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 Plato - as a person

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 14:23

I've changed my dragons to one little dragon climbing on a bint's shoulder.

Scientific study, discovery and exploration is completely dependent on Hamlet's comment being true. The question is not whether stuff outside our ken exists - it's what we want to do about it. Accepting theological explanations is a poor substitute for actually taking the trouble to comprehend stuff.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 15:08

@nordmann wrote:


Accepting theological explanations is a poor substitute for actually taking the trouble to comprehend stuff.


Oh, that's a silly thing to say, nordmann. People can be extremely good philosophers and yet be very religious too. My best friend, sadly now departed, had a degree in philosophy from Cambridge - and she was deeply religious. She actually converted to Catholicism before she died which amazed even me. Mind you, she did say I was the most illogical person she had ever known...She understood and appreciated all the Plato stuff just like you. I wish she was still with us: she could have given you a run for your money. (She'd have been quoting chunks of The Symposium at you in Greek). However, that's irrelevant here...

A lot of scientists are religious too. I believe that some quantum physicists are now arguing the case for reincarnation. An interesting development. Are we back to the transmigration of souls? In Phaedo, Plato makes his teacher Socrates, prior to his death, state: "I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, and that the living spring from the dead."

Philosophers and religious folk (except fundamentalists who should all - whatever faith - be cast into the outer darkness), also scientists, should work together and not growl at one another across university common rooms or across history message boards.

PS That dragon picture is horrible. Don't like it at all. Don't understand it, either.

EDIT: Have just read P.'s post. Was the dragon picture meant to upset me? I hope not. That too would be unworthy.


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 15:56

Loads of my loose ends are still scattered about this thread.

 So if if Jesus was influence by Plato and he by several earlier thinkers who had been exposed to the ancient thoughts of Zoraoster - how did he get illumined? And his notions actually vere towards altruism without mumbo jumbo (an unworthy observation in our context, n). Given that his people came from the great grass steppes could there have been ancient Chinese sources? Or from a common source long forgotten?  Looping the loop of thought and source fascinates. Which came first, the philosopher or the theologian? Surely theologians are those who are trying to pin down and structure thought for easier grasp - and usually making a dog'e breakfast of it.

PS dragon pic is unecessary and not nice.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 17:03

The dragon pic is totally unnecessary of course (how on earth could a dragon climbing on The Lady Jessica's shoulder be necessary) but why is it not nice? Honestly, what you people object to!



Temp - of course a religious person can philosophise. Why shouldn't they? In fact I encourage them to when I get the opportunity. As long as they don't lapse into theologising in the process of course (it's a kind of blind spot for a lot of people). 

I'm sorry to hear your friend has passed away. You'd referred to her before, I remember, and I recall thinking she was indeed the kind of friend I'd value myself. 

Reincarnation as a concept is not excluded in quantum mechanics. But it restricts itself to matter, not personality, soul etc. These are explicable in terms of molecules and electric charge if one really wants to have a scientific go at them but are quite irrelevant when one gets down to strings, wave function, multiverses, time etc. But I agree - if the phenomenon exists it will best be discovered, explained and defined through science.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 20:32

Dear Ferval,

"My head hurts so I'm off to have a shower and then eat something."... Wink  Wink 
With esteem for your part in the discussion...

Paul.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 20:46

@Temperance wrote:
Quote :
A lot of scientists are religious too. I believe that some quantum physicists are now arguing the case for reincarnation.



I came upon these quotes while looking for a picture of the physicist Max Planck for the quantum mechanics thread. 

In 1944 Max Planck said:

"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter".

On the other hand, in his autobiography he  wrote:

"...'to believe' means 'to recognize as a truth,' and the knowledge of nature, continually advancing on incontestably safe tracks, has made it utterly impossible for a person possessing some training in natural science to recognize as founded on truth the many reports of extraordinary occurrences contradicting the laws of nature, of miracles which are still commonly regarded as essential supports and confirmations of religious doctrines, and which formerly used to be accepted as facts pure and simple, without doubt or criticism. The belief in miracles must retreat step by step before relentlessly and reliably progressing science and we cannot doubt that sooner or later it must vanish completely."

Six months before his death a rumour started that Planck had converted to Catholicism (he had been baptised a Protestant), but when questioned what had brought him to make this step, he denied it and declared further that, although he had always been deeply religious, "he did not believe in a personal God, let alone a Christian God."


