The Great Philosopher: Plato and His Pursuit of Knowledge (Great Minds of Ancient Science and Math) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-03-31 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings

"Mary Gow’s The Great Philosopher explains Plato’s life and Greek society in great detail, including Plato’s perspective on philosophy and how philosophy helped make advancements in mathematics. It also illustrates the influences Socrates had upon Plato and lead him to follow his own path in philosophy. Plato was born on 428 B.C. to a wealthy and politically influential family. He was an educated young man and was introduced to the philosophy of ethics and morality by Socrates, a devoted philosopher who according to Plato had been executed because of his religious beliefs. Plato, being born to a politically active family, could have chosen a life of leadership in Athens, yet he chose to embrace philosophy instead. Plato gradually studied a wide range of subject varying form love and art to political theory and mathematics. Plato eventually founded his own school, which he named the Academy. Many great Greek thinkers and philosophers studied at the Academy including Eratosthenes and Aristotle. Plato made few scientific discoveries because he did not study physical objects. He believed that physical objects were constantly changing; therefore any studies made based on ever-changing variables were inaccurate. He instead looked to abstract ideas and numbers for answers about the universe and humanity. “Plato suggested that abstract entities, sometimes called forms, were real objects of knowledge” (Gow 13). These “Forms” are still used in modern science as ideas that are unchanging. Plato spent most of his life in Athens, he was invited twice to another Greek polis, but both of his trips were cut short because of an ongoing power struggle. Plato died at around 347 B.C. when he was 80 or 81 years old. He had no wife or children, so his nephew, Speusippus, directed the Academy.

Plato is one of the most famous philosophers of all time. He thought of ideas and principals still used in modern science and philosophy. He also founded a school that cultivated many other great minds; Socrates was unquestionably the biggest influence on Plato. Socrates taught Plato when he was still young and died for his beliefs in philosophy. This served as a lesson for Plato and taught him the honor in dying for one’s beliefs; this made Plato devote himself completely to his studies. I admire Plato for his new outlook on philosophy in a time of limited learning opportunities and punishment for different religious beliefs. His complete devotion to learning and teaching made are what I admire most and the fact that he chose to pass on his knowledge through the Academy. Plato is most famous for building the bedrock of modern philosophy and making one of very few centers of education.

This book was interesting because it was a brief yet thorough explanation of Plato’s life and what other philosophers influenced him. I would recommend this book to anyone in middle school willing to learn about Plato but not in great detail. This book is ideal for a reader with a relatively low vocabulary as it uses simple words yet explains many of Plato’s most important theories and discoveries. This book would not suit high school students because it only summarizes Plato’s life, and is definitely not at a high school level. Despite its brief explanations and shortcomings in vocabulary, this book would suit any reader who wants to briefly learn the story of one of the greatest philosophers of all time.

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