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And isn't it a bad thing to be deceived about the truth, and a good thing to know what the truth is? For I assume that by knowing the truth you mean knowing things as they really are. (Plato, 380BC)

the rulers who make decisions for the entire city, Plato held that the perfect

In a few lines, we come to understand that Plato's goals have always been . Contrary to a widespread stereotype, Plato was no dreamer withdrawing from earthly matters in some remote "world of forms." He was not that "stargazer" falling in a ditch while looking at the sky, in the manner of the so-called philosopher he ironically portrays at the very center of the (). Rather, he became a teacher and the founder of the most successful school of antiquity . When he came to realize that it is impossible to be a good leader without proper training (this is probably what he means when he mentions "" in his letter), he quit dreaming of being himself a leader to become the teacher of future leaders and lawmakers. He hoped in this way to better fight the evil he saw in the cities of his day than in risking his life in revolutions. In other words, Plato gave up a political career in the present to become a politician for the future and "invest" in education. But unlike Socrates, his master, who had come to similar conclusions, -- remarking (in the words Plato puts in his mouth at his trial), "" () -- Plato did not content himself with roaming through the agora, questioning whomever luck might put in his way. Instead, he decided, probably some time after returning from his first trip to Sicily, that is about halfway through his life, to open a school in Athens and develop a consistent program of education for future leaders. That school, known as the Academy, lasted for the next ten centuries.


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...for the object of education is to teach us to love beauty. (Plato, 380BC)

But I shall be asked, Why do people delight in continually conversing with you? I have told you already, Athenians, the whole truth about this: they like to hear the cross-examination of the pretenders to wisdom; there is amusement in this. And this is a duty which the God has imposed upon me, as I am assured by oracles, visions, and in every sort of way in which the will of divine power was ever signified to anyone. This is true, O Athenians; or, if not true, would be soon refuted. For if I am really corrupting the youth, and have corrupted some of them already, those of them who have grown up and have become sensible that I gave them bad advice in the days of their youth should come forward as accusers and take their revenge; and if they do not like to come themselves, some of their relatives, fathers, brothers, or other kinsmen, should say what evil their families suffered at my hands. Now is their time. Many of them I see in the court. There is Crito, who is of the same age and of the same deme with myself; and there is Critobulus his son, whom I also see. Then again there is Lysanias of Sphettus, who is the father of Aeschines - he is present; and also there is Antiphon of Cephisus, who is the father of Epignes; and there are the brothers of several who have associated with me. There is Nicostratus the son of Theosdotides, and the brother of Theodotus (now Theodotus himself is dead, and therefore he, at any rate, will not seek to stop him); and there is Paralus the son of Demodocus, who had a brother Theages; and Adeimantus the son of Ariston, whose brother Plato is present; and Aeantodorus, who is the brother of Apollodorus, whom I also see. I might mention a great many others, any of whom Meletus should have produced as witnesses in the course of his speech; and let him still produce them, if he has forgotten - I will make way for him. And let him say, if he has any testimony of the sort which he can produce. Nay, Athenians, the very opposite is the truth. For all these are ready to witness on behalf of the corrupter, of the destroyer of their kindred, as Meletus and Anytus call me; not the corrupted youth only - there might have been a motive for that - but their uncorrupted elder relatives. Why should they too support me with their testimony? Why, indeed, except for the sake of truth and justice, and because they know that I am speaking the truth, and that Meletus is lying.


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Plato did not claim to know where the line between Form and non-Form is to be drawn. As Cornford points out, those things about which the young Socrates (and Plato) asserted "I have often been puzzled about these things" (in reference to Man, Fire and Water), appear as Forms in later works. However, others do not, such as Hair, Mud, Dirt. Of these, Socrates is made to assert, "it would be too absurd to suppose that they have a Form."

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In the summary passage quoted above Plato distinguishes between real and non-real "existing things", where the latter term is used of substance. The figures that the artificer places in the gold are not substance, but gold is. Aristotle stated that, for Plato, all things studied by the sciences have Form and asserted that Plato considered only substance to have Form. Uncharitably, this leads him to something like a contradiction: Forms existing as the objects of science, but not-existing as non-substance. Scottish philosopher objects to this as a mischaracterization of Plato.