18 Dec 2010

Sample Essay: Plato

Plato is one of the great creators of philosophy, writing, the arts, and mathematics. His entire life has been to contributing change in the way we think and communicate. Even though his time has passed the theories he created lives on in legacy. Plato wrote over thirty dialogues expressing the way of life with the teachings of his successor Socrates. With the historical records that have been collected, I will summarize his life and analysis of what I believe to be his key contributions to the way we view the world around us today.

Historical records suggest that the real name of Plato is Aristocles, named after his grandfather. But his wrestling coach gave him the name “Platon” which is famous even till today. According to the historical data, dating from the Alexandrian period, Plato was given the name “Platon”, which means “breadth” due to his vigorous physical appearance. Plato had been instructed in gymnastics, music and grammar by the most distinguished teachers of that time (Platthy). Even before Plato met Socrates he had attended several courses in philosophy. In his philosophy courses he first became acquainted with Cratylus, who was a disciple of Heraclitus a prominent pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and the Heraclitean doctrines (Kraut).

Plato’s definite birth time and place cannot be determined by the available historical data. But it can be said with certainty that he belonged to an influential and aristocratic family. Based on the historical data, many modern scholars suggest that Plato was either born in Aegina or Athens between the years 429 BC to 423 BC. Plato’s father name was Ariston and his mother’s name was Perictione. A few historical records suggest that Ariston traced his ancestors from Codrus, the king of Athens, and Melanthus, the king of Messenia. On the other hand Plato’s maternal family was famous for their relationship with Solon, the Athenian lawmaker and poet. Ariston and Perictione had two sons; Adeimantus and Glaucon, and a daughter; Potone, other than himself. Potone was the mother of Speusippus who became the successor of Plato as the head of the philosophical Academy (Dillon).

Historical records suggest that the biological father of Plato, Ariston, died in Plato’s childhood but the precise dating of his date cannot be determined. After Ariston’s death Perictione remarried Pyrilampes who was her mother’s brother. Pyrilampes was in himself a very influential man; on numerous occasions he served as an ambassador to the Persian court and he was a personal friend of Pericles; the leader of the Athenian democratic fraction. Although in the Platonic dialogues Plato is silence about himself but he introduced many of his relatives in his dialogues (Clay). As a matter of fact these dialogues are one of the sources from where the family tree of Plato is constructed. The family tree of Plato suggests a considerable amount of family pride. In the opening scenes of the dialogue Charmides, Plato glorifies his family and their deep rooted connections with the most influential personalities of their time (Hare). These dialogues are a memorial to the happier days of his family and Socrates.

Plato traveled in Cyrene, Egypt, Italy and Sicily and returned to Athens when he was forty years old. When he returned to the city of Athens he founded of the earliest known organized schools in Western Civilization. The school was known as Academy and it was a large enclosure of ground which was at one point in time the property of a citizen named Academus. The Academy remained operational until 529 AD when it was closed down by Justinian I of Byzantium. Justinian closed the Academy in an attempt to protect himself because he viewed the Academy as a threat; that it would be used for the propagation of Christian religions. Many intellectuals and numerous great minds of the era were schooled in the Academy. The most prominent of all the students was Aristotle.

Historical records suggest that Plato initially visited Syracuse while it was under the rule of Dionysus. During Plato’s first trip he accepted Dion of Syracuse the brother-in-law of Dionysus, as one of his disciples. But certain events changed all this, Dion turned against Plato; he was sold into slavery and almost died in Cyrene. After sometime an admirer of Plato bought for him his freedom and sent him back to Athens.

Years later Dion himself requested Plato to tutor Dionysus II to become a philosopher king. Plato accepted the offer and started teaching Dionysus II. Dionysus II started to accept Plato’s teaching but he started to detest his uncle, Dionysus. At some point in time he expelled Dion and retained Plato against his will. Eventually Plato managed to leave the Syracuse. In later years Dion returned to Syracuse and deposed Dionysus and usurped his position, shortly after a fellow disciple of Plato usurped the ruling position of Syracuse. Thus Plato was entangled in the political circus of Syracuse throughout the later years of his life (Brumbaugh).

