Plato: Selected Passages

Plato: Selected Passages

Plato: Selected Passages

Plato: Selected Passages

Excerpt

Perhaps no thinker has had as deep and permanent an influence on European thought as Plato, and many people meet him there without recognizing him. He is present in some of the greatest English poets: if he had never lived, Spenser, Shelley, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Bridges, would not have written some of their most characteristic poetry. He is present in politics. 'The Communist party, like the Fascisti, owes its general conception to that germinal idea of the Modern State, the Guardians in Plato's Republic. If anyone is to be called the Father of the Modern State, it is Plato.' He is present in religion; the opening sentences in St. John's Gospel reflect his thought, and he was the first to argue that 'the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal'. The extracts that follow will show how living are his subjects and his thought. Almost every problem that he discusses is a modern problem.

Those who read him study at the same time a man, in a different way as great as Plato—Socrates, his master. The two thinkers are united by a relationship to which history has no parallel. Socrates wrote nothing and we should know hardly anything about him, if two men who heard him in their youth had not published . . .

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