Of all the philosophers past and present, it’s likely many of you have heard of Plato. One of the leading thinkers of his age, Plato remains a popular name among historians and philosophy students alike. In fact, there’s a good chance you might already use one or two of his philosophies! In any case, here are some fun facts about Plato to help fill you in on the great man.
1. Plato was considered one of the most important figures of his time in Ancient Greece.
It’s difficult to talk about Western philosophy without mentioning Plato. He was a philosopher, poet, and politician, and studied with Socrates, another important figure of the age. In fact, it’s likely Socrates helped to inspire many of Plato’s arguments.
2. We know a lot about Plato’s work and later life, but not much about his childhood.
Plato was certainly a real person, but his early life remains the stuff of legend in many ways. Historians have tried to piece together details regarding the scholar’s childhood, but much of it is hearsay. Thankfully, the details we do have on Plato include his incredible work, as much of his philosophy and writings are intact!
3. His name wasn’t even Plato!
Yes, weirdly enough, the name we know Plato as was something of a nickname. It referred to his reportedly broad shoulders – and it stuck so much that we even refer to him by this name today! Plato was actually born Aristocles – we think Plato rolls off the tongue a little easier!
4. Plato had a vision for an ideal society.
Many students of Plato likely refer to his work “The Republic” as career-defining. In this book, he outlined what he believed to be a just system for society to operate by – diving deeply into topics of justice, education, and leadership. In fact, he created a term – “philosopher-ruler” – which refers to someone who leads a republic based on their virtue and wisdom!
5. While grounded in his beliefs, Plato had a spiritual side.
Students and historians note that, while Plato had lots of great ideas regarding the human experience, he also believed in life after death. In particular, it’s thought he believed in the presence of an immortal soul, meaning that all people eventually reincarnate.
6. He was once a soldier.
Plato wasn’t always a scholar and a bookworm! In fact, history suggests that he was a soldier in the military, fighting on behalf of his home of Athens in the Peloponnesian War. While his side lost the war, he thankfully survived to go onto a life in politics.
7. We wouldn’t have colleges and universities without Plato.
It’s thought that Plato helped to inspire modern education thanks to his setting up of an academy in around 385 BC. Interestingly, he ran his academy as a free service, funded purely by charitable donations! It’s said that his students learned about more than just philosophy, too, gaining an education in math, astronomy, and science.
8. Plato was buried at the academy.
Historians believe that Plato was, eventually, laid to rest at the academy he’d worked so hard to set up and run. He is said to have died around 347 BC – but, archaeologists are yet to find any evidence of his body in the region. Sadly, Plato’s academy was eventually shut down under the emperor Justinian I.
9. Plato believed in “platonic love.”
As part of his work “The Symposium,” Plato suggested that an idea of “platonic love” could exist between people that goes beyond physical attraction. This work was a dialog between different characters – and in it, the writer suggests that “higher love” transcends humanity.
FAQS about Plato
What is Plato’s most popular theory?
Plato’s most famous theory is said to be his ideas regarding a “real” world beyond what we already know. He believed there was a different, “true” reality that lied beyond – could it be that he predicted the Matrix?
What is one of Plato’s most famous quotes?
Plato is one of the most-quoted people in Western history. However, you’ll likely see his quote on love talked about a lot – “Love is a serious mental disease.” Cheery!
Did Plato ever get married?
Despite having an accomplished life otherwise, Plato is never thought to have gotten married.
Do you know any interesting facts about Plato? Share them in the comments section below!