What Were Plato's Main Contributions to Philosophy?

Plato, the Greek philosopher and student of Socrates, contributed the philosophical idea that reason was necessary for a fair and just society. He felt individuals required equality, which became the basis for modern democratic ideals. He also pontificated on the importance of mathematics in education and art and culture in civilized society.

Plato, born in approximately 428 B.C., received his education in Athens and became influenced by his teacher, Socrates. He marveled at Socrates' methods of dialogue and debate. When Socrates was executed in 399 B.C., Plato turned his back on a career in politics and fully immersed himself in study and philosophy. He briefly spent time as a soldier in the Athenian army in the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta.

For 12 years after the death of Socrates, Plato studied intensely throughout the Mediterranean region, including Egypt and present-day Italy. He wrote during and after this period; his early writings included "Apology of Socrates," "Euthyphro," "Hippias Major and Minor," and "Ion."

His middle period of writings included "The Republic," which focused on the central ideas of justice, courage, wisdom and moderation within government and individuals. His late-period writings included the "Theory of Forms." In 385 B.C., he founded The Academy, a school of learning.