Phylosophy of Plato

Phylosophy of Plato



 Life of Plato  Plato(born 428/427 BCE, Athens, Greece—died 348/347, Athens)  was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical period. In Athens, Plato founded the Academy, a philosophical school where he taught the philosophical doctrines that would later become known as Platonism.


Date : 20 - 07- 23

What is political ?

Etymologically the term political comes from the Greek word police.

What does this term signify?

Greek word for state. though technically it is used for city estate

The etymological origin of the term science goes to the Greek word episteme.

What is political science?

It is knowledge about the state. To quote garner, political science begins and ends with the state. it means, what comes under the state, comes within the purview or scope of the subject.

Q. What all activities comes under the state?

Q. Whether family comes under the state?

Q. Weather state has been regulating family?

NOTE: Here regulating family means interpersonal relation issues like marriage succession divorce inheritance

There is not one way of defining the scope we have to see evolution in the concept.

The conventional view

It is based on the separation between personal and political. Political deals with public sphere. This conventional view in political philosophy has its origin in Aristotle

Aristotle is regarded as father of political science

Hence there has been a tradition to confine a state within public affairs

Radical view / perspective

Radical perspective to the notion of politics has been contributed by feminist. For example Susan Moller Okin in her book Justice gender and family highlighted that there is explanation of woman within the four walls of family which necessitates the acceptance of a state intervention. Even in its personal sphere and there is a need to break the barrier which is actually artificial.

Thus political science in present time is a discipline with expanded boundaries and the study of personal sphere is very much a part of it which has early excluded.

What is political thought?

Why we’re not using the term political theory or political philosophy or political ideology ?


Political theory

Like any other discipline the purpose of political theory is explanation of political phenomena

Difference between law and theory

Theory which is proven again and again which qualifies to be a lot.

more sophisticated theory is law

Types of theories in political science

What is the basis of classification?

The type of issues they aim to give explanation.

There are two types of issues

  1.  normative issues : Value based
  2. Factual Issues : fact based

Thus there are two types of theory normative political theory and scientific political theory


It deals with normative issues that is value based issues hence it’s nature is normative (subjective)

For example in political philosophy issues like right Liberty Justice Equality has been discussed


Means there has been the difference of opinion among the scholar over the essence of these values and their relationship.

Normality political theory dominates the discipline. normative theory is also termed as political philosophy.

Political science is closely related to philosophy,  philosophy has been the mother of the discipline.

Political science emerged as a subject discipline of philosophy. There are many branches of philosophy. Political science deals with the branch of philosophy known as ethics.

Thus scope of political philosophy overlap with ethics

We can use three words interchangeably normative political theory or political philosophy or ethics.

Much of the traditional and contemporary theories in political science are philosophical in nature

Scientific political theory

Became prominent after Second World War as a result of a movement in political science known as behavioural movement. The scientific theorist deals with factual issues wear quantitative data is available for example the study of voting behaviour, public opinion.

What is political philosophy?

Normative political theory is called as political philosophy

Philosophy is the study of idea and the essence

What are values

Values are ideas or Essences.

Thus political philosophy studies political ideas means political value.

Difference between political philosophy and political ideology

Example of political philosophy for intellectuals:  Marxism

Example of political ideology for common man: Marxism

According to Gramsci philosophy is, what is meant for intellectuals and ideology is for consumption for masses.

Why consumption is needed?

In democracy political parties have to mobilise people hence they require ideology for example Hinduism is philosophy and Hindutva is ideology

Questions from political theory

Q. What is behavioural approach to the study of political science and its limitations?

Q. System theory and its utility

Q. What is the nature of crysic of political theory. How to overcome?

Q. System approach behavioural approach normative approach



Date: 26-07-23

Why to study western political thought?

It forms the foundation of the subject

It is a basis to understand

  1.  basic concept
  2.  vocabulary / terminology

What is the source to study thought?

