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Son of an aristocratic Athenian family, Plato (428–348 BCE), in his 20s, came into the circle of Socrates, who was to become the lasting influence on his philosophical thought. Following the execution of Socrates, Plato renounced the direct involvement in politics that was expected of youths of his social standing and turned to writing and education. His Academy (founded in Athens around 385 BCE) was one of the first Greek institutions of research and higher learning.

All of Plato’s writings are in the form of dialogues, except for the Seventh Letter, possibly the only authentic letter among those attributed to him. The leader in most of the dialogues is Socrates, and Plato never speaks in his own person or mentions himself, except twice in the Apology ...

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