and what is badly—need we ask Lysias, or any other poet or orator, who ever wrote or will write either a political or any other work, in metre or out of metre, poet or prose writer, to teach us this?
- Oh dear Pan and all the other Gods of this place, grant that I may be beautiful inside. Let all my external possessions be in friendly harmony with what is within. May I consider the wise man rich. As for gold, let me have as much as a moderate man could bear and carry with him.
- 279 – a prayer of Socrates, as portrayed in the dialogue.
- Friends have all things in common.
- [F]or once touched by love, everyone becomes a poet
- And the true order of going, or being led by another, to the things of love, is to begin from the beauties of earth and mount upwards for the sake of that other beauty, using these steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all fair forms to fair practices, and from fair practices to fair notions, until from fair notions he arrives at the notion of absolute beauty, and at last knows what the essence of beauty is.
- Beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but realities (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may.
- μόγις δὲ τριβόμενα πρὸς ἄλληλα αὐτῶν ἕκαστα, ὀνόματα καὶ λόγοι ὄψεις τε καὶ αἰσθήσεις, ἐν εὐμενέσιν ἐλέγχοις ἐλεγχόμενα καὶ ἄνευ φθόνων ἐρωτήσεσιν καὶ ἀποκρίσεσιν χρωμένων, ἐξέλαμψε φρόνησις περὶ ἕκαστον καὶ νοῦς, συντείνων ὅτι μάλιστ᾽ εἰς δύναμιν ἀνθρωπίνην.
- After much effort, as names, definitions, sights, and other data of sense, are brought into contact and friction one with another, in the course of scrutiny and kindly testing by men who proceed by question and answer without ill will, with a sudden flash there shines forth understanding about every problem, and an intelligence whose efforts reach the furthest limits of human powers.
- It is impossible to conceive of many without one.
- Just as things in a picture, when viewed from a distance, appear to be all in one and the same condition and alike.
- But if with your mind's eye you regard the absolute great and these many great things in the same way, will not another great appear beyond, by which all these must appear to be great?
- Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavored to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits, and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind.
- Section 25b–c
- ἡδονήν, μέγιστον κακοῡ δέλεαρ
- Pleasure, a most mighty lure to evil.
- Section 69d (W. R. M. Lamb's translation); also rendered: pleasure, "the bait of sin" (W.A. Falconer's translation).
- And God designed the earth to be our nurse; also, as she winds round the axis that stretches through her, to be the guardian and maker of night and day, first and most venerable of all the gods that are within the heavens.
- As quoted by Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth (2001)
- τὸν μὲν οὖν ποιητὴν καὶ πατέρα τοῦδε τοῦ παντὸς εὑρεῖν τε ἔργον καὶ εὑρόντα εἰς πάντας ἀδύνατον λέγειν
- I shall assume that your silence gives consent
- Your pride has been too much for the pride of your admirers; they were numerous and high-spirited, but they have all run away, overpowered by your superior force of character; not one of them remains. And I want you to understand the reason why you have been too much for them. You think that you have no need of them or of any other man, for you have great possessions and lack nothing, beginning with the body, and ending with the soul.
- Socrates speaking to Alcibiades
- My love, Alcibiades, which I hardly like to confess, would long ago have passed away, as I flatter myself, if I saw you loving your good things, or thinking that you ought to pass life in the enjoyment of them.
- Socrates speaking to Alcibiades
- As you hope to prove your own great value to the state, and having proved it, to attain at once to absolute power, so do I indulge a hope that I shall be the supreme power over you, if I am able to prove my own great value to you.
- Socrates speaking to Alcibiades
- You want to know whether I can make a long speech, such as you are in the habit of hearing; but that is not my way.
- Socrates speaking to Alcibiades
- Soctates: The shoemaker, for example, uses a square tool, and a circular tool, and other tools for cutting?
- Alcibiades: Yes.
- Soctates: But the tool is not the same as the cutter and user of the tool?
- Alcibiades: Of course not. …
- Soctates: Then what shall we say of the shoemaker? Does he cut with his tools only or with his hands?
- Alcibiades: With his hands as well.
- Soctates: He uses his hands too?
- Alcibiades: Yes. …
- Soctates: And does not a man use the whole body?
- Alcibiades: Certainly.
- Soctates: And that which uses is different from that which is used?
- Alcibiades: True.
