Science of Plato
Plato scientific thought revolves round the cosmos or the universe, like that of Greek's science. It focuses on the natural world, how it can be investigated and explained. His theory of nature (Physics), is found chiefly in the Timaeus a dialogue which, according to some scholars, Plato wrote when he was about 70 years old.
Plato, son of Ariston and Perictione, showcased his science though various interwoven dimension that reflected his positions about the cosmos. The dimensions or methodologies range from Theology, Geometry and Astronomy.
In the Timaeus, Plato gives an account of the cosmos based on theology, in which the world is created by a divine craftsman. And by the term "divine craftsman", he -unknowingly- refers to God who must be perfect, hence good, unchanging, eternal and so on.
This is also felt in his metaphysics, especially the concept of the supreme good in his World of Forms. Plato employed the theological account of the cosmos because he felt that morality can never be achieved in a disordered universe. Hence for the maintenance of his synthesized ethics, he established the concept of a divine craftsman that designed the world to be an orderly universe.
However, the theological account further lead to his influence on science which is largely through Aristotle, who accepted with modifications Plato's view that the world can be explained in terms of forms and matter and teleology.
This teleological view opted that the existence of the cosmos or universe is purposeful. His view was that the world can be explained in terms of forms and matters and teleology. Perhaps, according to his metaphysics, the purpose of the cosmos or earth is to constitute shadows of realities in the world of forms. And maybe it is where the soul can practice morality to be qualified into the abode of souls [world of reality].
Here, a question is obvious whether this 'world of forms' is inside or outside the cosmos.
According to the account in the Timaeus, the earth lies at the center of the cosmos and consists of atomic elements shaped like regular solids; geometry is thus built into the system at the most basic level.
Plato's science reached another level where he employed another dimension known as geometry. At this level there have being signs of the existence of other components of the universe and the awareness of their orderly movements. More so, the study of the geometric harmony in their movements is known as Astronomy. In this wise, geometry can be said to be fully embedded in astronomy.
During the time of Plato in ancient Greek the study of astronomy changed and grew in a number of ways. Many scientists and philosophers alike have talked about astronomy concerning the rotational movement of the earth. Homer for example depicted the earth as a circular disc, rotating while the heavens remained still or still when the heaven hemisphere rotated. There are several views about Astronomy. Some explain their views in reference to gods and deities like Atrapo and Clotho. Many believed that geometric rotation was not random. Plato describes the free rotation of the five planets, moon, sun and earth through The Myth of Er from his Republic.
In this model, eight hollow hemispheres called whorls are inserted inside one another. One whorl each for the sun, moon and five planets. Plato used this instance to show that the planets moved together in predictable orbits. This later set the stage for later astronomers to use geometry and mathematics to describe the detailed motion of the ...planets.
Plato supports the study of Astronomy, especially in his Republic, he recommends that astronomy is studied to direct the mind towards an unchanging reality of which the sensible world is but a faint image. Astronomers according to Plato should go beyond the traditional astronomical observations of risings and settings. That is, describing it through Geometry and Mathematics.
In Epinomis, Plato describes the importance for training the young in geometry because they will need these skills to understand the orbits of the five planets and eventually understand the true nature of astronomy. It is apparent that in another view, Plato upheld the usage of geometry intertwined with astronomy for the understanding of the cosmos or universe and their orbital movement.
The science of Plato is a typical emblem of the Greek scientific thought. It is basically on the universe or the cosmos. And Plato uses various dimensions in his science. He lived at a time when there was no sharp-cut distinction between methods of religion and of science. Hence his theological view of science. He also employed the teleological method to show that the universe, though full of change and imperfections, yet it exhibits order and purpose. At a level Plato subscribed into astronomy and geometry in order to contribute to the case of movements of the planets within the cosmos. All his scientific methods are interwoven; one is not contradicting the other. The methods in his science are brought together in a coherent way.
To sum it all, the article averred that Plato's scientific thought serves as a springboard for the emergence of scientific theories and laws which sustains our contemporary science.
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