Plato (427 – 347 BC) is the son of an Athenian citizen. According to its social status, it came from the Athenian slave-owning aristocracy. And of course, he was his own man in the Socratic circle. In his youth, he was a student of the Heraclitus-Kratila study group, where he became acquainted with the principles of objective dialectics, and Kratil’s tendency toward absolute relativism also influenced him. At the age of 20, he was preparing to take part in the competition as the author of the tragedy and accidentally heard a discussion in front of the Dionysian Theater in which Socrates participated. She was so fascinated that he burned his poems and became a student of Socrates. It was about the time when the Athenian fleet won the last significant victory in the Perepelon war.
Plato shared an aversion to Athenian democracy with the whole circle. After the condemnation and death of Socrates, at a time when the Democrats returned to power again, Plato went to one of the older students of Socrates – Euclid – in Megara. However, he soon returns to the city and takes an active part in her public life. After returning to Athens, he embarked on his first voyage to Southern Italy and Sicily. He is trying to realize his ideas and took part in political life on the side of the local aristocracy, then headed by Dion, son-in-law of Dionysius the Elder. Dion was a follower of Pythagorean philosophy and in his community represented an extremely reactionary wing. Political activities of Plato was not successful. Dionysius betrayed him, as a military man, to the ambassador of Sparta. At the slave market, his friends bought him, and he returns to Athens.
In Athens, Plato works intensively in the field of philosophy. During his travels, he became acquainted with the Pythagorean philosophy, which later influenced him. Diogen Laertsky believes that the teachings of Plato is a synthesis of the teachings of Heraclitus, Pythagoras and Socrates. In the same period, Plato founded his own school of philosophy, the Academy, which became the center of ancient idealism in the garden dedicated to the demigod Academ.
During the reign of the tyrant Dionysius the Younger in Syracuse, Plato again tries to get involved in the political struggle. And this time, his desire to carry out his thoughts in life do not find the expected understanding. Depressed by political failures, he returns to Athens where he dies at the age of 80.
Three periods of creativity.
His work has approximately three periods: The first begins after the death of Socrates. He creates the first dialogues and a treatise “The Apology of Socrates”. The form of all the dialogues of this period is similar in them. Socrates always speaks. He speaks with some prominent Athenian or other citizens. Socrates asks questions to someone who is considered an expert on the subject. Skillfully selected questions Socrates makes the opponent more accurately formulate his answers, and the result reveals a number of “contradictions” and absurdities. Socrates consistently, weighing all the pros and cons, draws certain conclusions.
The second period coincides with the first trip to Italy. He departs from the proper Socratic “ethical idealism” and lays the foundations of objective idealism. During this period, the influence of the philosophy of Heraclitus and the Pythagorean approach to the world somewhat intensified in Plato’s thinking. In the second half of this period, which can be roughly limited to the first and second voyages to Syracuse, Plato gives a whole positive statement of his system. Much attention during this period, Plato pays questions of the method of knowledge of ideas. He uses the term “dialectic” to define it and equates this method with the friction of a tree against a tree, which, in the end, gives rise to a spark of knowledge.
The beginning of the third period is considered the dialogue “Parmenides”. He overestimates his previous understanding of the idea, rationalizing it, giving it the character of community. Understanding the idea acquires a certain inertia (stasis). In it, the dialectic of ideas is determined by the conflict of being and non-being, which occurs directly in the realm of ideas. Thus, movement and development are introduced into the realm of ideas. The dialectic of ideas was designed to support Plato’s idealistic monism, which is the pinnacle of his rationalism. In subsequent works, the influence of Pythagorean philosophy, which strengthens mysticism and irrationalism, is becoming increasingly apparent.
The main question of philosophy.
He solves the basic question of philosophy unequivocally – idealistically. The material world that surrounds us and that we know with our feelings is only a “shadow” and is produced from the world of ideas, i.e. the material world is secondary. All phenomena and objects of the material world are transient, arise, perish and change (and therefore cannot be truly real), ideas are immutable, motionless and eternal. For these properties, Plato recognizes them as genuine, real being and elevates to the rank of the only subject of true true knowledge. Between the world of ideas, as genuine, real being, and non-being (ie, matter as such, matter in itself) exists according to Plato, apparent being, derived being (ie, the world of really real, sensually perceived phenomena and things) which separates true being from non-being. Real, real things are a combination of a priori ideas (true being) with passive, formless “receiving” matter (non-being). The relation of the idea (being) and real things (seeming being) is an important part of his philosophical doctrine. Sensually perceived objects are nothing but a likeness, a shadow in which certain patterns are reflected — ideas. But he can also meet the statement of the opposite nature. Ideas are present in things. This attitude of ideas and things opens up a certain possibility of movement towards irrationalism. He pays a lot of attention to the issue of “hierarchization of ideas”. This hierarchy represents a certain ordered system of objective idealism. The idea of beauty and goodness is one of the most important ideas for Plato. It not only surpasses all real goodness and beauty in that it is perfect, eternal, and unchangeable (just like other ideas), but it also stands out above other ideas. Knowledge, or achievement, of this idea is the pinnacle of real knowledge and evidence of the usefulness of life. (works – “Feast”, “Law”, “Fedr”).