It is classics for example Plato’s Republic is a classic

What are classics

Classics represent class apart it means they are those category of books which are treated as reference books that is authoritative text

A particular writer may have written multiple books but each book of the same writer will not qualify to be a classics.. Similarly in a particular time and the space there may have been multiple books but only few will be selected as classics

What quality makes a book classics

  1. Type of issues discussed : Every thinker is a child of his times which means that normally he will write to address political concerns of his time. At the same time there are certain political concerns which are of eternal nature. Classics contain discussion on issues of eternal and universal concern
  2. The depths of analysis : classics are given the status because of the depth of the thinking found in these text

How to study classics

A study classics is not an easy task for multiple reasons

  1. Types of issues
  2. Depth of thinking
  3. It requires certain level of proficiency and expertise in the subject

Truth to power

Truth to power is the most of the time writers have not write directly because of that fear of persecution from persons in power

Hence a reader has to decode the text

It can be called read between the lines as a political understanding

Reader is the writer: Reader can manipulate the meaning according to themselves


  1. Human language is not sufficiently developed hence it is not necessary that a writer or speaker is able to write or speak what he wanted to speak. Similarly there are rare chances that reader or Audience understand what writer or a speaker wanted to express


  1. Language keeps on evolving it is not necessary that the terms which we use today has similar meaning even at the time of the writer


Thus a starting classics is an extremely challenging task

The method of starting classics is called as hermeneutics. Hermitage is the method of interpretation of the text. Hermes means messenger of God. The term hermeneutics is used to explain the difficulty for understand in interpretation of text

The term comes from mythological character “Hermes” who is known as Messenger of God. God does not give message in direct form. God’s message needs to be decoded. This will require a special intellect which means only intellectuals or philosophers will be able to tell. It also means that different people will interpretate the text differently according to the level of their intellect. It means there can be multiple interpretations of the text

Methods of a studying ethics

Q. Discuss contextualist approach to the study of classics

There are three approaches to study classics

  1. Textualist or philosophical approach
  2. Contextualist or historical approach
  3. Interpretative or linguistic approach

Textualist approach (Leo Strauss)

It is the oldest approach to study text. According to textual approach there is nothing outside the text. It means text should be a study solely on the basis of text rather than making it dependent on context. Thus when we apply textualist approach we accept authority of the text and nothing beyond the text.

Q. What will be the method to apply textualist approach

Textualist approach may not be easy it requires some prior understanding of certain basic concepts in philosophy and language. Hence it is difficult to understand the text solely on the basis of text

What is recommended

Read the text again and again when we do multiple readings it got more clear about essence

What happens when we do multiple readings

Meaning will start to emerging out of text

What is the second technique

Suppose either after multiple reading, we are unable to understand the text. we can take some other works of the same author to understand his thinking.

Why should we go for textual approach why it is desired

  1. According to the proponents of the textualist approach, We can understand the meaning of the text more correctly
  2. This will ensure sanctity of the text. These books are treated as classics because of the eternal truth they contain. Which is beyond time and space
  3. It is the reason why they are treated as classics that is preference. If we will make the truth given in classics too much dependent on the context they will lose their eternal relevant.


Because the time and space in which these books were written differ in a big way from our times. Hence it will put a question mark on the relevance of the ideas in these text for our times.

The textualist suggests that if we will contextualise the meaning we will challenge the authority of the text. If it is to be seen in contextual sense there is no points reading the classics means they should be kept in Museum and we can find solutions in out age.

It will futile exercise. ultimately we will repeating what we have done earlier


Date : 27-07-23

Meaning of contextualist approach

Meaning of contextualist approach is understanding the context of the depth means historical conditions led to the emergence of a particular text to make sense of the text.

Men exponents of Sabine

Sabine in his book history of political philosophy has studied. The Western thought from historical approach. He gives following reasons in support.

  1. It is a common sense based approach. It doesn’t require any special background or proficiency to read the text (understand)
  2. According to him the crisis. History have been the most fertile. The perspective of political thinking. This scholar have addressed the concerns of their time.

In politics there is no concluding chapter. No concluding chapter means political ideas evolve with the changing time.

According to him a sound approach should consist of three criteria

  1. Factual
  2. Explanatory
  3. Evaluative

Historical approach fulfils all the three criteria besides Sabine, Laski

According to Lasky every thinker is a child of his time it means we can understand the thinker much better if we know his time.

Arguments against

Even historical approach is also not so easy while history itself is so vast

Looking for relevant data is so easy besides we should not ignore that history is one of the most politicised discipline.

There are many political ideas which don’t have a history yet important for the students of a political science for example the institution of philosopher King or communism

Contextualist approach comes under criticism from the perspective of the exponents of the other approaches


Textualist approach

Scholars like Liu Strauss has criticised contextualist approach because it dilutes the sanctity of text. he suggests that crisis of our time is crisis of philosophy. It means that we have ignored the importance of philosophy and has emphasised too much on study of facts. The problems of our time requires deep understanding of philosophy.

