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Plato
(c. 427 B.C. - c. 347 B.C.)

Greek philosopher who was a student of Socrates. Plato founded the Academy in 387 BC. He has been called the world's most influential philosopher.

Science Quotes by Plato (19 quotes)

'Unless,' said I [Socrates], either philosophers become kings in our states or those whom we now call our kings:. and rulers take to the pursuit of' philosophy seriously and adequately, and there is a conjunction of these two things, political power and philosophic intelligence, while the motley horde of the natures who at present pursue either apart from the other are compulsorily excluded, there can be no cessation of troubles, dear Glaucon, for our states, nor, I fancy for the human race either. Nor, until this happens, will this constitution which we have been expounding in theory ever be put into practice within the limits of possibility and see the light of the sun.
— Plato
The Republic 5 474ce, trans. P. Shorey (1930), Vol. 1, Book 5, 509.
Science quotes on:  |  Cessation (10)  |  Compulsion (6)  |  Constitution (12)  |  Exclusion (7)  |  Happening (23)  |  Human Race (29)  |  Intelligence (76)  |  King (11)  |  Light (117)  |  Limit (34)  |  Nature (534)  |  Philosopher (67)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Politics (52)  |  Possibility (70)  |  Practice (26)  |  Pursuit (34)  |  Ruler (5)  |  Socrates (9)  |  State (43)  |  Sun (115)  |  Theory (353)

'Yes,' he said. 'But these things (the solutions to problems in solid geometry such as the duplication of the cube) do not seem to have been discovered yet.' 'There are two reasons for this,' I said. 'Because no city holds these things in honour, they are investigated in a feeble way, since they are difficult; and the investigators need an overseer, since they will not find the solutions without one. First, it is hard to get such an overseer, and second, even if one did, as things are now those who investigate these things would not obey him, because of their arrogance. If however a whole city, which did hold these things in honour, were to oversee them communally, the investigators would be obedient, and when these problems were investigated continually and with eagerness, their solutions would become apparent.'
— Plato
The Republic 7 528bc, trans. R. W. Sharples.
Science quotes on:  |  Apparent (9)  |  Arrogance (6)  |  City (12)  |  Community (27)  |  Continuity (17)  |  Cube (9)  |  Difficulty (76)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Eagerness (3)  |  Feebleness (2)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Honour (20)  |  Investigation (83)  |  Investigator (13)  |  Obedience (9)  |  Problem (180)  |  Reason (173)  |  Solution (109)

At the Egyptian city of Naucratis there was a famous old god whose name was Theuth; the bird which is called the Ibis was sacred to him, and he was the inventor of many arts, such as arithmetic and calculation and geometry and astronomy and draughts and dice, but his great discovery was the use of letters.
— Plato
In the Phaedrus. Collected in Plato the Teacher (1897), 171. A footnote gives that Naucratis was a city in the Delta of Egypt, on a branch of the Nile.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (38)  |  Astronomy (105)  |  Calculation (41)  |  Dice (8)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Egypt (12)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Great (62)  |  Letter (16)

For it is obvious to everybody, I think, that this study [of astronomy] compels the soul to look upward and leads it away from things here to higher things.
— Plato
The Republic 7 529a, trans. P. Shorey (1935), Vol. 2, Book 7, 179-81.
Science quotes on:  |  Astronomy (105)  |  Compulsion (6)  |  High (12)  |  Lead (33)  |  Obvious (24)  |  Soul (54)  |  Upward (2)

He is unworthy of the name of man who is ignorant of the fact that the diagonal of a square is incommensurable with its side.
— Plato
Quoted by Sophie Germain: Mémorie sur les Surfaces Élastiques. In Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica (1914), 211
Science quotes on:  |  Diagonal (2)  |  Fact (325)  |  Ignorant (7)  |  Man (258)  |  Name (58)  |  Side (16)  |  Square (4)  |  Unworthy (4)

I have hardly known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.
— Plato
The Republic. In Anton Bovier, Statistical Mechanics of Disordered Systems (2006), 159.
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematician (110)  |  Reasoning (56)

If in a discussion of many matters … we are not able to give perfectly exact and self-consistent accounts, do not be surprised: rather we would be content if we provide accounts that are second to none in probability.
— Plato
Timaeus. Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (353)

If someone separated the art of counting and measuring and weighing from all the other arts, what was left of each (of the others) would be, so to speak, insignificant.
— Plato
Philebus 55e. Trans. R. W. Sharples.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (80)  |  Counting (4)  |  Insignificance (7)  |  Left (5)  |  Measurement (112)  |  Separation (23)  |  Someone (4)  |  Weight (41)

It was Plato, according to Sosigenes, who set this as a problem for those concerned with these things, through what suppositions of uniform and ordered movements the appearances concerning the movements of the wandering heavenly bodies could be preserved.
— Plato
Simplicius, On Aristotle's On the Heavens, 488.21. Trans. R. W. Sharples.
Science quotes on:  |  Appearance (47)  |  Movement (31)  |  Planet (84)  |  Preservation (14)  |  Problem (180)  |  Supposition (25)  |  Uniform (5)  |  Wandering (5)

