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The question has led to a number of seemingly irresolvable scholarly disputes.At least one important ancient source, Aristotle, suggests that at least some of the doctrines Plato puts into the mouth of the "Socrates" of the "early" or "Socrates" dialogues are the very ones espoused by the historical Socrates.
Plato is one of the world's best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato's works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time.
He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers.
It has frequently been assumed that if we can establish a relative chronology for when Plato wrote each of the dialogues, we can provide some objective test for the claim that Plato represented Socrates more accurately in the earlier dialogues, and less accurately in the later dialogues.
In antiquity, the ordering of Plato's dialogues was given entirely along thematic lines.
Because Aristotle has no reason not to be truthful about this issue, many scholars believe that his testimony provides a solid basis for distinguishing the "Socrates" of the "early" dialogues from the character by that name in Plato's supposedly later works, whose views and arguments Aristotle suggests are Plato's own.
One way to approach this issue has been to find some way to arrange the dialogues into at least relative dates.Because they tended to distract us into accepting less than our highest potentials, however, Plato mistrusted and generally advised against physical expressions of love. These dates, however, are not entirely certain, for according to Diogenes Laertius (D. If Plato's date of death is correct in Apollodorus' version, Plato would have been born in 430 or 431. His stepfather Pyrilampes was said to have been a close associate of Pericles, when he was the leader of the democratic faction. When Socrates died, Plato left Athens, staying first in Megara, but then going on to several other places, including perhaps Cyrene, Italy, Sicily, and even Egypt.It is widely accepted that Plato, the Athenian philosopher, was born in 428-7 B. E and died at the age of eighty or eighty-one at 348-7 B. L.), following Apollodorus' chronology, Plato was born the year Pericles died, was six years younger than Isocrates, and died at the age of eighty-four (D. Diogenes' claim that Plato was born the year Pericles died would put his birth in 429. Diogenes' report that Plato's birth was the result of Ariston's rape of Perictione (D. 3.1) is a good example of the unconfirmed gossip in which Diogenes so often indulges. Plato's actual given name was apparently Aristocles, after his grandfather. Although the name Aristocles was still given as Plato's name on one of the two epitaphs on his tomb (see D. Strabo (17.29) claims that he was shown where Plato lived when he visited Heliopolis in Egypt. In any event, Plato returned to Athens and founded a school, known as the Academy.These works blend ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, epistemology, and metaphysics into an interconnected and systematic philosophy.It is most of all from Plato that we get the theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. Plato came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens.Aristotle ( 143c, Plato announces through his characters that he will abandon the somewhat cumbersome dialogue form that is employed in his other writings.Since the form does not appear in a number of other writings, it is reasonable to infer that those in which it does not appear were written after the Scholars have sought to augment this fairly scant evidence by employing different methods of ordering the remaining dialogues.Plato, perhaps now completely disgusted with politics, returned to his beloved Academy, where he lived out the last thirteen years of his life. His grave, however, has not yet been discovered by archeological investigations. There can be no doubt that Plato was also strongly influenced by Parmenides and Zeno (both of Elea), in Plato's theory of the Forms, which are plainly intended to satisfy the Parmenidean requirement of metaphysical unity and stability in knowable reality.According to Diogenes, Plato was buried at the school he founded (D. Aristotle and Diogenes agree that Plato had some early association with either the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, or with one or more of that philosopher's followers (see Aristotle Metaph. Parmenides and Zeno also appear as characters in his dialogue, the He mixed together in his works the arguments of Heracleitus, the Pythagoreans, and Socrates. 3.8) A little later, Diogenes makes a series of comparisons intended to show how much Plato owed to the comic poet, Epicharmus (3.9-3.17). Though influenced primarily by Socrates, to the extent that Socrates is usually the main character in many of Plato's writings, he was also influenced by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Pythagoreans.Plato's middle to later works, including his most famous work, the , are generally regarded as providing Plato's own philosophy, where the main character in effect speaks for Plato himself.