Plato - An insight into the Life of the Philosopher #2
Already at the age of 14 Plato meets his mentor, the philosopher Socrates, for the first time. He has been one of his students since he was twentieth. Plato follows Socrates' speeches with great zeal. He is enthusiastic about how Socrates wants to lead the people on the streets and market places of athens on the way of truth through conversations. Socrates, who believes that virtuous action is based on insight and knowledge.
At that time Socrates had a large number of students around him, almost all of them from the aristocratic upper class. This is of course a thorn in the side of the government of athens. Without further ado, the unloved philosopher is therefore sentenced to death by the democrats in 399. The execution of Socrates by the poison cup is the decisive event and the turning point in Plato's life. He now sees himself as the philosophical administrator of the estate of his great teacher.
Like many other students of Socrates, Plato leaves Athens because he fears political persecution and cannot identify himself with the unjust government. He uses his travels to exchange ideas with other philosophers and rulers.
First he goes 3 years to Megara to Euclid, who was also a student of Socrates, where also some other students of Socrates had retired. Further journeys lead Plato to Cyrene, to the mathematician Teodoros of Cyrene and then Egypt. On the way he begins to write down the conversations of Socrates in dialogue form, who himself left nothing in writing.
The first script Plato wrote is the so-called Apology, the defensive speech that Socrates gave during his lawsuit before the Athens court. This dialogue is regarded as Plato's subsequent settlement with the Athens government.
At that time the young philosopher was very preoccupied with the subject of justice. Again and again it becomes the subject of his texts while the philosophical current of the sophists, who are very widespread in Greece at that time, represents the theory that there is no justice per se, but that justice is always dependent on use and interests.
Plato represents the thesis of Socrates:
"Suffering injustice is always better than doing injustice".
That means concretely:
"Justice is something that stands above the personal interests of individuals and thus also above the interests of a ruler who may never claim for himself that his advantage is to be equated with justice".