Far be it for me to put words into Max Planck's mouth, but I would think for him God was the so-called 'God of the Constants' (the expression I think is Dawkins'), that is the unknown "power" that has defined the fundamental universal constants which dictate how the whole universe physically works (eg. the speed of light, the gravitational constant, Planck's constant etc.). This of course is a long, long, long way from believing in an Abrahamic God who responds to the prayers and sins of a single humanoid species, who for only a couple of million years have been living on a planet circling an unexceptional star, in a universe that's over 13 billion years old, at least 100 billion light years across, if not indeed infinite, and that contains at least 300 sextillion (3×1023  , ie 3 with 23 zeros after it) other stars.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Thu 23 Jan 2014, 21:51

I'm wandering way off topic but...  I've just been reading up on Max Planck. The poor chap did have a fairly tragic personal life. He married in 1887 Marie Merck, and they had four children: Karl, born 1888; twins Emma and Grete, born 1889; and then Erwin, born 1893. But after several happy years:

His wife Marie died of TB in 1909.
His second son Erwin was taken prisoner by the French in 1914 and held until 1918.
His oldest son Karl was killed in action at Verdun in 1916.
His daughter Grete died in childbirth in 1917.
His other daughter Emma died the same way in 1919.

During WW2 Planck remained in Germany and walked a delicate line, trying to keep his job while speaking out against the persecution of jews. He lost nearly all his academic colleagues who either fled or were killed, and Planck increasingly came under suspicion of being part jewish himself. In 1944 his home in Berlin was completely destroyed by an air raid, annihilating all his scientific records and correspondence. Then in 1945 his son Erwin was sentenced to death by the Gestapo because of his involvement in a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. Erwin was executed on 23 January 1945.

Planck himself died in 1947. His second wife, who he'd married in 1911 died in 1948 and his fifth child, by his second wife died in 1954 aged only 43.

Might explain his religious views .... or at least put them in context.

Right ..... Back to Plato.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 09:33

Poor Planck - why on earth had god got it in for him so much?

Plato saw such misfortune as evidence that the gods themselves often hadn't a clue how best to run things. In "The Republic" he stated that unless the gods subscribed to the Orphic model they had no business existing at all. Placing themselves outside normal human values concerning justice, judgement, punishment and what constituted basic ethical standards was fine from the point of view of defining themselves as gods but placed them at a lower level of intelligence and development than humans, all the lower the more capriciously they behaved. In pantheistic belief some of this capriciousness can be mitigated through centering the blame on some but not all of the divine spirits. In a monotheistic belief system however this poses a huge theological problem that has never been adequately addressed. Even the most devout Christian is still at a loss to explain to the bereaved, for example, when a loved one's death has been particularly harrowing and perceived as unfair. If it is "part of God's plan, not ours to understand" then on the Platonic scale god is ethically so behind humans that he would deserve our pity and even at times our hatred (it was ok, in fact considered healthy, to hate gods in Greece - as long as one didn't hate them all at the same time). To inflict such pain and never once explain himself is the action of a sadistic psychopath should a human emulate it.

Christianity was to inherit from Orphism the concept of the "divine court" with set punishments for clearly defined crimes. However in Orphism - if Plato's clues are anything to go by - the gods themselves could be judged, and indeed punished, by the same standards. That's the bit Christianity couldn't absorb.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 20:59

@nordmann wrote:
Poor Planck - why on earth had god got it in for him so much?


His sufferings do indeed seem Job-like. But should we blame God for inflicting such undeserved pain, or should we rather accuse that which the Old Testament calls "the Adversary"? Are we in fact the heirs to a fallen world, a world ruled by something that is out to pervert, to destroy, to bring chaos; a world where we, like Lear, are helpless and condemned, "bound upon a wheel of fire"? It's interesting that all the major faith systems, not just nutty old Christianity, have the idea of the destroyer, or the rebel against God, that rival power which is set upon bringing misery and despair: Satan, Iblis/Shaytan, Mara. (Please, please note that I am not talking about little men with pitchforks or Darth Vader). The idea of the struggle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness is Zoroastrian too. I wonder what the Greeks had to say about this? Lucifer is actually a Latin name, isn't it, but comes from the Greek word, heosphorus,   meaning "shining one", "morning star" or "bringer of the dawn"? That's confusing - is the one use of the word Lucifer in Isaiah (the only time it appears in the Old Testament) a mistranslation of the Hebrew? Here is William Blake's Lucifer -  surely a magnificent, Greek figure:




@nordmann wrote:



Even the most devout Christian is still at a loss to explain to the bereaved, for example, when a loved one's death has been particularly harrowing and perceived as unfair.



Yet what is strange is that many such bereaved people do not hurl curses at God, but seem, if anything, in their despair and grief, more drawn to Him. Not true of all, obviously, but of many. The old "just a crutch" argument may of course be trotted out here, but then limping along - and needing help - seems to be a condition of being human. I don't think it's a weakness to admit that.

But I actually came here to post this for you, MM. It is something written by Planck in 1933 in his "Where is Science Going?"

