Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle
Born in 469 BC, Socrates is considered the father of western philosophy. Interestingly, Socrates never wrote anything, and therefore all we know about him comes from what others wrote about him, especially his student Plato through his many dialogues. In one of these dialogues, Socrates even discusses the merits of the spoken word overwritten since written words cannot defend themselves. This aligns with his common technique of questioning others to eventually expose how little they know; his questioning technique would later become known as the Socratic method, which would eventually lead to the creation of the Scientific Method. A vocal critic of Athenian democracy, Socrates was eventually sentenced to death in 399 BC on the charges of impiety and corrupting the youth through his teachings.
Born around 428 BC, Plato is known as a great philosopher and is known through his many writings, approximately 36 dialogues. Plato was a student of Socrates, and Socrates is found in almost all his dialogues. Plato was an idealist and developed his Theory of Forms. He used forms to showcase the ideal version of things, forms acting as a blueprint to guide toward a goal. In the famous Allegory of the Cave, Plato describes people uneducated on the Theory of Forms, only observing the shadow of objects and not enlightened; when someone finally leaves the cave and becomes enlightened of the true world, the people in the cave are in disbelief and even plot to kill the enlightened person. Plato is also known for starting his Academy in 387 BC, which many believe to be the first university in the world. The Academy was an institution for philosophical teachings, and many famous students attended it, such as Aristotle.
Born in 384 BC, Aristotle was a great philosopher, even known to be a tutor to Alexander the Great, and is well known for the many works that have survived; we can see many of his theories and principles today. As stated, Aristotle was a student to Plato but was a realist in contrast to the idealism seen with Plato; Aristotle even started his own school called Lyceum later, where students studied a broad range of topics, such as biology, theology, and math. Aristotle is often considered the father of rhetoric, defining the main methods of rhetoric as ethics, emotion, and logic. Aristotle also has a strong belief in education and even described in his work Metaphysics that all men have a desire for knowledge. Aristotle established many theories, such as on virtue and the golden mean, which was described as finding the balance in a list of virtues he created. He is also known for creating deductive logic, aptly named Aristotle’s Logic, found in his collective work underneath the title Organon; Aristotle’s Logic revolved around the syllogism and was the dominant form of a logical reason for two millennia.