The Antiquity has always remained an inexhaustible treasury of knowledge and education. In this work Plato’s ideas concerning education in terms of his idealistic conception are the point of the interest, because Plato’s ideas are the unique Greek cogitative image that opens the spiritual richness of ancient Greek thought. Exactly since the VI century B.C the principles of education in Greece started to form. Plato sought for the ways and methods of the integral development of the person; he was striving to reveal the conditions and tools, which would let people realize their potential in the best way and harmonize their relationships. Emphasizing the issue of education, Plato paid much attention to the problem of the correlation of heredity, environment, mind, will and feelings. His ideas referred to the questions of education are reflected in dialogues Meno, Protagoras and The Republic.
It must be acknowledged that the world-outlook of the epoch of the Antiquity is syncretic. That is why the questions of education are closely connected with the ontology, ethics and aesthetics, especially the problem of education and upbringing includes the questions about moral developments and the idea of the virtuous life and virtuous ideal – “arête,” which is the aim of human’s life, according to Plato. In his earliest dialogues Plato tries to give the most precise definition of arête and he always comes to the conclusion that separate virtues (bravery, reasonableness, piety, justice) are the parts of one entire virtue, which is the purpose of the paideia. According to Plato, the notion “paideia” conforms to the notion “education”. This conception is elaborated in Plato’s dialogues Protagoras and The Republic. “Paideia” means the way (its guidance, organization), which is passed by a person. This way is the way of personal development, inner changing due to the aspiration for the ideal of mental and physical perfection (“kalos kagathos”) via acquisition of virtue – “arête.” The knowledge lets people cognize the genuine values, which are ideas – eternal permanent essences, be virtuous and become perfect. Plato perceived knowledge to be the foundation of all virtues. According to Plato, “arête” or virtue can be taught via cognizing yourself, finding the virtue with the help of active search. Therefore, “paideia” is the tool of the realization of the human nature. Thus, “paideia” is an organized education, which gives people an opportunity to realize their will to reach the true “arête” that is hidden in their souls; a justification of the idea of natural individuality of the person, the reveal of his inner potential.
The essence of this virtue is knowledge. In the dialogue Protagoras he stresses the knowledge to be the background of any education. In this dialogue Socrates tries to persuade the sophists that knowledge, which is virtue, is the source of the education. However, in this work Socrates has to reject his thesis that the virtue cannot be taught in the process of education, if the idea that virtue is knowledge is accepted. Even thought the knowledge is roughly defined in Protagoras as the art of measuring, and the gist of this art is disregarded, Plato raises the question about the essence of the knowledge in a lot of his writings.
Identifying virtue with knowledge as the highest purpose of the education, he returns to the analysis of this notion in his dialogue Meno. In this dialogue the answer of the question about the knowledge as “arête” is given. The question of the gist of knowledge has been very significant for Plato’s philosophy. That is why Meno has been called the program of Plato’s Academy. Such thesis shows that Plato’s Academy has been ahead of other institutions of learning. Philosophy of that time could not have been measured its agenda with the problem of knowledge. Even in Meno Plato tries to show that for him the problem of knowledge is organically connected with his ethical inquiry and gets its meaning in ethical terms. Plato understands the education as the process of the acquisition of knowledge via remembering the essences, eternal forms that existed in our soul before our earthly existence.
Before the incarnation in this life our soul has possessed the knowledge about thing it has to cognize further. Therefore, the search of human thought and the act of cognition is only a reviving of the entire knowledge that slumbers in the depth of our soul. Recalling that truth that has been already known by our soul lets it open other pieces of experience. The ability to revive all forgotten and hidden in the soul perceptions corresponds to the act of the education.
About the author: Olivia Onil is a master in English philology and literature at California University. Olivia is currently working as one of the best writers at the https://essaysprofessor.com/ She also studies feminine psychology.