Theory of forms
The theory of Forms or theory of Ideas is a philosophical theory, concept, or world-view, attributed to Plato, that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, unchangeable ideas. According to this theory, ideas in this sense capitalized and translated as "Ideas" or "Forms", are the non-physical essences of all things, of which objects and matter in the physical world are imitations. Plato speaks of these entities only through the characters of his dialogues who sometimes suggest that these Forms are the only objects of study that can provide knowledge; the theory itself is contested from within Plato's dialogues, it is a general point of controversy in philosophy. Whether the theory represents Plato's own views is held in doubt by modern scholarship. However, the theory is considered a classical solution to the problem of universals; the early Greek concept of form precedes attested philosophical usage and is represented by a number of words having to do with vision and appearance.
Plato uses these aspects of sight and appearance from the early Greek concept of the form in his dialogues to explain the Forms and the Good. The meaning of the term εἶδος, "visible form", related terms μορφή, "shape", φαινόμενα, "appearances", from φαίνω, "shine", Indo-European *bʰeh₂- or *bhā- remained stable over the centuries until the beginning of philosophy, when they became equivocal, acquiring additional specialized philosophic meanings; the pre-Socratic philosophers, starting with Thales, noted that appearances change, began to ask what the thing that changes "really" is. The answer was substance, which stands under the changes and is the existing thing being seen; the status of appearances now came into question. What is the form and how is that related to substance? The Forms are expounded upon in Plato's dialogues and general speech, in that every object or quality in reality has a form: dogs, human beings, colors, courage and goodness. Form answers the question, "What is that?" Plato was asking what Form itself is.
He supposed that the object was or "really" the Form and that the phenomena were mere shadows mimicking the Form. The problem of universals – how can one thing in general be many things in particular – was solved by presuming that Form was a distinct singular thing but caused plural representations of itself in particular objects. For example, in the dialogue Parmenides, Socrates states: "Nor, again, if a person were to show that all is one by partaking of one, at the same time many by partaking of many, would that be astonishing, but if he were to show me that the absolute one was many, or the absolute many one, I should be amazed." Matter is considered particular in itself. For Plato, such as beauty, are more real than any objects that imitate them. Though the forms are timeless and unchanging, physical things are in a constant change of existence. Where forms are unqualified perfection, physical things are qualified and conditioned; these Forms are the essences of various objects: they are that without which a thing would not be the kind of thing it is.
For example, there are countless tables in the world but the Form of tableness is at the core. Plato's Socrates held that the world of Forms is transcendent to our own world and is the essential basis of reality. Super-ordinate to matter, Forms are the most pure of all things. Furthermore, he believed that true knowledge/intelligence is the ability to grasp the world of Forms with one's mind. A Form is atemporal. Atemporal means that it does not exist within any time period, rather it provides the formal basis for time, it therefore formally grounds beginning and ending. It is neither eternal in the sense of existing forever, nor mortal, of limited duration, it exists transcendent to time altogether. Forms are aspatial in that they have no spatial dimensions, thus no orientation in space, nor do they have a location, they are non-physical. Forms are extra-mental. A Form is an objective "blueprint" of perfection; the Forms are unchanging representations of objects and qualities. For example the Form of beauty or the Form of a triangle.
For the form of a triangle say. A triangle is a polygon with 3 sides; the triangle as it is on the blackboard is far from perfect. However, it is only the intelligibility of the Form "triangle" that allows us to know the drawing on the chalkboard is a triangle, the Form "triangle" is perfect and unchanging, it is the same whenever anyone chooses to consider it. It follows that the same attributes would exist for all Forms; the words, εἶδος and ἰδέα come from the Indo-European root *weyd- or *weid- "see". Eidos is attested in texts of the Homeric era, the earliest Greek literature; this transliteration and the translation tradition of German and Latin lead to the expression "theory of Ideas." The word is however not the English "idea,", a mental concept only. The theory of matter and form started with Plato and germinal in some of the presocratic writings; the forms were considered as being "in" something else. The latter seemed as carved "wood", ὕλη in Greek, corresponding to m
Myth of Er
The Myth of Er is a legend that concludes Plato's Republic. The story includes an account of the cosmos and the afterlife that influenced religious and scientific thought for many centuries; the story begins as a man named Er son of Armenios of Pamphylia who will die in battle. When the bodies of those who died in the battle are collected, ten days after his death, Er remains undecomposed. Two days he revives on his funeral-pyre and tells others of his journey in the afterlife, including an account of reincarnation and the celestial spheres of the astral plane; the tale includes immoral people punished after death. Although called the Myth of Er, the word "myth" means "word, account", rather than the modern meaning; the word is used at the end when Socrates explains that because Er did not drink the waters of Lethe, the account was preserved for us. With many other souls as his companions, Er had come across an awe-inspiring place with four openings – two into and out of the sky and two into and out of the ground.
