Periods of Plato’s (Plato) PhilosophyJune 27, 2021
It is the period when “Youth Dialogues” or “Socratic Dialogues” were written. In these works, Plato is a pure Socraticist who tries to give his teacher’s teaching in the most appropriate way to reality. In these ethical talks, in which the problems of knowledge and virtue are examined, Plato has not yet attempted to take philosophy forward.
If we want to give the shortest possible description of Plato’s philosophy, we can say that he is interested in the relations between the absolute and unchanging and the changing, just like the pre-Socratic “Nature Philosophers”. The first philosophers sought the absolute and unchangeable in nature, while Plato pursued the absolute and unchangeable both in nature and in moral and social life.
In the works of the transition period, we see that the starting point is the sophist doctrine. This choice of Plato, which we know criticizes the sophistic theses with a contemptuous and often sarcastic language, is not so random. As we saw above, after the materialist approaches to philosophy by all natural philosophers from Thales to Democritus, the first human-focused teachings were put forward by the sophists, and these views formed a suitable basis for Plato’s moral and social analysis.
At this stage, Plato seems to have decided to go beyond Socrates’ doctrine by opening the sophists’ view of life based on pleasure to a detailed discussion. Nevertheless, the sophist confronts discipline with his master’s concept of the “good”;
“The good is the absolute criterion and purpose of a righteous life.”
Plato realized that this thesis can be built on solid foundations if the concept of “true” it contains is something that can be described, or at least researched.
While trying to solve this difficult issue; “If what we’re looking for is known, there’s no need to look for it. If it’s unknown, how do we know what we’ve found is what we’re looking for?” With this question, the sophists put Plato in a difficult situation. The philosopher tried to solve this issue with the concept of “immortality of the soul”, which he acquired from Orpheus and Pythagorean teachings, and took the first step towards overcoming the discipline of Socrates.
Since the soul is immortal, it must have encountered the sought truth in previous life periods. For human beings who have an immortal soul, “learning” is nothing but remembering (anamnesis) something that was known in the past. However, what they remember from seeing his immortal soul in his former life is extremely vague information. On top of that, the mental confusion caused by direct perceptions in this world transforms this information into more shaky visions.
In a dialogue, Plato says the following from the mouth of Socrates; “I am a midwife. The only difference is that I give birth to men, not women. The one who starts talking to me at first seems not to know. But as the conversation progresses, he opens up and begins to remember. However, it is clear that he has not learned anything from me. He finds the best information only within himself and reveals.”
Thus, two main views of Plato’s teaching, which can be summarized as the opposition between “correct opinion” (orthe doxa) and “knowledge” (episteme), and “innate conceptions” that exist unconsciously in the soul, are reached. The correct opinion is vague and discontinuous. Knowledge, on the other hand, becomes solid and permanent by being attached to a base, a reason (logos – the word used to describe the law, order and divine mind that dominates the Universe in the teaching of Heraclitus).
After further examining Socrates’ thesis that “knowledge is virtue”, Plato puts forward the view that there can be two kinds of knowing. Right conjecture (correct perception) and knowledge have created two separate worlds. On the one hand, the world of true opinion, of relative realities, which come into existence and disappear, and on the other hand, the world of solid and permanent real reality, “ideas”. (Le monde sensible et le monde intelligible)
The starting point of Plato’s theory of knowledge is Protogoran. The person who knows something is the person who perceives it. That is why “man is the measure of all things”. “Perception is something that has always existed. It is infallible because it is knowledge,” says Protogoras. Plato adds to this view the “flow theory” of Heraclitus, which states that “everything we say exists is actually an object in the process of becoming”. Plato,
– Knowledge is a perception; (In fact, knowledge is a judgment of perception.)
– Man is the measure of all things;
– Everything is in flux;
He concluded that the theory, which can be summarized as -, is true for perceived objects and false in terms of real knowledge.
The famous theory of ideas was born from this understanding of knowledge (episteme). This theory contains both logic and metaphysics;
The aim of the immortal soul, which comes from the world of ideas and unites with the human body, is to regain its original home. The body must fulfill its function by helping to realize this desire. The realization of this reunion depends on reaching the ideas and knowing the ideas. This information is also a reminder. However, the frequency of this reminiscence process varies according to souls and bodies. Plato