A few central themes can be found in Plato’s work. These central themes serve as the central ideologies which Plato constantly revisits. Almost every work of Plato is, in one way or another, dependent upon his distinction. A majority of which investigate into the ethical and practical consequences of considering of reality in a bifurcated way. Plato’s work compels its readers to transform the values by understanding the reality of Forms and incompetence of the real world. Plato considers, the soul and the object, two completely different things, Plato’s views suggest that the soul does not even depend on the existence of the object itself and its functioning. As a matter of fact a soul can grasp the nature of the Forms when it is unhindered by any of its attachments (Lodge). Furthermore, in a few of his works, he suggests that soul is always able to recollect what it grasped of the Forms once it is disembodies and the lives of the body are either rewards or punishments for the choices which the soul made in the previous existence.

Plato has contributed greatly to the theory of art; particularly in architecture, dance, drama, poetry and music. He also discussed a wide range of philosophical topics encompassing politics, ethics, metaphysics where the topics of focus were man, mind, Realism and immortality. Furthermore he also discussed the philosophies of mathematics and philosophies of religion. According to Plato’s Theory of Forms, he rejected the deceptive and ever changing world which we know of through the use of our sensory proposing. Instead his world of ideas was true. In addition to all of these works Plato talks about geometrical diagrams that they are flawed replication of perfect mathematical objects. Moreover Plato also contributed to the fields of legal philosophy, logic and rhetoric.

Even though Plato did not make any mathematical discoveries himself, he held a strong conviction that mathematics enables us the mind to indulge in the finest training. Plato’s contribution to the philosophies of education can be seen by observing how he ran the Academy. Plato is always determined to work on the idea of “proof”, thus he insisted upon clear and precise definitions and hypotheses. This Platonic approach laid down the fundamentals of Euclid’s systematic approach to mathematics. The historical records suggest that these mathematical guidelines provided by Plato served as a beacon of light for many others. And since almost all of the important mathematical work was completed by either the friends or pupils of Plato this suggests the effectiveness of Plato’s contribution to mathematics.

Plato was able to create a structure or subject matter for philosophy by formulating and arguing over a wide range of metaphysical and ethical questions. To explain the symmetry amongst many objects, he developed metaphysics of Forms. Platonic view regarding the ethical questions is rooted in this metaphysics of Forms via the study of the Form of “good”. Therefore Plato is responsible for finding a linkage between metaphysics and ethics. In his greatest work, the Republic, Plato developed a perceptive analogy between an individual and the state. In his dialogues Plato argues upon the nature of virtues and he also ponders upon several epistemological questions.

Plato is, by any standards of measurement, one of the most recognized writers in the Western literature. He is also undoubtedly the most influential and penetrating authors in the field of philosophy. He was an Athenian citizen of high social status. His prime focus was on the political events and the intellectual engagements of his time but he has raised very profound questions from these events. Furthermore he has also provided richly suggestive answers to such problems, these questions and answer of Plato are so provocative that almost every educated reader in every time period can’t help but to be influenced by Plato and more importantly his philosophies. In almost every age there were many philosophers who called themselves Platonists; this point alone attests to the greatness of Plato’s work.

Although he was not the first scholar who formulated innovative theories but he definitely was the first philosopher whose work and philosophies are based on rigorous and systematic examinations of his surroundings. His philosophies encompasses numerous and diversified field of interest; some of these fields include ethics, politics, metaphysics and epistemological issues, yet his work has proved to be valuable addition to such fields of study. Plato, with his extraordinary work, had created such a place in history which only a few handful other philosophers can contend to.