In the dialogue “Menon”, Plato demonstrates the theory of memory with the example of Socrates with a certain youth. The boy had never studied mathematics before and had no education. Socrates, on the other hand, posed the questions so well that the young man independently formulated the Pythagorean theorem. From what Plato concludes that his soul earlier, in the realm of ideas, met with the ideal attitude, which is expressed by the Pythagorean theorem. To teach in this case is nothing more than to force the soul to memories. Based on the theory of memories, he produces a certain hierarchization of the soul.
According to Plato, the soul is incorporeal, immortal, it does not arise simultaneously with the body, but exists forever. The body obeys it. It consists of three hierarchically ordered parts: 1. mind, 2. will and noble desires 3. attraction and sensuality.
Souls in which the mind prevails, supported by will and noble aspirations, will advance the farthest in the process of remembrance. “The soul that has seen the most, falls into the fruit of a future admirer of wisdom and beauty or a person loyal to muses and love; the second is after her as the fruit of a king who observes the laws, a belligerent man and able to rule; the third is the fruit of a statesman, owner, earner; the fourth is in the fetus of a person who is diligently engaged in exercises or healing of the body; the fifth in order will lead the life of the soothsayer or the person involved in the sacraments; the sixth will follow a struggle in poetry or any other area of imitation; the seventh is to be an artisan or a farmer; the eighth will be a sophist or demagogue, the ninth a tyrant. ”
Creation of the world.
“Wishing that everything was good and that nothing was as bad as possible, God took care of all the visible things that were not at rest, but in a disorderly and erratic movement; he led them from disorder to order, believing that the latter is certainly better than the former. It is impossible now and it was impossible since ancient times that the one who is the highest good, produce something that would not be the most beautiful; meanwhile, reflection has revealed to him that of all things, by nature visible, no creation, devoid of mind, can be more beautiful than that which is endowed with mind, if we compare the two as a whole; and the mind cannot dwell in anything but the soul. Guided by this reasoning, he arranged the mind in the soul, and thus built the soul in the body in the Universe, meaning to create a most beautiful creation and by its nature the best. So, according to plausible reasoning, it should be recognized that our cosmos is a living being endowed with soul and mind, and it was truly born with the help of divine providence. ”
State stand in the understanding of Plato.
The most significant for us was the work of Plato dedicated to the state system. According to his theory, the state arises because a person as an individual cannot ensure the satisfaction of his basic needs.
Several works of Plato are devoted to social and political issues: 1. treatise “The State” 2. dialogues “Laws”, “Politician”.
Written in the form of a dialogue between Socrates and other philosophers. In them, he talks about the model of the “ideal”, a better state. The model is not a description of any existing system. On the contrary, the model of such a state that has never existed anywhere, but which should arise, that is, Plato speaks about the idea of the state, creates a project, a utopia.
What did he mean by an “ideal” state, and what did he refer to as a negative type of state? The main reason for the destruction of society, and at the same time the state system, lies in the “domination of vested interests”, which determine the actions and behavior of people. In accordance with this basic weakness, Plato subdivides all existing states into four varieties in order of increasing, increasing “mercenary interests” in their structure.
1. Timocracy – the power of ambitious, according to Plato, still retained the features of the “perfect” system. In a state of this type, rulers and warriors were free from agricultural and handicraft work. Much attention is paid to sports exercises, however, the desire for enrichment is already noticeable, and “with the participation of women” the Spartan way of life turns into a luxurious one, which causes the transition to oligarchy.
2. Oligarchy. In the oligarchic state, there is already a clear separation between the rich (the ruling class) and the poor, which make it possible for a completely carefree life of the ruling class. The development of oligarchy, according to the theory of Plato, leads to its degeneration into democracy.
3. Democracy. The democratic system further intensifies the disunity of the poor and rich classes of society, uprisings, bloodshed, power struggles arise, which can lead to the emergence of the worst state system – tyranny.
4. Tyranny. According to Plato, if some action is done too much, then this leads to the opposite result. Taki here: an excess of freedom in a democracy leads to the emergence of a state that does not have freedom at all, living at the whim of one person – a tyrant.
Negative forms of state power Plato contrasts his vision of an “ideal” social order. The author pays great attention to the definition in the state of the place of the ruling class. In his opinion, the rulers of the “ideal” state should be exclusively philosophers, in order for the state to be ruled by reason and reason. It is the philosophers who determine the welfare and justice of the state of Plato, because they are characterized by “… truthfulness, decisive rejection of any kind of lie, hatred for it, and love of truth.” Plato believes that any innovation in an ideal state will inevitably worsen it (it is impossible to improve the “ideal”). Obviously, it is the philosophers who will protect the “ideal” system, the laws from all kinds of innovations, because they possess “… all the qualities of the rulers and guards of the ideal state.” That is why the activity of philosophers determines the existence of an “ideal” state, its immutability. In essence, philosophers protect the rest of the people from the vice, which is any innovation in the state of Plato. No less important is the fact that, thanks to philosophers, the rule and the whole life of the “ideal” state will be built according to the laws of reason, wisdom, there will be no place for the impulses of the soul and feelings.