"Anyone who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realises that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith'. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with...science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.' "

But you must have faith in what or whom? The God of the Constants? For some reason that made me think of the Greeks again and their "altar to the Unknown God" mentioned by Saint Paul when, "standing in the midst of the Areopagus", he addressed the men of Athens in Acts 17: 16-34.


In addition to the twelve main gods and the innumerable lesser deities, ancient Greeks worshipped a deity they called Agnostos Theos, that is: the Unknown god. In Athens, there was a temple specifically dedicated to that god and very often Athenians would swear "in the name of the Unknown god" (Νή τόν Άγνωστον Ne ton Agnoston).[1] Apollodorus, Philostratus and Pausanias wrote about the Unknown god as well.[2] The Unknown god was not so much a specific deity, but a placeholder, for whatever god or gods actually existed but whose name and nature were not revealed to the Athenians or the Hellenized world at large.


Did Plato ever make any reference to this deity?

EDIT: four edits now - usually a good sign that I'm talking a load of nonsense.

EDIT: now five - misspelt the Islamic word for "devil" - think Iblis is correct.


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 21:06

Priscilla - found this. It's Zoroaster in Raphael's "School of Athens". He is holding "the celestial sphere".

He actually looks as if he's just saved a penalty.

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 21:36

Temp wrote:

But I actually came here to post this for you, MM. It is something written by Planck in 1933 in his "Where is Science Going?"

"Anyone who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realises that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith'. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with...science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.' "

.... empty weasle words that say nothing really. So what? 

But you also asked, Temp: "You must have faith in what or whom?"

Well, all I can is say is, while I personally might well have "faith" ... it certaintly ain't in the petulant, jealous, vindictive, childish, parochial God of established religion!

.... And in that  I strongly suspect Planck would have agreed!
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 22:10

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 23:06

I took myself to the Quantum thread for a bit .................


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 24 Jan 2014, 23:20

And on the subject of faith - its's a tricky one. When faced and questioned  with abuse, derision and even possible death   before a foe of strong but differing faith, it is not so easy to claim to be agnostic - or atheist. A faith  kindled in childhood and perhaps long ignored  begins to glow bright. To this I have been witness.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 25 Jan 2014, 09:57

I found this this morning while trying to make head or tail of Plato's Theory of Forms:

The Form of the Good has been described as one of the more cryptic doctrines in Plato's metaphysics and epistemology and there is no scholarly consensus as to its meaning in the abstract or how it is supposed to exercise its influence in practice. In antiquity it was already a byword for obscurity. Amphis, a comic playwright of Athens, has one of his characters say: "And as for the good that you are likely to get on her account, I know no more about it, master, than I do of the good of Plato." There is an ancient anecdotal tradition that Plato gave a public lecture entitled "On the Good" which so confused the audience that most walked out.

It is some comfort to know that even the Greeks found Plato very difficult.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 25 Jan 2014, 12:20

Re corrupted gods, chaos and all - am now struggling with Plato's Demiurge and what the Gnostics did with this idea.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plato-timaeus/

http://www.academia.edu/3798851/The_Descent_of_the_Demiurge_from_Platonism_to_Gnosticism

I said a long time ago I had lost the Plotinus with all this: it's complicated stuff, but interesting. I dare say some would call it incomprehensible mumbo jumbo (and not just the Gnostic bit).

It's easy to see why Christ's teaching - the lilies of the field, the Good Samaritan, the Lost Sheep, "Love thy neighbour as thyself"  etc. etc. - took hold. Complex Greek ideas made accessible for all, not just for those with an IQ of 140+. Ideas, moreover, that were not just intelligible, but which were clearly relevant to ordinary life. The man had the genius of simplicity.

EDIT - But He couldn't wrestle. Plato, on the other hand, was a champion wrestler. That's why his clever chums called him Plato (a much classier name than Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake). I thought this was a joke at first, but no, Plato really did like a good scrap, and not just an intellectual one. He was physically very strong, apparently, with very broad shoulders:


An aristocratic man with plenty of money and a superb physique, Plato at one time won two prizes as a championship wrestler. Actually, the man's real (and little known) name was Aristocles; Plato was just a nickname given to him by his friends, whose original connotation made reference to his broad shoulders.  


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 08:57

@Meles meles wrote:
Temp wrote:

But I actually came here to post this for you, MM. It is something written by Planck in 1933 in his "Where is Science Going?"

"Anyone who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realises that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: 'Ye must have faith'. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with...science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.' "


.... empty weasle words that say nothing really. So what?
 



Why weasel words, I wonder? That's very harsh for you, MM.

MM wrote:
But you also asked, Temp: "You must have faith in what or whom?"

Well, all I can is say is, while I personally might well have "faith" ... it certaintly ain't in the petulant, jealous, vindictive, childish, parochial God of established religion!

.... And in that  I strongly suspect Planck would have agreed!