Work Cited Page

Brumbaugh, Robert Sherrick. Plato for the modern age. University Press of America, 1991.

Clay, Diskin. Platonic questions: dialogues with the silent philosopher. Penn State Press, 2000.

Dillon, John. The Heirs of Plato: A Study of the Old Academy (347-274 BC). Oxford University Press, 2005.

Hare, Richard Mervyn. Plato. Oxford University Press, 1982.

Kraut, Richard. The Cambridge companion to Plato. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

Lodge, Rupert Clendon. The Philosophy of Plato. Routledge, 2000.

Platthy, Jenő. Plato: a critical biography . Federation of International Poetry Associations of UNESCO, 1990.

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26 Oct 2009

Sample Essay: Communication and Writing

If there is something to be recognised, it is that while communication is a necessary part of our lives, there are some of us that are just not good at it. Over the centuries, mankind has been thwarted by numerous phobia and abnormal social tendencies, thus allowing the very comforting method of online communication to succeed. There are a great many reasons why people need to communicate and these include: comparison, similarity, support and networking. People use communication in order to compare differences between themselves and others, yet on the same stream of thought, they also use it to find similarities. Support is a very necessary part of our lives too, primarily because we cannot exist on our own mentally or emotionally. However, over time, communication in the form of writing has been used for the modern cause of networking or expanding business opportunities. So we have quite a wide range of reasons why communicating is necessary but on the other hand, why do we particularly like to communicate in writing.

Relationships are built on knowing one another, and today it is relatively easy to get to know someone ‘online’. While this seems to be a good form of communication, there is a problem with it. The major problem is that while we can gather a great deal about someone via their writing, we also are not let in to their innate selves. This is where many pedophiles and sex-criminals seem to succeed. They are able to present an idea of what they are like in online chat-rooms, but those reading it are not able to pick on the finer nuances of their character. The process of communicating through writing therefore allows us to create images of ourselves and others, the way we want to see them and not necessarily how we really are. In this case there is a direct relationship to the fantasy world. That is, this is the same reason why people are enthralled with fantasy films and books. We are able to communicate or relate to people around us with relative ease and without feeling threatened. Let us take for instance the film Lord of the Rings: in this case, the film was described as fantasy, but to many, the finer details were incredibly similar to that of real life. Despite there being orc’s, elves and dwarves running around, there is also a symbol of power that is real in our true lives. The entire of humanity is fighting a battle between good and evil on a daily basis and this no less related to the relationship between power and the fight for total control. Using this as an example, we can see that although we live with ourselves, we like to create other versions of ourselves.

If we consider now the book The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss, we can see that writing is also about identity and about being ‘visible’. The character in the book, Leopold Gursky, is a young aspiring writer whose book The History of Love (a book within a book) is collection of memories that run back and forth through his lifetime. These writings were the works of someone who was intent on not being forgotten and who had begun to feel as though he were invisible. Having escaped from Poland and gone to New York, he now undertook the rather innocuous job of being a locksmith. It is important to realise that in this book the history of love is not the history of love in general, but HIS history of love. It makes the story more compellingly intimate that if it were a mere history of how love came about. It is an in depth personal relationship of the writer with himself, revealing both the best and the worst of himself. “Suddenly I felt the need to beg God to spare me as long as possible…I was terrified that I or one of my parents were going to die…The fear of death haunted me for a year…I was left with a sadness that couldn’t be rubbed off”(Krauss, 125). Tentatively the reason why this book succeeds is that it looks specifically at how people deal with hopes and fears in their lives. There is no need to put on a false bravado for the sake of public appearance when you write. It is in a sense, just you and the paper and anyone who wishes to read it is not bound by the identity that you have created.