Let no-one ignorant of geometry enter. Said to have been inscribed above the door of Plato's Academy.
— Plato
A. S. Riginos, Platonica: the Anecdotes concerning the Life and Writings of Plato (1976), 38-40.
Science quotes on:  |  Academy (7)  |  Entrance (4)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Ignorance (110)  |  Inscription (7)

No physician, in so far as he is a physician, considers his own good in what he prescribes, but the good of his patient; for the true physician is also a ruler having the human body as a subject, and is not a mere money-maker.
— Plato
In Plato and B. Jowett (trans.), The Dialogues of Plato (1875), Vol. 3, 211.
Science quotes on:  |  Consideration (38)  |  Good (81)  |  Human Body (15)  |  Mere (9)  |  Patient (54)  |  Physician (172)  |  Ruler (5)  |  Subject (51)  |  True (29)

The excessive increase of anything causes a reaction in the opposite direction.
— Plato
The Republic
Science quotes on:  |  Opposite (21)  |  Reaction (48)

The qualities of number appear to lead to the apprehension of truth.
— Plato
The Republic 7 525b, trans. P. Shorey (1935), Vol. 2, Book 7, 161.
Science quotes on:  |  Apprehension (8)  |  Number (90)  |  Quality (29)  |  Truth (450)

The science [geometry] is pursued for the sake of the knowledge of what eternally exists, and not of what comes for a moment into existence, and then perishes.
[Also seen condensed as: ``Geometry is knowledge of the eternally existent” or “The knowledge at which geometry aims is the knowledge of the eternal.”]
— Plato
The Republic of Plato Book VII, trans. by John Llewelyn Favies and David James Vaughan (1908), 251.
Science quotes on:  |  Existence (150)  |  External (18)  |  Geometry (68)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Perish (11)  |  Pursue (5)

There still remain three studies suitable for free man. Arithmetic is one of them.
— Plato
As quoted in James R. Newman, The World of Mathematics (1956), Vol. 1, 212.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (38)  |  Free (13)  |  Study (157)  |  Suitability (9)

They assembled together and dedicated these as the first-fruits of their love to Apollo in his Delphic temple, inscribing there those maxims which are on every tongue- 'know thyselP and 'Nothing overmuch.'
— Plato
Protagoras 343ab, trans. W. R. M. Lamb, in Plato: Laches Protagoras Meno Euthydemus (1924), 197.
Science quotes on:  |  Apollo (3)  |  Assembly (3)  |  Dedication (5)  |  Delphic (2)  |  Fruit (31)  |  Inscription (7)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Love (64)  |  Maxim (7)  |  Temple (12)  |  Tongue (8)

Trees and fields tell me nothing: men are my teachers.
— Plato
Phζdrus. In Clifton Wilbraham Collins, William Lucas Collins, Plato (1879), Vol. 4, 62.
Science quotes on:  |  Field (69)  |  Teacher (54)  |  Tree (88)

Wherefore also these Kinds [elements] occupied different places even before the universe was organised and generated out of them. Before that time, in truth, all these were in a state devoid of reason or measure, but when the work of setting in order this Universe was being undertaken, fire and water and earth and air, although possessing some traces of their known nature, were yet disposed as everything is likely to be in the absence of God; and inasmuch as this was then their natural condition, God began by first marking them out into shapes by means of forms and numbers.
— Plato
Timaeus 53ab, trans. R. G. Bury, in Plato: Timaeus, Critias, Cleitophon, Menexenus, Epistles (1929), 125-7.
Science quotes on:  |  Difference (135)  |  Element (68)  |  Generation (56)  |  Occupation (28)  |  Organization (51)  |  Place (32)  |  Time (170)  |  Truth (450)  |  Universe (291)

Wisdom alone is a science of other sciences, and of itself.
— Plato
&039;Charmides, or Temperance,&039; in The Dialogues of Plato, translated by B. Jowett (1892) 3rd ed., Vol I, 25.
Science quotes on:  |  Science (875)  |  Wisdom (91)



Quotes by others about Plato (10)

The beauty of life is, therefore, geometrical beauty of a type that Plato would have much appreciated.
The Origin of Life (1967), xiii.
Science quotes on:  |  Life (460)

Every theory of love, from Plato down, teaches that each individual loves in the other sex what he lacks in himself.
Quoted in Values of the Wise: Humanity's Highest Aspirations (2004), 195.
Science quotes on:  |  Love (64)

[Plato] was the first to envisage the idea of timeless existence and to emphasize it—against reason—as a reality, more [real] than our actual experience…
Quoted in Robert J. Scully, The Demon and the Quantum (2007), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Existence (150)