I'm sure he would, MM: what I was trying to ask was whether you thought the "faith" he mentioned referred to the God of the Constants that you have mentioned elsewhere, or something else - I was trying to link it to the Greek notion of "the Unknown god".

I'm distressed to think that you perhaps think that the God I'm always going on about is the "petulant, jealous, vindictive, childish, parochial God of established religion". It isn't -  or I sincerely hope it isn't. I also hope I do not appear to be pushing what I believe down anyone's throat: that is the very, very last thing I want to do with any ideas about Life, the Universe, Sponge Cakes or anything. In the words of the great Tom Petty: "It don't really matter to me/You believe what you want to believe..."

I just like discussing these things - but people always seem to fall out and get huffy. Me included. What idiots we all are.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 10:00

From what you write I certainly have never thought you believed in the "petulant, jealous, vindictive, childish, parochial God of established religion" ... but then I'm not sure in what sort of God you do believe, and that is not a criticism at all - I am all in favour of doubt  Wink 

But that is just my problem with most established theologies and the people that follow them. If you don't believe in the God that is dogmatically described by these religions, then what? People talk about "some higher power", and yes Planck, Einstein and other great, analytical minds have also talked about such an unknown "thing" using almost God-like terms to describe it. But to me, and often to these thinkers too when you start to delve deeper into what they were actually saying, this "great unknown force"  is just that ... an unknown .... and nevertheless all the more exciting for that!

But I'm not sure that this is a god or even God. It's just unknown. I suspect that when people say they are religious, deist, spiritual or whatever, whilst at the same time eschewing the Judeo-Christian God for the "some higher power" type of god, they are really just acting like their long-departed forebears who frantically prayed to the sun in the hope it will return next morning, since they didn't understand what was going on and so, "there MUST be some higher power controlling it and anyway it makes us feel good and feel as though we are a tiny bit in control". Fine, there is a lot that is a mystery and unknown in the Universe .... let's face it we haven't even explored all the corners of Earth yet ... and wouldn't life be boring if we knew everything and there was nothing new to be discovered?

It does seem that if some of the fundamental basic numbers (eg the speed of light in a vacuum) that define how the whole universe works ... if some of these numbers were just slightly different, then the universe wouldn't work. For example it seems that if you change the value of the gravitational constant just a little bit, then the whole universe would not have expanded after it's initial formation and the great Big Bang would have been more of a pfutt like damp squib. Change the numbers just a little and all of creation as we know it, would not just be a bit different, it may not have existed at all. But to describe that situation as due to the so-called 'God of the Constants', "who" somehow "knew" how to get it just right, as an actual praise-worthy God, seems rather perverse.

It could be argued that the numbers are right and that Universe works simply because in this one the numbers are at the correct values to be stable. Who is not to say that creation has happened an immense, perhaps an infinite, number of times before? But it's only when the numbers are just so that the thing takes off, otherwise it goes pfut, and the whole thing starts again with a different set of numbers? So it might all be completely random .... and I think quite a lot of people would say that explains quite a lot too!  Wink 

But again if one feel's that there is something not quite random about the whole thing, and that some higher unknown is reponsible for defining the essential way that the universe works ... the equations, the constants etc .... then does one really think that this "force" cares about us? This is a "something" that led to the creation of billions, upon billions upon billions of stars (and that's just the ones we can see), that have all been doing their thing for the past 13 billion years - does this "unknown something" really listen to people praying for their sick child to get well, does it keep a tally of who's sinned, does it care who sleeps with who etc... or frankly give a toss about any of the affairs of a single rather insignificant species of carbon-based lifeform, briefly dominant on a unexceptional planet going around an average yellow sun? I don't think so.

But maybe that's just me.

(PS : It was "weasle words" because it all sounds rather grand and philosophical, but it's just vague and doesn't actually say anything at all, IMHO ... be they said by Max Planck or whoever. A bit like Prince Charles wittering on about wanting to be "Defender of Faith" without actually ever specifying what he means - again it sounds good but is void of meaning. Although in Charles' defence he's not the sharpest pencil in the box and he's certainly not in the same intellectual league as Max Planck).


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 10:37

MM wrote:
But I'm not sure that this is a god or even God. It's just unknown.


You're a Greek, MM - so, I suspect, am I. Jesus was a Platonist... so this morning I think I'm a Christian Platonist. Can I be that?  Smile  I actually like this quotation, although I ain't saying where I got it from  Embarassed :


"The Gnostic Jesus was not a prophet of Jehovah, the lesser god of the Jews, but of the true ineffable God of Plato...

The Gnostic teacher Cerdo explains:

'The God proclaimed by the law and the prophets is not the father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The God of the Old Testament is known, but the Father of Jesus Christ is unknown.'

