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Plato and the Development of the Academy - Essay Example

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Plato, an ancient Greek philosopher, is one of the three great philosophers of all times; Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, who among them, laid the foundations of the entire philosophical culture of the Western civilization (Encyclopedia Britannica 2008), and defined and organized philosophical thought, theory and application in the systematic manner that forms the basis of today's concepts and theories…
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Plato and the Development of the Academy

Download file to see previous pages... This goes on to illustrate his logical reasoning and rational approach towards the underlying focus of all his ideas, that is, ethics (Encyclopedia Britannica 2008). It was his work that enabled Euclid to form his systematic approach to mathematics (JOC/EFR 1999).
The Academy of Plato, or the Platonic School, is a major topic to be discussed when discussing Plato and his contributions to the field of philosophy, because it was through this institution that he was able to impart his doctrines and ideas to his students, and it formed an important part of his intellectual life where he devoted many years as its Head. He worth and merit of this institution can be judged from the fact that such thinkers and philosophers like Aristotle, Xenocrates and Eudoxus of Cnidus were members and heads of the Academy.
However, there are some issues related to the Academy and its concept as we may have today that need to be discussed first in order to form a better and accurate understanding of its workings and its personality. The place where Plato taught was a park in Athens that was named after a mythical and legendary ancient Greek hero called Academus, or Hecademus, with a wall surrounding it and encompassing a grove of olive trees, and a river flowing nearby to make the dry land fertile (University of St Andrews 2004). Before Plato started teaching there, it was dedicated to gymnastics, sports events, funeral activities and other festivals (University of St Andrews 2004). Around 387 B.C., Plato, who had a house and a garden nearby, began teaching in the park to a group of interested students, and this gathering of intellectuals, teaching and learning, took the name of Academia, or the modern Academy, from the park, and hence, indirectly, from Academus (University of St Andrews 2004).
Therefore, it can be seen that the Academy had no connection with a physical place of learning, as the modern concept of the term Academy denotes, nor does it refers to a school of strict and formulated learning where a set curriculum is imparted according to the doctrines of the Head. In fact, the place it self had nothing to do with teaching or learning, as mentioned earlier, but was a place of gymnastics and other athletics. The School, that is the body of scholars who adhered to the Platonic way of thinking, was continued to be called Academy even after it was shifted to Alexandria (The Catholic Encyclopedia 1911). Another aspect that needs to be cleared is that the Academy was not dominated by Plato, even though he was the founder and the Head of the institution, and he did not inject his doctrines into his students like would happen in a modern academy where students adhere to a fixed concept. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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