Plato (428/427 BC-348/347 BC), whose original name was Aristocles, was an ancient Greek philosopher, the second of the great trio of ancient Greeks - succeeding Socrates and preceding Aristotle - who between them, laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture. Plato was also a mathematician, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Plato's brilliance as a writer and thinker can be witnessed by reading his Socratic dialogues. The Plato Collection includes Book 1: The Allegory of the Cave, which appears in Plato’s Republic and compares the effect of education and the lack of it on human nature. It is written as a dialogue between Plato's brother and Socrates, who tells of people that have been chained to the wall of a cave their whole lives. They see shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them. Socrates explains that the philosopher is like a prisoner who has escaped the cave and realizes that the shadows on the wall are not the true reality at all.
Book 2: Critias, one of Plato's late dialogues, recounts the story of the mighty island kingdom Atlantis and its failed attempt to conquer Athens. Critias is the second of a projected trilogy of dialogues, preceded by Timaeus and followed by Hermocrates. The latter might never have been written, and Critias was never completed. Because of their similarity, modern classicists often combine Timaeus and Critias as Timaeus-Critias.
Book 3: Plato's dialogue Meno is widely regarded as one of his most important and influential works. It covers several philosophical questions, such as What is virtue? Can it be taught or is it innate? Do we know some things independent of experience, and What is the difference between really knowing something and merely holding a belief about it? In Meno, Socrates reduces Meno to a state of cognitive dissonance, while Anytus, one of the prosecutors responsible for Socrates' trial and execution, warns Socrates against freedom of speech, and against criticising his fellow Athenians.
Book 4: The Phaedrus is a dialogue between Plato's protagonist, Socrates, and Phaedrus, an interlocutor in several dialogues. It was probably written around 370 BC, at about the same time as Plato's Republic and Symposium. Ostensibly about love, the discussion in the dialogue focuses on the art of rhetoric and how it ought to be practiced. The dialogue appears in the direct words of Socrates and Phaedrus, without an introduction. It comprises three speeches on the topic of love that serves as the subject to build a discussion on the proper use of rhetoric, and includes discussions of divine inspiration, madnes,s and the soul.