Crawling out of the Cave: philosophy as the art of survival

Plato’s Traits of a Philosopher

  1. Gracious mind
  2. Spectator of all time
  3. Takes pleasure in learning
  4. Sociable
  5. Not rude
  6. Gentle
  7. Longs after real knowledge
  8. Moves spontaneously towards true being of everything
  9. Friend of Truth, Justice, Courage, and Temperance
  10. Apprehension is her natural skill
  11. Retains what she learns
  12. Loves herself
  13. Pursues fruitful occupations

Photography by George Payne

Poster on the hallway bulletin board in the wing of   the University of Buffalo Philosophy Department


The Athenian philosopher Plato (c.428-347 B.C.) is one of the most important figures of the Ancient Greek world and the entire history of Western thought. In his written dialogues he conveyed and expanded on the ideas and techniques of his teacher Socrates. The Academy he founded was by some accounts the world’s first university and in it he trained his greatest student, the equally influential philosopher Aristotle. Plato’s recurring fascination was the distinction between ideal forms and everyday experience, and how it played out both for individuals and for societies. In the “Republic,” his most famous work, he envisioned a civilization governed not by lowly appetites but by the pure wisdom of a philosopher-king.




“How can he or she who has a magnificence of mind and is the spectator of all time and all existence, think much of human life?”

Plato’s Republic

The fire projects shadows on the cave’s wall


But only the sunlight is real


Few have dared to walk out of the cave… (Stock image)


by finding their own path…


they returned home to where they first began. (Stock image)


Courage is a kind of salvation.


 The Love of Wisdom…


Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.


 The art of conversation.



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