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Philosophies of Plato & Nietzsche

The questions What is philosophy? and How do we philosophize?, like many philosophical questions, do not necessarily have fully discoverable or absolute answers. This is because like PlatoÆs conception of the absolute forms, only the essence or glimpses of such answers can be gleaned and then only by the most developed philosophers (i.e. the wisest among us). Friedrich Nietzsche thinks few men can become philosophers because few have the strength necessary to think objectively and independently. Philosophy has been defined as a pilgrimage through life from innocence towards wisdom and is a concept that embodies the ultimate knowledge of knowing one can never possess absolute knowledge or wisdom. In fact, the study of philosophy is considered a love of wisdom and the investigation of the nature of reality (American Heritage Dictionary, 2000). Historically, philosophy stretches back to as far as the great Greek philosophers: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. Because Plato was a philosopher of the Ancient Greeks, and because Nietzsche is a much more modern philosophy, understanding of the history and definition of philosophy and how to philosophize is best gained by an examination of both of these schools of thought. Thus, we gain a deeper insight into the answers of each of the above questions.

Philosophy, as defined by Plato, represents ôknowingö the good. Only purposefully devoted and trained philosophers can achieve this goal. Philosophers are the only ones capable of ruling with justice which is a combination of wisdom, courage, and temperance. Only philosophers are capable, after a long period of training, of acting as the guardians of the state (i.e. community) because only they know the good and, thus, act in accordance with the good. In his allegory of the cave, Plato provides a description of the facades that often mask the real truth of a concept such as the ôgoodö. As difficult as it is to gain an unobstructe...

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