The Philosophy of Plato: A Collection of Online Resources and Key Quotes

Lennox Johnson Resources

This page aims to make learning about Plato as easy as possible by bringing together the best articles, podcasts, and videos from across the internet onto one page. To get started, simply choose one of the resources listed below, or browse a selection of key quotes by Plato at the bottom of the page.

Encyclopedia Articles

This section features articles from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The SEP is probably the most comprehensive online philosophy resource. It features in-depth articles on a huge number of philosophical topics, however, it is aimed at an academic audience and may be too detailed and technical for beginners. The IEP is generally more beginner-friendly but is also considered to be less reliable. Wikipedia is also an option, but it is much less reliable than either of these.

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Articles

This section features short articles written by professional philosophers and aimed at a general audience. These articles are ideal for anyone looking for a shorter or more beginner-friendly introduction to Plato than the encyclopedia articles listed above.

1000-Word Philosophy:

Aeon:

The Conversation:

The Guardian:

Podcasts

This section features episodes from leading philosophy podcasts. These are also aimed at a general audience and are a good option for beginners who prefer audio content.

The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps:

Philosophy Bites

In Our Time

The Philosopher’s Zone

Short Videos (<30 mins)

This section features short videos aimed at beginners.

Wireless Philosophy

BBC Radio 4

Misc

Lectures/Longer Videos (>30 mins)

This section features longer videos and lectures.

Course Syllabi

This section features a selection of university course syllabi. Browsing course syllabi can be a useful way to find reading recommendations.

Book Recommendations

This section features requests for book recommendations on philosophy forums. These can also be useful to browse when trying to find reading recommendations.

Books

There is only so much that you can learn using free online resources. This section features books that may be useful if you’re looking to learn more about Plato. This list was created using the books featured in the course syllabi and forum recommendations above.

Courses

This section features online courses on Plato.

Quotes

This section features a selection of key quotes by Plato.


Philosophy begins in wonder.

– Theaetetus, 155B


Meno: How will you enquire, Socrates, into that which you do not know? What will you put forth as the subject of enquiry? And if you find what you want, how will you ever know that this is the thing which you did not know?

Socrates: I know, Meno, what you mean; but just see what a tiresome dispute you are introducing. You argue that man cannot enquire either about that which he knows, or about that which he does not know; for if he knows, he has no need to enquire; and if not, he cannot; for he does not know the very subject about which he is to enquire.

– Meno, 80B


The point which I should first wish to understand is whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy, or holy because it is beloved of the gods.

– Euthyphro, 10D


When a simple man who has no skill in dialectics believes an argument to be true which he afterwards imagines to be false, whether really false or not, and then another and another, he has no longer any faith left, and great disputers, as you know, come to think at last that they have grown to be the wisest of mankind; for they alone perceive the utter unsoundness and instability of all arguments. … How melancholy, if there be such a thing as truth or certainty or possibility of knowledge—that a man should have lighted upon some argument or other which at first seemed true and then turned out to be false, and instead of blaming himself and his own want of wit, because he is annoyed, should at last be too glad to transfer the blame from himself to arguments in general: and for ever afterwards should hate and revile them, and lose truth and the knowledge of realities.

– Phaedo, 90A


And now, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened:—Behold! human beings living in an underground den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance…. They see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave. To them, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of reality.

– The Republic (edited), 514A


The true order of going, or being led, to the things of love is to begin with the beautiful things on earth and to mount upwards for the sake of other beauty, using these as steps only, and from one going on to two, and from two to all beautiful bodies, and from beautiful bodies to beautiful practices, and then to beautiful thoughts until he comes to understand absolute beauty, and to know what the essence of beauty is.

– Symposium, 211BC


In every one of us there are two guiding and ruling principles which lead us whither they will; one is the natural desire of pleasure, the other is an acquired opinion which aspires after the best; and these two are sometimes in harmony and then again at war, and sometimes the one, sometimes the other conquers. When opinion by the help of reason leads us to the best, the conquering principle is called temperance; but when desire, which is devoid of reason, rules in us and drags us to pleasure, that power of misrule is called excess.

– Phaedrus, 237B


He who is the real tyrant, whatever men may think, is the real slave, and is obliged to practise the greatest adulation and servility, and to be the flatterer of the vilest of mankind. He has desires which he is utterly unable to satisfy, and has more wants than any one, and is truly poor, if you know how to inspect the whole soul of him: all his life long he is beset with fear and is full of convulsions and distractions. … Moreover … he grows worse from having power: he becomes and is of necessity more jealous, more faithless, more unjust, more friendless, more impious, than he was at first; he is the purveyor and cherisher of every sort of vice, and the consequence is that he is supremely miserable, and that he makes everybody else as miserable as himself.

– The Republic, IX, 579B


He who refuses to rule is liable to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.

– The Republic, I, 347A


The excessive increase of anything often causes a reaction in the opposite direction; and this is the case not only in the seasons and in vegetable and animal life, but above all in forms of government. … The excess of liberty, whether in States or individuals, seems only to pass into excess of slavery.

– The Republic, VIII, 563B


Until philosophers are kings, or the kings and princes of this world have the spirit and power of philosophy … cities will never have rest from their evils, — nor the human race, as I believe.

– The Republic, V, 473A


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