Plato was one of the early stars of Western philosophy. The son of an aristocrat, he studied under the great Greek thinker, Socrates. After years of travel and study, Plato founded the Academy in his native Athens in 387 B.C.; it became a famous hotbed of philosophical and scientific discussion, and is regarded by many as the first known university in the world. Plato's writings mostly take the form of dialogues, or "dialectics," in which knowledge is revealed as two characters ask and answer questions of each other. (Socrates was often one of the characters.) Plato's text The Republic, in which he lays out his ideas on the perfect state, remains a staple of college reading lists around the world.