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They have done so ever since he made them public, and while a lot of things about society have changed, the fundamental truth of how society handles its problems, its differences, and its dissenters have not.
The conclusions that Plato reached in his works have held up because they are honest and true. They also hold because human nature has not really changed very much since Plato's time (Nails, 2006). Technology and many other things have likely advanced far beyond what Plato could have imagined during his lifetime, but the intrinsic nature of the human beings who create that technology has stayed the same, and it appears as though it will continue to do so. This is a large part of what makes Plato's musings so valuable to philosophers and others. Would Socrates be persecuted today? It depends on exactly what he did based on the laws that are available today, but the differences that he had would very likely not be well understood.
Tolerance for religion and for people who are anti-government, anti-society, or that work to bring people to 'their side' and away from the whole of society is usually low, overall. People who keep to themselves are left alone, and people who 'make waves' are not. This has not changed. Not all publicity is good publicity, and people who cause problems are at least closely watched, in an effort to determine whether what they are doing is criminal. If they are found to be doing something that is against society, there are often laws that are broken. Many of these laws do not result in the kind of serious sentence that Socrates was given, but dissent of certain types is still a punishable offence.
Plato and Learning
Plato wanted, in many of his writings, to give a very clear explanation of how he felt human beings learned about life, ethics, morality, and anything else that shaped their world (Nails, 2006). The Allegory of the Cave is the clearest of all of his work, but The Apology is also very clear in what it is trying to say. Not only does Plato discuss education, but philosophy, a society's political life, and human life in general in both of these works. A lot of what Plato pointed out through his rendition of the dialogue of Socrates is still very accurate today, and much of what he said in The Allegory of the Cave is also very accurate in the sense of being how society views itself in today's world.
A lot of people today still do not wish to look at any other way of doing things, or seeing things, and that makes them content to sit and stare at whatever they have become used to seeing. In The Apology, the people who are persecuting Socrates clearly have the same basic mentality as the people in the cave, in that they do not see how something different can be good, acceptable, or even better than what they already have (Nails, 2006). They are failing to look at the big picture, and only showing that they do not like change.
They do not see much of anything as necessarily bad or good in many cases, and they simply go through their life from day-to-day without actually realizing that there is much more out there to be seen and heard and experienced if they would be willing to open their eyes, hearts, and minds to it. Learning is something that is touted by society as being very important, but the only kind of learning that is acceptable is the learning that society has designed for its people (Nails, 2006). In other words, when someone comes along with a radical new idea, he or she is thought to be wrong, insane, or dangerous, as opposed to a visionary.
Plato was one of the great philosophers of his time, and the reason that he is still seen as having such importance comes from the idea that what he had to say was essentially timeless. That is very valuable, and it helps to show that, for all of the differences in society today, the similarities are stronger. People still band together, overall, against things that they feel are wrong or different, just like they did when Socrates was convicted and sentenced to death. In addition, people still do not like change, just as they showed in The Allegory of the Cave. With that in mind, what Plato had to say will still be relevant even hundreds of years into the future. That is not only the mark of a good philosopher, but it is also the mark of someone who truly understood humanity and all of its triumphs and flaws.
Through the dialogue of Socrates and the people who lived in the cave, Plato shows that there is still much to be understood and thought about. If the people in society do not take the time to think about what they are doing and where they are going, nothing will change. That was true in the time of Plato, and it is true now. How society would grow and change in the future was something that Plato could not accurately predict, but yet he was such a strong student of the world that he was aware of the intrinsic thought patterns of the society in which he lived and how those patterns would not change quickly over time.
Aristotle (1958) Politics. Trans. & Ed. Ernest Barker. London: Oxford University Press.
Guthrie, W.K.C. (1986). A History of Greek Philosophy: Volume 4, Plato: The Man and His Dialogues: Earlier Period. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Kahn, Charles H. (2004). "The Framework," Plato and the socratic dialogue: The Philosophical Use of a Literary Form. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Nails, Debra (2006). "The Life of Plato of Athens," A Companion to Plato edited by Hugh…[continue]
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