What Is Platonism, What Does It Mean?

What Is Platonism, What Does It Mean?

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Platonism is the objective idealistic teaching of Plato and his followers. Platonism is also known as Idealism, Speciesism, and Academy Doctrine.

Ancient Greek philosopher Plato is the founder of objective idealism and, in the words of German thinker Heidegger, of Western metaphysics. If we replace the phrase “thinkers” with the phrase “metaphysicians”, the following statement of the American philosopher Emerson would be correct: “Whatever has been written and discussed among thinkers so far comes from Plato.”

In the historical development of ancient Greek thought, the materialist side reached its extreme in Democritus, while the idealist side reached its extreme in Plato. The opposition of materialism and idealism, which is the main problem of philosophy, was expressed in the discussions between the supporters of these two thinkers in the philosophy of Antiquity. The philosophers who are on the side of idealism are the representatives of the Platonism movement.


As the spokesman of the ancient Greek aristocracy and the oligarchy of the slave society, Plato developed the rationalism and abstractionism of his teacher, Socrates (by continuing to make him talk after his death), to whom he was very attached. His works, which are called “dialogue” because they are written in the form of speeches, are the product of this development.

Apart from defending that the materialist and objective world is not real, Plato also opposed the trade that enabled the evolution of the world in that era, and thought of eliminating trade with the claim that it “dirties the soul” of the individual. This is the socialist side of Plato. For example, Plato’s state design, which is described as an imaginative socialism or “utopia” today, was born from the dream of a country that does not trade and therefore is moral. This state should also be a state that would not accuse and kill its master Socrates, and would leave its administration to him and others like him. This state, in his eyes, is traditionalist Sparta rather than Athens, whose economic trajectory accelerated social evolution.

The German philosopher Karl Marx describes this state of his as “The Athenian idealization of the Egyptian caste system”. Despite all this, there is no doubt that Platonism is one of the real foundations of contemporary philosophy in terms of its in-depth focus on social and political problems.


The sources that prepared Plato are primarily Socrates, Pythagoras, Parmenides and Heraclitus. Plato borrowed from Socrates his moral worldview, his idea of ​​the good, and his teleological research disposition; He adopted Orphic religious elements from Pythagoras, beliefs in immortality and the afterlife, religious-mystical philosophy, and mathematical explanations; From Heraclitus, he received the fact that there is nothing in the universe that does not change and remains the same, through his Heraclitus teacher Cratylos before Socrates. Another famous student of Socrates, Euclid from Megara, who introduced Parmenides, the first metaphysician of the history of thought, to him (See: Megarians).


The entire intellectual structure of Plato, the most influential thinker of classical philosophy, is gathered in his five theories:


Plato has always remained moral in the theories of knowledge, idea, cosmogony, immortality and the state, and he has struggled to realize morality with all of these. Because according to him, together with his master Socrates, the aim of philosophy is to ensure the perfect life of man. This perfect life is only possible with virtue. The basis of this virtue is knowledge, its essence is idea, its justification is cosmogony, its assurance is immortality, its vital structure is the state. Its basis is knowledge, because virtue is a work of knowledge and is brought about by knowledge.

Anyone who has wisdom, that is, correct knowledge, is a philosopher (Yu. Philosophos). An ordinary person, say, loves all good things, while the wise love goodness itself. Because good things are good because they carry the general structure of goodness. Goodness is a generality of all good things, quite unlike a particular good. It did not originate with a single good and will not end with a single good, it has no place in space and time.

Individual good are good because they have a structure more or less in common with the general good, and because they do not have the general good but have more or less, they differ from each other and have multiplied. That is, the person who loves one or more of the good ones, which are different from each other, is based on an opinion (Yu. doksa), if the wise person who loves the good is based on knowledge (Yu. (Episteme). eternal, always remaining the same (absolute N.) origins (Yu. Eide, Idea).As it can be seen, Plato’s famous theory of ideas was born from the understanding of knowledge.Plato introduced the theory of knowledge with three maturity dialogues (Symposion, Politeiai phaidros) and two old age According to Plato, knowledge is the knowledge of the unchanging, which can only be grasped by reason.

Plato’s allegory of the cave can be regarded as the basic summary of his philosophy.

Those who cannot grasp this, what they perceive with their senses change, their opinions and opinions change.