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Plato’s Theories of Human Fulfilment

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Plato’s Theories of Human Fulfilment essay
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Plato is known as a psychologist and a philosopher, who was a student of Socrates but also a teacher to Aristotle. Plato’s main goal was to help people to find a sense of complete fulfilment, or what he called “Eudaimonia”. He recorded his thoughts and theories into 36 dialogues which explored the four main ideas that Plato had on becoming ones most fulfilled self.

His first perspective was that we need to think more. Plato believed that people almost never thought hard or long enough about the things we did and ways we chose to live. He observed that people often just went along with what others seemed to be doing, or made decisions based off of popular opinions. Instead, Plato advised that through “Socratic Discussion” and scrutinizing our own ideas (sometimes with the help of a trusted peer) we would be able to know ourselves better, and therefore wouldn’t be influenced by instincts or impulsive emotions.

The second opinion Plato had on fulfilment was about how to love properly. He wrote a book called The Symposium in which he said “True love is admiration”. The book portrays Plato’s view that when you fall in love with someone, it is because you recognize that they possess certain characteristics you wish you had in yourself. Furthermore, Plato suggests that by getting closer and more intimate with your partner, you’ll gradually adapt their admirable traits, ultimately helping you get closer to becoming your most fulfilled self.

Closely related to this concept, the third theory regards the importance of beauty. Plato is recognized as the first person who actually questioned how we determined something as beautiful. He believed that, just like how we notice attractive qualities in people, we subconsciously note these same elements in objects. If I felt like I lacked peacefulness and tranquility for example, I may find a soothing art piece more captivating than someone who was mostly calm and quiet. Moreover, Plato saw beauty as being so important because through our gravitation towards things containing the aspects we lack, we are more inclined to eventually adapt those aspects to ourselves.

And finally, his fourth viewpoint was about changing society. Plato is distinguished as the first ever utopian thinker, meaning he put a lot of thought into how politics and society would be in an ideal world. His book called The Republic depicts several steps Plato thought Athen should take in order to help everyone find eudaimonia. He wanted there to be better role models, control over who spoke to the public and about what, education that didn’t only include the traditional subjects but also taught students how to be better humans and perhaps most contrasting to popular opinions – that children be brought up by guardians who were more fit to raise them than their own parents were. When it comes to Plato’s methodology, much is unknown because he lived so long ago. However, it’s assumed that all of his theories were inspired by Socrates (and other philosophical influencers of that time) or taken from Plato’s own observations, meaning that his ideals weren’t supported by proper scientific evidence but merely life experiences (of others and his own).

His concepts were conclusions he based off of the behavior of people in Greece, but applied it to humans everywhere. This was an obvious weakness of Plato’s theories seeing as it wasn’t (and still isn’t) appropriate to generalize the behaviors of the entire human race with those of one small group of people.

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