Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

Plato

Certainly the best known of the great Greek philosophers, Plato (427 BCE 347 BCE) was one of the most reati!e an" infl#ential thinkers in $estern history% &is philosophi al system ha" a profo#n" infl#en e on Christian theology an" $estern 'hilosophy% (t the heart of 'lato)s philosophy is his theory of forms, whi h are #n hangeable an" perfe t% *hey are omprehensible only by #sing intelle t or #n"erstan"ing% &e was on!in e" that knowle"ge is attainable, an" that it onsists of two essential hara teristi s% *he first is that it m#st be ertain an" infallible an" the se on" is that knowle"ge m#st ha!e an ob+e t that is gen#inely real as ontraste" with only an appearan e% ,or 'lato, tr#th is an abstra tion an" his theory of forms is best ill#strate" in terms of mathemati s% ( ir le is the lo #s of all the points in a plane e-#i"istant from a gi!en point alle" its enter% .o one has a t#ally seen a tr#e ir le, whi h is perfe t% $hat an be seen are fig#res "rawn to appro/imate the i"ea of a ir le% *he points referre" to in the "efinition of a ir le are not physi al points, b#t logi al points%

0riginally 'lato)s name was (risto les, b#t at s hool he re ei!e" the ni kname 'laton, whi h means 1broa",2 referring to his wi"e sho#l"ers% &e was the yo#ngest son of a wealthy an" aristo rati (thenian family% 3t is belie!e" that his father, (riston, was "es en"e" from the early kings of (thens% &is mother, 'eri tione, was "istantly relate" to the 4th ent#ry BCE lawmaker 5olon% 6ittle is known of 'lato)s earlier life, b#t a or"ing to (ristotle, as a yo#ng man he st#"ie" with Cratyl#s, a st#"ent of &era lit#s, an" be ame a "e!ote" "is iple of 5o rates in 478 BCE% 'lato saw military ser!i e in the 'eloponnesian $ar, fo#ght between (thens an" 5parta% &is early politi al ambitions "isappeare" as he

witnesse" the "e line of imperial (thens an" the i!il wars that followe" the "eath of 'eri les in 429 BCE% 'lato was not sympatheti to the restore" "emo ra y in 473 BCE, espe ially after it on"emne" to "eath his frien" an" mentor 5o rates% 'lato left (thens, e/pressing the tho#ght that #ntil 1kings were philosophers or philosophers were kings2 nothing goo" wo#l" o #r% &e an" a few followers took ref#ge at :egara with the philosopher E# li"es% &e tra!ele" wi"ely in Gree e, Egypt, the Greek ities of 3taly, where he st#"ie" with (r hytas an" *imae#s, st#"ents of 'ythagoras, as well as !isiting 5i ily, an" possibly (sia% (t 5yra #se in 5i ily, at the re-#est of ;ion, brother<in<law of ;ionys#s 3, 'lato ser!e" as a t#tor of the new king, ;ionysi#s 33% (s this king "i" not ha!e the makings of a philosopher king, things t#rne" o#t ba"ly, an" 'lato was ast into prison an" sol" as a sla!e #ntil ransome" by ;ion% 'lato ma"e a hasty ret#rn to the safety of (thens%

'lato establishe" his own s hool, the ( a"emy % 397 BCE, whi h be ame a famo#s enter for philosophi al, mathemati al, an" s ientifi resear h% &is ( a"emy was name" for its lo ation in a gro!e "e"i ate" to the hero &e a"em#s% 3t laste" for nine h#n"re" years, #ntil it was lose" "own in =28 CE by the or"er of the Christian Emperor >#stinian who ob+e te" to it as a 1pagan2 instit#tion% 'lato)s goals for his st#"ents, who likely in l#"e" E# li" before he mo!e" to (le/an"ria, were to pass on the heritage of a 5o rati way of thinking an" to g#i"e their progress thro#gh mathemati al training so they might #n"erstan" abstra t philosophi al tr#ths% 'lato)s writings, on whi h his en"#ring rep#tation rests, onsiste" of some 37 philosophi al "ialog#es an" a series of Letters% *hese writings a""resse" both these goals% &e on!eye" the spirit of the Socratic Method by presenting a #rate reports of the master)s on!ersational tea hings% 5o rates) metho" of in-#iry was base" on "is o#rses with others in whi h his aref#l -#estioning was "esigne" to re!eal tr#th an" to e/pose error% 'lato)s later "ialog#es refle t more of his own i"eas, e!en tho#gh 5o rates still appears as the main hara ter in the written on!ersations%

