Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Nuggets from Great Thinkers....PLATO

Plato remains one of the greatest thinkers of all times and his influence is still spreading in politics, business and the game of life.
Plato wrote a total of 36 books all in the form of dialogues and conversations. Many people are intellectually intimidated at the mention of the name Plato. They expect his philosophical thinking and deeply instructive expressions are meant more for the classroom or to spark up philosophy debates. 

On the contrary, his ideas and conversations are simple without being simplistic. They are so powerful and yet so relatable. Plato reflects Henry Longfellow's pronouncement that "in character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity." Plato's main goal in life was to help people reach their ultimate fulfillment in life - or what he termed 'Eudaimonia'.
Plato had 4 big ideas. The setting was Athens, 2000 years ago. Here is a summary of his thinking, wrapped around four nuggets for making life more fulfilled 

Nugget 1. Think More....& Strengthen yourself with knowledge 
We hardly think deeply and logically about most things in life. A great number of people simply go with the flow - what the Greeks in Plato's time called 'doxa' or popular opinions.
Popular opinions sometimes edge towards the wrong values and cannot carry you to individual greatness. Plato's remedy is- Know Yourself. It means doing a special kind of therapy and philosophy. It is subjecting your ideas and thinking to examination rather than letting your behaviour be shaped by impulse. 

The key then is to strengthen yourself with knowledge so you do not get tossed and pulled around by feelings. Otherwise our feelings and popular opinions will drag us dangerously along like wild horses. This self-examination is called a "Socratic discussion." You can have it with yourself or a mentor kind of figure, to help you clarify your ideas. This leads us to the 2nd big idea. 

Idea 2. Let your lover change you.
We might be in danger of glossing over this suggestion based on our narrow or populist understanding of lover.
Plato says "true love is admiration." It means your lover in this sense and people you need to get close to and get together more meaningfully with, are those who have certain sparkling qualities that you yourself lack. By getting closer to these kind of persons, you too will naturally acquire more of these qualities in the process.
The right persons in our lives help us to grow to our full potential. Plato advised that, in a good relationship, a couple shouldn't love each other exactly as they are right now, but they should be committed to educating each other. "Each person should be active in seducing each other into becoming a better version of themselves." 

Idea 3. Decode the message of beauty.
We all love beautiful things. But Plato asked why do love beauty? Beautiful objects are whispering important truths to us about the good life. Beautiful things remind us of qualities we need or that might be missing in our lives.
Ugliness on the other hand, noted Plato is a serious matter as well. Ugliness presents dangerous characters in front of us. Arts, paintings, poems, novels etc are therefore therapeutic as they help us to appreciate beauty, not just as a human physical form. 

Idea 4. Reform Society.
Plato was the world's first Utopian thinker. He was concerned about the society not only creating great soldiers and boasting of military power but producing fulfilled people. A number of changes must be made by any society that wants to create and have fulfilled people.
Firstly, the focus should not only be on the rich and the famous celebrities. Most often, these set of people are admired excessively by most societies. Celebrities influence our outlook and conduct, so bad heroes give glamour to flaws of character. 

Plato's thinking was that glamorous celebrities such as super star athletes and top music artists should be replaced by a new breed of celebrities - wise and good people, which Plato called guardians. They should be models of character and good behavior They should be known for their modesty, record of public service, simple habits, dislike for limelight and their wise experience. These kind of people should be the most honoured and respected people in society. 

In his efforts to create a special breed of wise people and philosophers, Plato created a school called the Academy, to teach people how to be good and wise. It lasted 300 years. The aim was to create wise philosophers who will become kings and rule the land. Plato strongly expounded that the world will be a much better place and create a more fulfilled people only when politicians become philosophers. In other words, the world will run better only when "kings become philosophers and "philosophers become kings."

Credit & see more: School of Life.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDiyQub6vpw