Plato (427 -347 B.C.)
It is noted that all subsequent work in philosophy constitutes nothing more than footnotes added to the thinking of Plato and Aristotle, so great and complete was the thinking of these men in their day.

“Plato” was his nickname, given to him by his coach. It means “Broad Shoulders.”

The Academy was Plato’s school. It was on the northwest edge of Athens in a grove of olive trees donated by Academus. From this we get the expression, “the groves of academia.”

The gateway to the Academy read, “Let none but geometers enter here.”

Geometry: Gais (earth) and metre (meter): The science of the measurement of the earth. The method was the forms or shapes that the earth is made of.

The universe isn’t simply measured by forms, but the universe IS forms. So, reality IS FORMS.
Theory of Ideas (a.k.a. Theory of Forms)
Plato argued that ultimately reality is IDEAS. Not in the same way we think of ideas, but rather ideas existing in a separate realm apart from minds. The eternal unchanging basis for everything that is.

Plato was an idealist and a realist, meaning that he thought ideas were real. Furthermore, they are what is ultimately real (the most real of all).

Truth then is FORMAL.

Ideas we have in our minds of various things are a recall of things that exist in a supra-temporal realm of ideas.

When we see the particular object, like a chair, we recognize it insofar as they approximate the idea or form of a chair.

Everything we encounter in this world is simply a copy or a receptacle of the archetypal ideal. These ideas exist independently apart from us. These ideas (forms) have REAL BEING.

What Plato is getting at is the old problem left unresolved by Heraclitus and Parminides of Being and Becoming.

We can only have understanding of this realm of becoming because of the unchanging realm of IDEAS.

The FORMAL TRUTH is the highest truth.

Ideas are not just constructs of the human mind, they really are, they have ontological status.

So, we can say that Plato is both a realist and an idealist.
Theory of Recollection
In order to get in touch with the ETERNAL requires more than the use of the senses, but the use of the mind, which we would associate with the soul.

Plato believed in an eternal soul. It comes from the realm of the forms or ideas.

The soul that is inside your body already has all the knowledge from that realm of the eternal.

Transmigration of the soul: Plato believed that we originally came from the realm of the forms and were born into this imperfect realm. Because this world of experience is merely a receptacle of the ideas, we have a dulled and distorted view of reality.

Plato believed that the way to really know is through the mind because the senses give us a distorted view of reality. Even if we could perceive accurately, the world we perceive is an imperfect copy. So, he emphasized the rational.

How do we get to that remembrance? The socratic method. Questioning, contemplating, reasoning, dialogue, debate, we try to cut through the prison bars of the body to the rudimentary ideas in the soul.

That’s the process of EDUCATION.

Important terms:
Innate Ideas: Known prior to learning. Built in us.
A priori: Prior to experience. Knowledge that comes from the inside rather than from the outside.
A posteriori: Knowledge after experience.
Rationalist: Philosophers, like Plato, who think knowledge is fundamentally a priori.
Empiricist: Philosophers who think knowledge is fundamentally a posteriori.