Sophie awakens the next morning, still incredulous of what she saw in the video. When she retreats to her den, Hermes arrives with a new lesson, this one on Plato’s Academy.
Plato, Socrates’ pupil, founded a school on Socrates’ teaching, called The Academy. Philosophy, mathematics, and gymnastics were the subjects taught.
Plato taught that there were two worlds: the temporary material world and the eternal world of ideas. The world of ideas contained the ideas, or "Forms," from which all material things were patterned. Thus, though our senses may deceive us and give us an incomplete picture of material things, through reason we can comprehend the ideal world.
Plato also believed that man had an immortal soul, which belonged to the world of reason. He also taught that man’s soul existed in the ideal world prior to birth. At birth, man forgot the world of ideas and spent his entire life trying to return to that world.
Plato taught the Myth of the Cave. In this scenario, men dwelt in a cave, seeing shadows on the wall at the back of the cave. Man must break free and turn toward the light making the shadows and thus discover that reality that was making the shadows.
Plato’s ideal state consisted of three parts: rulers, auxiliaries, and laborers. The rulers would be philosopher kings. Also, in this ideal state, women would be equal, although he later modified this view due to political pressure.
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Jostein Gaarder is well-known for writing from the perspective of children and the majority of his books are aimed at a young audience. Sophie's World is somewhat of an exception to this as its intention is to bridge the gap between children's and adults' literature and it attempts to entertain a far more varies readership. The hero of the novel is a fifteen year old girl named Sophie and whilst the book is titled to reference her life and adventures, it's sub-title is "A Novel About The History Of Philosophy", and Gaarder tackles two thousand years of western philosophical thought. The book is popular because of its style, and the way in which it presents complicated ideas in a language that young adults can understand. Sophie's World has been used as a text book in many freshman introduction to philosophy classes and Gaarder spent eleven years as a high school philosophy teacher so his understood both the importance and difficulty of teaching the subject.
Sophie's World is acclaimed as both a novel and a history book and is set out in an easy to follow manner with each chapter focusing one one thinker or one school of thought. Simultaneously, the plot is intricately woven through the history of philosophy making it a pleasurable read. Gaarder has discovered a method of teaching that is entertaining as opposed to pedagogical and for this reason is popular with both adults and children.
Gaarder's first book that blended philosophy and fiction was The Solitaire Mystery which was critically acclaimed in his native Norway; with Sophie's World, Gaarder reached a worldwide audience and as well as being a best-seller in Norway was also a best-seller in Germany, France and Great Britain; in 1995, Sophie's World was the best-selling book in the world.