Legendary Philosophers


Book Details

Author  Charles River Editors
Publication Date   August 17, 2012
Pages  32


*Discusses Plato's philosophy and ideas about knowledge, reason, Forms, political science, rhetoric and more.
*Includes busts and other art depicting Plato and important people and events.
*Includes a Bibliography for further reading.
*Includes a Table of Contents

"Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy, and political greatness and wisdom meet in one, and those commoner natures who pursue either to the exclusion of the other are compelled to stand aside, cities will never have rest from their evils — no, nor the human race, as I believe — and then only will this our State have a possibility of life and behold the light of day.” – Plato, The Republic

A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history’s most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? Among all the knowledge and pursuits handed down by our ancestors, few were as important as philosophy, which literally taught people how to think and became directly responsible for ideas like reason and empiricism. Men like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle formed the backbone of Western philosophy, and subsequent philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Thomas Aquinas expounded on previous philosophy. In Charles River Editors’ Legendary Philosophers series, readers can get caught up to speed on the lives of the most important philosophers in history in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.

In 427 B.C., the Ancient Greek city-state of Athens was flourishing. Approximately 80 years earlier, the Athenians had formed the first self-representative democracy in history, the Peloponnesian War against Sparta had only just started, and Socrates was only beginning to lay the foundation of what would become Western philosophy. That year Plato was born to a wealthy family, and with an uncle who was close friends with Socrates, Plato was seemingly destined to become a philosopher. By the end of his life, Plato had indeed become the foremost philosopher of his time, and perhaps the most famous philosopher in Western history.

None of Socrates’ works survived antiquity, so most of what is known about him came from the writings of his followers, most notably Plato. What is known about Socrates is that he seemed to make a career out of philosophy, and Plato was intent on following in his footsteps. Yet for all of the influence of Socrates’ life on Plato, it was Socrates’ death around 399 B.C. that truly shaped him. Plato was so embittered by Socrates’ trial in Athens that he completely soured on Athenian democracy, and he began to travel around the Mediterranean, studying topics like mathematics, honing his approach to philosophical thinking, and continuing to refine his philosophical beliefs.

About a decade later, Plato returned to Athens and founded his famous Platonic Academy around 387 B.C., which he oversaw for 40 years until his death. One of Plato’s philosophical beliefs was that writing down teachings was less valuable than passing them down orally, and several of Plato’s writings are responses to previous writings of his, so Plato’s personally held beliefs are hard to discern. However, Plato educated several subsequent philosophers, chief among them Aristotle, and his writings eventually formed the backbone of Western philosophy.

Legendary Philosophers: The Life and Philosophy of Plato chronicles Plato’s life, but it also discusses his canon of work, examines his philosophy in depth, and analyzes his enduring legacy. Along with pictures of important people in his life, you will learn about Plato like you never have before, in no time at all.

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