Plato: The Importance of Knowledge
Plato, in his work The Republic, deals with the issue of living a good life. He presents his argument through two questions: what is justice in the state and what is a just individual? These two provoking inquiries naturally bring about many others. One of these questions is: how should the citizens of a state be educated? “Plato was the first who conceived the method of knowledge…He was the greatest metaphysical genius whom the world has seen; and in him, more than in any other ancient thinker, the germs of future knowledge are contained.” Plato was passionate about the importance of knowledge. He saw two worlds, the sensible and the intelligible, each having its own type of knowledge. These two worlds could be divided by a line: the upper part was the intelligible world and the lower part consisted of the visible world. In the visible world men only have opinions, illusions, and beliefs, but only see reflections of reality. Their beliefs in the lower world may guide them in life but do not require reaching conclusions with certainty. The intelligible world, however, contains two sub-regions. One is reason. This includes knowledge of things that can be accepted without question. The second sub-region, the highest a man can reach, is intelligence. This is when a man has an understanding of the ultimate good. Plato’s emphasis on the importance of knowledge led him to write in 360 BCE, in The Republic, “It is better to be unborn than untaught: for ignorance is the root of misfortune.” This passionate statement is more than Plato’s
philosophy, it is his reality. The ideal State could not be attained without knowledge which leads to virtue and reformation.
“Plato was greatly affected by the deterioration of Athenian politics during and immediately after the Peloponnesian War. The rise of demagogues, the violent conflict...