Judges sat between these openings and ordered the souls which path to follow: the good were guided into the path into the sky, the immoral were directed below. But when Er approached the judges, he was told to remain and observing in order to report his experience to humankind. Meanwhile from the other opening in the sky, clean souls floated down, recounting beautiful sights and wondrous feelings; those returning from underground appeared dirty and tired, crying in despair when recounting their awful experiences, as each was required to pay a tenfold penalty for all the wicked deeds committed when alive. There were some, who could not be released from underground. Murderers and other non-political criminals were doomed to remain by the exit of the underground, unable to escape. After seven days in the meadow, the souls and Er were required to travel farther. After four days they reached a place where they could see a shaft of rainbow light brighter than any they had seen before. After another day's travel they reached it.
This was the Spindle of Necessity. Several women, including Lady Necessity, her daughters, the Sirens were present; the souls – except for Er – were organized into rows and were each given a lottery token. In the order in which their lottery tokens were chosen, each soul was required to come forward to choose his or her next life. Er recalled the first one to choose a new life: a man who had not known the terrors of the underground but had been rewarded in the sky, hastily chose a powerful dictatorship. Upon further inspection he realized that, among other atrocities, he was destined to eat his own children. Er observed that this was the case of those, through the path in the sky, whereas those, punished chose a better life. Many preferred a life different from their previous experience. Animals chose human lives while humans chose the easier lives of animals. After this, each soul was her through their life, they passed under the throne of Lady Necessity traveled to the Plane of Oblivion, where the River of Forgetfulness flowed.
Each soul was required to drink some of the water, in varying quantities. As they drank, each soul forgot everything; as they lay down at night to sleep each soul was lifted up into the night in various directions for rebirth, completing their journey. Er remembered nothing of the journey back to his body, he opened his eyes to find himself lying on the funeral pyre early in the morning, able to recall his journey through the afterlife. In the dialogue Plato introduces the story by explaining to his questioner, that the soul must be immortal, cannot be destroyed. Plato tells Glaucon the "Myth of Er" to explain that the choices we make and the character we develop will have consequences after death. In Book II of the Republic, Socrates points out that the gods can be tricked by a clever charlatan who appears just while unjust in his psyche, in that they would welcome the pious but false "man of the people" and would reject and punish the just but falsely accused man, thus in the Myth of Er, when the gods send all men to choose another life, the true characters of the falsely-pious and those whose are immodest in some way are revealed when they choose the lives of tyrants.
Those who lived happy but middling lives in their previous life are most to choose the same for their future life, not because they are wise, but out of habit. Those who were treated with infinite injustice, despairing of the possibility of a good human life, choose the souls of animals for their future incarnation, it is through the careful cultivation of attention to the types of lives that emerge from a combination of experience and fate—through the practice of philosophy, in other words—that men knowingly make good choices when confronted with the possibility of a new life. No matter how life treats one or how successful or famous or powerful one becomes, one way or the other, or as in the Myth, how many temporary heavenly rewards or hellish punishments one experiences, these virtues will always work to one's advantage; the myth mentions "The Spindle of Necessity", in that the cosmos is represented by the Spindle attended by sirens and the three daughters of the Goddess Necessity known collectively as The Fates, whose duty is to keep the rims of the spindle revolving.
The Fates and Spindle are used in The Republic to help explain how known celestial bodies revolved around the Earth according to Plato's c
Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, as being the first moral philosopher, of the Western ethical tradition of thought. An enigmatic figure, he made no writings, is known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers writing after his lifetime his students Plato and Xenophon. Other sources include the contemporaneous Antisthenes and Aeschines of Sphettos. Aristophanes, a playwright, is the only source to have written during his lifetime. Plato's dialogues are among the most comprehensive accounts of Socrates to survive from antiquity, though it is unclear the degree to which Socrates himself is "hidden behind his'best disciple'". Through his portrayal in Plato's dialogues, Socrates has become renowned for his contribution to the fields of ethics and epistemology, it is this Platonic Socrates who lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic method, or elenchus. Socrates exerted a strong influence on philosophers in antiquity and in the modern era.
