Plato c. 427 - 347 BC is said to have played a fundamental role in shaping the intellectual tradition of the West. Taught by Socrates and teacher of Aristotle, Plato was part of a lineage of the key thinkers of the Western world.
Although born of a family prominent in Athenian politics, Plato sought to find solutions to the problems of society through philosophical thought as opposed to political. His focus was on ethics, metaphysics and the understanding of reality. He also concentrated on studies of how to achieve the ideal society and of human emotion and love. Plato travelled to Italy and Egypt and studied with students of Pythagorus before founding the Academy in Athens. The Academy was the first permanent institution dedicated to philosophical research and teaching and was to be the prototype for all future Western universities.
Plato published 20 dialogues in his lifetime and his masterpiece was The Republic, written around 375 BC.
'If any books change the world, Republic has a good claim to first place' Simon Blackburn, Guardian