Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Plato (427–347 BCE)
Plato was the first ancient Greek political philosopher and indeed the first philosopher to leave a large and systematic body of work exploring the relationship between ethics, politics, metaphysics, and epistemology. His importance is such that Alfred North Whitehead famously described all European philosophy as a series of “footnotes to Plato” (1978, p. 39); he also founded the first prototype of the modern university, known as the Academy, where Aristotle studied under him. He is often seen as the founder of utopianism, though the word was invented by the sixteenth-century humanist and Platonist Thomas More, and so it is in strict terms an anachronism to use it of Plato. Living in the ancient democracy of Athens (punctuated in his young manhood by two oligarchic coups) and witness to the trial and execution by the democracy of his revered teacher Socrates, Plato left the city for some years afterward, traveling probably ...