From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Former good article nomineePlato was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
October 28, 2006Good article nomineeNot listed


This part:

However, it must be taken into account that the ideal city outlined in the Republic is qualified by Socrates as the ideal luxurious city, examined to determine how it is that injustice and justice grow in a city (Republic 372e). According to Socrates, the "true" and "healthy" city is instead the one first outlined in book II of the Republic, 369c–372d, containing farmers, craftsmen, merchants, and wage-earners, but lacking the guardian class of philosopher-kings as well as delicacies such as "perfumed oils, incense, prostitutes, and pastries", in addition to paintings, gold, ivory, couches, a multitude of occupations such as poets and hunters, and war.

This isn't entirely true, as that would preclude the classes of artist, poet, writer and philosopher, and would thus preclude knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Even though that's what Socrates states, it's not meant to be interpreted as an absolute. In fact, the only ones unnecessary to his state are the aristocrats, and those concerned with acquisition of wealth or power and the warrior class of guardians, which he replaces with philosophers, who should lead other people from the den of ignorance. He in fact discards/disposes of the entire idea of a warrior guardian class in book VI, I believe; see my notes in Talk:Republic#Comedy. Although I doubt 'king' in the context of philosopher is meant to be taken literally either; or rather, it's about the adherence to principles such as philosophy, justice, truth, wisdom, etc... (talk) 05:34, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

Also, this part:

Aristocracy is the form of government (politeia) advocated in Plato's Republic. This regime is ruled by a philosopher king, and thus is grounded on wisdom and reason.

As I noted previously on that talk page. This is incorrect. That is Plato's 'imagined aristocracy', as that's not what aristocracy means to him, or to most people familiar with the term. The 2 best examples are as follows (from the talk page):

(end of book IX) "I understand; you mean that he will be a ruler in the city of which we are the founders, and which exists in idea only; for I do not believe that there is such an one anywhere on earth?" - "But whether such an one exists, or ever will exist in fact, is no matter;" (biblical parts omitted)

Thus proving that such a state has never existed, and defining aristocracy in its original sense. Wiki needs to stop subverting the word aristocracy, because that's not what it means in practicality, only in the dreams of philosophers and in some cases of political rhetoriticians. :\

(beginning of book I) "I believe that Periander or Perdiccas or Xerxes or Ismenias the Theban, or some other rich and mighty man, who had a great opinion of his own power, was the first to say that justice is 'doing good to your friends and harm to your enemies.'"

Thus defined as I have always defined it - Aristocracy; those in 'power' who 'believe' themselves to be of the 'best' stock/breed/race/class. (key words 'who had a great opinion of his own power'), since 'the best' is a mostly subjective term.

The question I'm really asking is: Is it liked by the gods because it is 'the best', or is it 'the best' because it is liked by the 'gods' (aka aristocrats)? Think about that...

Most opinions seem to be of the sort that he was defining a just state, when he began with his description of aristocracy, or 'the first state', but he was in fact describing Sparta (Lacedaemon), an unjust and self-contradictory state; a parody of a state, leaving it up to the reader to realize how injustice becomes justice if you simply take his word for it, thus chasing a shadow. He later claims, in order to confuse the matter further, that the state just described is Sparta and defines it as timocracy; twice marking sarcastically that Sparta/Crete are often held in 'high regard'; this after the reign of the Thirty Tyrants... (talk) 06:19, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

Here's the part where he places Crete and Sparta before oligarchies, as timocracies (beginning of book VIII):

That question, I said, is easily answered: the four governments of which I spoke, so far as they have distinct names, are, first, those of Crete and Sparta, which are generally applauded; what is termed oligarchy comes next;

But that's the exact state he just he described in the previous chapters (Sparta), naming it aristocracy; as he says 'the four governments of which I spoke', and he already spoke of 'the first' in this ironic twist; thus redefining it as timocracy (the first of the four). I seriously hope society is not modeled after the more farcical interpretation of it actually being the 'ideal state'. :D

Although it's unclear to me if he actually delineated between Crete/Sparta in his previous descriptions. I only picked up the references to Spartan social structure and polity in those statements. If references to Crete do exist, they are unknown to me. (talk) 06:49, 27 September 2017 (UTC)

  • Removed the first paragraph given above, seems to lack a reference, appear to be interpretation. IP, Plato describes these "philosopher kings" as "those who love the sight of truth" (Republic 475c) and supports the idea with the analogy of a captain and his ship or a doctor and his medicine. According to him, sailing and health are not things that everyone is qualified to practice by nature. A large part of the Republic then addresses how the educational system should be set up to produce these philosopher kings. Thus a distinction from the typical understanding of aristocracy, to my understanding never tested before. prokaryotes (talk) 19:50, 30 January 2018 (UTC)

