About Plato

Plato (423 – 348 BC) was a philosopher in Classical Greece and the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the most pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition.  Wikipedia

References:   Encyclopaedia Britannica   |   Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


Plato (quotes)

Principles to live by



  • Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power… become lovers of wisdom.
  • Perfect wisdom has four parts, namely wisdom, the principle of doing things aright; justice, the principle of doing things equally in public and private; fortitude, the principle of not flying danger, but meeting it; and temperance, the principle of subduing desires and living moderately.
  • Was not this … what we spoke of as the great advantage of wisdom — to know what is known and what is unknown to us?
  • Wisdom always makes men fortunate: for by wisdom no man could ever err, and therefore he must act rightly and succeed, or his wisdom would be wisdom no longer.
  • Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.  
  • Cunning… is but the low mimic of wisdom.
  • Poets utter great and wise things which they do not themselves understand.
  • Wisdom alone is the science of other sciences.
  • The wisest have the most authority.
  • A wise man speaks because he has something to say; a fool because he has to say something.  


  • I think a man’s duty is to find out where the truth is, or if he cannot, at least to take the best possible human doctrine and the hardest to disprove, and to ride on this like a raft over the waters of life.  
  • What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy.
  • You should not honour men more than truth.
  • Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
  • Truth is the beginning of every good to the gods, and of every good to man.
  • They deem him the worst enemy who tells them the truth.


  • Entire ignorance is not so terrible or extreme an evil, and is far from being the greatest of all; too much cleverness and too much learning, accompanied with ill bringing-up, are far more fatal.
  • Courage is knowing what not to fear.
  • Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil.
  • Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous.
  • The learning and knowledge that we have, is, at the most, but little compared with that of which we are ignorant.
  • Was not this … what we spoke of as the great advantage of wisdom — to know what is known and what is unknown to us?
  • Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.
  • Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.
  • Knowledge which is acquired under compulsion obtains no hold on the mind.
  • And what, Socrates, is the food of the soul? Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul.
  • Knowledge is true opinion.
  • Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous.

Doing what is right and good

  • The man who finds that in the course of his life he has done a lot of wrong often wakes up at night in terror, like a child with a nightmare, and his life is full of foreboding: but the man who is conscious of no wrongdoing is filled with cheerfulness and hope.
  • When men speak ill of thee, live so as nobody may believe them.
  • Any man may easily do harm, but not every man can do good to another.
  • We ought to fly away from earth to heaven as quickly as we can; and to fly away is to become like God, as far as this is possible; and to become like him is to become holy, just, and wise.


  • No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.   


  • He who commits injustice is ever made more wretched than he who suffers it.
  • Injustice is censured because the censures are afraid of suffering, and not from any fear which they have of doing injustice.
  • Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those offended.
  • Of all the things of a man’s soul which he has within him, justice is the greatest good and injustice the greatest evil.  
  • The highest reach of injustice is to be deemed just when you are not.
  • Then not only custom, but also nature affirms that to do is more disgraceful than to suffer injustice, and that justice is equality.
  • To do injustice is more disgraceful than to suffer it.
  • Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.
  • Justice means minding one’s own business and not meddling with other men’s concerns.
  • The highest reach of injustice is to be deemed just when you are not.
  • Those who intend on becoming great should love neither themselves nor their own things, but only what is just, whether it happens to be done by themselves or others.
  • Not to help justice in her need would be an impiety.

Learning and education

  • All learning has an emotional base.
  • By education I mean justice that training in excellence from youth upward which makes a man passionately desire to be a perfect citizen, and teaches him to rule, and to obey, with justice. This is the only education which deserves the name.
  • Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.
  • Do not train children in learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
  • If women are expected to do the same work as men, we must teach them the same things.
  • The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.
  • The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future in life.
  • If a man neglects education, he walks lame to the end of his life.
  • For good nurture and education implant good constitutions.
  • The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery.
  • We do not learn; and what we call learning is only a process of recollection.
  • No trace of slavery ought to mix with the studies of the freeborn man. No study, pursued under compulsion, remains rooted in the memory.

Courage and bravery

  • Courage is knowing what not to fear.
  • How does a man become brave? By doing brave things.
  • Courage is a kind of salvation.


  • Apply yourself both now and in the next life. Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, You cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.
  • I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.


  • Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.

Simple living

  • The greatest wealth is to live content with little.


  • The most virtuous are those who content themselves with being virtuous without seeking to appear so.    
  • No evil can happen to a good man, either in life or after death.
  • All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue.
  • The good is the beautiful.
  • Virtue is relative to the actions and ages of each of us in all that we do.
  • Knowledge becomes evil if the aim be not virtuous.


  • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.