- Soctates: Then a man is not the same as his own body?
- Alcibiades: That is the inference.
- Soctates: What is he, then?
- Alcibiades: I cannot say.
- Soctates: Nay, you can say that he is the user of the body.
- Alcibiades: Yes.
- Soctates: And the user of the body is the soul?
- Alcibiades: Yes, the soul.
- [Aristotle] was the most eminent of all the pupils of Plato…. He seceded from Plato while he was still alive; so that they tell a story that [Plato] said, "Aristotle has kicked us off, just as chickens do their mother after they have been hatched."
- ’’The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers’’, Book V, "Life of Aristotle" paragraphs II and IV, as translated by C. D. Yonge
Quotes about Plato
- Sorted chronologically
- Here, first of all men for pure justice famed,
And moral virtue, Aristocles lies;
And if there e'er has lived one truly wise,
This man was wiser still; too great for envy.
- The epigram on his tomb, with what Laërtius reported to be his original name, in: Diogenes Laërtius (tr. C. D. Yonge). The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book III, "Life of Plato", xxx..
- Why write about Plato nearly 2400 years after his death? Don’t we understand him by now? We do and we don’t. But more important than whether humanity’s collective knowledge about Plato, built up over centuries, includes mastery of his systematic philosophy is whether our generation understands Plato at all.
- Danielle Allen, Why Plato Wrote (2010), Prologue: Why Think about Plato?
- What is Plato, but Moses speaking in Attic Greek?
- Aristobulus of Paneas
- Note: The late antique Jewish philosophers considered Plato and Moses, thus Judaism, in concord. Christians inherited this idea and actively learnt Greek philosophers to develop their theoretical thinkings.
- From Plato: the man who has an elevated mind and takes a view of all time and of all substance, dost thou suppose it possible for him to think that human life is anything great? It is not possible, he said. Such a man then will think that death also is no evil.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (c. 161–180 CE) Book VII, #35
- This is a fine saying of Plato: That he who is discoursing about men should look also at earthly things as if he viewed them from some higher place; should look at them…a mixture of all things and an orderly combination of contraries.
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (c. 161–180 CE) Book VII, #48
- Plato held that those souls which in a previous state of existence (antedating Athens) had obtained the clearest glimpses of eternal truth entered into the bodies of persons who became philosophers. Plato himself was a philosopher. The souls that had least contemplated divine truth animated the bodies of usurpers and despots. Dionysius I, who had threatened to decapitate the broad- browed philosopher, was a usurper and a despot. Plato, doubtless, was not the first to construct a system of philosophy that could be quoted against his enemies; certainly he was not the last.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)
- The classifications of 'early' and 'middle-period' dialogues rest squarely on the interpretative theses concerning the progress of Plato's work, philosophically and literarily, outlined above. As such, they are an unsuitable basis for bringing anyone to the reading of these works. To use them in that way is to announce in advance the results of a certain interpretation of the dialogues and to canonize that interpretation under the guise of a presumably objective order of composition—when in fact no such order is objectively known. And it thereby risks prejudicing an unwary reader against the fresh, individual reading that these works demand. For these reasons, I urge readers not to undertake the study of Plato’s works holding in mind the customary chronological groupings of 'early', 'middle', and 'late' dialogues. It is safe to recognize only the group of six late dialogues. Even for these, it is better to relegate thoughts about chronology to the secondary position they deserve and to concentrate on the literary and philosophical content of the works, taken on their own and in relation to the others.
- John M. Cooper, Introduction to Plato's Complete Works (1996)
- Plato's dialogues are writings—books—too; like all books, once written, their words are fixed for all time and all readers. But because they demand that the reader interpret and reinterpret the meaning of what is said, going ever deeper in their own questioning and their own understanding both of the writings themselves and of the truth about the subjects addressed in them, these writings speak in a unique new way to the reader. It may remain true that only a mind, and no book, can contain the knowledge of anything important. But a Platonic dialogue makes a unique claim to do what a book can do to engage a person effectively in the right sort of search for truth.
