Biography of Platón (427-347 a.C.)


Greek philosopher born in Athens in 427 BC and died in the same city in 347 BC author of a vast, lavish production in masterpieces, even from the literary point of view, Plato is one of the greatest geniuses that humanity has had. Collecting the seed of his teacher Socrates, and opposing sophistically relativism, it applied, guided by his prodigious intuition, in search of the truth. This project, implemented during all his life, was born a philosophy about the ideas, that marked forever philosophical developments of the West.

Life and works

Descendant of aristocratic family, his real name was Áristocles, but was known by Plato (due, perhaps, to the width of your shoulders). He/She started the philosophy of Cratylus heraclitical hand, but the fact that definitely would mark his life and the style of his writings (in the form of dialogues) was his encounter, when he/she was 20 years old, with Socrates. After the death of his master, he/she left Athens to go to Megara and, then, to the 388, to the South of Italy, where he/she came into contact with the Pythagorean Archytas in Taranto, thanks to which the pythagoreanism will be very present in the doctrine of Plato. He/She was always in the mood give Configurator thrust to the social and political reality. But after the unjust and shameful condemnation and execution that was Socrates, he/she decided to abandon the exercise of policy. However, made a first attempt to put into practice the ideals I had about the Republic, in Syracuse, being tyrant Dionisio I. Its purposes have been thwarted. By intrigues of the own Dionisio, Plato was sold as a slave, and this would have been his destiny if Anniceris, old school-fellow theirs, would have no recognized and paid his ransom. To return to Athens, Plato wanted to return their bailout money to Anniceris, but this did not accept it. With that money Plato acquired some land in the gardens where the sanctuary was installed to the hero Akademos, who would take the name the school founded there: "Academy". The Academy of Athens can be considered as the first University in Europe, because not only was taught philosophy, but also other sciences, like astronomy, mathematics, physical sciences, harmony, research in Botany, etc. The Academy lasted until 529 ad, when the Emperor Justiniano ordered closure.

Tried twice more to Plato put into practice their political ideals: Dionisio II and Dion (en 361), who required their services. Dion would eventually murdered, and Plato would spend some time in jail. Onwards, it definitely gave the work of philosophical, as a teacher of the Academy, and his writings. He/She died in the year 347, and was buried in the gardens of the Academy.

Plato is the only author of the antiquity whose works (most of them dialogues) have reached us virtually in its entirety. They are usually classified in the following way: 1) Socratic writings or youth: apology of Socrates (not in dialogue form), Crito, Euthyphro, laches, Ion, Protagoras, Charmides, Lysis, Thrasymachus (actually is the first book of the Republic). (2) transition writings: Gorgias, Meno, Euthydemus, Cratylus, Menexemo. (3) writings of maturity: Banquet, Phaedo, Republic, Phaedrus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, politician, Philebus, Timaeus, Critias, laws and Epinomis. Attributed to him also 13 letters, of which the VII and VIII provide data estimadisimos to learn about aspects of his life and of his doctrine.

Plato, as it was represented by Rafael in the school of Athens.

The doctrine of Plato

The theory of ideas

The doctrine of Plato begins where Socrates had left. This, in effect, teaches giving a good morality that goes beyond the particular action considered to be good, and that punishes any act. But this answer is not enough for Plato. You must define what is good in itself. How are formed in the mind or where they come from those ideas that we do well, justice, beauty, honesty, etc.? The response of Plato is as follows: there are eternal realities which are in a separate world not detectable by our senses. These universal called them Ideas (idea or eidos) (vision of something in his being that it is). You must not understand those ideas to the way in which we understand them today. It is rather about archetypes, paradigms of the objects of this world, which, for Plato, merely copies or "shadows", subject, on the other hand, to continuous are flowing. You must not understand that "place" where you can find a space place. What Plato intended with the theory of ideas is to reconcile the theory Parmenidean of still being with the heraclitiana of the incessant evolution. On one side we have the be and its unit that make up the world of ideas, and other sensitive things that make up the world of becoming, of change. Ideas exist in hierarchical community, so that the lower are included in the top, on a scale that culminates in the Idea of good. It involved, ultimately, all other Ideas. But we must not identify this Idea of well with God, because it refers to a soul, not a Creator God.For more information see Plato: the world of ideas idea.


For Plato, knowing is to remember, reminiscence, the truths already known by the soul before his incarnation. The truth of a being is not to go in pursuit of being, but of his Idea, the immutable residing in it. Plato is to say that the essence us has been given in advance, and not just for the experience. This doctrine of knowledge illustrates it with the famous myth of the cave, narrated in Book VII of the Republic: the nature of man resembles some prisoners locked up from his childhood in a cavern. Since he/she only see the shadows, reflected by the Sun, projected on the wall opposite. If you drop one of these prisoners, at the beginning he/she loved, but then it would be gradually objects just as they are. It would, even, to see the Sun in its clear purity. Thus, the men, in their earthly stay, do not see more than the shadows of the true reality. But according to the degrees of perfection, they may not only know illuminated objects, but the same Sun, everything lights up it and represents the good.

