The Philosophical thought of Plato
Philosophy refers to the study of thoughts relating to truth, knowledge, meaning of nature, and the meaning of life. Philosophy offers the humankind a basis on how to judge right from wrong and how to do what is considered right in the society. Ancient Greek philosophers (Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates) paved the way for studying human philosophy from different angles of life. The mentioned pioneers of philosophy are regarded as western masters of the field of philosophy (Mitchell). Philosophy should be studied in details as it encompasses a vast area of our lives as human beings. The three western masters revealed this notion by studies that they had conducted previously. Of the three western philosophers, Plato will be of more concern in this paper. Plato was a student to the Socrates. He was also the educator of Aristotle. Plato was a western philosopher from Athens. Plato was also considered a mathematician. Plato’s descent comes from Codrus, Athens, Melanthus, and to the king of Messenia. Plato’s mother was called Perictyone. She had four children. In addition, Plato’s mother also ended up being a philosopher like his son, so that she could advocate for women’s ideals and issues.
Plato’s view on philosophy was based on ideas. He referred to it as the theory of ideas. His scrutiny on ideas was that they are objects of knowledge in an epistemological way rather than ontologically. According to politics and ethics, Plato’s ideas are considered to be the groundwork for good behavior in human beings. Plato’s ideas are the foundation for his dualism theories on life. He defends two types of realities. The two types are in the form of two worlds: the intelligible world and the sensible world. Plato also refers to the intelligible world as the world of ideas.
The intelligible world according to Plato is that of three realities. The three realities are eternal, invisible, and universal realities. He defines the three realities as being immutable and dynamic in that, they do not change because they are not material in nature and neither are they temporal or space related. Ideas can be identified and understood because they are a valid reality. Ideas subsist as independent beings and objectives of our human conscience. They also exist as concepts of our human minds. Ideas also are the origin of sensible things thus the reason why Plato does not deny the reality of sensible things unlike his other counterparts like Parmenides of Elea who deny sensibility and the occurrence of sensibility.
Sensible world also referred to as sensible reality according to Plato’s philosophy refers to the world of realities existing individually. These worlds may exist in more than one form and can always change constantly like the world of destruction and generation. He explains this reality as being the area of temporal, spatial, materialistic, and sensible things.
In essence, Plato’s philosophical thought determines that there are definite universal, independent things, which differ from the sensible real world. First, Plato argues that science based on just sensation to determine truth is not possible because it does not change things scientifically. He gives this notion because science must always be based on a motive, which studies ideas or nature.
Second, Plato argues that language differs in various geographical areas. He says that some terms are universally known and often mean a similar idea to most people; therefore, they should match a certain specific concept. For this reason Plato assumes that there should exist an amount of universal forms to match the universal concepts.
Third, Plato argues that science cannot work with continuously changing things as those found in a sensible world. It is for this reason that Plato says that science cannot be used to study sensible world knowledge, but instead it can be used to study a world that is immutable in nature. Plato gave an example of an immutable reality as mathematics and a superior knowledge also known as dialectic. He gave his support regarding mathematical knowledge as being a reason that is universally exact. Plato thinks mathematical knowledge is an exact reality of real things because mathematics refers to immutable ideas.
Comparison with non-Western systems of philosophy
The non-western systems of philosophy that have been accepted are partly grouped geographically. The philosophies are grouped into four parts namely African philosophy, East Asian philosophy, Southern Asia philosophy, and Persian and Arabic philosophy. As compared to their western counterparts who work in relation to logic, non-western philosophers do not quite adhere to logic.
Multiple non-western philosophers have emerged and are still emerging. They either work in relation with the three founders of western philosophy, or they work against the three founders of philosophy. An example of a non-western philosopher is Perictyone.
Perictyone was a female Greek philosopher. She was a descendant of Solon and the mother of Plato. The Perictyone philosophy argues that while the other subjects study a meticulous feature of humanity, philosophy is concerned with everything that is in existence.
The women philosophers of ancient Greece did not have the same respect as their male counterparts thus their works were not taken as being important. This notion led to most of their philosophical theories being dismissed. Even though the female philosophers were not taken seriously, the work of Perictyone was discovered to bear some sense. Mary Ellen Waithe says that even though the female’s studies were considered to be forgery, Plato’s mother’s views were only being discriminated upon simply because of her gender (Waithe).
Perictyone philosophical theory was mainly based on answering questions regarding harmony brought about by virtue. She was more into justice, mostly suited to women’s lives unlike Plato’s work. Perictyone tells women that in order for them to live a virtuous life, they must rule fairly over their homes. Failure to justly rule, they are bound to fail towards achieving harmony and in the long run, they will face suffering. This theme is platonic in nature as it is raised in multiple dialogues inclusive of the Crito. Perictyone also compares virtue amidst temperance and wisdom. She claims that opinion leads to a void, which sequentially brings about adversities and damage, which a woman should be able to control. The terminologies and claims of the Perictione theories of philosophy are a lucid signal that Perictyone was familiar with Plato’s work and thus she was trying to compare her theory with that of Plato.
The above Perictyone theory belongs to Perictyone the first. Very little is known of Perictyone the second even though a second Perictyone is existent in the ancient Greek female philosophers.
Mitchell, Helen Buss. Roots of Wisdom: A Tapestry of Philosophical Traditions. Boston, Massachusetts: Cengage Learning, 2010.
Waithe, Mary Ellen. A History of Women Philosophers: Ancient Women Philosophers. Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, 1987.