The 'typical' interpretation of the Aristocracy? Of course they've always thought of themselves as 'the best' stock/breed/race/class; and that's how they defined it. But everyone else, not just Plato, defines it as those who 'believe themselves' to be the best; subjectivity. I've now trawled through several anti-aristocratic articles here on wiki (Faust, Hamlet, Republic, etc...) and all of them appear to be pro-aristocratic? Wiki resembles a literal farce for pseudo-intellectuals at this point. (talk) 06:59, 28 February 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 28 November 2017[edit]

The last sentence in the second paragraph - " This would justify the superiority of Christianity over Hellenism because Moses predates Plato—thus the original source of this wisdom is the root of Christianity and not Hellenistic culture.[12]" should be cut; this page is no place for religious value judgements. Redandblue32 (talk) 07:00, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

@Redandblue32: It's sourced to
"God the Creator, God the Creation: Numenius' Interpretation of Genesis 1:2 (frg. 30) by Robbert M. Van Den Berg"
with no link to this work. This is the most frustrating thing about people adding sources here that aren't online: there's no real way to confirm anything. Do you have access to this? What does it say? CityOfSilver 08:13, 28 November 2017 (UTC)
Not done for now: Try checking for the book on Google Books or another library. ToThAc (talk) 16:17, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

The heading of an article should consist in an introduction and summary of the article content. The influence of Plato on religions, and particularly Christianity, is clear, but it happens that for the time being has not been treated in the body of the article. My opinion is to suppress all information related to this subject from the heading, until it is properly treated in the body.--Auró (talk) 22:48, 28 November 2017 (UTC)

Done.--Auró (talk) 21:59, 2 December 2017 (UTC)
It doesn't say "Christianity IS superior to Hellenism" it says "Christianity WOULD be superior to Hellenism" that is, if the preceding likening of Moses to Plato were truthful.The New Classic (talk) 01:36, 14 April 2018 (UTC)

Was it Plato or Socrates?[edit]


Socrates is extremely important for Plato, but...[edit]

Please on the Wikipedia page titled Socrates, we must add more fragmented citations about Socrates, from people of Socrates' generation, or one generation after. We need more exo-Platonic citations, in order we can understand who Socrates really was. In ancient times, they had other texts about Socrates written by people close to his times, but complete texts are all losts. Only some comments do exist, but we haven't mentioned them all. We must be specific about the near meta-Socratic period, because many years afar from Socrates' death, people commented only the Platonic pseudo-Socrates but not the actual Socrates.

The actual Socrates, probably was very close to the Platonic one but:

  1. the actual Socrates did speak to philosophically unready people during their work, and these average people didn't understand what the philosophical method is, so they believed that Socrates was merely blasphemous about them personally and about tradition. Analytical thought is perceived as mere blasphemy by the unready mind. Plato was wiser enough to change his approach per public, even to choose public.
  2. the actual Socrates did not conclude his dialogues as strictly as Plato. Socrates was more agnostic about conclusions, but Plato forces his characters to promote his social status and the Athenian status quo
we need more fragmented citations from other people who lived close to Socrates' time to support that

The comments above were unsigned by others, response follow:

Frankly, your second point only holds true if you're reading Plato incorrectly. Republic, as a perfect example, is completely misinterpreted here on wiki. In fact, it's some sort of sick joke; a travesty. Republic is a comedy about Athenian politics, it does not support the status quo and in fact opposes it. Various other texts like Crito, for example, make jokes about the Gods not being real, and sarcastically remark that the craftsmen was the original maker of the bed, and God is 3 times removed from the truth... These misconceptions arise from the poor level of reading comprehension in modern society, and the 'official narrative' published by 'trusted' or 'credible' (or rather incredible) sources, such as wiki and other pseudo-intellectuals. (talk) 22:09, 28 February 2018 (UTC)


Personally, I will not engage anymore in this struggle about "Form" and "Idea" , beyond stating my opinion that capitalizing technical terms eases necessary discrimination from their every day meaning. The difference in meaning when talking about an "idea", and reflecting the aspects of an "Idea" in an ignorant "form", or respecting some "Form" is not negligible.

