Plato & Socratic Questioning

Philosophy – Plato [School of Life]

Summary of key points:
– World’s first and greatest philosopher
– Born into a wealthy family
– His life was dedicated to one goal: Helping people to reach fulfilment
– Socrates was his older friend [Socrates wrote no books]
– Plato wrote 36 books
– Plato’s four big ideas for making life more fulfilling were:
1. Think more ( I.e. more time to think carefully & logically) – He believed that people often just went along with popular opinion – often meaning aspiring to fame, fortune, relationships – Plato believed people should: Know thy self – developing our self-knowledge so you do not find yourself acting upon impulse & get “pulled around” by your feelings – Plato described the role of our feelings as being akin to being dragged dangerously along by wild horses – this is called a Socratic discussion
[idea is not to catch you out, but to help you clarify your ideas]
2. Let your lover change you – “True love is admiration” – good qualities that you yourself lack (look for these in a partner) – the right person or us helps us grow to our full potential – therefore the 2 people in a relationship should be dedicated to educating each other (& inevitably, as a consequence, there will be stormy passages)
3. Decode the message of beauty – Plato believed that we find things beautiful because we sense the need for a quality that is missing in us (e.g. Gentleness, harmony, balance, peace, strength) – beautiful objects educate our soul whereas he believed ugliness made it harder for us to be wise, kind & calm [he believed art has a role to play here re beauty]
4. Reform society – He was the world’s first utopian thinker. Plato’s book “the Republic”
identifies a number of changes he believed need to be made to society:
– it matters who we admire – celebrities influence our thinking & ideas, with bad heroes lending glamour to flaws in character [he did not like how Athenian society celebrated the rich & sportsmen – & this was 2400 years ago]
– instead he wanted Athenians to admire wise & good people – people he called “guardians”
(People who would be distinguished by their modesty, their simple habits, their public service, Their lack of seeking the limelight, and their wide and deep experience)
– He wanted to end democracy in Athens – He did not want to replace democracy, but he did not believe that people thought deeply before they voted & hence obtained sub-standard rulers – He believed democracy was mob rule as it was currently configured & believed voters needed to be philosophers
– he founded the academy a school in Athens which lasted for approximately 300 years. The curriculum included the basics, but also about how to be good
– He believed that the world would not be right until philosophers became Kings, or Kings became philosophers.

[Socratic questioning of the child to help them problem-solve:
– What’s the worst that can happen?
– How likely is this to happen?
– What can I do to cope with this?
– What is my goal in this situation?]




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