Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion

pp 1341-1344

Plato and Religion

  • Rod BlackhirstAffiliated withPhilosophy and Religious Studies, La Trobe University Email author 

Plato (428/427–348/347 BCE) was a Greek philosopher, a citizen of Athens, and a follower of Socrates. He founded the Academy, a school for statecraft, circa 387 BCE, his most famous student being Aristotle. His work – in the form of dialogues – has had an immeasurable influence upon Western civilization. The modern philosopher, Whitehead, once famously quipped that “the whole of Western philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes on Plato.” The same might be said of other fields of learning where Plato’s thought has been seminal. He has made a profound contribution to both the arts and sciences, including psychology. Many aspects of his thinking foreshadow modern theories. In psychology, for example, his teachings regarding eros as a foundation for human motivation clearly foreshadow the theories of Freud, or, as some prefer, Freud’s theories are a decadent version of Plato’s earlier theory. In religious thought, Plato has long been acknowledged as prefiguring aspects of the Christ ...

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