Plato

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1.  WHO WAS PLATO?

Plato (424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian (Ancient Greek) philosopher who founded the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Plato is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Plato has also often been cited as one of the founders of Western religion and spirituality. The so-called Neoplatonism of philosophers like Plotinus and Porphyry influenced Saint Augustine and thus Christianity. Alfred North Whitehead once noted: “the safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”

Plato was the innovator of the written dialogue and Dialectic forms in Philosophy. Plato is also considered the founder of Western Political Philosophy. His most famous contribution is the theory of Forms known by pure reason, in which Plato presents a solution to the problem of universals known as Platonism or Platonic Idealism. He is also the namesake of Platonic Love and the Platonic Solids.

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2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF PLATONIC PHILOSOPHY?

 The Essential Dialectic of Platonic Philosophy is:

{Ideal-Realm ⇆ Realm-Ideal ⇅ Ideal-Ideal} ↻ Realm-Realm

 The Essential Dialectic of Platonic Philosophy is the Ideal-Forms, Cave-Allegory, Just-Society and Philosopher-King Dialectic because …

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3. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF PLATONIC PHILOSOPHY?

The Complete Dialectic of Platonic Philosophy is:

{Intelligible-Realm ⇆ Ideal-Forms ⇅ Just-Society} ↻ Philosopher-King

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4. WHAT IS THE EQUIVALENCY DIALECTIC OF PLATONIC PHILOSOPHY?

The Equivalency Dialectic of Platonic Philosophy is:

{Plotinus ⇆ Aristotle ⇅ Plato} ↻ Socrates

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platos republic

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10. WHAT IS THE EVENT OF PLATONIC PHILOSOPHY?

The Event of Platonic Philosophy is …

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“All these sciences are the prelude of the strain, and are profitable if they are
regarded in their natural relations to one another. ’I dare say, Socrates,’ said
Glaucon; ’but such a study will be an endless business.’ What study do you
mean–of the prelude, or what? For all these things are only the prelude, and
you surely do not suppose that a mere mathematician is also a dialectician?
’Certainly not. I have hardly ever known a mathematician who could reason.’
And yet, Glaucon, is not true reasoning that hymn of dialectic which is the
music of the intellectual world, and which was by us compared to the effort of
sight, when from beholding the shadows on the wall we arrived at last at the
images which gave the shadows? Even so the dialectical faculty withdrawing
from sense arrives by the pure intellect at the contemplation of the idea of good,
and never rests but at the very end of the intellectual world. And the royal road
out of the cave into the light, and the blinking of the eyes at the sun and turning
to contemplate the shadows of reality, not the shadows of an image only–this
progress and gradual acquisition of a new faculty of sight by the help of the
mathematical sciences, is the elevation of the soul to the contemplation of the
highest ideal of being.
’So far, I agree with you. But now, leaving the prelude, let us proceed to the
hymn. What, then, is the nature of dialectic, and what are the paths which lead thither?’ Dear Glaucon, you cannot follow me here. There can be no revelation of the absolute truth to one who has not been disciplined in the previous sciences. But that there is a science of absolute truth, which is attained in some way very different from those now practiced, I am confident. For all other arts or sciences are relative to human needs and opinions; and the mathematical sciences are but a dream or hypothesis of true being, and never analyse their own principles. Dialectic alone rises to the principle which is above hypotheses,  converting and gently leading the eye of the soul out of the barbarous slough of ignorance into the light of the upper world, with the help of the sciences which we have been describing–sciences, as they are often termed, although they require some other name, implying greater clearness than opinion and less clearness than science, and this in our previous sketch was understanding. And so we get four names–two for intellect, and two for opinion,–reason or mind, understanding, faith, perception of shadows–which make a proportion–being:becoming::intellect:opinion–and science:belief::understanding: perception of shadows. Dialectic may be further described as that science which defines and explains the essence or being of each nature, which distinguishes and abstracts the good, and is ready to do battle against all opponents in the cause of good. To him who is not a dialectician life is but a sleepy dream; and many a man is in his grave before his is well waked up. . And would you have the future rulers of your ideal State intelligent beings, or stupid as posts? ’Certainly not the latter.’ Then you must train them in dialectic, which will teach them to ask and answer questions, and is the coping-stone of the sciences.” -Plato Republic (pg. 82-83).