Depictions of Socrates in art and popular culture have made him one of the most known figures in the Western philosophical tradition. As Socrates did not write down any of his teachings, secondary sources provide the only information on his life and thought; the sometimes contradictory nature of these sources is known as the Socratic problem, or the Socratic question. Plato and Xenophon's dialogues provide the main source of information on Socrates's life and thought; these writings are the Sokratikoi logoi, or Socratic dialogues, which consist of reports of conversations involving Socrates. As for discovering the real-life Socrates, the difficulty is that ancient sources are philosophical or dramatic texts, apart from Xenophon. There are no straightforward histories, contemporary with Socrates, that dealt with his own time and place. A corollary of this is that sources that do mention Socrates do not claim to be accurate, are partisan. For instance, those who prosecuted and convicted Socrates have left no testament.
Historians therefore face the challenge of reconciling the various evidence from the extant texts in order to attempt an accurate and consistent account of Socrates's life and work. The result of such an effort is not realistic if consistent. Two factors emerge from all sources pertaining to the character of Socrates: that he was ugly, had a brilliant intellect, he lived within ancient Athens, he made no writings, he was executed by drinking hemlock. The character of Socrates as exhibited in Apology, Crito and Symposium concurs with other sources to an extent to which it seems possible to rely on the Platonic Socrates, as demonstrated in the dialogues, as a representation of the actual Socrates as he lived in history. At the same time, many scholars believe that in some works, being a literary artist, pushed his avowedly brightened-up version of "Socrates" far beyond anything the historical Socrates was to have done or said. Xenophon, being a historian, is a more reliable witness to the historical Socrates.
It is a matter of much debate over which Socrates it is who Plato is describing at any given point—the historical figure, or Plato's fictionalization. As British philosopher Martin Cohen has put it, "Plato, the idealist, offers an idol, a master figure, for philosophy. A Saint, a prophet of'the Sun-God', a teacher condemned for his teachings as a heretic."It is clear from other writings and historical artefacts, that Socrates was not a character, nor an invention, of Plato. The testimony of Xenophon and Aristotle, alongside some of Aristophanes's work, is useful in fleshing out a perception of Socrates beyond Plato's work. According to one source, the name Σωκρᾰ́της, has the meaning "whole, safe" and "power"; the problem with discerning Socrates's philosophical views stems from the perception of contradictions in statements made by the Socrates in the different dialogues of Plato. These contradictions produce doubt as to the actual philosophical doctrines of Socrates, within his milieu and as recorded by other individuals.
Aristotle, in his Magna Moralia, refers to Socrates in words which make it patent that the doctrine virtue is knowledge was held by Socrates. Within the Metaphysics, he states Socrates was occupied with the search for moral virtues, being the "first to search for universal definitions for them"; the problem of understanding Socrates as a philosopher is shown in the following: In Xenophon's Symposium, Socrates is reported as saying he devotes himself only to what he regards as the most important art or occupation, that of discussing philosophy. However, in The Clouds, Aristophanes portrays Socrates as accepting payment for teaching and running a Sophist school with Chaerephon. In Plato's Apology and Symposium, as well as in Xenophon's accounts, Socrates explicitly denies accepting payment for teaching. More in the Apology, Socrates cites his poverty as proof that he is not a teacher. Two fragments are extant of the writings by Timon of Phlius pertaining to Socrates, although Timon is known to have written to ridicule and lampoon philosophy.
Details about the life of Socrates are derived from both contemporary sources, ancient period sources. Of the contemporary sources, the greater extent of information is taken from the dialogues of Plato and Xenophon (both devotees of
Nous, sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, is a term from classical philosophy for the faculty of the human mind necessary for understanding what is true or real. English words such as "understanding" are sometimes used, but three used philosophical terms come directly from classical languages: νοῦς or νόος, intellēctus and intellegentia. To describe the activity of this faculty, the word "intellection" is sometimes used in philosophical contexts, as well as the Greek words noēsis and noeîn; this activity is understood in a similar way to the modern concept of intuition. In philosophy, common English translations include "understanding" and "mind", it is often described as something equivalent to perception except that it works within the mind. It has been suggested that the basic meaning is something like "awareness". In colloquial British English, nous denotes "good sense", close to one everyday meaning it had in Ancient Greece. In Aristotle's influential works, the term was distinguished from sense perception and reason, although these terms are inter-related.
