Rich in drama and humour, the Early Socratic Dialogues include the controversial Ion, a debate on poetic inspiration; Laches, in which Socrates seeks to define bravery; and Euthydemus, which considers the relationship between philosophy and politics. Together, these dialogues provide a definitive portrait of the real Socrates and raise issues still keenly debated by philosophers, forming an incisive overview of Plato's philosophy.
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Plato (c.427-347 BC) stands with Socrates and Aristotle as one of the shapers of the whole intellectual tradition of the West. He founded the Academy in Athens, the first permanent institution devoted to philosophical research and teaching, and theprototype of all Western universities. Plato wrote over twenty philosophical dialogues, appearing in none himself. (Most have Socrates as chief speaker.)
Chris Emlyn-Jones teaches in the department of Classical Studies at the Open University.