Plato of Athens

The root of all greatness flourishes not in earth but in heavenly realms whence it is fed of supernal Light. Without that Light, no embodied soul can overcome the gravity of appetitive needs and rise to stand aloft, on the shoulders of the giants gone before him and see the spiritual truth of reality.

Plato understood this. He stood on the shoulders of such great men as Pythagoras and of Socrates to see farther and more clearly than others of his time, and to comment and explicate the spiritual truths to which he became privy.

Isaac di Trani, a brilliant Jewish Talmudist of the 13th Century wrote of Plato's clear vision of reality: "I applied to myself the parable of the philosophers. For I heard the following from the philosophers. The wisest of the philosophers asked: 'We admit that our predecessors were wiser than we. At the same time we criticize their comments, often rejecting them and claiming that the truth rests with us. How is this possible?' The wise philosopher responded: 'Who sees further a dwarf or a giant? Surely a giant for his eyes are situated at a higher level than those of the dwarf. But if the dwarf is placed on the shoulders of the giant who sees further? ... So too we are dwarfs astride the shoulders of giants. We master their wisdom and move beyond it. Due to their wisdom we grow wise and are able to say all that we say, but not because we are greater than they.' " – Isaiah di Trani, 1200-1260 A.D.










Plato: For biographical information on Plato, we have drawn upon Plato: The Man and His Work, an unmatched work by A.E. Taylor, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Edinburgh (1924-1941). Taylor's biography of Plato is meticulously researched and quite insightful.
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Platonism: A.E. Taylor, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of St. Andrews (1908–1924), wrote a brilliant exposition on Platonism, which he calls the most original and influential of all philosophies.
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Insights Into Plato's Importance

"Plato, with his transcendent Forms, is the doctor of Protestants; Aristotle, with his immanent Forms, the doctor of Catholics." – C.S. Lewis.

John Mustain, Rare Book Librarian and Selector for Classics, Stanford University, has written, "Translations of Plato were practically non-existent in the Middle Ages." During the 15th Century, the few translations of Plato were into Latin. "While interest in translations in general ran high in England during the Tudor period, Plato was virtually ignored save for reading foreign editions," writes Mustain.

Only two dialogues, the Apology and the Phaedo, were published anonymously in English in 1675. In 1804, Floyer Sydenham and Thomas Taylor translated fifty-five of Plato's dialogues, and twelve epistles under the title, The Works of Plato, in five volumes. It is important to remember that Taylor was a vehement atheist, which Plato certainly was not.

Not until 1871 did Benjamin Jowett, the eminent British scholar, Anglican priest and Master of Balliol College, Oxford, translate and introduce The Dialogues of Plato, the first truly comprehensive collection in English. Jowett's edition of the Republic, on which he had worked for 30 years, was published posthumously in 1894. We highly recommend Jowett's translations, and those of A.E. Taylor, because they do not succumb to the moral failing of advocating a homosexual agenda, as do so many 20th Century "translations" equating homosexuality with "Platonic love." Plato was an Idealist and an ardent devotee of the soul as partaking of God as the Idea of the True, the Beautiful and the Good.

"The safest general characterisation of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato." – Alfred North Whitehead Process and Reality, 1929.

"In the philosophy of Democritus the atoms are eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can never be transformed into each other. With regard to this question modern physics takes a definite stand against the materialism of Democritus and for Plato and the Pythagoreans [emphasis added]. The elementary particles are certainly not eternal and indestructible units of matter, they can actually be transformed into each other. As a matter of fact, if two such particles, moving through space with a very high kinetic energy, collide, then many new elementary particles may be created from the available energy and the old particles may have disappeared in the collision. Such events have been frequently observed and offer the best proof that all particles are made of the same substance: energy. But the resemblance of the modern views to those of Plato and the Pythagoreans can be carried somewhat further. The elementary particles in Plato's Timaeus are finally not substance but mathematical forms. 'All things are numbers' is a sentence attributed to Pythagoras. The only mathematical forms available at that time were such geometric forms as the regular solids or the triangles which form their surface. In modern quantum theory there can be no doubt that the elementary particles will finally also be mathematical forms but of a much more complicated nature. The Greek philosophers thought of static forms and found them in the regular solids. Modern science, however, has from its beginning in the 16th and 17th Centuries started from the dynamic problem. The constant element in physics since Newton is not a configuration or a geometrical form, but a dynamic law. The equation of motion holds at all times, it is in this sense eternal, whereas the geometrical forms, like the orbits, are changing. Therefore, the mathematical forms that represent the elementary particles will be solutions of some eternal law of motion for matter. This is a problem which has not yet been solved." – Werner Heisenberg

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Further Studies of Plato's Work
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Moral Law in Plato's Dialogues
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Plato's Impact on Our Western Heritage
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Plato, the Idealist
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The Role of Idealism in the 21st Century
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References

Baldwin, William. The Sayings of the Wise: Or, Food for Thought: A Book of Moral Wisdom, Gathered from the Ancient Philosophers. London: Elliot Stock, 1908.

Ballou, Maturin Murray. Treasury of Thought: Forming an Encyclopædia of Quotations from Ancient and Modern Authors. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1881.

Dictionary of Philosophy (Ancient, Medieval, Modern). Runes, Dagobert D., editor, 1942. Andrew Chrucky. Meta-Encyclopedia of Philosophy [Retrieved September 23, 2017]

Di Trani, Isaiah. "Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Giants". Shnayer Z. Leiman, Tradition, 27:3. The Rabbinical Council, 1993.

Edwards, Tyron. A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern. Charlotte, NC: Britkin Publishing Co,, 1927.

Enfield, William. The History of Philosophy: From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Present Century. London: Printed for J. Johnson, 1791.

Heisenberg, Werner. The History of Philosophy: From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Present Century. Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science, 1958. Lectures delivered at University of St. Andrews, Scotland, Winter 1955-56.

Kraut, Richard, "Plato", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2015, Edward N. Zalta (ed.) [Retrieved September 23, 2017].

Laertius, Diogenes. "Plato" in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers. Robert Drew Hicks, trans. London: Heinemann, 1926 [Retrieved September 23, 2017].

Laertius, Diogenes. "Plato" in Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers, C. D. Yonge, trans. London: H.C. Bohn, 1853 [Retrieved September 23, 2017].

Lewis, C.S. The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition. Oxford: the Clarendon Press, 1936.

Mustain, John. A Brief History of Translations: The development of translations into the English language, especially of the works of Plato. The Stanford Presidential Lecture Series in the Humanities and Arts, Alexander Nehamas, PhD., [Retrieved September 25, 2017].

O'Connor, J.J. and Robertson, "Plato", The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1999 [Retrieved April 29, 2015].

O'Connor, J.J. and Robertson, E. F. Mathematical Quotations by Plato, The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland, 1999 [Retrieved February 19, 2011].

"Plato", Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. [Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2015. Retrieved January 23, 2015.[

Taylor, Alfred E. Plato: The Man and His Work. London: Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1937.

Taylor, Robert. The Diegesis: Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity. London: R. Carlile and J. Brooks, 1829.

Wolfe, Alexandra. “What Would Plato Say? Rebecca Newberger Goldstein on Philosophy”. [Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2014; retrieved April 29, 2015.]


Recommended Reading

Karderas, Nicholas, PhD. "The Greek Miracle: How Plato Can Save Your Life". [Psychology Today Online. Retrieved April 29, 2015.]


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