Habit is not unimportant.
c. 423 – 348 BC
The Athenian philosopher, Plato (c. 423–348 BC), student to Socrates and teacher to Aristotle, left a legacy that stretches through the entire history of Western thought. With justice, beauty and equality being the main philosophized forms he wrote and taught about, Plato also paved the way for modern universities with the establishment of his Academy in Athens, which was known for its mathematic and scientific pursuits. His academy was sustained for three centuries after his death, until it was finally dismantled by Roman Emperor Justinian I, as it posed a threat to Christianity.
Finding that live debates offered more wisdom than written works due to their fluidity, Plato was still a literary artist when it came to capturing his dialogues in writing. Some of the deep questions asked and explored are: Can virtue be taught or is wisdom gained through recollection (Menos)? What are the parallels between the soul of a nation and the soul of an individual and how can we build a better government ruled by reasoning philosopher-kings (The Republic)?
Similar to his teacher, Socrates, Plato taught that the realm of ideas was more truthful and therefore superior to the deceptive world of the senses (Theory of Forms). Plato gave us an account of Socrates’ defense at his trial, which is one of the most important works of Western philosophy. Modern democracy has his ideas on human equality to thank, and scientific progress his adherence to mathematics as a basis for understanding the universe.
Is it not true that the clever rogue is like the runner who runs well for the first half of the course, but flags before reaching the goal: he is quick off the mark, but ends in disgrace and slinks away crestfallen and uncrowned. The crown is the prize of the really good runner who perseveres to the end.
We can forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
The reason is that they utter these words of theirs not by virtue of a skill, but by a divine power – otherwise, if they knew how to speak well on one topic thanks to a skill, they would know how to speak about every other topic too.
The wisest have the most authority.
Those who reproach injustice do so because they are afraid not of doing it but of suffering it.
The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things shameful and vile.
If you think that a man who is any good at all should take into account the risk of life or death; he should look to this only in his action, whether what he does is right or wrong, whether he is acting life a good or a bad man.
Eat and drink and sit with the mighty, and make yourself agreeable to them; for from the good you will learn what is good, but if you mix with the bad you will lose the intelligence which you already have.
No man will survive who genuinely opposes you or any other crowd and prevents the occurrence of many unjust and illegal happenings in the city. A man who really fights for justice must lead a private, not a public, life if he is to survive for even a short time.