Plato (428 - ca. 347 B.C.) was the second of the great trio of philosophers of ancient Greece that includes Socrates and Aristotle. His work was deeply influential on the later development of Western philosophy, informing the thought of such men as Philo of Larissa, Saint Augustine, and Kant. Plato was born into a distinguished Athenian family and originally intended to enter political life. However, the death of his teacher, Socrates, in 399 B.C. at the hands of the Athenian people, led him to conclude that good men had no place in the public eye. Consequently, he chose to pursue philosophy, soon distinguished himself as a formidable thinker in his own right, and founded an academy for philosophy in Athens. He is best known for his works on moral philosophy, epistemology, and politics. Socrates appears in Plato's philosophical dialogues as the main character defending Plato's positions, and it is through Plato's dialogues that we have an account of Socrates' final days.
In the wake of the Sophists who argued that values are relative and private interests are the paramount guide to conduct, Platonic philosophy advanced the idea that there are universal principles of right and wrong. Values are not situational but absolute, and it is the goal of philosophy to discover them. Following this system, Plato saw ideal government in the form of a philosopher-monarch who (having discovered these absolutes) would use his wisdom for the common good.
Plato's importance to Pierre Goodrich is evidenced by the fact that his personal library contains three complete versions of The Dialogues, each with extensive marginal notations in Goodrich's own hand.
The biographical material about the author originally appeared on The Goodrich Room: Interactive Tour website.
Last modified April 10, 2014