God and the world

Plato does not express his Idea of good identification with his Idea of Dios. But it is clear that, although he/she speaks often of the gods, think of only one God idea which appears clearer at the end of his life. Beyond the letter of his writings, it can be concluded, maintaining fidelity to your spirit, that Plato has the idea of a God computer of the world, and "located" outside the world. It is not a personal God, to the style of the Christian God, but a first demiurge, soul milking machine par excellence, who, using the demiurges mediators, sets up the world from pre-existent matter and creates the individual souls and the soul of the world. The world is due to the goodness of God. Plato exhibits the process of "creating" in the Timaeus. According to him, the demiurge (divine craftsman), instilled a soul to the amorphous nature of pre-existing, configuring things in view of the models of the Ideas. The matter well informed you have installed it in space and in time. He/She is not, therefore, a creation in the strict sense. In short, the material world is "the shadow world", because it is at odds with the realities, which is the world of Ideas. This visible world partakes of the world of Ideas, since you need that reference to exist. The soul of the world is immortal, transporter and beginning the movement of all that he/she herself is not.

The man and the soul

To Plato, man is made up of body and soul, but the absolutely most noble part is the soul, because it is spiritual, and therefore, eternal and imperishable. Spirituality comes given by its origin, because it comes from a previous existence, where it was placed by the demiurges. In that place he/she contemplated Ideas, more, as punishment for a committed fault, was thrown to the body, and the mora temporarily until you can return to their place of origin. Therefore, the union alma-cuerpo is accidental, but not with absolute independence. Interdependence explains it by going to three parts which comprise the soul: the concupiscible or phase (which is headquartered in the belly and it be the pleasurable sensations), the irascible or volitional part (which resides in the chest and correspond to which affection) and the rational or intellectual part (which resides on the headwhich is the specifically human part and is in contact with Ideas). In the Phaedrus dialog describes this explanation in a symbolic way: "the soul is like a winged chariot, he/she pulled two spirited horses, one white and one black, governed by a moderator auriga". When the body dies, the soul continues to exist. This further existence is full, if during his pilgrimage through this world has achieved the purification by means of virtue; If not, be reencarnará in another being, until the succession of incarnations achieve perfection.

Intimately connected with this doctrine, but also his metaphysics, ethics of Plato is. Human life means the pursuit of truth for man. Therefore the more valuable part of the man, the soul, yearns for return to full and direct contemplation of Ideas. This contemplation it will arrive by the perfection that gives the practice of the virtues, corresponding to each part of the soul. Why establishes four fundamental virtues: the concupiscible part assigned temperance, moderation, by which man dominates the passions; the irascible part, strength or value; the top reason, prudence or wisdom. Above all, it is the justice, virtue par excellence, where the other three are interconnected. In this way it is also admitting certain interinfluence between soul and body.


Plato pays little attention to countries and relations between States. It focuses on the polis, the city, and considered that life of men is due to the imperative of instinct, and not a deliberate agreement. Image of the soul, the polis consists of three classes or strata: the people, the warriors and the philosophers. Is up to the people, whose fundamental virtue is temperance, produce goods for themselves and for the other two classes; the maintenance of order and the defence of the city; corresponds to the Warriors, who is assigned to the virtue of the fortress, Finally, the philosophers, whose virtue is prudence, is assigned the Government and the education of citizens ("because he/she will not break the misfortunes of peoples until philosophers are kings and philosophers Kings"). The harmony between the three classes is guaranteed by Justice, which governs the relationship between the men. Among the different kinds of Government, Plato opts for the monarchy, which will seek the balance between social groups in natural tension. Individuals who are born deformed or disabled should be disposed of. Marriage and private property for classes of warriors and leaders, will be prohibited so that they can devote himself completely to the tasks entrusted to them. Thus, for these classes, proposes community of goods and women.

The sovereign must be chosen among the best prepared. If the sovereign is not chosen, there is a danger of that the Warriors reach the power, and then the timocracy (the strongest Government); will take place If the Government falls into the hands of the powerful and rich, he/she will fall into the oligarchy. Democracy (Government of the people) is a form of undesirable Government, because under the aegis of the fictitious freedoms, you can reach the misrule, and, in the disorder, will be the decision of the Government by the tyrant.

This utopian concept proposed in the Republic, becomes more realistic laws, where Plato conforms to legislation that takes into account the "weakness of human nature", in such a way that that law individuals promote adherence to good, justification, ultimately, of the law.For more information, see the section the idealism of Plato in idealism.


FREIRE, a.: Thought of Plato, Braga, 1967;

BRIS, y.: La psychologie de Platon, Paris, 1968.

MONTONERI, l.: Il problem of the male nella philosophy di Platonica, Padua, 1970.

GOLDSCHNUDT, V.: Questions Platonic, Paris, 1970.

KUCHARSKI, p.: Aspects of the speculation platonicienne, Paris, 1971.