The term was already singled out by earlier philosophers such as Parmenides, whose works are lost. In post-Aristotelian discussions, the exact boundaries between perception, understanding of perception, reasoning have not always agreed with the definitions of Aristotle though his terminology remains influential. In the Aristotelian scheme, nous is the basic understanding or awareness that allows human beings to think rationally. For Aristotle, this was distinct from the processing of sensory perception, including the use of imagination and memory, which other animals can do; this therefore connects discussion of nous to discussion of how the human mind sets definitions in a consistent and communicable way, whether people must be born with some innate potential to understand the same universal categories in the same logical ways. Deriving from this it was sometimes argued in classical and medieval philosophy, that the individual nous must require help of a spiritual and divine type. By this type of account, it came to be argued that the human understanding somehow stems from this cosmic nous, however not just a recipient of order, but a creator of it.
Such explanations were influential in the development of medieval accounts of God, the immortality of the soul, the motions of the stars, in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, amongst both eclectic philosophers and authors representing all the major faiths of their times. In early Greek uses, Homer used nous to signify mental activities of both mortals and immortals, for example what they have on their mind as opposed to what they say aloud, it was one of several words related to thought and perceiving with the mind. In pre-Socratic philosophy, it became distinguished as a source of knowledge and reasoning opposed to mere sense perception or thinking influenced by the body such as emotion. For example, Heraclitus complained that "much learning does not teach nous". Among some Greek authors, a faculty of intelligence known as a "higher mind" came to be considered as a property of the cosmos as a whole; the work of Parmenides set the scene for Greek philosophy to come and the concept of nous was central to his radical proposals.
He claimed that reality as the senses perceive it is not a world of truth at all, because sense perception is so unreliable, what is perceived is so uncertain and changeable. Instead he argued for a dualism wherein nous and related words describe a form of perception, not physical, but intellectual only, distinct from sense perception and the objects of sense perception. Anaxagoras, born about 500 BC, is the first person, known to have explained the concept of a nous, which arranged all other things in the cosmos in their proper order, started them in a rotating motion, continuing to control them to some extent, having an strong connection with living things. Amongst the pre-Socratic philosophers before Anaxagoras, other philosophers had proposed a similar ordering human-like principle causing life and the rotation of the heavens. For example, like Hesiod much earlier, described cosmic order and living things as caused by a cosmic version of love, Pythagoras and Heraclitus, attributed the cosmos with "reason".
According to Anaxagoras the cosmos is made of infinitely divisible matter, every bit of which can inherently become anything, except Mind, matter, but which can only be found separated from this general mixture, or else mixed into living things, or in other words in the Greek terminology of the time, things with a soul. Anaxagoras wrote: All other things partake in a portion of everything, while nous is infinite and self-ruled, is mixed with nothing, but is alone, itself by itself. For if it were not by itself, but were mixed with anything else, it would partake in all things if it were mixed with any. For it is the thinnest of all things and the purest, it has all know
Allegory of the Cave
The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato's Cave, was presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work Republic to compare "the effect of education and the lack of it on our nature". It is written as a dialogue between Plato's brother Glaucon and his mentor Socrates, narrated by the latter; the allegory is presented after the analogy of the divided line. All three are characterized in relation to dialectic at the end of Books VII and VIII. Plato has Socrates describe a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall; the people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality. Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner, freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are not reality at all, for he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the manufactured reality, the shadows seen by the prisoners.
The inmates of this place do not desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life. The prisoners manage to break their bonds one day, discover that their reality was not what they thought it was, they discovered the sun. Like the fire that cast light on the walls of the cave, the human condition is forever bound to the impressions that are received through the senses. If these interpretations are an absurd misrepresentation of reality, we cannot somehow break free from the bonds of our human condition—we cannot free ourselves from phenomenal state just as the prisoners could not free themselves from their chains. If, however, we were to miraculously escape our bondage, we would find a world that we could not understand—the sun is incomprehensible for someone who has never seen it. In other words, we would encounter another "realm", a place incomprehensible because, theoretically, it is the source of a higher reality than the one we have always known. Socrates remarks that this allegory can be paired with previous writings, namely the analogy of the sun and the analogy of the divided line.
The allegory of the cave is called the analogy of the cave, myth of the cave, metaphor of the cave, parable of the cave, Plato's Cave. Plato begins by having Socrates ask Glaucon to imagine a cave where people have been imprisoned from birth; these prisoners are chained so that their legs and necks are fixed, forcing them to gaze at the wall in front of them and not look around at the cave, each other, or themselves. Behind the prisoners is a fire, between the fire and the prisoners is a raised walkway with a low wall, behind which people walk carrying objects or puppets "of men and other living things"; the people walk behind the wall so their bodies do not cast shadows for the prisoners to see, but the objects they carry do. The prisoners cannot see any of what is happening behind them, they are only able to see the shadows cast upon the cave wall in front of them; the sounds of the people talking echo off the walls, the prisoners believe these sounds come from the shadows. Socrates suggests that the shadows are reality for the prisoners because they have never seen anything else.