Criticism by Cambridge School

They are known as new historians


They have proposed a new way to study history

The new way Means study the linguistic history that is history of the language. It means understanding how these terms have been understood at the time of scholars for example

It is not necessary that the way we understand the term trust is similar with the way the term was used during the time of John Locke 17th century. When John Locke said government is a trust.

Exponents of Cambridge School

Quintin Skinner, Pocock

Cambridge school provides criticism to both textualist and contextualist

As far as criticism of contextualist is concerned they highlight the sort coming of ignoring the linguistic history.

Criticism of textualist approach

Even textualists do not apply pure textualist approach. Actually textualist approach become contextualist.


Because we interpreted the term in the manner this term are used in our times. Without knowing the linguistic history of the term we can’t understand the text in its so called pure and original sense. It means a textualist is already a contextualist before becoming textualist.

Skinner had challenged Leo Strauss for three reasons which he say as three myths of textualist

  1. Myth of foundationalism
  2. Myth of coherence
  3. Myth of prolepsis

Myth of foundationalism

Textualists believe that they are giving the original or the foundational meaning but that is myth because meaning keep on evolving

Myth of coherence

Text Suli suggests to read other text by the same author who overcome the difficulty of understanding the classics. However for new historians coherence is myth because we may find big difference in the works of young marks and mature marks

Myth of prolepsis

The myth of prolepsis show that if we will ignore the historical context all together we may end up give up extremely historical conclusion for example in his analysis of plato, Carl Popper committed the myth of prolepsis


He predicted that play to himself wanted to become the philosopher king though there are no such evidence hence to reach to write conclusion it is necessary to have the found knowledge of historical circumstances

Interpretative approach

Derrida : Deconstruction/ Double reading

Deridder is a post a structuralist. Structuralism and post structuralism are movement in linguistics. The earlier train was a structuralism as for a structuralism word have definite meaning. (Ferdinand de Saussure)

Post a structuralism says that there is no definite meaning of any word it means meanings are fluids (derrida). Hence according to Derida text can have multiple meanings. meaning of the text depend on reader and not the writer. In order to understand the text he suggested the method of deconstruction.

What is deconstruction

According to Darida text does not have any meaning of its own

Meanings are constructed by the readers hence to understand the text we have to deconstruct the meaning

Deconstruction will require double reading it means at least text should be studied from two perspective

  1. Dominant perspective
  2. Alternative perspective

For example nationalist historians write the political activities on Indian subcontinent between 1857 to 1947 as national movement. It shows dominant narrative. This dominant narrative has to be analysed from the perspective of others narrative

For example Ambedkar called it as a brahmical moment. Marxist call it as a middle class movement that is Bourgeois and so on

It means that there can be multiple meaning in the text. Any understanding is actually a misunderstanding. We should keep on questioning our understanding still we will never found the base


Introduction of Plato

Plato is known as father of political philosophy

It is said that Plato is philosophy and philosophy plato (emerson)

Most important work of Plato

The Republic is most important by Plato. The public is the Constitution of Plato’s ideal state

What is the most innovative contribution of plato

The institution of philosopher King

which constitution or state is ideal ?

According to Plato, their philosophers are the rulers. In the words of Plato until philosopher are the ruler or ruler learn philosophy, there is no end to the predicament (problem) of human life.

Thus the main theme of Plato is criticism of democracy and the justification of Elitism


Date : 28-07-23

Life and times of Plato

He belongs to ancient Greece.

Ancient Greece is known as cradle of western civilization means rational. Plato belongs to Athens and Athens was Democratic. Athens was among the most advanced city estate. The other powerful or advanced states is Sparta. Sparta was under military rule.

During his time Athens was defeated at the hands of a Spartan in the famous Peloponnesian War.

Plato was hurt with the defeat of his motherland he blamed democracy as the root cause of the problems of Athens.

How plato to describes democracy

Worst form of government


It’s a government by fools. Fools means ignorance. Plato raises this question even when training is required to make shoes. It is surprising why no education or skill is essential for running the state. Where the life of so many people are concerned.

According to him in democracy anyone can come to power simply as a result of lottery

How does plato justify that democracy is not desirable

He gives the example of the death of Socrates

Who was Socrates

Socrates was teacher of Plato whom Plato considered as the wisest man on this Earth. Plato used to say that I am thankful to God that I am born in the age of Socrates

Socrates was given death sentence

What was a charge on Socrates

Misleading youth


He was charged of building his own cult mince promoting disrespect towards the existing gods.

