06. Plato Know Thyself

Plato, probably the most illustrious and representative of the philosophers of Greece, used as a precept to his followers in his school of philosophy, the Academy: "Know thyself"—gnothi seauton.

From his writings it would appear that he had an understanding of the real Self, although none of the words that he used has been rendered into English as anything more adequate than "the soul".

Plato used a method of inquiry concerning the finding of the real Self. There is great art in the exploiting of his characters; in producing his dramatic effects. His method of dialectics is simple and profound.

The mentally lazy reader, who would rather be entertained than learn, will most likely think Plato tedious.

Obviously his dialectic method was to train the mind, to be able to follow a course of reasoning, and to be not forgetful of the questions and answers in the dialogue; else one would be unable to judge the conclusions reached in the arguments.

Surely, Plato did not intend to present the learner with a mass of knowledge.

It is more likely that he intended to discipline the mind in thinking, so that by one's own thinking he would be enlightened and led to knowledge of his subject.

This, the Socratic method, is a dialectical system of intelligent questions and answers which if followed will definitely help one to learn how to think; and in training the mind to think clearly Plato has done more perhaps than any other teacher.

But no writings have come down to us in which he tells what thinking is, or what the mind is; or what the real Self is, or the way to knowledge of it.

One must look further.

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