The fire, or human made light, the puppets, used to make shadows, are done by the artists. This can be compared to how illusions are made with light and sound today, with electronics, movies, 3D visuals. Plato, indicates that the fire is the political doctrine, taught in a nation state; the artists use light and shadows to teach the dominant doctrines of a place. Few humans will escape the cave; this is not some easy task, only a true philosopher, with decades of preparation, would be able to leave the cave, up the steep incline. Most humans will live at the bottom of the cave, a small few will be the major artists that project the shadows with the use of human made light. Plato supposes that one prisoner is freed; this prisoner would see the fire. The light would make it difficult for him to see the objects casting the shadows. If he were told that what he is seeing is real instead of the other version of reality he sees on the wall, he would not believe it. In his pain, Plato continues, the freed prisoner would turn away and run back to what he is accustomed to.
He writes "... it would hurt his eyes, he would escape by turning away to the things which he was able to look at, these he would believe to be clearer than what was being shown to him."Plato continues: "Suppose... that someone should drag him... by force, up the rough ascent, the steep way up, never stop until he could drag him out into the light of the sun." The prisoner would be angry and in pain, this would only worsen when the radiant light of the sun overwhelms his eyes and blinds him."Slowly, his eyes adjust to the light of the sun. First he can only see shadows, he can see the reflections of people and things in water and later see the people and things themselves. He is able to look at the stars and moon at night until he can look upon the sun itself." Only after he can look straight at the sun "is he able to reason about it" and what it is. (See Plat
In the Platonic, Middle Platonic, Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity; the word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinized form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but came to mean "producer", "creator"; the philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is described as a creator in the Platonic and Middle Platonic philosophical traditions.
In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school, the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is ignorant or misguided. Plato, as the speaker Timaeus, refers to the Demiurge in the Socratic dialogue Timaeus, c. 360 BC. The main character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who "fashioned and shaped" the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, so it desires a world as good as possible; the world remains imperfect, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being. Plato's work Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod's cosmology in his Theogony, syncretically reconciling Hesiod to Homer.
In Numenius's Neo-Pythagorean and Middle Platonist cosmogony, the Demiurge is second God as the nous or thought of intelligibles and sensibles. Plotinus and the Platonists worked to clarify the Demiurge. To Plotinus, the second emanation represents an uncreated second cause. Plotinus sought to reconcile Aristotle's energeia with Plato's Demiurge, which, as Demiurge and mind, is a critical component in the ontological construct of human consciousness used to explain and clarify substance theory within Platonic realism. In order to reconcile Aristotelian with Platonian philosophy, Plotinus metaphorically identified the demiurge within the pantheon of the Greek Gods as Zeus; the first and highest aspect of God is described by Plato as the source, or the Monad. This is the God above the Demiurge, manifests through the actions of the Demiurge; the Monad emanated the demiurge or Nous from its "indeterminate" vitality due to the monad being so abundant that it overflowed back onto itself, causing self-reflection.
This self-reflection of the indeterminate vitality was referred to by Plotinus as the "Demiurge" or creator. The second principle is organization in its reflection of the nonsentient force or dynamis called the one or the Monad; the dyad is energeia emanated by the one, the work, process or activity called nous, mind, consciousness that organizes the indeterminate vitality into the experience called the material world, cosmos. Plotinus elucidates the equation of matter with nothing or non-being in The Enneads which more is to express the concept of idealism or that there is not anything or anywhere outside of the "mind" or nous. Plotinus' form of Platonic idealism is to treat the Demiurge, nous as the contemplative faculty within man which orders the force into conscious reality. In this, he claimed to reveal Plato's true meaning: a doctrine he learned from Platonic tradition that did not appear outside the academy or in Plato's text; this tradition of creator God as nous, can be validated in the works of pre-Plotinus philosophers such as Numenius, as well as a connection between Hebrew and Platonic cosmology.
