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Plato - Windows to the Universe

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Picture of Plato
Corbis-Bettmann. From sculpture in the Vatican, Rome.

Plato

Plato was a Greek philosopher who lived between 427-327 B.C. In 387 B.C., he founded the Academy in Athens, a school which flourished for about 1,000 years and made many important scientific and mathematic discoveries.

Although Plato made no important discoveries in mathematics himself, he played a crucial role in developing a systematic approach to mathematics, one involving rigorous proofs and accurate definitions. You see, he believed in absolute truths. And he believed that mathematics was the key to those truths. Such a belief in order and mathematical explanations was to spur the Greeks on to find an explanation for that what they saw in the sky. Many say that with teachers like Socrates and Plato, the Greeks were bound to try to explain the seemingly unordered movement of the planets.

Plato is also considered the inventor of philosophic argument, having written several works involving Socratic dialoque, such as The Republic.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF