Western Culture Global Presents

The Top 100 Heroes of Western Culture
These individuals have most contributed to replacing ignorance with knowledge, savagery with civilization, disease with health, tyranny with liberty, poverty with abundance, and despair with happiness.



#60: Plato (428BC - 328BC)

Plato was a Greek philosopher who can be considered the father of philosophy -- that is, he was the first thinker to attempt to systematize man's knowledge to provide a comprehensive view of life.

In the ancient world prior to Plato, many thinkers in Greece had identified and attempted to answer many fundamental questions, namely: what is the nature of reality; how can man gain knowledge; what is ethical; and what is the proper social / political system.

Plato's genius was that he grasped that these questions are interrelated, not isolated, and that consequently their answers should comprise a unified, systematic, all-encompassing whole -- that is, a philosophy.

Despite this immense achievement, Plato can only properly be considered half Western. This is because the answers he formulated to the above questions represent mysticism, which is the defining characteristic of non-Western culture. Western culture, by contrast, is distinguished and defined by reason. Not until Plato's student Aristotle formulated a philosophy of reason was Western culture officially born.

In other words, although Plato largely created the explicit discipline of philosophy, an achievement that would make possible the development of Western culture, his own answers to philosophic questions are fundamentally at odds with the Western world view.



Go to #61: Ptolemy

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