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Influential Ancient Greek Citizen, Essay Example

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Plato is one of the most famous Greeks to have ever born in the history of mankind and his ideas continue to influence the modern world in untold ways. Plato was one of the earliest individuals to think of educational institutions as places where people should think rather than be taught doctrines. It’s no wonder that the origin of the word ‘academy’ lies in Plato’s Academy (School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland).

In addition to education, Plato’s ideas also continue to influence the political ideologies in modern world. According to classical scholar Martha Craven Nussbam, former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew embraced Plato’s political ideas in The Republic to transform his country such as controlling private and public behavior, promoting high birth rates among the ‘alleged’ intelligent classes, and providing stratified education (Cassedy). Plato was one of the earliest individuals to see the evils of dictatorial rule. He claimed that tyranny results in a corrupt leader who uses his absolute power to only further his own interests (Constitutional Rights Foundation). Even America’s founding fathers agreed with Plato and took steps to ensure separation of powers. Plato’s influence can also be seen in the ideas of modern economics such as capitalism. Plato’s The Republic takes the position that a person should act for the sake of his or her own happiness and success (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). This position is quite similar to the idea in free market system that selfish behavior and greed are not entirely bad because they result in efficient allocation of scarce resources.

Plato’s influences on modern society continue to confirm his timeless wisdom and his emphasis on independent thinking rather than giving in to traditions and social stereotypes. Plato’s life emphasizes the importance of objective thinking which is why his ideas still have not lost their appeal and continue to be debated by the intellectuals.

References

Cassedy, Kathleen. Plato Persists. 18 March 1996. 5 September 2012 <http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9605/nussbaum.html>.

Constitutional Rights Foundation. Plato and Aristotle on Tyranny and the Rule of Law. Fall 2010. 5 September 2012 <http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-26-1-plato-and-aristotle-on-tyranny-and-the-rule-of-law.html>.

School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of St Andrews, Scotland. The Academy of Plato. August 2004. 5 September 2012 <http://www-history.mcs.st-and.ac.uk/Societies/Plato.html>.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Plato’s Ethics and Politics in The Republic. 31 August 2009. 5 September 2012 <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-ethics-politics/#6>.

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