In complete contrast to the crass anthropomorphism of the traditional Jewish view, the Gnostic sage Basilides taught the  Pagan (Platonist?) doctrine that:

'We must not even call him God ineffable, since this is to make an assertion about Him: he is above every name that is named.' "


But as to what I really believe - well -  I just muddle along, MM, as is obvious, I'm sure. Don't we all, if we are honest? It's really all about dealing gently and kindly with one another - not all the intellectual arguing, the weasel words.


PS According to Agrippa Castor, Basilides, "in Pythagorean fashion", prescribed a silence of five years to his disciples. Perhaps I should take note!  Smile 

PPS Cerdo was declared a heretic by the Church - don't know about Basilides.

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 10:49

Sh*t, just done a Minette and lost a post. OK, here goes again.


Could Planck be meaning that a scientist must have faith in the immutability of the laws he is trying to formulate? There is a connection in that the Abrahamic God is a god of laws and not capricious and inconstant like the pantheistic deities who are indeed have the qualities as described by MM. When the supreme powers are unreliable and unpredictable, how could a mere human hope to describe nature (as it must in the scientific method) in a way that allows repeatability and prediction?

The God of the Book does not negotiate (we'll ignore indulgences and other aberrations) nor is he open to being placated by sacrifice but operates on a (largely) predictable manner so that allows his creation to be described.

Temp, I also could never imagine you holding to any such monster as MM describes: you seem to me to seeking something worthy of your adherence and in the words of Christ you find it. I'd guess that most of us would agree but not necessarily requiring a supernatural element.

i expect there's more posts been added but if I can get this in before it vanishes, in it's going!
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 12:25

Temp wrote:
Jesus was a Platonist

Only a partial Platonist. The two philosophies agree that good is an ideal, a "Form", which is super temporal and which we can emulate but never possess or even describe in its extra existential state. Plato leaves it at that and simply draws conclusions about beauty, cognisance and intelligence from this principle. The religious mindset advertised by Jesus however accommodates the assertion that under certain circumstances conforming to behaviour, blind faith and submission this ultimate goodness can be perceived, experienced and even doled out by its divine originator. This is where philosophy - which insists on the application of logic - diverges from religion, which allows bald assertion a status it can never enjoy except in an atmosphere of insistence that the assertion is true.

If Jesus was actually a philosopher, Platonic or otherwise, he would not simply assert for example that the "meek shall inherit the earth" but explain to his audience why this apparent contradiction of observed natural behaviour conforms to a mechanism that follows a logic. As a religious assertion however it can stand alone, and does in the narrative, justified only with a "because I say so" or "because God deems it" in the context of the sermon. Cue two thousand years worth of theology to tease out the logic and meaning (with as yet no absolute agreement concerning either). Plato, or indeed Socrates who also understood the importance of the idea never becoming subject to the rhetoric used to convey it, would never have been that sloppy, or even that didactic.

As didactic instruction goes, by the way, I do not agree with your claim that Jesus was a natural teacher. His use of the mashal tradition to convey what he considered good behaviour showed promise (had they actually been "parables" as defined in Greek rhetoric then they would contain much more complex allegory than the mashal stories tend to). But their application is a little too splatter-gun for my liking, being used for everything from encouraging compliance with Judaic religious principle to apparently defying it when necessary. I imagine he left a lot of his audiences rather confused, even those within earshot. His sermonising is rather more straightforward and consistent though it too would have led more academically trained listeners to wonder when the assertion might end and the logic begin.

It is traditional in some quarters nowadays to put this down to Jesus intentionally addressing the ill educated, the "common man" as it were, as if this in itself is a virtuous pursuit. My own experience of people who intentionally address at all times society's lowest common denominators however leads me to be even more wary of their agendas, not more trusting of them, and I am sure this would have been true of many intelligent observers at the time too, especially when being "intentionally vague" is employed as a rhetorical technique. If there was a rabbi called Jesus as described in the narrative then his disdain for the intellectual - however virtuous in its intent it can be portrayed now - places him well outside Platonic, and indeed most philosophical, disciplines.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 13:27

You are far too clever for me, nordmann. This is just a game of cat-and-mouse for you, isn't it - and it's unwise to take part in such a game when you are the mouse*. At the end of the day, you see, this isn't about logic or rhetoric or scoring points or that which can be proved in some sort of laboratory: it's about something very personal, and I can't explain that on a public message board. Probably makes me a poor, deluded fool - which I could well be of course - but I still think even Plato would have been impressed by Jesus: the man clearly had the right ideas, even if He, lacking the rigorous discipline of a proper Athenian education, put them over in an unbelievably "sloppy" fashion.



* I mean me, not you.


