Plato’s Radical Respect for Reason

Monday Night Philosophy recognizes that reasoning has always been part of human life, but Plato played an influential, and quite radical, role in increasing our respect for reason’s power to cut through mythological beliefs and inaccurate opinions. He developed, and openly shared, his passionate enthusiasm for reason with the students of his Academy and with us in his philosophical dialogues.

Plato carried his ideas out of the shadows of the cave of secrecy where Pythagoras thought they were best protected, and spread them out in the sunlight for everyone to see. Plato even records Socrates arguing that philosophical discussions should not be recorded in writing because they would then be distorted and misunderstood.

Plato’s mischievous and knowing disobedience was based on his acceptance that distortions and misunderstandings would abound, but also on his conviction that it was crucial to make clear conceptual reasoning more popular if we are ever to succeed at understanding the world we inhabit. And Plato made the right bet. The popularity of his radical respect for reason is still in its infancy of influence on human culture. Peer ahead to see what is still to come.