About the book
The student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, Plato is one of the most comprehensive and influential writers in the history of philosophy. But who was he, and what did he say that was so important? His works are a blend of ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, epistemology and metaphysics, all brilliantly connected together into a methodical philosophy. Who the Hell is Plato? looks first at who Plato was as a person and the influences on his thinking – which went beyond merely that of his teacher – before taking a deep dive into three of his most groundbreaking and influential ideas.
Chapter 1: Plato's Life Story
Chapter 2: Influences on Plato's Thinking
Chapter 3: Theory of Forms
The world we understand through our senses is, according to Plato, simply a reflection of the pure and eternal world of Forms. But what exactly does he mean by this? This chapter gives us an accessible and fascinating answer.
Chapter 4: Theory of Knowledge
This chapter explains Plato's theory that learning is the development of ideas that are buried in the soul, which has existed before birth and which already contains the perfect knowledge of ideas. Thus, when something is 'learned', the idea is simply 'recalled' from the soul.
Chapter 5: The Good
Plato's theory of Ethics maintains that happiness is the highest aim for moral thought and behaviour, and in order to achieve this, one must follow certain virtues. This chapter explores his writings on ethics and reveals all you need to know about 'the Good' in an easy-to-understand way.
About the author
Dr Karen Parham is Lecturer in Philosophy for Warwickshire College Group. She has a PhD in Philosophy and Dutch Studies, Master of Arts degrees in European Philosophy and Art & Cultural Sciences, PGCE in Philosophy and Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dutch Studies and Philosophy. She is an independent scholar and freelance writer of academic articles and books, creative non-fiction and fiction for young adults and children. Karen lives in Birmingham, England.
"A short clear readable introduction that explains Plato’s ideas in context but doesn't play down their complexities. A significant strength of the book is the way that it relates Plato’s ideas about knowledge truth and justice together. I have been teaching this topic for years and I learnt something new!"
Caroline Wells | Philosophy Teacher
"This book is designed as an approachable overview of the life and theories of Plato and Socrates. While it can be a great book for the beginner, it is, perhaps more useful for the person who has had some previous experience with reading Plato but who needs a better overview.
Chapter 1 helps Plato ‘come alive’ through the vibrant description of details from his life, including family and main events. Seeing Plato as a real person, rather than an historical figure effectively sets the stage for the rest of the book. Likewise, Chapter 2 is equally effective in making Socrates appear as a live figure as this controversial philosopher that he truly was. In this section, the author highlights many historically compelling facts and manages to draw a clear line from the work of Socrates on to philosophers who went on to create their own philosophy informed by Socrates’s work.
In Chapter 3, the author expounds on Plato’s Theory of the Forms by accurately interpreting the Republic but also by drawing in other of Plato’s great works to help form a more complete understanding of his theory. Although some visuals might have been helpful for the novice reader of Plato, Chapter 4 on Plato’s Theory of Knowledge is particularly well developed and gives a surprisingly detailed and insightful description of Plato’s theories. This chapter might be particularly useful for students who seek to get a clearer understanding of Plato’s epistemology.
Similarly, in Chapter 5, the author develops the Theory of the Good in an approachable easy to read manner that helps build a broader understanding of Plato’s most fundamental belief. One rather small but clever addition to this book is the Appendix that features a list and short description of all the characters who are featured in this book. This is a helpful tool to navigate the names and relationships of the people among whom Plato lived and worked.
This book is useful for anyone who has read Plato but needs a refresher. It is also useful for students who need some easy to understand support to assist in learning about Plato. Overall, the book is quick to read but excels in its ability to provide a lot of quality content in an easy to read format."
Clara Hawking | Philosophy Teacher, Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Laroverket, Sweden