Let us now return to the theme of Lord of the Rings and identity – the reason why we write. We write because we essentially have two identities: one is the way we see ourselves and the other is the way the outside world sees us. We are never able to fully allow someone to know who we are in our own minds, but they can gain idea from what we say and do. There is therefore the individual identity and the social/collective identity. George Herbert Mead created the theory of the social self – the “I” and the “me” and this is a particularly interesting aspect of identity that reflects why we like to relate to others through writing: “On the other hand, the stuff that goes to make up the “me” whom the “I” addresses and whom he observes, is the experience which is induced by this action of the “I.””(Mead, 374). The “I” part of the self is the essential self, the innate personality that cannot be changed, but the “me” is the part that changes to relate to those around you. If you consider the question “Who am I?” and consider writing about who you think you are as opposed to who others think you are, then you realise that who you are is a complex mix of other with whom you connect. Lord of the Rings saw a great deal of different “ethnic” groups that had to come together in order to survive – the major reason why communicate in the first place. We can see this in the inscription that Frodo Baggins writes at the end of the book he wrote about the Battle for Middle earth: “My Diary. My unexpected journey, there and back again. And what happened after. Adventures of five Hobbits. The Tale of the Great Ring, compiled by Bilbo Baggins from his own observations and the accounts of his friends. What we did in the War of the Ring.”(Tolkien, 1004). Note that here is reference to both the singular and the plural, separating the personal from the social but recognising the relationship between the two. First of all we see that while he is a hobbit, he is also Bilbo Baggins, giving duality to his existence.

We have looked at two literary pieces that look at identity on very different levels:  The History of Love looks at personal identity with emphasis on the cultural identity as well while Lord of the Rings looks at the ethnic/groups identity while also looking at the individuals that reside within it. However, we now consider writing mediums such as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace and Bibo, in an attempt to understand why people enjoy the less personable relationships with others through writing. First of all, you can write as little or as much about yourself as you live. You don’t have to give away too much and you also don’t have to communicate if you don’t want to. You can choose who you want to communicate with while also flexing your own artistic and creative writing prowess. Many people enjoy writing notes or quotes about themselves or what they enjoy on Facebook, allowing them to connect with others who have similar interests. In some cases, the person enjoys writing about themselves; their likes and dislikes while in other cases, a false picture is painted. Take for example the person writes that their birth date is ten years younger than they actually are. Or consider the picture that a person is able to upload, that does not necessarily look like the person concerned at all. The person that friends see, is the person they think they are getting. In some cases, a person actually enjoys the mystery of not allowing facial expression to reveal how they feel while in other cases, people enjoy using emotive words and phrases that reveal how they are feeling. Another reason why this is a popular site is actually because of the sense of worth that people gain from it. Having many friends makes you feel more worthy, loved and appreciated, giving you both a confidence boost and a sense of fitting in. The process of Facebook actually allows you to communicate with people from across the world, whom you would usually not be able to contact. Competitions such as “Best Friend Contest” appear to be fun and aimed at recreation but really serve to give the people concerned the idea that they are better than someone else, without it being competitive in the threatening way. The same is true for “groups” that you are able to join, thus giving your friends an idea of who you are and what you like. It gives a person the sense of being individual while also being a part of a group. Writing is still fundamentally an expression of the self, something that would usually be considered vain if it were not for internet chat sites.

Returning now to the reasons why people communicate in the written medium on websites such as Facebook is for comparative purposes. This means that one is able to look at others on the websites whether friends or acquaintances and say “I am not like that”. It is important for the person to create their own platform for identity that says ” This is me, here I am” as well as saying “I am who I am because I am not who you are.” In another sense, we use it to identify similarities. We connect with people like ourselves, who have the same interests and enjoy the same activities. This is shown by the groups we join and the fan-base we agree with – this is shown in our profile that tells others what we like. We also use this form of communication for support in times that are difficult. It is easy to gain a broad perspective of advice and support through the broad spectrum of friends we are able to communicate with on a daily basis. In today’s world, networking has become extremely popular to expand businesses and entrepreneurial relationships, thereby broadening the base of people who are able to view our sites and profiles. This is a useful tool insofar as it gives the reader a perspective of what they can expect through the viewing of pictures and profiles.

