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Philosophy is a term that was coined from a Greek phrase translating to mean, “The love of wisdom” (Soccio, 2009). Today, we talk of a person’s Philosophy thereby making the assumption that philosophy refers to his belief system and general way of life. We can therefore say that everybody has a philosophy although not everybody is a philosopher. In the past, philosophers were reputed to be to be full of wisdom which stemmed from the fact that they were willing to ask hard questions that had baffled mankind for years. Plato is an example of one of the most phenomenal philosophers.
Being and Becoming
Plato was a progeny of Socrates and he was also a member of the Athenian aristocracy which was responsible for the death of Socrates. When he saw that the regime had killed his mentor, Plato decided to begin his own school so as to teach wisdom to the rulers. Plato’s metaphysics comprises of changeless essences. These essences are referred to as forms (Strauss, 1964). He partitioned reality into three distinct groups or levels. Level one is the timeless being. The last two levels together form the becoming. Becoming is described as a level of change. Plato observed that contention only happens at the becoming level and not at the being level (Diogenes, 2003).
Drawing from the example of the sophists, a people who were constantly on the lookout for changing customs of the world, Plato observed that they could not get a hold of wisdom since truth is immutable. He in fact used his theory on being and becoming to prove false the sophist theories (Kreis, 2009). Plato observed that the people that were living at the becoming level were the most redundant of the population as they were wanting in their imagination (McDonald, 2000).
Plato’s view of life has changed the way many things are viewed today. The concept of becoming and being has been instrumental in the understanding not only of life issues but also of some of the scientific procedures (Savvit, 2006). The ideas were the foundation on which the logic theory was designed. It consequently made the scientist and mathematicians realize better and easier methods to dealing with some real world issues.
When he wanted an analogy of good, Plato referred to the sun. From a scientific point of view, the sun is actually the source of all life on earth. Animals need the warmth from it to survive while plants need the light from it to photosynthesize. He therefore was trying to say that good is the pivot of everything else in life. But unlike the sun which can actually be seen by the naked eye, good can neither be seen nor felt. Good can only be realized by its results (Wheeler, 1997).
Plato’s suggestion of the becoming and being model has partitioned life into two. One is either at the being level or at the becoming level. The being level is the lowest and Plato actually suggested that the people at this level we in fact the most unimaginative of the population. The second level which is called the being level is of those that have graduated from the lower level and are thought to be wise as they have learnt to engage their brain.
Diogenes, L. & Sedley, D. (2003). Plato’s Cratylus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kreis, S. (2009). Greek Thought: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The History Guide. Web.
McDonald, F. (2000). Plato’s Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato. London: Routledge
Savvit, S. (2006). Being and Becoming in Modern Physics. Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy.
Soccio, J. (2009). Archetypes of Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy. London: Cengage Learning.
Strauss, L. (1964). The City and Man. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Wheeler, C. (1997). Plato’s Enlightenment: The Good as the Sun. History of Philosophy Quarterly, 14(2), 171-188.