Socrates fuelled a thirst for knowledge in Plato (born 427BC), who saw ‘mind’ as more fundamental than matter, trying to understand the world through argument.
He popularized the ‘dialectic’, where, in its most basic form, a stance is offered in the ‘thesis.’ The alternative stance becomes the ‘antithesis.’ The two are debated, producing the best of both in the ‘synthesis.’ This becomes the new ‘thesis’ and the cycle begins again.
Plato also offered the idea of ‘forms’. To Plato every man had an immortal, reborn soul, and from this soul knowledge was inherited, or recollected, rather than learned. Further, for everything that existed in the real world, there was the concept of it outside the everyday world. Thus, everything had an ideal form. Nothing could be invented, merely discovered from the world of forms – for instance, a physical chair is simply a reflection of the form of ‘chairness’.
Such ideas gave Plato the feeling that only intellectuals were fit to lead, and in his attempt to philosophize Utopia, he envisaged a society ruled by philosopher-kings, for these were the only ones pure enough to oversee society – which is, of course, totalitarianism.
Plato’s politics came out of his holistic view of knowledge. And we can see how the holistic can be dangerous when applied to society. Holism in societal affairs is naive and cannot control human impulses in society. For instance, Plato’s idea that philosopher-kings would, through knowledge, be moral was bunkum. Power corrupts.
Click link, below, to return