Article

Plato

Timothy Chappell

in Philosophy

ISBN: 9780195396577
Published online May 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0090
Plato

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In the words of Alfred North Whitehead’s famous overstatement of the case: “The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato” (Process and Reality, 1929, chapter 3). This is indeed an overstatement; to say the least, some of the footnotes have become rather long by now, and some of them are more like footnotes to Plato’s opponents (to Protagoras, Thrasymachus, and Democritus, for example). All the same, more than twenty-three centuries after his death at about eighty years old in c. 347 bce, the aristocratic Athenian statesman Plato’s philosophical writings are still key determinants of our conception of philosophy. As Richard Kraut puts it in his Stanford Encyclopedia entry on Plato, “The subject of philosophy… can be called his invention.” We pay tribute to that fact every time we ask whether knowledge is justified true belief, or wonder in what sense justice in the individual could be the same thing as justice in society, or try to define “virtue” (or any other key philosophical term), or explore the positions in metaphysics and the philosophy of mathematics that are, not inappropriately, called Platonism.

Article.  8417 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; Epistemology ; Feminist Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Metaphysics ; Moral Philosophy ; Non-Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Law ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic ; Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Religion ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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