Writing is a form of communication that is highly personalised while also being not too invasive. You are able to choose your audience and also able to chose who you wish to communicate with. Writing is also a creative medium that we are able to manipulate to suit ourselves. It is therefore an expressive tool that we are able to keep forever, a published or well-kept piece of writing lasts forever and can be communicated long after we have departed, giving us not only memories, but also everlasting existence. We are thus able to relate the past, present and the future of who we are in one communicable source.

References:

Krauss, Nicole. The History of Love. WWW. Norton & Co. Inc, 2006.

Mead, George Herbert.  “The Social Self”, Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 10, 1913: 374-380

Tolkien, JRR. The Lord of the Rings. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991

05 Aug 2008

School Essays

Schools essays are just what the doctor ordered. Writing has never been more exciting. Instructors assign school essays to strengthen a student’s ability on a particular subject matter. How much can one really learn when the teacher only lectures, gives multiple-choice tests and skip assigning school essays? It’s wise to say, education would be boring without school essays. Educational institutions focus on the power of school essays. While school essays are rather short pieces of work, they help jog the mind. The mind requires exercise to retain the material. School essays are the embodiment of academic success. How often does a student write school essays? School essays are the most common form of academic writing. Instructors are using school essays on more of their midterm and final exams. They would rather test a student’s knowledge on a particular subject than to use multiple-choice questions. Writing service companies relish on the idea of writing your school essays. Whether they have to reduce or enhance their writing skills to produce quality school essays, each writer welcomes the challenge. How should students approach writing school essays?

Writing school essays is a training process. Students don’t produce quality school essays on their first try. How many students have fallen into the writing quicksand? Writing school essays is no easy task. One can consider writing school essays like climbing a large mountain. Training to climb a mountain takes discipline, dedication and determination. It’s unlikely that a student will master school essays if they dislike writing. This is the main reason that writer service companies exist. School essays can cover diverse topics that are either media headlines or just minor issues that never unfold. When student rush to write school essays, they tend to overlook the dynamics behind producing quality work. One may still wonder how in the world should they approach writing school essays.

Writing school essays begins with a subject matter. The course in which a student writes their school essays for determines the stylistic approach. It’s imperative to make the writing school essays as efficient as possible. Once a student discovers their groove, it’s possible for the writing process to find an alternative way through the dark tunnel. Writing school essays is boring for many. They dread the idea of sitting down, planning and writing school essays. Discipline is the foundation of writing school essays. Interest level can fade once a student refuses to write their school essays. Concepts and ideas will fall into your lap at any given moment. At that particular moment, you’ll be reminded of something insightful to your subject matter.

School essays need a strong introduction. The greatest writers struggle with starting the introduction. There are many reasons for enduring introduction issues. Student must understand the subject matter. Writing service companies employ writers that can channel across many waves in producing school essays. Once the introduction builds to the body, school essays evolve into a powerful project. The thesis is a rather short one liner that focuses on the entire project. What do you want to concentrate on? Determining the page length of school essays, a student can challenge 3-6 points in their paper. The body will contain facts from sources. In the second part, the student adds their response to the previous paragraph. This effort coordinates with each successive paragraph. There many strategies in handling school essays.

The goal is to illustrate your opinion as quickly as possible, but still follow the structure of school essays. Once the introduction and body are complete, one can use the conclusion to discuss what took place in the course of their school essays. Writing school essays doesn’t have to be complex. Follow a plan of action and you should be well on your way to completing your school essays. If you feel lost in the writing process, writing service companies are always available to take on your school essays. The key to writing school essays is containing some formal knowledge of the subject matter. When one feels comfortable about the subject matter, they will write more efficiently. Writing school essays should be fun. Just remember, if you strike out, writing service companies are available and ready to take on your school essays.

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