*hro#gh his tea hings 'lato lai" the fo#n"ations of the s ien e of geometry% &is e"i t that geometri onstr# tions o#l" be ma"e only with straighte"ge an" ompasses be ame man"atory an" ha" a onsi"erable infl#en e on the "e!elopment of mathemati s in the attempts to sol!e three impossible problems? the trise tion of an angle, s-#aring the ir le an" the "o#bling of a #be% 'lato also establishe" the pra ti es that s#bse-#ent geometers followe", beginning their st#"y with a aref#lly sele te" set of a #rate "efinitions an" lear ass#mptions from whi h theorems were "eri!e" by logi al proofs% &e hampione" the analyti al metho" of proof, whi h we might now all ba kwar" or goal oriente" proof% 0ne begins with the proposition to be pro!en an" works ba k by steps towar"s an a knowle"ge" prin iple from whi h it an be "eri!e"% 3f the steps are re!ersible, then by re!ersing them, one arri!es at a syntheti proof, that is, a forwar" proof in whi h the arg#ment begins with the a/ioms an" pre!io#sly pro!e" theorems towar"s the proposition to be pro!e"% 3f the steps are not re!ersible, no on l#sion an be "rawn% 'lato was parti #larly intereste" in the mysti ism of n#mbers, b#t he pro!i"e" no information in his writings abo#t what part of the s ien e of n#mbers was ta#ght in his s hool or how it was ta#ght%

'lato are" only for p#re mathemati s, "ismissing the importan e of appli ations% &e in"ignantly raile" against those who wo#l" 1shamef#lly t#rn their ba ks #pon the #nembo"ie" ob+e ts of p#re intelligen e%2 *o 'lato, mathemati s "i!or e" from rass appli ations was the loftiest form of p#re tho#ght possible% (s an ill#stration, after learning of them from his frien" (r hytas in 399 BCE, 'lato be ame fas inate" with what has ome to be alle" 1'latoni 5oli"s%2 ( polygon is a plane fig#re whose si"es are line segments@ it is sai" to be regular if all of its si"es are e-#al% ( polyhedron is a soli" whose s#rfa e onsists of a n#mber of polygonal fa es% ( polyhe"ron is regular if its fa es are ongr#ent reg#lar polygons an" the !erti es all lay on a sphere% $hile there are an infinite n#mber of reg#lar polygons, it t#rns o#t that there are only fi!e reg#lar polyhe"ra% *hey are name" for the n#mber of fa es they ha!e (,ig#re AA%A7)? the tetrahe"ron (4 triang#lar fa es), the #be (4 s-#are fa es), the

o tahe"ron (9 triang#lar ,a es), the "o"e ahe"ron (A2 pentagonal fa es), an" the i osahe"ron (27 triang#lar fa es)%

,ig#re AA%A7

'lato belie!e" that the e/isten e of only fi!e perfe tly symmetri al arrangements of points in spa e m#st be keys to some mystery% &e e/tensi!ely st#"ie" these soli"s an" applie" them in e/plaining s ientifi phenomena% &is i"eas on these soli"s, also known as 1 osmi bo"ies,2 are fo#n" in a "ialog#e entitle" the Timaeus% *he soli"s were well known to the 'ythagoreans, b#t the s holiast 5#i"as re"its 'lato)s frien" *heaetet#s with being the first one to write abo#t them% 'lato asso iate" the "o"e ahe"ron with the #ni!erse an" the other fo#r with the fo#r 1elements,2 as follows? fire tetrahe"ron, earth #be, water i osahe"ron an" air o tahe"ron% &e asserte" that mathemati s in its i"eal form o#l" be #se" to "es ribe the hea!enly bo"ies, whi h e/hibite" perfe t geometri form% *he fi!e reg#lar soli"s were #se" to e/plain his osmology% &e maintaine" that the stars, planets, 5#n an" :oon mo!e ro#n" the Earth in rystalline spheres% &e ta#ght that the or"er of the spheres arrying these hea!enly bo"ies were, in their "istan es from Earth, the :oon (the losest) followe" by the 5#n,

then :er #ry, Ben#s, :ars, >#piter, 5at#rn% ,#rthest away was the sphere of the stars%

Quotation of the Day: 1:athemati s is like he kers in being s#itable for the yo#ng, not too
"iffi #lt, am#sing an" witho#t peril to the state%2 'lato