“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition,” said Alfred North Whitehead, “is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.” We’ve all heard the name of Plato and his famous mentor Socrates, and most of us have encountered the dialogues, a literary-philosophical form he essentially invented. We know the themes he advanced, his general views of metaphysics, and his interest in knowledge and its importance as a virtue. But what do we know about Plato the man? How did this person come to write works that would be read and wrestled with more than two thousand years later? And how do Plato’s literary skills help to deepen his arguments and enrich his narratives? In this episode of The History of Literature, we look at the fascinating figure of Plato and his great mentor/creation, Socrates.
Like Greek thought and literature? Try Episode 4 – Sappho.
Stop the presses! Go back even further in time to Episode 3 – Homer.
Like philosophy and philosophers? Try Episode 117 – Machiavelli and The Prince.
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