The Athenian philosopher Plato is one of the most important figures of the Ancient Greek world and the entire history of Western thought. In his written dialogues, he conveyed and expanded on the ideas and techniques of his teacher Socrates. Plato’s recurring fascination was the distinction between ideal forms and everyday experience, and how it played out both for individuals and for societies. Plato was a poet, mystic and ethico-religious thinker. He too the recourse to various myths, allegories and metaphors in order to express what could not be stated in prose with precision.
Plato has given a system of thought to Western Philosophy. Plato himself first assimilated the different streams of Greek philosophical before propounding his philosophy, which itself had the most remarkable influence on Western thought. From Pythagoras mythological thought, Plato paved the way for his idealism. From Parminedes, Plato derived the Doctrine of Changeless and eternal idea. From Herclitus, he accepted the doctrine of flux. He reconciled the two by explaining the conception of being and becoming. But despite all the influences, the core influence of Socrates remained with him as an abiding element of thought.
Not only that, but Plato also influenced Christian theology by his concept of a good and righteous GOD, who he apparently stated as the one being the architect of the world. Plato’s idealism is reflected in Berkley, Hegel, Bradley etc. It reaches its mathematical culmination in Spinoza’s Philosophy.
Though Plato did not give rise to dualism, his conception of being and becoming made intelligible through reason and empiricism respectively, paved way for much of contemporary Western thought, which then led to the criticism of Kant.
His theory of reminiscence has given rise to the Apriori Doctrine of Descartes, Leibnitz. Plato also discussed the concepts of Justice, State, etc. extensively in his philosophy, which was to serve as the starting point of modern political and social philosophy.
Now since our Philosophy paper consists of Indian Philosophy as a major part and to give an edge to your answers by comparing the Westerners with the Indian Philosophy, it becomes necessary for us to know the similarities his philosophy had with that of our Indian counterpart. Though Plato did not influence philosophical thinking in India, there are remarkable resemblances between Plato and Indian thought.
Plato also thinks that humans are in bondage, due to ignorance and continue in this state through countless rebirths, till they gain their pure nature by meditation and contemplation upon the idea of good. He even contends that GOD may help the seeker after liberation.
Like the Indian thinkers, he accepts the immortality of the soul. He regarded pleasure and worldly objects to be sources of pain. He also explains the Universe teleological rather that scientifically.
Plato basically propounds Realism (Epistemological pt. of view : KNOWLEDGE EXISTS BY ITSELF) and Idealism (Metaphysical pt. of view : Ideas are substances), which can be considered the two facets of his philosophy.
We will read in detail about Plato’s Philosophy in the next articles.