Plato and her Education ConceptJune 27, 2021
Plato is a philosopher who seeks solutions to pedagogical problems through moral philosophy. He aimed to enable people to live in their own consciousness by emphasizing education and training. For Plato, the only way to reach self-consciousness is to help the spontaneous emergence of knowledge.
One of the most basic points of Plato’s philosophy of education is the helplessness of human beings; but it is the belief and understanding that it has a trainable ability and that this ability can only emerge in society. For this reason, it seems very incomplete to make an analysis without going to Plato while talking about the social content of education. Plato, by saying “man needs man, man is necessary to reestablish man”, bases the foundation of spiritual development on human relations.
It can be easily deduced from some of the evaluations in the previous headings that the Platonic site order is based on nature, especially human nature. Sophists, like Plato, argued that the site should be arranged in accordance with the order in nature.
According to them, there was an order in nature where the strong oppressed the weak, and therefore the strong always had a right to dominate over the weak in the city. Truth or justice were human inventions not found in nature itself and peculiar to the order of the estate.
The main difference between Plato and the Sophists is that Plato’s understanding of nature expanded to include divine and transcendent ideas. When Plato says nature, he does not understand the visible universe like the Sophists. What he means by nature is nothing but ideas.
Thus, while the Sophists denied truth and justice because they made reference to the environment of struggle in nature for the order of law, Plato saw nature as ideas beyond visible things and defined justice as the highest idea and re-founded it as a structure found in nature itself. He argued that the just site has a model in the sky, and anyone who wants can arrange himself by looking at it (Devlet, 500d-501a, 592b).
Since the knowledge of the just and right order, that is, of the ideas, is innate in the soul, human nature is now inclined to truth, justice and virtue, not to a fierce struggle, contrary to what the Sophists claim. Principles of fair and correct site layout are also inherent in human nature. In the previous unit, it was stated that the knowledge of ideas hidden in the soul can only be revealed by the dialectical method. At this point, then, the problem of site order turns into a problem of educating the human spirit and making it competent to acquire the knowledge of the highest truth. Therefore, the Platonic state is a great educational organization that is primarily responsible for the moral heights of its citizens. All the arrangements in the Platonic site are part of an education system that guides the citizen to goodness, righteousness and happiness. Plato was the first thinker to propose an advanced system for the education and training of young people and adults (Ebenstein, 1996: 17).
According to Plato, the most important thing in every business is the beginning. In the site layout, the right start is nothing but education (State, 425c). Just as the rings formed by a drop falling into the water expand from the first ring in accordance with the mandatory laws of nature, properly educated citizens necessarily lead to a properly arranged city (State, 424a). This analogy is extremely important in understanding the role of education in Plato’s understanding of order. According to Plato, things in visible nature realize their ideas as naturally as possible, directly, and achieve this to the best possible extent. It is absurd to expect a tree to realize its idea more competently. But the idea, that is, the order, in the individual and in the society, does not occur directly and spontaneously as in nature, but can emerge with a strict education. Even if a person is a good person with the nature of a philosopher, if he does not receive the necessary education, he can lead himself and the city to great evil. The purpose of education is to make every citizen’s soul have a guard, that is, a properly functioning mind, who will restrain his bad sides. In Plato, reason is the cause of all human order, and the purpose of education is to ensure that the mind works correctly in order to ensure moral order in the city. Thus, just as the order in nature is a product of the divine mind, Demiourgos, the order in the city will be the product of a human mind.
Plato’s work The Republic envisages a strict educational curriculum that begins in the womb and continues until the advancing ages of the human being. Children are entrusted to state educational institutions at a very young age (State, 460b). They go through a rather long educational process, starting from fairy tales and physical education studies, to the contemplation of the idea of the Good (State, 537a-540e). Since the disciplines of higher knowledge, which lead to the contemplation and knowledge of the Good, are disciplines that few can deal with, the education of dialectics is given only to the few who have the nature of a philosopher.
In Plato’s Republic, there must be a lesson for free citizens.