How was Plato significant in Western Civilization? How did his writings influence ethics and politics? Reference The Republic, The Symposium, and Socrates's dialogues.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Western thought is indebted to Plato in many ways. It is known for certain that early Christian thinkers, like Augustine or Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite, read and commented on Plato. Augustine was a platonist himself before turning to Christianity, and he used his knowledge of Plato's doctrine to answer key questions about the essence of God. As for the Areopagite, his neo-platonic vision of Christianity strikes such a chord that Benedict XVI said in 2008 that his thought would be an interesting direction in which to renew Catholic faith. These are only examples of Plato's lasting influence in the realm of religion. I will briefly discuss another, less recognized major influence of Plato on Western Civilization.

There is something like an uninterrupted line that could be traced from Plato to modern philosophers like Leo Strauss and Alain Badiou. This line is called "idealism" and links Plato to Plotinus, Boetius, Thomas Aquinas, Ficino, Berkeley, Hegel, Husserl, Bergson, and Weil. It is...

(The entire section contains 9 answers and 1133 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team