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 13:46

Well, it is also a thread about Plato which began as a challenge concerning whether he actually existed or not. Since it is my contention that he not only existed but influenced philosophical thinking long after his death and in places he himself probably never imagined his thinking to have any relevance let alone understanding then the concept of "Jesus being a Platonist" carries quite a bit of importance. However the importance rests in what happens to philosophy when it transcends its original terms of reference and relevance and the Christian narrative is an ideal example of just such an event. It is not Plato versus Jesus or even our own allegiance or otherwise to theist belief systems that actually matter in the context of the discussion in my view but the historically detectable chain of events that has led to literally billions of people today subscribing to certain Platonic principles whether they know or appreciate the fact or not.

A very important point that has not been made as yet either is that Plato was very much an interpreter of Socratic thinking (as Aristotle later interpreted both). Much of what we call Platonic is in fact Socratic however Socrates' principles do not lend themselves too readily to being absorbed by religion - far too much asking and not enough answering for religious tastes (we can thank Plato for that too). My interest in the phenomenon however is in the process whereby certain Platonisms/Socratisms were deemed worthy of cherry-picking by early Christian thinkers and others summarily rejected. I imagine if this can be understood then it opens considerable insight into the actual historical context in which these events occurred.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 16:25

@nordmann wrote:
It is not Plato versus Jesus or even our own allegiance or otherwise to theist belief systems that actually matter in the context of the discussion in my view but the historically detectable chain of events that has led to literally billions of people today subscribing to certain Platonic principles whether they know or appreciate the fact or not.


OK - will try not to get emotional or take things personally here. Would you agree  that it is thanks then to the spread of Christianity that "literally billions of people today" subscribe "to certain Platonic principles"? This is surely a good thing. But would this have happened anyway?

@nordmann wrote:
 My interest in the phenomenon however is in the process whereby certain Platonisms/Socratisms were deemed worthy of cherry-picking by early Christian thinkers and others summarily rejected. I imagine if this can be understood then it opens considerable insight into the actual historical context in which these events occurred.


Yes, that is very interesting. As I asked before, why was the Roman church post-Constantine(?) so wary of the Greek bug - the dangerous bug that reappeared during the Renaissance/Reformation? And where do Augustine and, later, Aquinas fit into this? Both were influenced by Aristotle, weren't they? And wasn't Augustine a Neoplatonist?



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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 16:43

Temp wrote:
Would you agree  that it is thanks then to the spread of Christianity that "literally billions of people today" subscribe "to certain Platonic principles"? This is surely a good thing.

This is neither good nor bad. And it is interesting only in the context of why it is not generally acknowledged by the subscribers in question.

The answer to your final questions probably explains also the "Plato, what Plato?" aspect to modern Christian belief. When you say that Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas were "influenced" by Aristotle then you should at least acknowledge that this definition of influence varies hugely from that which could said to have applied when these men's views and thoughts were first published. A philosopher in Athens "influenced" by Plato, or Aristotle, or indeed any of these thinkers, revealed that influence in how they interrogated the observable world around them. In other words influence is revealed by the questions you ask, not the answers you provide. Theologians prefer the latter, in fact to the exclusion of any other interpretation in the Christian church.

Plato, in "The Republic" has Socrates maintain that society is best administered not so much by a meritocracy as a privileged aristocracy. The logic is that administration has less to do with being benevolent, individually wise or fair, but that its structure is transparent and stable. Aristotle went further and said that laws produced by this system were immutable. All these men put this forward as a hypothesis - reality conspired to contradict it - and debated its value as an ideal to be aspired to. Church theologians of the time and mindset you mention saw this hypothesis as a blueprint for the running of the church (and indeed heaven). After all, what is the church in administrative terms at the top level but an aristocracy, and a privileged non merit-based one at that. They were using Aristotle to justify something already in place.

Neoplatonism is just Platonism with all the bits you don't like left out.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 26 Jan 2014, 19:08

Are Augustine and Aquinas considered to be merely theologians then, not philosophers as well?  Suspect   I hadn't realised that.

But I feel just like Mary Queen of Scots being grilled by John Knox. No matter what I say, I am in error.  confused   I give up: I'm going to watch Supersize v. Superskinny now.

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 06:48

Temp wrote:
Are Augustine and Aquinas considered to be merely theologians then, not philosophers as well?

If they are philosophers there is a distinct lack of hypothesis in their output and quite a lot of declaration regarding the nature of the one god they choose to believe in. You can choose to call this philosophy, many do, but you can surely see the disparity between being apologists for a faith system and theorising about the nature of existence in which one is prepared to reduce the gods to the realm of imagination to suit the hypothesis being posited. Both of them recruited portions of existing published philosophy to support their assertions but both of them ultimately posited assertions intended to be the final word, not a starting point for further philosophical inquiry. It is up to you whether you wish to call this philosophy as exemplified by the earlier Greek version.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 08:27

OK. If we - as clearly we must - accept that theology is apologetic in nature, whereas the philosophy of religion is committed to the honest investigation of the nature of belief itself, surely the great thinkers of the Renaissance must have been very uncomfortable? They were all steeped in Greek thought and had been trained to think the way you think: the likes of Erasmus and More must have been aware of all you say; and that their claims to be philosophers were therefore untenable? (Actually, did either claim to be a "philosopher"?)