The common run of philosophers are concerned principally with the existent world and with the large number of particular things that play a part in it, whose ordinary juxtapositions and collisions form the pathos and comedy and absurdity of the world’s history: if concepts or types or general patterns then come, at a second remove, to be considered, they are thought of as categories embodied in the existent world, or as notions that we apply to this world in order to understand it or master it. The focus of interest remains fixed on the items which parade before us in direct encounters, and which, elusive and half-glimpsed as they often are, are felt to be all that is worth understanding or changing, all that, with more zeal than that of the mere ontologist, we are ready to speak of as ‘real’. For Platonism, on the other hand, the world of particular existence is never a central topic: what for it are centrally thematic are always the types, the natures, the characters and general structures which are or might be embodied in the realm of particular existence, or to which particular existence can in varying degrees approximate. It is Equality as Such or the Equal Itself, or what it is or means to be equal, which is interesting to the Platonist, rather that the things which happen to be equal or nearly equal to one another, and the same holds of being triangular, being spherical, being a harmonic mean, being swift, being slow, being hot, perceptive or alive, being this or that sort of plant or animal or elementary substance, and also being just, being self-controlled, being beautiful, being truly cognizant of this or that, and so on.
-J. N. Findlay Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines pg1-2

Hegel, in the introductory Phenomenology of Spirit, leads up to his Absolute Idealism by both describing to his readers, also leading them through, a series of successive illuminations called ‘Shapes of Consciousness’ in which they more and more come to recognize the presence of the same patterns which guide their minds in the phenomena of natural and social reality, until in the end, in various moral, religious and philosophical experiences, they realize the identity of the Principle of all these patterns, wither in their thought, or in the whole realm of being.
-J. N. Findlay Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines pg400

“And so, Glaucon, I said, we have at last arrived at the hymn of dialectic. This is that strain which is of the intellect only, but which the faculty of sight will nevertheless be found to imitate; for sight, as you may remember, was imagined by us after a while to behold the real animals and stars, and last of all the sun himself. And so with dialectic; when a person starts on the discovery of the absolute by the light of reason only, and without any assistance of sense, and perseveres until by pure intelligence he arrives at the perception of the absolute good, he at last finds himself at the end of the intellectual world, as in the case
of sight at the end of the visible.

Exactly, he said.

Then this is the progress which you call dialectic?

True.

But the release of the prisoners from chains, and their translation from the shadows to the images and to the light, and the ascent from the underground den to the sun, while in his presence they are vainly trying to look on animals and plants and the light of the sun, but are able to perceive even with their weak eyes the images in the water (which are divine), and are the shadows of true existence (not shadows of images cast by a light of fire, which compared with the sun is only an image)–this power of elevating the highest principle in the
soul to the contemplation of that which is best in existence, with which we may compare the raising of that faculty which is the very light of the body to the sight of that which is brightest in the material and visible world–this power is given, as I was saying, by all that study and pursuit of the arts which has been described.

I agree in what you are saying, he replied, which may be hard to believe, yet, from another point of view, is harder still to deny. This, however, is not a theme to be treated of in passing only, but will have to be discussed again and again. And so, whether our conclusion be true or false, let us assume all this, and proceed at once from the prelude or preamble to the chief strain (A play upon the Greek word, which means both ’law’ and ’strain.’), and describe that in like manner. Say, then, what is the nature and what are the divisions of dialectic, and what are the paths which lead thither; for these paths will also lead to our
final rest.

Dear Glaucon, I said, you will not be able to follow me here, though I would do my best, and you should behold not an image only but the absolute truth, according to my notion. Whether what I told you would or would not have been a reality I cannot venture to say; but you would have seen something like reality; of that I am confident.

Doubtless, he replied.

But I must also remind you, that the power of dialectic alone can reveal this, and only to one who is a disciple of the previous sciences. Of that assertion you may be as confident as of the last. And assuredly no one will argue that there is any other method of  comprehending by any regular process all true existence or of ascertaining what each thing
is in its own nature; for the arts in general are concerned with the desires or opinions of  men, or are cultivated with a view to production and construction, or for the preservation of such productions and constructions; and as to the mathematical sciences which, as we were saying, have some apprehension of true being–geometry and the like–they only dream about being, but never can they behold the waking reality so long as they leave the hypotheses which they use unexamined, and are unable to give an account of them. For when a man knows not his own first principle, and when the conclusion and intermediate
steps are also constructed out of he knows not what, how can he imagine that such a fabric of convention can ever become science?

Impossible, he said.

Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is by her gentle aid lifted upwards; and she uses as handmaids and helpers in the work of conversion, the sciences which we have been discussing. Custom terms them sciences, but they ought to have some other name, implying greater clearness than opinion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous
sketch, was called understanding. But why should we dispute about names when we have realities of such importance to consider?

Why indeed, he said, when any name will do which expresses the thought of
the mind with clearness?

At any rate, we are satisfied, as before, to have four divisions; two for intellect and two for opinion, and to call the first division science, the second understanding, the third belief, and the fourth perception of shadows, opinion being concerned with becoming, and intellect with being; and so to make a proportion:–

As being is to becoming, so is pure intellect to opinion. And as intellect is to opinion, so is science to belief, and understanding to the perception of shadows.

But let us defer the further correlation and subdivision of the subjects of opinion and of intellect, for it will be a long inquiry, many times longer than this has been.

As far as I understand, he said, I agree.

And do you also agree, I said, in describing the dialectician as one who attains a conception of the essence of each thing? And he who does not possess and is therefore unable to impart this conception, in whatever degree he fails, may in that degree also be said to fail in intelligence? Will you admit so much?

Yes, he said; how can I deny it?
And you would say the same of the conception of the good? Until the person
is able to abstract and define rationally the idea of good, and unless he can run
the gauntlet of all objections, and is ready to disprove them, not by appeals
to opinion, but to absolute truth, never faltering at any step of the argument–
unless he can do all this, you would say that he knows neither the idea of good
nor any other good; he apprehends only a shadow, if anything at all, which
is given by opinion and not by science;–dreaming and slumbering in this life,
before he is well awake here, he arrives at the world below, and has his final
quietus.
In all that I should most certainly agree with you.

And surely you would not have the children of your ideal State, whom you are nurturing and educating–if the ideal ever becomes a reality–you would not allow the future rulers to be like posts (Literally ’lines,’ probably the starting point of a race-course.), having no reason in them, and yet to be set in authority over the highest matters?

Certainly not.

Then you will make a law that they shall have such an education as will enable them to attain the greatest skill in asking and answering questions?

Yes, he said, you and I together will make it.

Dialectic, then, as you will agree, is the coping-stone of the sciences, and is set over them; no other science can be placed higher–the nature of knowledge can no further go?

I agree, he said.” -Plato Republic (pg. 391-394).

4. “After that time those who are selected from the class of twenty years old will be  promoted to higher honour, and the sciences which they learned without any order in their early education will now be brought together, and they will be able to see the natural relationship of them to one another and to true being.

Yes, he said, that is the only kind of knowledge which takes lasting root.

Yes, I said; and the capacity for such knowledge is the great criterion of dialectical talent: the comprehensive mind is always the dialectical.

I agree with you, he said.

These, I said, are the points which you must consider; and those who have most of this comprehension, and who are most steadfast in their learning, and in their military and other appointed duties, when they have arrived at the age of thirty have to be chosen by you out of the select class, and elevated to higher honor; and you will have to prove them by the help of dialectic, in order to learn which of them is able to give up the use of sight and the other senses, and in company with truth to attain absolute being:” -Plato Republic (pg. 396-397).

Plato: “SOCRATES: Excellent, Timaeus, I like your manner of approaching the subject – proceed.”

Plato: “TIMAEUS: First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, ‘What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is?’ That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is.”
Plato: “TIMAEUS: The outer circle or sphere named the sphere of the same – the inner, the sphere of the other or diverse; and the one revolves horizontally to the right, the other diagonally to the left.”

Plato: “TIMAEUS: In the likeness of what animal was the world made?”

Plato: “TIMAEUS: The [first] living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.”

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