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Plato is one of the world's best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato's works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time.He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers.Dion subsequently gathered an army of mercenaries and invaded his own homeland.
Nonetheless, it is plain that no influence on Plato was greater than that of Socrates.
This is evident not only in many of the doctrines and arguments we find in Plato's dialogues, but perhaps most obviously in Plato's choice of Socrates as the main character in most of his works.
Regarding the sensibles, he borrows from Heraclitus; regarding the intelligibles, from Pythagoras; and regarding politics, from Socrates. Diogenes Laertius (3.6) claims that Plato visited several Pythagoreans in Southern Italy (one of whom, Theodorus, is also mentioned as a friend to Socrates in Plato's Plato has Echecrates, another Pythagorean, in the group around Socrates on his final day in prison.
Plato's Pythagorean influences seem especially evident in his fascination with mathematics, and in some of his political ideals (see Plato's political philosophy), expressed in various ways in several dialogues.
Because Aristotle has no reason not to be truthful about this issue, many scholars believe that his testimony provides a solid basis for distinguishing the "Socrates" of the "early" dialogues from the character by that name in Plato's supposedly later works, whose views and arguments Aristotle suggests are Plato's own.
One way to approach this issue has been to find some way to arrange the dialogues into at least relative dates.Aristotle ( 143c, Plato announces through his characters that he will abandon the somewhat cumbersome dialogue form that is employed in his other writings.Since the form does not appear in a number of other writings, it is reasonable to infer that those in which it does not appear were written after the Scholars have sought to augment this fairly scant evidence by employing different methods of ordering the remaining dialogues.Supposedly possessed of outstanding intellectual and artistic ability even from his youth, according to Diogenes, Plato began his career as a writer of tragedies, but hearing Socrates talk, he wholly abandoned that path, and even burned a tragedy he had hoped to enter in a dramatic competition (D. He may, indeed, have written some epigrams; of the surviving epigrams attributed to him in antiquity, some may be genuine. 2.48-59, 3.34), were also well-known "Socratics" who composed such works. Kahn (1996, 1-35), concludes that the very existence of the genre—and all of the conflicting images of Socrates we find given by the various authors—shows that we cannot trust as historically reliable any of the accounts of Socrates given in antiquity, including those given by Plato.Plato was not the only writer of dialogues in which Socrates appears as a principal character and speaker. But it is one thing to claim that Plato was not the only one to write Socratic dialogues, and quite another to hold that Plato was only following the rules of some genre of writings in his own work.According to the Plato counted Socrates "the justest man alive" (324e).According to Diogenes Laertius, the respect was mutual (3.5). Whether or not any of these stories is true, there can be no question of Plato's mastery of dialogue, characterization, and dramatic context.These works blend ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, epistemology, and metaphysics into an interconnected and systematic philosophy.It is most of all from Plato that we get the theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. Plato came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens.According to doubtful stories from later antiquity, Dionysius became annoyed with Plato at some point during this visit, and arranged to have the philosopher sold into slavery (Diod. His uncle/brother-in-law Dion persuaded the young tyrant to invite Plato to come to help him become a philosopher-ruler of the sort described in the 338a-b). Dion accepted the condition and encouraged Plato to go immediately anyway ( 339a-b and next section) on board begging Plato to return to Syracuse.Dion and Plato stayed in Athens for the next four years (c. Partly because of his friend Dion's enthusiasm for the plan, Plato departed one more time to Syracuse.