Culture Global Presents
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
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
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
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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