- John M. Cooper, Introduction to Plato's Complete Works (1996)
- My suggested approach to the reading of Plato pays full respect to this renunciation. But—with the reservations already noted about Plato's openness and experimental spirit—it also accepts the overwhelming impression, not just of Antiochus, but of every modern reader of at least many of his dialogues, that Platonism nonetheless constitutes a systematic body of 'philosophical doctrine'—about the soul and its immortality; the nature of human happiness and its dependence on the perfection of mind and character that comes through the virtues of wisdom, justice, temperance, and courage; the eternal and unaltering Forms whose natures structure our physical world and the world of decent human relations within it; the nature of love and the subservience of love in its genuine form to a vision of that eternal realm. These and many other substantive philosophical ideas to be explored in Plato’s dialogues are his permanent contribution to our Western philosophical culture. But we would fail to heed his own warnings if we did not explore these in a spirit of open-ended inquiry, seeking to expand and deepen our own understandings as we interrogate his texts, and ourselves through them.
- John M. Cooper, Introduction to Plato's Complete Works (1996)
- For the Greeks who believed in the immortality of the soul it may have been harder to accept the Christian preaching of the resurrection than it was for others. … The teaching of the great philosophers Socrates and Plato can in no way be brought into consonance [agreement] with that of the New Testament.
- Oscar Cullmann, The Watchtower magazine, 1 July 1998.
- His considered answer to what God was doing before creating the universe was "the world was made with time and not in time." Augustine's God is a being who transcends time, a being located outside time altogether and responsible for creating time as well as space and matter. Thus Augustine skillfully avoided the problem of why the creation happened at that moment rather than some earlier moment. There were no earlier moments. Identical reasoning applies to the scientific problem. If the universe originated in time, then it cannot have been caused by any physical process that has a finite probability, because if it did, then the event would already have happened, an infinite time ago. ...He wasn't even the first person to hit on the idea of time coming into being with the universe. Plato said much the same thing hundreds of years earlier. The history of philosophy is so rich and diverse that it would be astonishing if theories emerging from science hadn't been foreshadowed in some vague way by somebody.
- Paul Davies, Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe is Just Right for Life (2007)
- Plato had defined Man as an animal, biped and featherless, and was applauded. Diogenes plucked a fowl and brought it into the lecture-room with the words, "Behold Plato's man!"
- He was the first author who wrote treatises in the form of dialogues … And as he argued against almost every one who had lived before his time, it is often asked why he has never mentioned Democritus.
- Xenophon, too, does not appear to have been very friendlily disposed towards him: and accordingly they have, as if in rivalry of one another, both written books with the same title, the Banquet, the Defence of Socrates, Moral Reminiscences. Then, too, the one wrote the Cyropaedia and the other a book on Politics ; and Plato in his Laws says, that the Cyropaedia is a mere romance, for that Cyrus was not such a person as he is described in that book. And though they both speak so much of Socrates, neither of them ever mentions the other, except that Xenophon once speaks of Plato in the third book of his Reminiscences.
- Diogenes Laërtius (tr. C. D. Yonge). The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, Book III, "Life of Plato", xxiv..
- He filled his writings with mathematical discoveries, and exhibited on every occasion the remarkable connection between mathematics and philosophy.
- But it's a false argument, because it assumes somehow that government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly was trying to develop?
- Plato's most enduring influence on science was his advice to approach the study of nature as an exercise in geometry. Through this "geometrization of nature," which could best be done in disciplines that could be suitably idealized, such as astronomy, one can formulate laws that are as "certain" as those in geometry. As Plato has Socrates remark in the Republic: "Let's study astronomy by means of problems, as we do in geometry, and leave the things in the sky alone."
- Note that Plato's influence in this regard, may be traced to the Pythagoreans.
- John Freely, Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe (2012)
- I would not do so much wrong to Plato, but yet I may truly say with Aristotle, that he too much lost himself in, and too much doted upon that, his Geometry: for that in conclusion these Mathematical subtilties, Salviatus, are true in abstract, but applied to sensible and Physical matter, they hold not good. For the Mathematicians will very well demonstrate for example, that Sphæra tangit planum in puncto [the sphere touches the plane at the point]; a position like to that in dispute, but when one cometh to the matter, things succeed quite another way. And so I may say of these angles of contact, and these proportions; which all evaporate into Air, when they are applied to things material and sensible.
- With regard to this question modern physics takes a definite stand against the materialism of Democritus and for Plato and the Pythagoreans. The elementary particles are certainly not eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can actually be transformed into each other. … The elementary particles in Plato's Timaeus are finally not substance but mathematical forms.
- Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy (1958)
- In Plato and to a lesser extent in Aristotle we read that practical concerns are low and vulgar. It follows that business, as an inherently practical enterprise, is hardly worthy of esteem. Given the place of Plato and Aristotle on the intellectual landscape, we have a partial explanation of the disdain that members of the cultural elite have always exhibited toward business.
- Stephen Hicks (2003). "Ayn Rand and Contemporary Business Ethics." Journal of Accounting, Ethics & Public Policy, Volume 3, Number 1 (Winter 2003), pp. 1–26
- Plato was aware that divination is something inferior that pertains to the non-rational soul. The main point is that they [clairvoyants] name their illnesses, especially chronic nervous disorders that are not yet fully developed. Also, rheumatism, toothaches, yield to magnetism. Remarkably, it seems to have an effect on the maladies of menstruation. The somnambulists especially know how to specify these disorders and it is easy to admit that they discover deficiencies. They describe these conditions, but in an entirely ordinary manner, not in the manner of one who understands anatomy. Then they indicate the remedy for their disease.
- Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Spirit, 1827–8
- Friendship in the Greek tradition, in the Roman tradition, in the old tradition, was always viewed as the highest point which virtue can reach. Virtue, meaning here, "the habitual facility of doing the good thing," which is fostered by what the Greeks called politaea, political life, community life. I know it was a political life in which I wouldn't have liked to participate, with the slaves around and with the women excluded, but I still have to go to Plato or to Cicero. They conceived of friendship as a supreme flowering, of the interaction which happens in a good political society.
- Ivan Illich, We the People interview (1996)
- The light dove cleaving in free flight the thin air, whose resistance it feels, might imagine that her movements would be far more free and rapid in airless space. Just in the same way did Plato, abandoning the world of sense because of the narrow limits it sets to the understanding, venture upon the wings of ideas beyond it, into the void space of pure intellect. He did not reflect that he made no real progress by all his efforts; for he met with no resistance which might serve him for a support, as it were, whereon to rest, and on which he might apply his powers, in order to let the intellect acquire momentum for its progress. It is, indeed, the common fate of human reason in speculation, to finish the imposing edifice of thought as rapidly as possible, and then, for the first time to begin to examine whether the foundation is a solid one or no.
- Until the eleventh century, when the thinking of Aristotle reached Western Europe, men had believed along with Plato that man had three ways of knowing:
1. He knew by sense experience.
2. He knew by reason.
3. And he knew by what Plato called Divine madness, or a direct contact with nonphysical reality; myths were one result of this last kind of knowing.
- Morton Kelsey, Myth, History & Faith: The Mysteries of Christian Myth & Imagination (1974)
- In one place revolutionary philosophers went on strike because they got a reading list including Plato, Descartes and other bourgeois idiots, instead of relevant great philosophers like Che Guevara and Mao.
- Leszek Kolakowski, commenting on leftist campus radicals of the 1960s, in "My Correct Views on Everything: A Rejoinder to Edward Thompson's 'Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski'", Socialist Register (1974)
- One profound lesson Plato teachers, albeit not by design, is that Plato himself, considered by many the greatest of all philosophers, could not construct the perfect society. He sought to avoid the disintegration of society and the onset of tyranny, but his solution was a totalitarian City destructive of human nature. Regrettably, Plato provided a philosophical and intellectual brew for a utopian society that would influence tyrannies for centuries to come.
- Mark R. Levin, (2012) Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America, NY: Threshold Editions, ISBN 97814391732544, p. 36
- Plato was the most artistic of philosophers, and, among men of great eminence, one of the worst of investigators; not, assuredly, from deficient power, but from his disastrous misconception of Method. In spite of a certain loitering diffuseness of style, and an oppressive circumstantiality in refuting trivial considerations, no one before Plato, no one since, has managed the extremely difficult art of dramatic debate on philosophic topics with such commanding success; and in consequence of this fascinating art, aided by the union of dialectical subtlety with mystical yearnings, a subtlety which seems to give a hope to mysticism, and a warrant to transcendentalism, no one has exercised a more pernicious influence on culture. The charm of the artist has immortalized the vices of the thinker.
- It is not in Science only that Plato is misled by his Method. The same confidence in deduction from unverified premisses vitiates his teaching in every other department of inquiry, moral and political; but in Science his errors are more patent, because his statements admit of a readier, and less equivocal, confrontation with fact.