  • At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet.
  • Love is a serious mental disease.
  • Love is the joy of the good, the wonder of the wise, the amazement of the Gods.
  • To love rightly is to love what is orderly and beautiful in an educated and disciplined way.
  • There is no such thing as a lovers’ oath.
  • No one is a friend to his friend who does not love in return.


  • Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.


  • Moderation, which consists in an indifference about little things, and in a prudent and well- proportioned zeal about things of importance, can proceed from nothing but true knowledge, which has its foundation in self- acquaintance.
  • The community which has neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles.


  • No human thing is of serious importance.
  • Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.


  • Man – a being in search of meaning.


  • Prefer diligence before idleness, unless you esteem rust above brightness.

Beginning well

  • The beginning is the most important part of the work.


  • Grant that I may become beautiful in my soul within, and that all my external possessions may be in harmony with my inner self.


  • Integrity is your destiny-it is the light that guides your way.


  • All things will be produced in superior quantity and quality, and with greater ease, when each man works at a single occupation, in accordance with his natural gifts, and at the right moment, without meddling with anything else.
  • Each man is capable of doing one thing well. If he attempts several, he will fail to achieve distinction in any.
  • One man cannot practice many arts with success.
  • Hardly any human being is capable of pursuing two professions or two arts rightly.


  • Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.  
  • The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.


  • He who is of calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressure of age, but to him who is of an opposite disposition youth and age are equally a burden.
  • They who are of a calm and happy nature will hardly feel the pressures of age.
  • The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depends upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily. This is the man of moderation, the man of manly character and of wisdom.


  • Know thyself.


  • Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.
  • Life must be lived as play.
  • You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.


  • Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.


  • We are twice armed if we fight with faith.


  • Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly.

Taking personal responsibility

  • The blame is his who chooses: God is blameless.


  • Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.


  • There is a place that you are to fill and no one else can fill, something you are to do, which no one else can do.


  • The first and greatest victory is to conquer yourself; to be conquered by yourself is of all things most shameful and vile.
  • There’s a victory, and defeat; the first and best of victories, the lowest and worst of defeats which each man gains or sustains at the hands not of another, but of himself.


  • All men are by nature equal, all made of the same earth by one Workman; and however, we may deceive ourselves, as dear unto God is the poor peasant as the mighty prince.


  • Abstinence is the surety of temperance.


  • Ideas are the source of all things.

Things that limit us



  • Excess generally causes reaction, and produces a change in the opposite direction, whether it be in the seasons, or in individuals, or in governments.
  • Excess of liberty, whether it lies in state or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.
  • Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.
  • The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.

Excessive desire

  • Desires are only the lack of something: and those who have the greatest desires are in a worse condition than those who have none, or very slight ones.
  • There is in every one of us, even those who seem to be most moderate, a type of desire that is terrible, wild, and lawless.


  • We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.  


  • False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.


  • There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.


  • The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.


  • To suffer the penalty of too much haste, which is too little speed.

Thoughts on …


Pleasure and pain

  • Do you, like a skilful weigher, put into the balance the pleasures and the pains, near and distant, and weigh them, and then say which outweighs the other? If you weigh pleasures against pleasures, you of course take the more and greater; or if you weigh pains against pains, then you choose that course of action in which the painful is exceeded by the pleasant, whether the distant by the near or the near by the distant; and you avoid that course of action in which the pleasant is exceeded by the painful.
  • Pleasure is the greatest incentive to evil.


  • Your silence gives consent.
  • To be sure I must; and therefore, I may assume that your silence gives consent.


  • Science is nothing but perception.  


  • The measure of a man is what he does with power.


  • May I consider the wise to be rich, and may I have such riches as only a person of self-restraint can bear or endure.
  • No wealth can ever make a bad man at peace with himself.
  • Wealth is well known to be a great comforter.


  • Thinking is the talking of the soul with itself.      
  • When the mind is thinking it is talking to itself.    


  • Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.  
  • No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding.  


  • Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
  • Rhetoric is the art of ruling the minds of men.
  • A state arises, as I conceive, out of the needs of mankind; no one is self-sufficing, but all of us have many wants.
  • The rulers of the state are the only persons who ought to have the privilege of lying, either at home or abroad; they may be allowed to lie for the good of the state.
  • States are as the men, they grow out of human characters.


  • A tyrant is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
  • This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.
  • Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.


  • Democracy passes into despotism.
  • Democracy… is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder; and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequals alike.
  • One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
  • This City is what it is because our citizens are what they are.
  • Tyranny naturally arises out of democracy.
  • Our object in the construction of the state is the greatest happiness of the whole, and not that of any one class.
  • The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.