The basic law is that each member of society is obliged to perform only the work to which it is suitable. The author divides all residents of the “ideal” state into three classes: The lower class unites people who produce things that are necessary for the state or contribute to this; it includes a variety of people associated with handicrafts, agriculture, market operations, money, trade and resale – these are farmers, artisans, traders. Within this lower class, there is also a clear division of labor: the blacksmith cannot engage in trade, and the trader cannot become a farmer on a whim.
The second and third classes, the classes of warrior guards and rulers-philosophers, are no longer determined by professional, but by moral criteria. The moral qualities of these people Plato puts much higher moral qualities of the first class.
From all this we can conclude that Plato creates a totalitarian system of separating people into discharges, which is somewhat mitigated by the possibility of transition from class to class (this is achieved through long-term education and self-improvement). This transition is carried out under the guidance of the rulers.
It is characteristic that if even among the rulers there appears a person more suitable for the lower class, then he must be “lowered”. Thus, Plato believes that for the welfare of the state, each person should do the work for which he is best adapted. If a person does not do his own business, but inside his class, then it is not yet disastrous for the “ideal” state. When a person undeservedly from a shoemaker (first class) becomes a warrior (second class), or a soldier undeservingly becomes a ruler (third class), it threatens the entire state with collapse, therefore such a “jump” is considered a “supreme crime” against the system, because the good of the entire state as a whole, a person must do only the work to which he is best adapted.
He also believes that three of the four main virtues correspond to the three main classes:
1. Wisdom is the virtue of rulers and philosophers
2. Bravery is the virtue of warriors
3. Moderation – of the people.
The fourth justice does not apply to individual estates, but is “above estate”, a kind of “sovereign” virtue.
Interestingly, Plato, who lived in the days of the universal slaveholding system, does not pay special attention to slaves. All industrial concerns are placed on artisans and farmers. Here Plato writes that only “barbarians”, not Hellenes, can be converted into slavery during the war. However, he also says that war is an evil that arises in vicious states “for enrichment”, and in an “ideal” state of war it is necessary to avoid war, therefore, there will be no slaves. In his opinion, the highest ranks (castes) should not have private property in order to maintain unity. Nevertheless, in the “Laws” dialogue, where problems of the state structure are also discussed, Plato shifts the main economic concerns to slaves and foreigners, but condemns the soldiers. Philosophers, on the basis of reason, control the rest of the classes, restricting their freedom, and the warriors play the role of “dogs” holding the lower “herd” in obedience. This aggravates the already cruel division into discharges.
For example: Warriors do not live in the same places with artisans, working people. People of the “lower” breed exist to provide the “higher” with all necessary. The “higher ones” protect and direct the “lower ones”, destroying the weaker ones and regulating the lives of others.
The unity of people Plato considers the basis of his state. In the days of antiquity, the “golden age,” when the gods themselves controlled people, people were not born from people like now, but from the earth itself. People did not need material benefits and devoted a lot of time to philosophy. In many ways, the unity of the ancients was due to the absence of parents (all of them have one mother – the earth). Plato wants to achieve the same result, “socialized” not only human property, but also wives and children. According to Plato, men and women should not marry on their own whims. It turns out that philosophers secretly manage marriage, copulating the best with the best, and the worst with the worst. After giving birth, children are selected, and given to mothers after some time, and no one knows whose child he got, and all men (within the caste) are considered the fathers of all children, and all women are common wives of all men.
The prototype of power in Plato is a shepherd, herding a flock. If we resort to this comparison, then in the “ideal” state the shepherds are the rulers, the warriors are the guard dogs. To keep a flock of sheep in order, shepherds and dogs must be united in their actions, which the author seeks.
From the position of his ideal state, Plato classifies the existing state forms into two large groups: 1. Acceptable state forms 2. Regressive – depressive ones.
The first place in the group of acceptable state forms is its “ideal” state. To the declining, descending state forms, he attributed timocracy. In ancient Greece, Sparta of the fifth and fifth centuries referred to this type most of all. Oligarchy was significantly lower than timocracy – the power of several individuals, based on trade, usury. The main subject of irritation. Plato is a democracy in which he sees the power of the crowd, ignoble demos, and tyranny, which in ancient Greece since the 6th century. BC. represented a dictatorship against the aristocracy.
Art in understanding Plato.
Plato considers art only an imitation of the material world, i.e. not true being. And since he perceives the sensible world as a kind of ideas, art for him is only an imitation of imitation. Such contempt for art arises from the basic principles of his system of objective idealism. A certain role here is played by the fact that the heyday of ancient Greek art coincides with the heyday of slave-owning democracy that Plato hated. Understanding the power of art, the philosopher allowed it to exist in an ideal state. But it should serve religion and strengthen the power of the state. Plato puts forward a number of thoughts (the idea of beauty, beauty, the social function of art, etc.), which contributed to the further development of the theory of art.