Perhaps one could discuss obliteration of any capitals (english) in English, and of course in German too, which is probably the unruly source of this behaviour against all WP-rules, even when capitalizing is targeted to ease some deficit in erudition. Purgy (talk) 07:11, 1 March 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 8 May 2018[edit]

Plato is very synonomous with the Three-Classical Problems. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:31, 8 May 2018 (UTC)

Invention of writing[edit]

Was it Plato who said that the invention of writing was a terrible idea, because it would worsen human memory? If it was, and some one can reliable sources for it, this could be mentioned in the article. Vorbee (talk) 20:48, 24 July 2018 (UTC)

@Vorbee: Plato never said that the invention of writings was a "terrible idea," but he does attribute the following story about the invention of writing to Socrates in his dialogue Phaedrus. The translation here is from Benjamin Jowett and is in the public domain:

At the Egyptian city of Naucratis, there was a famous old god, whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis is sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters. Now in those days the god Thamus was the king of the whole country of Egypt; and he dwelt in that great city of Upper Egypt which the Hellenes call Egyptian Thebes, and the god himself is called by them Ammon. To him came Theuth and showed his inventions, desiring that the other Egyptians might be allowed to have the benefit of them; he enumerated them, and Thamus enquired about their several uses, and praised some of them and censured others, as he approved or disapproved of them. It would take a long time to repeat all that Thamus said to Theuth in praise or blame of the various arts. But when they came to letters, This, said Theuth, will make the Egyptians wiser and give them better memories; it is a specific both for the memory and for the wit. Thamus replied: O most ingenious Theuth, the parent or inventor of an art is not always the best judge of the utility or inutility of his own inventions to the users of them. And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves. The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.

Plato's intention in telling this story was not to show that the invention of writing was a "terrible idea," but rather to show that every great invention bears unforeseen negative consequences that the inventor cannot possibly be aware of when he invents it and that the inventor is never the best judge of an invention's usefulness. --Katolophyromai (talk) 21:00, 24 July 2018 (UTC)


In the last sentence of the first paragraph, Plato's greatness is compared to other philosophers such as: Kant and Aquinas. Besides the fact that this statement is highly subjective and has therefore no place in a neutral article, it is not particularly explained or proven why those philosophers might equal Plato in greatness. In addition, since I assume this article and this page mainly to be for people who don't know much yet about philosophy and/or Plato, this information isn't really relevant either. Because of all mentioned above, I would suggest to remove that sentence from the article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Γεωργος ζευς (talkcontribs) 12:56, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

@Γεωργος ζευς: It is worth pointing out that the sentence you are referring to is a direct quotation from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and it is not talking about how "great" Plato is, but rather his reputation among philosophers today. The sentence says: "...perhaps only Aristotle (who studied with him), Aquinas and Kant would be generally agreed to be of the same rank." The key words here are "generally agreed to be." I do think, however, that the body of the article (quite unfortunately) does not describe enough about the enduring influence of Plato's philosophy on western civilization, which makes this statement in the lead largely unsupported by the body. Also, I think it would be better for us to have our own description of Plato's reputation, rather than simply quoting the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. --Katolophyromai (talk) 13:44, 16 August 2018 (UTC)

Inadvertent imperialist implication in introduction[edit]

In the introduction I found this statement:

He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition.

If Plato is considered the pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, period, then that means he is considered the pivotal figure in the development of philosophy in Greece, India, China, and so on. This is absurd because, after all, these other traditions were independent of the Greek tradition, so that Plato had nothing to do with what happened in their development; it cannot then be said that anything in those traditions pivoted about Plato.

The obvious problem is that the editor uses the convention of applying the term philosophy broadly to denote intellectual traditions whose practitioners did not call their traditions "philosophy." But that is a little like using English to denote all other languages, because no general word like language exists to denote them all as specimens of the same thing. It is therefore a convenience.

But the statement I have called to attention is not a matter of convenience—its implications are rather imperialist; it is the result of the unthinkingly reflexive use of the broad sense of philosophy.

We must be careful not to treat the conventional use of philosophy in the broad sense as if it were not controversial, never problematic, or never simply wrong, nor treat as wrong or politically incorrect the narrow use of philosophy to denote the tradition whose practitioners have used philosophy as the name for what they do because one of their practitioners coined that name early in the tradition. Because let's face it: when any ordinary person in "the West" uses the term philosophy, they do not intend to refer to what ordinary people call "Eastern philosophy," but only to the tradition that began with Thales and that continues in the work of men and women like John Searle or Martha Nussbaum. Not to acknowledge this is also imperialist, for the refusal to acknowledge it rests on the presupposition that Indians and the Chinese themselves consider what they do to be the same as what we do, and believe it to be appropriate for us "to include" them in our category. Sounds downright patronizing to me.

As a compromise, I am going to distinguish the two senses and represent Plato as pivotal in our tradition, as influential in ours as Confucius, etc. Wordwright (talk) 16:24, 16 September 2018 (UTC)