November 24, 2012 10:46 pm

Plato was a very original thinker who lived in ancient Greece. He asked questions that nobody had asked before. He even tried to explain how the human mind works.
Plato was born about 428 bc in Athens, Greece. He became a pupil of Greek philosopher Socrates. Then he set up a school in 387 bc. He called his school the Academy. Pupils studied astronomy, biology, mathematics, politics, and philosophy at the Academy.
Plato wrote dialogues—debates that he imagined taking place between teachers and pupils. He hoped these dialogues would help students understand his ideas.
Plato investigated many topics, from friendship to the heavens. But his most important work was a study of knowledge.
Plato believed that we learn about the world in two different ways. We get useful information through our senses, like sight and touch. But we reach truth by using a higher ability, which he called reason.
Plato said that our senses give us imperfect knowledge, because they tell us about specific objects. But our reason gives us truth, or perfect knowledge, because it tells us about ideas.
Plato also studied politics and government. He believed that the best government has a philosopher in charge. The minds of philosophers are trained to use reason and understand ideas. According to Plato, the knowledge they gain this way would help them govern wisely and create the best conditions for the people they rule.
After many years at the Academy, Plato wanted to test his beliefs. In 367 bc, he went to Syracuse on the island of Sicily, off the coast of Italy. He went there to teach the new ruler of Syracuse to be a philosopher. But he failed in this effort. Plato returned to write and study in Athens. He died at the age of 80 in 347 bc.
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