Interestingly Luther loathed Aristotle, didn't he? I was about to say "and he was the one always questioning and challenging" - but was he? I remember a quotation from Frederick the Wise (although it could have been Peter Ustinov) about Luther "being too good a Catholic to stay one" and Erasmus being "too good a Protestant to become one" - Luther was the one who could not challenge or question his fundamental beliefs. Erasmus could perhaps, although he was far too canny to do so - at least publically: he had no intention of ending up tied to a stake.  I've always wondered whether Erasmus was a closet atheist. (I've read somewhere - can't remember where and have no time now to look it up - that Luther, in one of his more temperate moments, called Erasmus "atheist, a hypocrite, a snake".)

Why did the Greeks really kill Socrates - for asking dangerous questions? One of the charges was "impiety", wasn't it?
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 09:09

The literal definition of philosophy (love of knowledge) is deceptively specific. All manners of people with all manners of agendas can apply the definition to themselves whether engaged in apologia or not. Maybe More and Erasmus did fancy themselves as philosophers in the Greek tradition, I don't know. However to me there is a crucial difference between acknowledging an "ultimate answer" as an untenable form (Platonism) where its pursuit is what matters, not its achievement, and claiming the answer is tenable in the form of a divine power, then using the tools of philosophy to justify that assertion. They are distinct disciplines in my book.

The Aristotle that Luther loathed was an edited Aristotle anyway. It is the Aristotle of Aquinas really. When you read Aristotle today in as entire a manner as the remaining output allows you can actually be quite startled that any Christian theologian would have even contemplated recruiting him to the cause, in however edited a form. Aristotle loved rules - that much is true and the main reason I suppose he held an appeal for an authoritarian body like the church - but they are posited rules designed to advance Platonic theory. A case of "ok, well if this is true then it must follow that these rules apply". However since Plato himself came up with contradictory hypotheses Aristotle's rules followed the same pattern. There is equal importance in Aristotelean philosophy between "science" (by which he meant practical, theoretical and even poetical analysis of principles established by Plato et al) and duty to the state, to the gods, to yourself and to learning. You can guess which bit of this appealed to church theologians (and Muslim theologians who call him "The First Teacher"). However I would hazard a guess that Aristotle himself would have been mortified to discover that six hundred years after he posited that duty to the gods does not mean one has to respect them his writings would be used to justify a demand for unquestioning loyalty and devotion to one god within a monotheistic cult.

Socrates' "impiety" was very much a trumped up charge. The root cause of his arrest and trial appears to have been the proposed invasion of Sicily for which the politicians were having difficulty raising funds and an army to prosecute. They needed to galvanise a recalcitrant population, especially the younger generation, into supporting their aims. Socrates was a handy patsy to that end. His high profile role as educator to that generation, coupled with the extremely bad reputation Sophists enjoyed (though it is almost definite Socrates was never an advocate of sophism and actually saw the term as self-contradictory), allowed a charge to be levelled against him that his sophistry denied the city's gods. In any other situation this might have been laughed off by Athenian society. In the highly charged atmosphere very redolent of Bush and Blair a few years ago when recruiting support for their Iraq invasion truth became secondary to belligerent will. Socrates' "impiety", like Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction" became an indictable offence deserving ultimate sanction whether it existed or not. The target audience got the message - their political leaders were tough and meant business. Athens got its army and funds.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 15:43

@nordmann wrote:
However to me there is a crucial difference between acknowledging an "ultimate answer" as an untenable form (Platonism) where its pursuit is what matters, not its achievement, and claiming the answer is tenable in the form of a divine power, then using the tools of philosophy to justify that assertion.



Yes, I do see that. But then atheism as a fixed philosophical stance is "untenable" too, isn't it? Surely we must always question not only our belief, but also our lack of belief . I have always maintained that being a questioning agnostic is the only honest thing to be.  Have I been a philosopher then, all these years? A gratifying, but no doubt erroneous thought.

I have been having a little read (like you do) about medieval philosophy and I came upon this on the Stanford site:

Prior to Abelard, philosophy in the Middle Ages had not been an exclusively academic affair. It had been addressed for the most part to any well educated reader interested in the topics being discussed. Boethius's Consolation, for instance, or almost any of Augustine's or Anselm's writings, could profitably be read by any literate person. Soon, however, this all changes. Philosophy becomes an increasingly specialized discipline, pursued by and for those whose livelihood is found only in educational institutions. Philosophy and theology become more clearly distinguished from one another; both become more systematic, rigorous and precise. These virtues are accompanied by an increasingly technical jargon, which makes so much late-medieval philosophy intimidating and formidable to non-specialist readers. By the same token, this increasing technicality diminishes the overall sense of moral urgency one finds for example in Augustine's Confessions or Boethius's Consolation.

