STATEMENTS THAT PLATO NEVER MADE!

 

My general advice:  When you see a quotation attributed to a philosopher, unless someone gives the name of the work (and in Plato’s case, the line numbers), you should be skeptical that the philosopher actually made the statement.  The exception to this rule would be a scholarly paper, written by an expert in the field.  Without further ado, here are quotations that Plato did not make, based on a search performed on a searchable CD-ROM of Plato’s work, and a reading of all the dialogues (including ones deemed inauthentic!) and his letters.

 

(1) "We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light."  This one is repeated multiple times at these sites, for instance:

 

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/25669.html

http://www.memorable-quotes.com/plato,a65.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/plato.html

[It’s even on a T-Shirt!] http://t-shirts.cafepress.com/item/plato-dark-tshirt/80727557

 

(2) "Only the dead have seen the end of war." 

 

Here’s an explanation of where this one came from: http://plato-dialogues.org/faq/faq008.htm

 

Here are two (# 3 and #4) that you can get T-Shirts, mugs, etc. made, from http://www.spaceandmotion.com/philosophy-shop/ancient-greek-philosophy-posters-t-shirts.htm


(3) "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."

This is very uncharacteristic of Plato, given that he holds that dialectic (conversing to try to understand the essence of things, questioning assumptions, etc.) is the best part of philosophy, and it's modelled in the dialogue form itself.


(4) "He was a wise man who invented beer."

Besides that he never uses the word beer in the dialogues, Plato doesn't really think anything can be invented anyway - there is a Form of Beer, according to Plato, which humans can discover.


(5) "People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die."


This one is found here (and elsewhere): http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/308591-people-are-like-dirt-they-can-either-nourish-you-and


(6) "Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something."

Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato109439.html


(7) "Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything."

Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato109438.html

Interestingly, Plato does say something like this, here: "education in music and poetry is most important ... because rhythm and harmony permeate the inner part of the soul more than anything else, affecting it most strongly and bringing it grace, so that is someone is properly educated in music and poetry, it makes him graceful, but if not, then the opposite. [And] because anyone who has been properly educated in music and poetry will sense it acutely when something has been omitted from a thing and when it hasn't been finely crafted or finely made by nature." (Republic III 401d-e)  Why not just quote something Plato actually said? : )


(8) "Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge."
Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato38673.html


(9) "We are twice armed if we fight with faith."
Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato159576.html


(10) "Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet."
Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato394857.html


(11) "Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws."
Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato161536.html


(12) "Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue."
Found here: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/p/plato159582.html

Plato does have the phrase "movement of sound", here (and see the (real) Plato quotation under #7, above): "Acuteness and quickness, whether in body or soul or in the  movement of sound , and the imitations of them which painting and music   supply, you must have praised yourself before now, or been present when others praised them." (Statesman 306c-d)




Please let me know if you are aware of others. Thanks!   Dr. Dave Yount (david.yount@mesacc.edu)