- Aristotle feels this so strongly with reference to Plato's external, as contrasted with his own immanent, teleology that, forgetting his own concession elsewhere, he once roundly asserts that the final cause is 'not touched by the Ideas'. Again, what is the relation of the Idea of the Good to other ends (Ideas) or to the special functions of things? Efficient causes Plato attributes at one time to Idea, at another to soul: which is his real doctrine? and what is the relation of Idea to soul? Aristotle, therefore, while willing to admit that Plato made 'stammering' efforts in the direction of efficient and final causes, was perfectly justified in thinking that he had not 'fully worked them out'.
- James McLean Watson, Aristotle's criticisms of Plato (1909)
- These ideas of planning [by dictators and would-be dictators] go back to Plato’s treatise on the form of the commonwealth. Plato was very outspoken. He planned a system ruled exclusively by philosophers. He wanted to eliminate all individual rights and decisions. Nobody should go anywhere, rest, sleep, eat, drink, wash, unless he was told to do so. Plato wanted to reduce persons to the status of pawns in his plan. What is needed is a dictator who appoints a philosopher as a kind of prime minister or president of the central board of production management. The program of all such consistent socialists—Plato and Hitler, for instance—planned also for the production of future socialists, the breeding and education of future members of society.
During the 2300 years since Plato, very little opposition has been registered to his ideas. Not even by Kant. The psychological bias in favor of socialism must be taken into consideration in discussing Marxian ideas. This is not limited to those who call themselves Marxian.
- Amicus Plato—amicus Aristotles—magis amica veritas
(Plato is my friend—Aristotle is my friend—but my greatest friend is truth.)
- Isaac Newton, Quaestiones Quaedam Philosophicae (Certain Philosophical Questions) (c. 1664)
- It is no idle question to wonder whether Plato, if he had stayed free of the Socratic spell, might not have found an even higher type of the philosophical man, now lost to us forever.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits (1878)
- Plato is boring.
- Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols (1888)
- The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
- Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929), Pt. II, ch. 1, sec. 1
- [I]n my early manhood I learned to respect ignorance, to regard ignorance as an object of legitimate interest and reflection; and as I say, a sort of unconsidered preparation for this attitude of mind appears to have run back almost to my infancy. Moreover, when I got around to read Plato, I found that he reinforced and copper-fastened the notion which experience had already rather forcibly suggested, that direct attempts to overcome and enlighten ignorance are a doubtful venture; the notion that it is impossible, as one of my friends puts it, to tell anybody anything which in a very real sense he does not already know. It seemed extraordinary that this should be so. Nevertheless, there it was; and apparently no one could give,—certainly no one, not even Plato, did give,—any more intelligent and satisfying reason why it should be so than I could give; and I could give none at all.
- Albert Jay Nock, Memoirs of a Superflous Man (NY: Harper and Brothers, 1943), pp. 16–17
- Modern man, seeking a middle position in the evaluation of sense impression and thought, can, following Plato, interpret the process of understanding nature as a correspondence, that is, a coming into congruence of pre-existing images of the human psyche with external objects and their behaviour. Modern man, of course, unlike Plato, looks on the pre-existent original images also as not invariable, but as relative to the development of a conscious point of view, so that the word "dialectic" which Plato is fond of using may be applied to the process of development of human knowledge.
- Plato is the essential Buddha-seeker who appears again and again in each generation, moving onward and upward toward the "one." Aristotle is the eternal motorcycle mechanic who prefers the "many."
- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)
- Socrates had only one worthy successor, his old friend Antisthenes, the last of the Great Generation. Plato, his most gifted disciple, was soon to prove the least faithful. He betrayed Socrates, just as his uncles had done. These, besides betraying Socrates, had also tried to implicate him in their terrorist acts, but they did not succeed, since he resisted. Plato tried to implicate Socrates in his grandiose attempt to construct the theory of the arrested society ; and he had no difficulty in succeeding, for Socrates was dead.
I know of course that this judgement will seem outrageously harsh, even to those who arc critical of Plato . But if we look upon the Apology and the Crito as Socrates' last will, and if we compare these testaments of his old age with Plato's testament, the Laws, then it is difficult to judge otherwise. Socrates had been condemned, but his death was not intended by the initiators of the trial. Plato's Laws remedy this lack of intention. Here he elaborates coolly and carefully the theory of inquisition. Free thought, criticism of political institutions, teaching new ideas to the young, attempts to introduce new religious practices or even opinions, are all pronounced capital crimes. In Plato's state, Socrates might have never been given the opportunity of defending himself publicly ; he would have been handed over to the secret Nocturnal Council for the purpose of 'attending' to his diseased soul, and finally for punishing it.
