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Greek Influences, What was Plato’s understanding of human nature

When early Greek philosophers developed theories in the premodern period, they challenged many dominant assumptions of this period. Socrates and Plato were two of the most influential early philosophers who addressed the issue of the good life. For these two philosophers, the good life was an ethical life.

Socrates was famous for his statement “Know thyself.” Psychologists throughout history have echoed this. Plato had some revolutionary ideas on what it means to be human. He was responsible for bringing dualism into popular thought. This had a profound influence on religion, philosophy, and Western thought as a whole.

  • What implications does the statement “Know thyself” have, along with other ideas of Socrates and Plato, for the process of human change?

  • How is this related to achieving the good life?

  • How will this impact the evaluation of a person’s degree of living the good life?

  • What was Plato’s understanding of human nature?

  • How did dualism influence this understanding?

Greek Influences

Greek philosophers like Plato and Socrates developed philosophical theories to help the community to understand the definition of good life using personalized and ethical perceptions. Fundamentally, the works of Socrates and Plato in alignment to the statement “Know thyself” have had great implications for the process of human change over the years. It is logical that a lot of time and generations have evolved since the days that these philosophers existed. However, their perceptions of good life, which they used various aspects of their ideology to express have helped define good life even for contemporary living. Most importantly, there are specific aspects of human personality that do not change over time but are rather updated in context to changing times and environments. This is by all accounts the point of convergence through which the philosophical constituents of Socrates and Plato are connected to contemporary living. To basically see how the general public extensions the contrast between great life at the philosophical time and today, it is central to break down different observations and belief systems.

Plato extensively used the statement “Know thyself” in his description of Socrates to help his readers get a deeper meaning of good life from his dialogues (Bowery, 2007). Both Plato and Socrates communicated their philosophical prospects through wise sayings and proverbs that were embedded within narrations and creative writing. In the context of this analysis, Plato and Socrates' impression of good life has had unmistakable ramifications on the procedure of human change. People in the present day world utilize these prospects to start change in their lives and to realize what good life involves. As people tend to show different social practices in life, it is sensible that every one of these activities have shifting moral feasibility. Every activity is from there on assessed on the premise of moral practicality utilizing the ideas delineated by these awesome savants and also stipulations as comprehended from the announcement "Know thyself." Additionally, negative or immoral behavior is also judged using Plato’s explanations on the ethical justification of good life (Bowery, 2007). In this context, human change is indirectly influenced by the works of Plato, Socrates and other great philosophers of the time.

To explain how this relates to achieving good life in contemporary environments, it is essential to pick an ideal social example on which philosophical prospects have been used before to initiate good behavior. Basically, drug abuse, sexual assaults and violence are social problems that have existed for a very long time and the world has used various social mechanisms to reduce their insurgence. Given that these problems are derived from the social depth of most societies, there is not particular integrative solution that helps in the abolition of these practices. As a matter of fact, it has become very challenging to understand the exact social arguments that explain each scenario. Social theorists have formulated theories to help explain social factors that result to such behaviors. Particularly, these theories are developed from the philosophical constructs of Plato and Socrates among other philosophers who tried to explain human behavior. Generally, this is an example how these aspects are used to correct the wrong, immoral or unethical behaviors that inhibit the achievement of good life. There are other numerous cases in which these aspects are used to explain and better good life.

Individuals can utilize these philosophies to evaluate their personalized degree of living the good life. Primarily, the statement “Know thyself” highlights the fact that good life is inclined to both ethics and an individual’s personal aspirations and personality (Avnon, 1995). As a matter of fact, it highlights the fact that each individual’s happiness is derived from his or her own personality, which is achieved by knowing thyself. This means that the evaluation of a person’s degree of living the good life is based on his or her level of knowledge of his or her own personality and aspirations.

To comprehensively understand how Plato’s ideology fits within the definition of good life as with regards to both historical and contemporary perception of good life, it is important to explore Plato’s understanding of human nature. Plato held the belief that our actions originate from our own being. In this context, everybody must have a logical explanation for his behaviors as they literarily stem from his or her own being. As Socrates said, “war factions and fighting originate from the same body and its lusts.” Through this particular perception, Plato communicates his belief on the structure of human behavior and human life. As a derivative of his philosophy, Plato believes that human behavior is derived from the wishes of the individual’s personality and is further impacted by the environment (Van Riel, 2000). Plato highlighted that an individual’s environment influences his or her behavior. From his own words, Plato highlighted that, “What is at issue is the conversion of the mind from the twilight of error to the truth that climb up into the real world which we shall call true philosophy.” This statement means that truth derived from the correct order of things or events in human environments have greater impacts on their personality, hence behavior and good life (Feldman, 2004).

In conclusion, the philosophy of Platonic Dualism had a great impact on human understanding of Plato’s philosophy as with regards to good life and the purported relationship between the mind and the body. Plato depicted four integral forms of dualism as; coming to be and ceasing to be, knowing is remembering, the indestructibility of the soul and the argument from opposites (Gerson, 1986). Essentially, the theory of dualism did not bring any considerable change to the theory of good life explainable by the relationship between the human mind and the soul. Each of the arguments respond to a unique construct of life that was not exhaustively explored by the mere theory of good life. . Dualism in this manner explains this relationship and gives more nature on applicable meanings of good life and human identity (Inwood, 1993).


Avnon, D. (1995). " Know Thyself": Socratic Companionship and Platonic Community. Political theory, 304-329.

Bowery, A. M. (2007). Know thyself: Socrates as storyteller. Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato’s Many Devices, 82-110.

Dan Riel, G. (2000). Pleasure and the good life: Plato, Aristotle, and the neoplatonists (Vol. 85). Brill.

Feldman, F. (2004). Pleasure and the good life: Concerning the nature, varieties and plausibility of hedonism. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Inwood, B. (1993). Seneca and Psychological Dualism’. Brunschwig and Nussbaum, 150-83.

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