PSA about P, S, and A (Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle)

Posted February 28, 2013 by Plato
 Plato Plato was a Greek philosopher and instrumental in shaping much of Western reasoning and logic.  His teacher and contemporary was Socrates.   He illuminated his philosophy, and that of his teacher's, with various dialogues.  The dialogues feature Socrates talking to one or more student or peers (though interestingly he rarely truly views them as peers), and they are the canvas upon which Plato paints his ideas.


Socrates famously said, "Well I am certainly wiser than this man. It is only too likely that neither of us has any knowledge to boast of; but he thinks that he knows something which he does not know, whereas I am quite conscious of my ignorance. At any rate it seems that I am wiser than he is to this small extent, that I do not think that I know what I do not know."

Essentially, being wise can mean knowing how little you know. 

Plato and Socrates are still important today because of the questions they asked about the human soul, the nature of virtue, and what it is to be human.  Plato's further, and in this author's opinion, greatest gift to the world was his student, Aristotle, the man who many say knew more than any other man. 

Aristotle contributed to many major fields including Biology, Physics, Psychology, and Geology.  Beyond all that though, was a man who still believed in the power of art and feeling, as we can see in, "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.  He faced the world with a kind of optimism and arrogance that only someone of an astounding intellect could manage.  He lived in times of rapidly changing borders, and so even his optimism was tempered by experience and political necessity, as we see in "Man is by nature a political animal.

We can certainly still learn a lot from men who, more than two thousand years ago, asked the questions "Why?  Why must that be?  Who are we?  Do we have a soul?  The examples that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle give may, on occasion, seem outdated, and even in some cases wholly incorrect (as we have learned more about the natural world), but the conclusions they reach about the nature of man remain no less relevant than they were in the time of the ancient Greeks.  

We must end this PSA about P, S, and A, lest we find ourselves not heeding the advice of Aristotle: "How many a dispute could have been deflated into a single paragraph if the disputants had dared to define their terms.  Well, we define Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle as great and wise men, worth learning from.


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