The Demiurge of Neoplatonism is the Nous, is one of the three ordering principles: Arche – the source of all things, Logos – the underlying order, hidden beneath appearances, Harmonia – numerical ratios in mathematics. Before Numenius of Apamea and Plotinus' Enneads, no Platonic works ontologically clarified the Demiurge from the allegory in Plato's Timaeus; the idea of Demiurge was, addressed before Plotinus in the works of Christian writer Justin Martyr who built his understanding of the Demiurge on the works of Numenius. The Neoplatonist Iamblichus changed the role of the "One" altering the role of the Demiurge as second cause or dyad, one of the reasons that Iamblichus and his teacher Porphyry came into conflict; the figure of the Demiurge emerges in the theoretic of Iamblichus, which conjoins the transcendent, incommunicable “One,” or Source. Here, at the summit of this system, the Source and Demiurge coexist via the process of henosis. Iamblichus describes the One as a monad whose first principle or emanation is intellect, while among "the many" that follow it there is a second, super-existent "One", the
Atlantis is a fictional island mentioned within an allegory on the hubris of nations in Plato's works Timaeus and Critias, where it represents the antagonist naval power that besieges "Ancient Athens", the pseudo-historic embodiment of Plato's ideal state in The Republic. In the story, Athens repels the Atlantean attack unlike any other nation of the known world giving testament to the superiority of Plato's concept of a state; the story concludes with Atlantis falling out of favor with the deities and submerging into the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its minor importance in Plato's work, the Atlantis story has had a considerable impact on literature; the allegorical aspect of Atlantis was taken up in utopian works of several Renaissance writers, such as Francis Bacon's New Atlantis and Thomas More's Utopia. On the other hand, nineteenth-century amateur scholars misinterpreted Plato's narrative as historical tradition, most notably in Ignatius L. Donnelly's Atlantis: The Antediluvian World. Plato's vague indications of the time of the events—more than 9,000 years before his time—and the alleged location of Atlantis—"beyond the Pillars of Hercules"—has led to much pseudoscientific speculation.
As a consequence, Atlantis has become a byword for any and all supposed advanced prehistoric lost civilizations and continues to inspire contemporary fiction, from comic books to films. While present-day philologists and classicists agree on the story's fictional character, there is still debate on what served as its inspiration; as for instance with the story of Gyges, Plato is known to have borrowed some of his allegories and metaphors from older traditions. This led a number of scholars to investigate possible inspiration of Atlantis from Egyptian records of the Thera eruption, the Sea Peoples invasion, or the Trojan War. Others have rejected this chain of tradition as implausible and insist that Plato created an fictional nation as his example, drawing loose inspiration from contemporary events such as the failed Athenian invasion of Sicily in 415–413 BC or the destruction of Helike in 373 BC; the only primary sources for Atlantis are Plato's dialogues Critias. The dialogues claim to quote Solon, who visited Egypt between 590 and 580 BC.
Written in 360 BC, Plato introduced Atlantis in Timaeus: For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, over many other islands and parts of the continent; the four people appearing in those two dialogues are the politicians Critias and Hermocrates as well as the philosophers Socrates and Timaeus of Locri, although only Critias speaks of Atlantis. In his works Plato makes extensive use of the Socratic method in order to discuss contrary positions within the context of a supposition; the Timaeus begins with an introduction, followed by an account of the creations and structure of the universe and ancient civilizations.
In the introduction, Socrates muses about the perfect society, described in Plato's Republic, wonders if he and his guests might recollect a story which exemplifies such a society. Critias mentions a tale he considered to be historical, that would make the perfect example, he follows by describing Atlantis as is recorded in the Critias. In his account, ancient Athens seems to represent the "perfect society" and Atlantis its opponent, representing the antithesis of the "perfect" traits described in the Republic. According to Critias, the Hellenic deities of old divided the land so that each deity might have their own lot; the island was larger than Ancient Libya and Asia Minor combined, but it was sunk by an earthquake and became an impassable mud shoal, inhibiting travel to any part of the ocean. Plato asserted that the Egyptians described Atlantis as an island consisting of mountains in the northern portions and along the shore and encompassing a great plain in an oblong shape in the south "extending in one direction three thousand stadia, but across the center inland it was two thousand stadia."
Fifty stadia from the coast was a mountain, low on all sides... broke it off all round about... the central island itself was five stades in diameter. In Plato's metaphorical tale, Poseidon fell in love with Cleito, the daughter of Evenor and Leucippe, who bore him five pairs of male twins; the eldest of these, was made rightful king of the entire island and the ocean, was given the mountain of his birth and the surrounding area as his fiefdom. Atlas's twin Gadeirus, or Eumelus in Greek, was given the extremity of the island to