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These works blend ethics, political philosophy, moral psychology, epistemology, and metaphysics into an interconnected and systematic philosophy.

It is most of all from Plato that we get the theory of Forms, according to which the world we know through the senses is only an imitation of the pure, eternal, and unchanging world of the Forms. Plato came from one of the wealthiest and most politically active families in Athens.

Plato is one of the world's best known and most widely read and studied philosophers. There are varying degrees of controversy over which of Plato's works are authentic, and in what order they were written, due to their antiquity and the manner of their preservation through time.

He was the student of Socrates and the teacher of Aristotle, and he wrote in the middle of the fourth century B. Nonetheless, his earliest works are generally regarded as the most reliable of the ancient sources on Socrates, and the character Socrates that we know through these writings is considered to be one of the greatest of the ancient philosophers.

According to Diogenes, Plato was buried at the school he founded (D. Aristotle and Diogenes agree that Plato had some early association with either the philosophy of Heraclitus of Ephesus, or with one or more of that philosopher's followers (see Aristotle Metaph. Parmenides and Zeno also appear as characters in his dialogue, the He mixed together in his works the arguments of Heracleitus, the Pythagoreans, and Socrates. 3.8) A little later, Diogenes makes a series of comparisons intended to show how much Plato owed to the comic poet, Epicharmus (3.9-3.17).

Though influenced primarily by Socrates, to the extent that Socrates is usually the main character in many of Plato's writings, he was also influenced by Heraclitus, Parmenides, and the Pythagoreans.

Plato's middle to later works, including his most famous work, the , are generally regarded as providing Plato's own philosophy, where the main character in effect speaks for Plato himself.

Nonetheless, it is plain that no influence on Plato was greater than that of Socrates.

This is evident not only in many of the doctrines and arguments we find in Plato's dialogues, but perhaps most obviously in Plato's choice of Socrates as the main character in most of his works.