plato's idea of philosophy

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Platos Idea of philosophyPLATOS IDEA OF PHILOSOPHY

Project submitted toxyz(Faculty: Public International Law)

Project submitted byabc(Political Science, major)Semester VRoll no. 14



I am highly elated to carry out my research on the topic, Platos Idea of Philosophy. I would like to give my deepest regard to my course teacher XYZ, who held me with her immense advice, direction and valuable assistance, which enabled me to march ahead with this topic. I would like to thank my friends, who gave me their precious time for guidance and helped me a lot in completing my project by giving their helpful suggestion and assistance. I would like to thank my seniors for their valuable support. I would also like to thank the library staff and computer lab staff of my university for their valuable support and kind cooperation.

ABC Semester V





"Platonism" is a term coined by scholars to refer to the intellectual consequences of denying, as Plato's Socrates often does, the reality of the material world. In several dialogues, most notably the Republic, Socrates inverts the common man's intuition about what is knowable and what is real. While most people take the objects of their senses to be real if anything is, Socrates is contemptuous of people who think that something has to be graspable in the hands to be real. In the Theaetetus, he says such people are "eu a-mousoi", an expression that means literally, "happily without the muses" (Theaetetus 156a). In other words, such people live without the divine inspiration that gives him, and people like him, access to higher insights about reality.[footnoteRef:2] [2: Nails, Debra (2002). The People of Plato: A Prosopography of Plato and Other Socratics. Hackett Publishing. ISBN 0-87220-564-9. p247]

Socrates's idea that reality is unavailable to those who use their senses is what puts him at odds with the common man, and with common sense. Socrates says that he who sees with his eyes is blind, and this idea is most famously captured in his allegory of the cave, and more explicitly in his description of the divided line. The allegory of the cave (begins Republic 7.514a) is a paradoxical analogy wherein Socrates argues that the invisible world is the most intelligible ("noeton") and that the visible world ("(h)oraton") is the least knowable, and the most obscure.Socrates says in the Republic that people who take the sun-lit world of the senses to be good and real are living pitifully in a den of evil and ignorance. Socrates admits that few climb out of the den, or cave of ignorance, and those who do, not only have a terrible struggle to attain the heights, but when they go back down for a visit or to help other people up, they find themselves objects of scorn and ridicule.[footnoteRef:3] [3: Rodriguez- Grandjean, Pablo. Philosophy and Dialogue: Plato's Unwritten Doctrines from a Hermeneutical Point of View, Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy, in Boston, Massachusetts from August 1015, 1998.]

According to Socrates, physical objects and physical events are "shadows" of their ideal or perfect forms, and exist only to the extent that they instantiate the perfect versions of themselves. Just as shadows are temporary, inconsequential epiphenomena produced by physical objects, physical objects are themselves fleeting phenomena caused by more substantial causes, the ideals of which they are mere instances. For example, Socrates thinks that perfect justice exists (although it is not clear where) and his own trial would be a cheap copy of it.The allegory of the cave (often said by scholars to represent Plato's own epistemology and metaphysics) is intimately connected to his political ideology (often said to also be Plato's own), that only people who have climbed out of the cave and cast their eyes on a vision of goodness are fit to rule. Socrates claims that the enlightened men of society must be forced from their divine contemplations and be compelled to run the city according to their lofty insights. Thus is born the idea of the "philosopher-king", the wise person who accepts the power thrust upon him by the people who are wise enough to choose a good master. This is the main thesis of Socrates in the Republic, that the most wisdom the masses can muster is the wise choice of a ruler.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Irwin, T. H., "The Platonic Corpus" in Fine, G. (ed.),The Oxford Handbook of Plato(Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 71.]


1. To have a detailed study of the relation of Philosophy and Art. 2. To discuss the various theories as propounded by Plato which show his idea of Philosophy.

3. To differentiate the conceptual importance of dialogues in Platos theories and directions given by him.


The method of research adopted for the project is the analytical and descriptive method.The texts that were used for the project include articles, research papers and news given in various websites as well as online journals

RELATION OF PHILOSOPHY AND ARTIn the Republic, Plato voices his ambivalence toward poetry and poesis in general. Plato admires art for its great inspirational power, but at the same time detests it because its creator has no grasp of the truth.[footnoteRef:5] He states that the artist produces an insubstantial imitation of objects in the sensible world that are themselves less real than the forms, which comprise reality itself. Further, he argues that the appeal of poesis stems solely from its ability to arouse the emotions by gratifying the irrational, appetitive part of the soul while destroying the rational part. Consequently, poesis is psychologically damaging in its subversion of reason[footnoteRef:6]. The vehemence of Platos attack results from his desire to supplant art with philosophy as the major source of education in Athenian society. Poesis itself, in fact, has the same advantages and disadvantages as philosophy. [5: Plato. Ion. Trans. Paul Woodruff. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.] [6: Plato. Republic. 14 October 2003. .]

Many of Platos charges against poesis apply to philosophy itself and his own methods of writing philosophy. Just as the enchanting rhythms and captivating images of poesis may seduce an audience with their beauty, so too may the tight syllogisms and authoritative pronouncements in the dialectic of philosophy may elicit emotional response. It is unfair and, moreover, erroneous for Plato to conceive of poesis as exclusive of rationality, and similarly, of philosophy as independent of the faculty of emotion. Philosophy is a form of art, for the medium through which it operates, speech, is imitation, and art is, by Platos definition, imitation. It follows that a philosopher is an imitator whose representation of reality is limited by the extent to which words approximate an object, and further, the approximation of the object to the reality of the forms. Conversely, poesis is a form of philosophy, for its comprehension too involves intellectual contemplation and an active use of the consciousness.Through thoughtful reflection, both philosophy and art are capable of evoking knowledge of the forms. Both, therefore, are valid means of operating through and yet transcending imitation in the pursuit of truth. Although the purpose of philosophy is to attain authentic knowledge of the good and other forms, the word-images through which the philosopher speaks are ultimately imitations of objects that possess certain qualities of such forms. Like the representations produced by poesis, speech too is an imperfect mode of communication, thrice-removed from reality. The mortal soul is perplexed and cannot adequately grasp the forms, and so it discourses not about reality itself, but about the imperfect manifestations of reality, which are necessarily inferior. Hence, words are doubly imitations, because they describe objects that are themselves less real than the forms. Thrasymachus implies that words are inadequate to transmit truth when he says that Socrates has been talking nonsense and asks the philosopher to define justice clearly and exactly After Socrates shows Thrasymachus that injustice is not more profitable than justice, the latter retaliates, Enjoy your banquet of words!. He implies that he has been tricked by mere technicalities, definitions, into a concession. His statement hints not only at the insufficiency of words, but also at the aesthetic seductiveness of speech.Furthermore, since speech necessarily misrepresents the truth to some degree, so too does the philosopher, who, though he may try to explain the forms, inevitably fails and remains an imitator. Plato makes Socrates confess that he has no adequate knowledge of it [the good] but that he is willing to explain what is apparently an offspring of the good and most like it despite Socrates disclaimer that it is not right to talk about things one doesnt know as if one does know them. Nevertheless, the simple act of trying to explain the good without complete knowledge of it makes him an inexact imitator. The philosopher may even, consciously or otherwise, distort words for the purpose of persuading his audience and thereby make his imitation of reality only more inaccurate.[footnoteRef:7] [7: Plato. Republic. Trans. G.M.A. Grube. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.]

Thrasymachus claims that the Socratic


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