Plato’s Idea of the Role of Philosophy in Human Life
An examination of Plato’s beliefs in the function of philosophy in life.
This paper attempts to assess Plato’s obsession with the role of philosophy. The author argues that Plato sees philosophy as the purpose in life and provides reasons for this such as Philosophy’s ability to provide clarity to to all discussions of fundamental values and principles so important to human life. This paper examines Plato’s concepts and principles.
Everyone knows that for Plato, philosophy is the summit of human life and achievement. Socrates, the grandfather of dialectics, gadfly to Athens, made no bones about it in the Republic: the philosopher is flatly superior to all other men. Why? Socrates formulates the same thought in many related figures. Only the philosopher sees the invisible realities obscured by visible facts. Others see the Many, the philosopher sees the One. Others are beguiled by shadows, the philosopher gazes into light. Others are taken in by simulacra viewed as being in constant motion, but the philosopher knows the unmoving essences that underlie all appearances. For Socrates-Plato, then, the philosopher not only epitomizes man at his finest (there is never a question of women becoming philosophers, not even so much as a murmur – one can only imagine the outburst of sardonic laughter the idea might have provoked from Socrates and his entourage), but also ought to be the ruler of the ideal State. Concomitantly, those who are not philosophers deserve to be classed among the ruled. My question, in this short paper, will be: Does Socrates, as quoted by Plato in The Republic, make his case for these claims convincingly, or does he leave the reader feeling dubious?
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