I cannot doubt the fact of Plato's betrayal, nor that his use of Socrates as the main speaker of the Republic was the most successful attempt to implicate him. But it is another question whether this attempt was conscious.
- Socrates had refused to compromise his personal integrity. Plato, with all his uncompromising canvas-cleaning, was led along a path on which he compromised his integrity with every step he took. He was forced to combat free thought and the pursuit of truth. He was led to defend lying, political miracles, tabooistic superstition, the suppression of truth, and ultimately, brutal violence. …
The lesson which we thus should learn from Plato is the exact opposite of what he tries to teach us. It is a lesson which must not be forgotten. Excellent as Plato's sociological diagnosis was, his own development proves that the therapy he recommended is worse than the evil he tried to combat.
- Karl Popper (1947, 2011), The Open Society And Its Enemies. Vol I: The Spell of Plato, p. 189.
- Plato certainly shows something significant. It is on average better to be just. The unjust man must always fear that others will discover his in justices and defend themselves against him, and is exposed to anxieties the just man escapes.
- Alan Ryan, Introduction in Justice (1993) edited by Alan Ryan
- Knowing why Plato took the short way he did is important, because philosophers, political theorists, and many rulers have been tempted to follow him; but, as Aristotle complained, Plato does not so much purify politics as purify it to death.
- Alan Ryan, On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present (2012), Ch. 2 : Plato and Antipolitics
- We can imagine that the Academy, which could be attended only by men of leisure, was a cradle of discontent. The author of the Laws was a disgruntled old man, full of political rancor, fearing and hating the crowd and above all their demagogues; his prejudices had crystallized and he had become an old doctrinaire, unable to see anything but the reflections of his own personality and to hear anything but the echoes of his own thoughts. The worst of it was that he, a noble Athenian, admired the very Spartans who had defeated and humiliated his fatherland. Plato was witnessing a social revolution (even as we are) and he could not bear it at all. His main concern was: how could one stop it.
- George Sarton, A History of Science (1952), Vol. 1 p. 409
- The New Deal gave us a proliferation of alphabetized federal agencies to do what Plato envisioned could be done, namely to plan for and direct the course of economic systems.
- Butler Shaffer (2012). The Wizards of Ozymandias: Reflections on the Decline and Fall, Auburn, Alabama: Mises Institute, ISBN 978-1-610160-252-4, p. 108
- Philosophers from Plato to John Dewey have been keenly aware that good or bad education is primarily a matter of good or bad philosophy.
- Christina Hoff Sommers, "Feminism and Resentment", Reason Papers, No. 18, Fall 1993, pp. 1–15
- [A] eugenist does not have to be a Darwinian. Plato, for example, was a eugenist thousands of years before Darwinism was thought of.
- Plato's discovery went as follows.
- It is possible for something to be a certain way and for something else to be the same way.
- There are universals.
- (Tumultuous applause, which lasts, despite occasional subsidences, 2,400 years.)[…]
- 'Universals' is simply the name philosophers give to the ways in which two or more things can be the same.
- David Stove (1995). Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution, ISBN 185972 306 3
- A History of Western Philosophy, Ch. XII~XVIII.
- Works available on-line:
- Perseus Project : Greek & English hyperlinked text
- Works of Plato (Jowett, 1892)
- Works by Plato at Project Gutenberg
- Plato complete works, annotated and searchable, at ELPENOR
- Euthyphro LibriVox recording
- Ion LibriVox recording
- Quick Links to Plato's Dialogues (English, Greek, French, Spanish)
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
- Other Articles:
- Excerpt from W.K.C. Guthrie, A History of Greek Philosophy, vol. IV, Plato: the man and his dialogues, earlier period, Cambridge University Press, 1989, pp. 8-38
- Website on Plato and his works: Plato and his dialogues by Bernard Suzanne
- Are there really Platonic forms?
- "Plato and Totalitarianism: A Documentary Study"
- The New Academy
- Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) : Plato and Platonism
- Plato Bibliography at PlatoGeek
- Online library "Vox Philosophiae"