Amicus Plato amicus Aristoteles magis amica verita.
Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.
Written in the margin of a notebook while a student at Cambridge. In Richard S. Westfall, Never at Rest (1980), 89.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (101)  |  Truth (450)

The thoughts of Plato and Machiavelli... don't seem quite enough armor for a world beset with splitting the atoms, urban guerrillas, nineteen varieties of psychotherapists, amplified guitars, napalm, computers, astronauts, and an atmosphere polluted simultaneously with auto exhaust and TV commercials.
Science quotes on:  |  Armor (2)  |  Astronaut (10)  |  Atmosphere (42)  |  Atom (164)  |  Automobile (11)  |  Commercial (10)  |  Computer (51)  |  Exhaust (4)  |  Nuclear Energy (3)  |  Pollution (16)

This missing science of heredity, this unworked mine of knowledge on the borderland of biology and anthropology, which for all practical purposes is as unworked now as it was in the days of Plato, is, in simple truth, ten times more important to humanity than all the chemistry and physics, all the technical and indsutrial science that ever has been or ever will be discovered.
Mankind in the Making (1903), 72.
Science quotes on:  |  Anthropology (32)  |  Biology (83)  |  Borderland (2)  |  Chemistry (143)  |  Discovery (360)  |  Heredity (43)  |  Importance (106)  |  Knowledge (679)  |  Mankind (111)  |  Mine (7)  |  Physics (156)  |  Technology (98)

But, indeed, the science of logic and the whole framework of philosophical thought men have kept since the days of Plato and Aristotle, has no more essential permanence as a final expression of the human mind, than the Scottish Longer Catechism.
A Modern Utopia (1904, 2006), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (101)  |  Catechism (2)  |  Logic (132)  |  Permanence (10)  |  Philosophy (132)  |  Science (875)  |  Scottish (2)  |  Thought (170)

For the philosopher, order is the entirety of repetitions manifested, in the form of types or of laws, by perceived objects. Order is an intelligible relation. For the biologist, order is a sequence in space and time. However, according to Plato, all things arise out of their opposites. Order was born of the original disorder, and the long evolution responsible for the present biological order necessarily had to engender disorder.
An organism is a molecular society, and biological order is a kind of social order. Social order is opposed to revolution, which is an abrupt change of order, and to anarchy, which is the absence of order.
I am presenting here today both revolution and anarchy, for which I am fortunately not the only one responsible. However, anarchy cannot survive and prosper except in an ordered society, and revolution becomes sooner or later the new order. Viruses have not failed to follow the general law. They are strict parasites which, born of disorder, have created a very remarkable new order to ensure their own perpetuation.
'Interaction Among Virus, Cell, and Organism', Nobel Lecture (11 Dec 1965). In Nobel Lectures: Physiology or Medicine 1963-1970 (1972), 174.
Science quotes on:  |  Cell (90)  |  Disorder (8)  |  Order (60)  |  Organism (70)  |  Parasite (17)  |  Revolution (34)  |  Social Order (3)  |  Virus (16)

The smallest particles of matter were said [by Plato] to be right-angled triangles which, after combining in pairs, ... joined together into the regular bodies of solid geometry; cubes, tetrahedrons, octahedrons and icosahedrons. These four bodies were said to be the building blocks of the four elements, earth, fire, air and water ... [The] whole thing seemed to be wild speculation. ... Even so, I was enthralled by the idea that the smallest particles of matter must reduce to some mathematical form ... The most important result of it all, perhaps, was the conviction that, in order to interpret the material world we need to know something about its smallest parts.
[Recalling how as a teenager at school, he found Plato's Timaeus to be a memorable poetic and beautiful view of atoms.]
In Werner Heisenberg and A.J. Pomerans (trans.) The Physicist's Conception of Nature (1958), 58-59. Quoted in Jagdish Mehra and Helmut Rechenberg, The Historical Development of Quantum Theory (2001), Vol. 2, 12. Cited in Mauro Dardo, Nobel Laureates and Twentieth-Century Physics (2004), 178.
Science quotes on:  |  Air (84)  |  Atom (164)  |  Body (88)  |  Building Block (4)  |  Conviction (26)  |  Cube (9)  |  Earth (250)  |  Element (68)  |  Fire (59)  |  Form (70)  |  Idea (226)  |  Importance (106)  |  Interpretation (38)  |  Material World (2)  |  Mathematics (367)  |  Matter (135)  |  Pair (2)  |  Particle (45)  |  Result (129)  |  Speculation (44)  |  Tetrahedron (3)  |  Triangle (3)  |  Water (122)  |  Wild (12)

The influence (for good or ill) of Plato's work is immeasurable. Western thought, one might say, has been Platonic or anti-Platonic, but hardly ever non-Platonic.
The Open Society and its Enemies (1945).
Science quotes on:  |  Good (81)  |  Ill (7)  |  Influence (47)  |  Thought (170)  |  West (5)  |  Work (198)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
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