Mathematician:Plato

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Mathematician

Plato (Greek: Πλάτων, Plátōn, "broad") was a Greek philosopher, a student and friend of Socrates and teacher of Aristotle.

Importantly documents the philosophy of Socrates.

Of particular importance was his insistence on the idea of proof.

Adopted and adapted the teachings of the Pythagorean school, from which the concept of numerology was passed to the emergent Western civilization.


Nationality

Greek


History

  • Born: 428 or 427 BCE, Athens, Greece
  • Died: 348 or 347 BCE, Athens, Greece


Theorems and Definitions

Definitions of concepts named for Plato can be found here.


Writings

35 dialogues and 13 letters, although there is doubt as to whether he actually wrote all of them.

They are conventionally arranged into groups of four books:

I. Euthyphro, (The) Apology (of Socrates), Crito, Phaedo
II. Cratylus, Theaetetus, Sophist, Statesman
III. Parmenides, Philebus, (The) Symposium, Phaedrus
IV. First Alcibiades (?), Second Alcibiades (!), Hipparchus (!), (The) (Rival) Lovers (!)
V. Theages (!), Charmides, Laches, Lysis
VI. Euthydemus, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno
VII. (Greater) Hippias (major) (?), (Lesser) Hippias (minor), Ion, Menexenus
VIII. Clitophon (?), (The) Republic, Timaeus, Critias
IV. Minos (!), (The) Laws, Epinomis (!), Epistles (?).

Works marked (?) are those over which no consensus can be reached over whether Plato was actually the author.

Works marked (!) are those which are generally believed nowadays that Plato did not write them.


The following works were at one time accredited to Plato, but even in antiquity had been determined to have been written by others. They all form the body of his works labelled as Notheuomenoi (i.e. "spurious") or Apocrypha.

  • Axiochus
  • Definitions
  • Demodocus
  • Epigrams
  • Eryxias
  • Halcyon
  • On Justice
  • On Virtue
  • Sisyphus


Notable Quotes

God ever geometrises.
-- Quoted in 1937: Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics: They Say: What Say They? : Let Them Say


Critical View

The development of Western philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato.
-- Alfred North Whitehead


In Plato, the same twofold impulse [toward mysticism and science] exists, though the mystic impulse is distinctly the stronger of the two, and secures ultimate victory whenever the conflict is sharp.
-- Bertrand Russell


Plato's writings do not convince any mathematician that their author was strongly addicted to geometry ... We know that he encouraged mathematics ... But if -- which nobody believes -- the μηδειϛ άγεωμέτρητος εἰσίτω [Let no man ignorant of geometry enter] of Tzetzes had been written over his gate, it would no more have indicated the geometry within than a warning not to forget to bring a packet of sandwiches would now give promise of a good dinner.
-- Augustus De Morgan


While wading through the whimsies, the puerilities, and unintelligible jargon of [ the Republic ], I laid it down often to ask myself how it could have been that the world should have so long consented to give reputation to such nonsense as this?
-- Thomas Jefferson


Also known as

It is worth mentioning that Plato was in fact a nickname. He was either broad-shouldered, had a wide forehead, or was so named for the breadth of either his writings or writing style.

Some sources suggest that his name was actually Aristocles.


Sources