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The Greek philosopher Plato 428-347 BC was among the most important and creative thinkers of the ancient world His work set forth most of the important problems and concepts of Western philosophy psychology logic and politics and his influence has remained profound from ancient to modern times Plato was born in Athens in 428 BC Both his parents were of distinguished Athenian families and his stepfather an associate of Pericles was an active participant in the political and cultural life of Periclean Athens Plato seems as a young man to have been destined for an aristocratic political career The excesses of Athenian political life however both under the oligarchical rule of the so-called Thirty Tyrants and under the restored democracy seem to have led him to give up these ambitions In particular the execution of Socrates had a profound effect on his plans The older philosopher was a close friend of Platos family and Platos writings attest to Socrates great influence on him After Socrates death Plato retired from active Athenian life and traveled widely for a number of years In 388 BC he journeyed to Italy and Sicily where he became the friend of Dionysius the Elder ruler of Syracuse and his brother-in-law Dion The following year he returned to Athens where he founded the Academy an institution devoted to research and instruction in philosophy and the sciences Most of his life thereafter was spent in teaching and guiding the activities of the Academy When Dionysius died Dion invited Plato to return to Syracuse to undertake the philosophical education of the new ruler Dionysius the Younger Plato went perhaps with the hope of founding the rule of a philosopher-king as envisioned in his work the Republic The visit however ended in failure In 361 Plato went to Syracuse again This visit proved even more disastrous and he returned to the Academy Plato died in 347 BC Platos published writings of which apparently all are
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