Calamos Supports Greece
GreekReporter.comAncient GreeceHow to Live a Fulfilling Life According to Greek Philosopher Plato

How to Live a Fulfilling Life According to Greek Philosopher Plato

Plato and Aristotle dialectics
Plato is widely regarded as the first “true” ancient Greek philosopher, and his ideas about how to live a fulfilling life are still relevant today. Credit: Luca della Robbia-Museo dell’Opera del Duomo-Florence. CC BY 4.0/ Yair Haklai – Wikimedia Commons

Widely considered the first “true” philosopher of Ancient Greece, Plato was primarily interested in how people could live a fulfilling life.

Plato, the ancient Greek philosopher

Born in Athens, the namesake of platonic love was said to have been influenced by Socrates, and, at forty years of age, founded The Academy, a philosophical school where he later taught Aristotle.

Little is known about Plato’s early life, but from his work, all of which is believed to have survived intact for over 2,400 years, we can discern a few autobiographical details. In his masterwork, Republic, the philosopher refers to some of his relatives in great detail, including his two brothers Adeimantus and Glaucon, several times.

According to scholar James Notopoulos’ journal articles in Classical Philology, Plato was known to have adorned himself with earrings and rings during his younger years. This was a sign of his noble ancestry.

Thanks to further scholarship, such as that of Plato: His Life and Work, written by Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, we know that Plato belonged to an aristocratic and influential family. But what of Plato’s philosophy—the so called, Platonism?

Plato’s Philosophy of Fulfillment

In good company with most other ancient philosophers, Plato placed strong emphasis on fulfillment, or ‘eudaimonia,’ by way of virtue. He believed that fulfillment was the highest aim of moral thought and that the virtues—courage, gratitude, and kindness, among others —are the skills needed to attain it.

In achieving eudaimonia, the philosopher, who in later life was sold into slavery by Dionysius after attempting to replace the tyrant with one of his own followers, made four suggestions.

First, he believed people should devote more time to thinking about their own values rather than the values imbued on them by society. What he said should be avoided is ‘doxa,’ or common sense.

In many of his works, Plato exposed common sense as pregnant with errors and superstition. He argued that mainstream thought, or popularly-held opinions, lead people towards the wrong values.

He believed that to ‘know yourself’ is the ultimate harbinger of fulfillment, and this could only be done by spending time thinking in private and then testing one’s assumptions in public, to see how they fare. This is now known as the Socratic method.

Secondly, Plato argued that romantic love is not static and that two people in a relationship should not simply accept each other for who they are but should actively help each other to grow.

In his play, The Symposium, Plato says that true love is admiration. This means finding a partner with qualities one lacks him/herself so as to learn from that person. Consequently, one would reach his or her full potential.

Another of Plato’s fulfillment theories was that beautiful things, such as architecture, nature, and the stars, are beautiful to us because they represent qualities that we lack in our own lives. The philosopher claimed that we find things beautiful when we see in them elements that are needed. This might include anything like gentleness, balance, and harmony.

Last but not least, Plato considered the question of how government and society ought to be run. In his thinking, he is said to have been inspired by the rival of Athens, Sparta, a city which tailored all its efforts to producing elite soldiers.

Nonetheless, instead of focusing on how to create a fearsome military, as was the case in Sparta, Plato was interested in how a society could become effective in utopianism and how it could be arranged to bring the maximum amount of fulfillment to the most people.

See all the latest news from Greece and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow GR on Google News and subscribe here to our daily email!

Related Posts