  • Only a philosopher’s mind grows wings, since its memory always keeps it as close as possible to those realities by being close to which the gods are divine. A man who uses reminders of these things correctly is always at the highest, most perfect level of initiation, and he is the only one who is perfect as perfect can be. He stands outside human concerns and draws close to the divine; ordinary people think he is disturbed and rebuke him for this, unaware that he is possessed by god.
  • Philosophy begins in wonder.    
  • There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.
  • What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth, that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy.
  • Philosophy is the highest music.


  • Know one knows whether death, which people fear to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good.
  •  Death is not the worst that can happen to men.
  • There is great reason to hope that death is good; for one of two things — either death is a state of nothingness and utter unconsciousness, or, as men say, there is a change and migration of the soul from this world to another. Now if you suppose that there is no consciousness, but a sleep like the sleep of him who is undisturbed by the sight of dreams, death will be an unspeakable gain. For if a person were to select the night in which his sleep was undisturbed even by dreams, and were to compare with this the other days and nights of his life, and then were to tell us how many days and nights he had passed in the course of his life better and more pleasantly than this one, I think that any man … even the great king will not find many such days or nights, when compared with the others. Now if death is like this, I say that to die is gain; for eternity is then only a single night. But if death is the journey to another place, and there, as men say, all the dead are, what good, O my friends and judges, can be greater than this?  
  • Must not all things at the last be swallowed up in death?  

Bringing up children

  • Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.
  • Do not train children in learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.
  • No man should bring children into the world who is unwilling to persevere to the end in their nature and education.
  • Of all the animals, the boy is the most unmanageable.
  • The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.
  • The most important part of education is proper training in the nursery.
  • We ought to esteem it of the greatest importance that the fictions which children first hear should be adapted in the most perfect manner to the promotion of virtue.

Mind, body, soul

  • The greatest mistake in the treatment of diseases is that there are physicians for the body and physicians for the soul, although the two cannot be separated.
  • The greatest mistake physicians make is that they attempt to cure the body without attempting to cure the mind; yet the mind and the body are one and should not be treated separately.


  • The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.
  • Attention to health is life’s greatest hindrance.


  • All is flux, nothing stays still.

Human nature

  • To prefer evil to good is not in human nature; and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will choose the greater when he might have the less.
  • Man – a being in search of meaning.


  • Even the gods love jokes.
  • He was a wise man who invented God.
  • There are few people so stubborn in their atheism who when danger is pressing in will not acknowledge the divine power.
  • The eyes of the soul of the multitudes are unable to endure the vision of the divine.

The part verses the whole

  • The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole.
  • The part can never be well unless the whole is well.
  • If particulars are to have meaning, there must be universals.


  • Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.
  • It is clear to everyone that astronomy at all events compels the soul to look upwards, and draws it from the things of this world to the other.


  • Necessity… the mother of invention.


  • Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.
  • Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.    
  • Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.


  • Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was every granted by the gods to man.  


  • For let me tell you, that the more the pleasures of the body fade away, the greater to me is the pleasure and charm of conversation.

Human motives

  • There are three classes of men; lovers of wisdom, lovers of honour, and lovers of gain.
  • Human behaviour flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.

More thoughts

  • People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die.
  • A hero is born among a hundred, a wise man is found among a thousand, but an accomplished one might not be found even among a hundred thousand men.
  • He who is not a good servant will not be a good master.
  • It is right to give every man his due.
  • Man never legislates, but destinies and accidents, happening in all sorts of ways, legislate in all sorts of ways.
  • As the builders say, the larger stones do not lie well without the lesser.
  • It is a common saying, and in everybody’s mouth, that life is but a sojourn.
  • There is no harm in repeating a good thing.
  • Twice and thrice over, as they say, good is it to repeat and review what is good.
  • They certainly give very strange names to diseases.
  • Whatever deceives men seems to produce a magical enchantment.
  • The gods’ service is tolerable, man’s intolerable.
  • There must always remain something that is antagonistic to good.
  • He who steals a little, steals with the same wish as he who steals much, but with less power.
  • How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?
  • I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.
  • A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways – by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.
  • Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.
  • I exhort you also to take part in the great combat, which is the combat of life, and greater than every other earthly conflict.
  • Remember how in that communion only, beholding beauty with the eye of the mind, he will be enabled to bring forth, not images of beauty, but reality (for he has hold not of an image but of a reality), and bringing forth and nourishing true virtue to become the friend of God and be immortal, if mortal man may.
  • The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.  
  • The sight of day and night, and the months and the revolutions of the years, have created number and have given us conception of time, and the power of inquiring about the nature of the Universe.
  • To be curious about that which is not one’s concern while still in ignorance of oneself is absurd.
  • To prefer evil to good is not in human nature; and when a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no one will choose the greater when he might have the less.