Play too held that there is no better example of foolishness of the rulers that they sentence Socrates to death. Hence plato developed and expressed his hatred towards democracy. Plato belong to the family of aristocrats. He wanted to join politics however the death of Socrates changed their decision. From active political life he went into the life of isolation he became philosopher

What is danger living in isolation

Persons enter into the world of imagination or world of ideas

Means he gets separated from the world of reality. It means person becomes highly imaginative. His Plato is highly romantic (imaginative)

He is also considered as utopian that is impractical

What was his central question

Causes of defeat of Athens

What was his observation

Because Athens was democracy rule of ignorance, Hence they defeated

If a person is ignorant about his birth can he perform his work with excellence


Can ignorant person or ruler do justice with his responsibilities or work


There are three prominent question

  1. What is justice
  2. Who can do justice
  3. Why state has to be just

Justice is a Contested Concept. There are various ways in which justice is defined

In Plato Justices morality. Morality is right conduct, Responsible conduct, duty. Plato idea of Justice is not right based. It is duty based concept

It is closer to the Indian idea of Dharma that is morality

Write conduct which means virtue

Justice is a virtue

Virtue means something good desirable

For plato Justice is virtue of all virtue means foundational virtue or the ultimate virtue.

In political philosophy justice is considered as architectonic principle

Architectonic is derived from science of architecture

Architecture is based on

  1. Proper placement
  2. Equilibrium harmony

Thus Justice in Plato aims to archive harmony

The main purpose of a state is harmonisation or balancing of conflicting interest

Justice is called as architectonic also because of it is foundational value. Means it is based on all other values. For example political values like liberty equality right become desirable only when they are just. Thus ideal state has to be based on justice

What is ideal State

We have to first conceptualise the aims from Plato’s point of view. Ideal state is where there is a Peace harmony excellence and Plato believes that we cannot achieve that ideal state without knowing the idea of ideal state.


Because he believed in the dictum(virtue is knowledge) or principle of Socrates

This the Foundational principle on which Plato’s ideal state is based. connection between virtue and knowledge.

Why Athens are not ideal state?

Because According to Plato Athens was not one state there were two city states

  1. City of Rich
  2. City of poors

Why this gap was existing, who was rich?

Rulers were rich

Common man was poor

Why this thing happen

Because rural were ignorant

Can an ignorant person do justice


Since they were ignorant they were running after money and power

What happens when rulers run after money and power

People will also do the same

What will be the impact

It will create competition conflict

Why competition

Because these are limited goods hence it will disturb the harmony

What rulers should do

This would inspire people to run after unlimited goods for example knowledge goodness duty justice

Whether rulers are capable of inspiring people for the right goals

No. They themself were ignorant. They are ignorant about their own happiness. They are thinking that they can be happy by acquiring money and power. Money and power can satisfy our physical world. It is not sufficient to satisfy our soul. The soul will be satisfied only when we perform our duty, as the rulers with excellence. Excellence will come by knowledge. Only when rulers have knowledge they can do justice with their work. It is because of absence of knowledge We run after money and power, that is corruption

What is the reason behind corruption of rulers


Should corrupt officer be punished

According to plato, No . He should educated.

According to Socrates no one commits wrong willingly. They do so because of ignorance. They think that they will be happy by earning to unfair needs. If we have knowledge, we will understand that true happiness will come to right conduct of righteousness.

What is right conduct for a public official

Not to use public office for private ends

He should know that right conduct is serving the people

This idea comes closer to the idea of kautilya

According to kautilya, in the happiness of the subjects lies the happiness of the king.



Date: 02-08-23

Topics list

  1. Influence of Socrates on Plato
  2. Plato’s theory of idea
  3. Theory of justice
  4. His theory of Education
  5. His theory of Communism
  6. His theory of philosopher King
  7. His theory of ideal state
  8. Lifecycle of ideal state.


Evaluation of plato as a thinker

Plato as feminist

Played to as Communist

Played to as fascist

Plato as father of political philosophy.

Influence on Plato


Heraclitus held that in this world we cannot step in the same water twice It means this world is the world of change


If change is the property of this world permanence is also feature of this world


The famous mathematician who believed that this universe is based on certain principles. This principle can be understood with the help of laws of mathematics


Theory of knowledge

Introduction of Socrates

Socrates is known as the wisest man That is why he is known as father of philosophy

What is philosophy

Philosophy is true knowledge or science. Science = episteme

Origin of philosophy

Socrates contribution towards philosophy What we can learn from Socrates

Never speak truth, especially in politics or in public or in front of anyone

Who wore Socrates and how we should remember him

Socrates is the first martyr of philosophy.  Truth

The speaking truth means drinking poison.

