Plato

[Plato]
Profile

Greek philosopher. He came under the influence of Socrates, and their intercourse through ten years was the dominant influence in Plato’s philosophical career. His works, which took the form of dialogues, possess rare beauty of expression and the characters display marked urbanity of manner, coupled with a faculty of expressing abstract thoughts clearly and intelligibly. The Platonic idea influenced the whole system of his philosophy. In the world above us there exists justice, unmixed with any injustice, eternal, unchangeable, and immortal – this is the Idea of Justice. Likewise in that celestial region there exist Ideas of greatness, goodness, beauty, etc., and also of concrete material objects, as the Idea of man, horse, etc. When we perceive a material object in this world of our experience the mind is moved to a remembrance of this same thing which it contemplated formerly when human souls dwelt in this higher world of Ideas. The world of Ideas is the only true reality. There was much in this doctrine of Ideas that appealed to the early Christian philosophers. The emphatic affirmation of the spiritual order of reality and the fleeting nature of the things material fitted in well with the essential Christian idea of the hegemony of the spirit. To adapt Plato to Christianity, Platonists from Justin Martyr to Saint Augustine of Hippo contended that Plato meant that the world of Ideas exists in the mind of God. Aristotle however had leaned to the interpretation that the Ideas are self-subsisting and separate. In general they appreciated the uplifting influence of Plato’s system and recognized in it a powerful ally of the Faith of Christ in the warfare against materialism and naturalism.

Born

Died

MLA Citation

  • “Plato”. New Catholic Dictionary. Saints.SQPN.com. 7 March 2010. Web. 24 July 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/plato/>