Origin of philosophy

Search for truth

Why do we want to know the truth

Because man has reason

What is reason

The biggest gift of God to man. It is natural for man to search for truth because of intellectual curiosity. In western world, ancient Greece is regarded as the place of origin of philosophy. It is also considered as cradle of western civilization

What is the hallmark of western civilization

Rationalism : Looking for solving the problems of life with the help of reason

What is the hallmark of eastern civilization

Religion is the hallmark. Means finding solutions in religion, rather than in reason. Thus, the hallmark of Greek thinking was its secular character that is rational

Philosopher before Socrates

Philosophers before Socrates were trying to understand the properties of this physical world. we were studying The physical aspects of world.

 Scholars before Socrates, they were known as physicists because they were studied the physical properties of universe

What was their approach

They wanted to look for universal properties of the universe

First generation thinkers

Thales, Anaximander

They told about the elemental properties of universe in terms of water, air, fire, etc

Second generation Thinkers

(Heraclitus) : He held that universal property of this world(physical world) Is that it is the world of change. everything changes

Parmenides : Though everything is changing yet there is something which is permanent

This something is called as essence (appearance can change)

Pythagoras : In Pythagoras we see transition from physical towards a spiritual

Why this change happened

Because it is believed that Pythagoras came to India From India, he learned the concept of soul. Soul is a prominent philosophical concept in Indian philosophy. It is not a universal feature of western thinking Very few western philosophers give reference to soul (primarily German philosopher)

Philosophers during the time of Socrates

During his time Philosophers thought that the more important question is not, what are physical properties of life? Rather, how we should live. Means what is good life.

Thus, a shift from natural world towards humanity.

What is a central question in humanity

What is good life (philosophy)

What is good society (sociology)

What is good state (politics/political science)

What is philosophy

Philosophy is the search for truth. Today, philosophy has many branches. For example, metaphysics, logics aesthetics and ethics.

What is ethics

Branch of philosophy, which deals with the question of righteousness Means the right conduct

What is the basis of ethics

Reason is the basis of ethics. There were two major tradition in ancient Greece On the question of ethics.

Sophist versus Socratic’s versus Transition

Sophist : Georgeas, Protagoras, Thrasymachus, Glaucon.

Socratics : Socrates, Plato

Transition : Aristotle.


Q. What is the philosophical question here

What is good life

Weather man has capacity to understand good life

Sophist: (self) Not in a capacity to know the truth.

Socrates (society) : Man has reasoning to enough know the truth.

Views of Gorgeas

Georgia is known as scepticism

He is a scaptical about capacity of man to know the ultimate truth. Man has limited capacity to know the truth. It means truth will vary from person to person Every person has his own notion of truth. In philosophy, it is called ethical relativism That means truth is relative

Ethical relativism will come from experience. Experiences may vary. This thinking will lead to consequentialism in philosophy. Consequentialism means ideas of welthome.

The scapticism and ethical relativism


Man is major of everything. It means God is not measure of everything. This philosophy is called as humanism

What is the other meaning of this phrase

Priority to individual over society

Philosophers who are contemporary of Socrates

During the time of Socrates, there were 2 prominent intellectual traditions

Surface and Socratic

Who were the sophist? And what is the term indicates

The term Sophism comes from the term Sophia means knowledge. So fish are philosophers or intellectual. Sophist Were political educators. They are known as first teacher teaching political.

Who were the students of sophists

Those who wanted to join politics

Which type of political system was existing in Athens at that time

At that time, Athens was Democratic

What sophist word teaching to their students

What a person required to be successful in politics

Person requires ability to sway the public opinion. Say, the public opinion means oratory or rhetoric or dialectics. This skill is called as oratory. Oratory represents rhetoric. That means weaving the story.

What sophists were teaching

They were teaching that money and power is a source of good life

Why they were teaching this

Because people are coming to them so that they can join the politics and be successful. They have to tell good things about money and power.

Whether sophist were true Teachers/ right teachers

According to Socrates No


Date: 30-08-23



Raj Singh

Hi There. I'm a professional Educator Cum Entrepreneur. Have done Technical as well as Professional Degree, Having Experience of 10 years as Educator and 8 Years of Entrepreneurship.

Comments Here