As with the previous generalization, this one should not be regarded as a philosophical fault of the later authors; it is simply a different way of doing philosophy. As David Hume knew, there are two styles of philosophy, each with its own advantages (An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding). What we see in passing from the earlier to the later Middle Ages is a transition from one to the other.


I don't understand the reference to the "two styles of philosophy" that David Hume knew about.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 19:12

This essay about Hume (one of my absolute heroes) also from the Stanford site is a good summary of his life and works. Part 4 deals with the two species of philosophy that he identified and, as opposed to the claim in the passage you quote above, actually disliked to the extent that he would eventually propose a third species himself.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hume/

In my experience atheism is a fine starting point for philosophical inquiry since it removes the requirement theists are inevitably sucked into to eventually fly up their own metaphysical arses. By the way "starting point" is the operative term there - philosophical inquiry that does not take you on unexpected journeys isn't worth the effort.

All hail the great David Hume!
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Mon 27 Jan 2014, 23:44

Quote :
But then atheism as a fixed philosophical stance is "untenable" too, isn't it? Surely we must always question not only our belief, but also our lack of belief

This is why I am reluctant to call myself an atheist.  I really don't see how there can be any higher being directing things, and certainly not someone taking an interest in our lives, and loving us - or judging us.  But I do find some atheists so very definite in their opinions and not really open to any new philosophical inquiries, so I just call myself non-religious, which I suppose is a cop-out.  Maybe they just have the courage of their convictions and I should do too.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 06:23

But Temp was simply taking the word "untenable" out of the context in which it had been originally stated by me. In Platonic terms an untenable form cannot be held (conceived fully) as it is absolute perfection, a concept that automatically places something as an ideal beyond absolute conceptual grasp. I don't think she really intended to imply that atheism was any such ideal.

In philosophy, as opposed to theology, atheism is most usually a necessary hypothesis in examining certain aspects of human behaviour and motivation. If theism implies an externalised dialogue with indefinable influences then atheism is, in some ways, this dialogue internalised. The presence or non-presence of gods is less important than what people do next after deciding for themselves which concept to accommodate. Atheism, as Hume suggested to his personal cost in terms of reputation in his lifetime, is also an unavoidable consequence of the metaphysical stance that contradictable arguments whose adherents tolerate or recognise no contradiction are inevitably based on less substantial grounds than fact or the desire to ascertain it, no matter how emphatically they may be asserted. The product of religious belief when presented as something tactile is indistinguishable from superstition.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 09:43

@nordmann wrote:
But Temp was simply taking the word "untenable" out of the context in which it had been originally stated by me. In Platonic terms an untenable form cannot be held (conceived fully) as it is absolute perfection, a concept that automatically places something as an ideal beyond absolute conceptual grasp. I don't think she really intended to imply that atheism was any such ideal.


Well, no doubt that was a pretty stupid thing to say, nordmann. You must forgive me - I have not had the philosophical training you clearly have had: I am further handicapped in discussions such as this by an overly-emotional nature.

And that, I am afraid, is the difficulty: you approach the problem of belief as a left-brain dominant human; I approach from a right-brain perspective. It's hopeless. I do Dead Poets; you do Dead Philosophers.

But both approaches to life and metaphysics are surely valuable: the important thing is to keep talking in a respectful, tolerant way and gang up only on those who would impose (usually by force) their belief - or lack of it. They are the "barbarians", as Plato would say (well, I think he would).

Thank you for the David Hume link. I shall try to read it, but it looks dead hard.

If I'm not around for a bit it is not, hopefully, because I have disappeared up my own arse; I am off to London for a few days and I'm not taking my computer.

PS For anyone interested in Eng. Lit. as well as Plato, this looks good. Too expensive to buy, I suppose, but worth ordering from the library...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0521021685/ref=dra_a_rv_mr_ho_it_P1400_1000?tag=dradisplay0bb-21

PPS My porridge has just exploded all over the microwave because  I pressed the "High" instead of the "Simmer" button. It is all nordmann's fault.


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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 09:59

To clarify, for my simple mind, is Hume then saying what I would contend: that the fundamental deist position can never be the subject of objective and rigorous enquiry because it is unfalsifiable; absence of evidence and all that?

The results, in this world, of that stance can be observed but its outcomes, for good or ill, are irrelevant. Whether religion of any sort is a good or a bad thing could be assessed in a variety of quantifiable measurements but that has no bearing whatsoever on the existence or otherwise of the powers or entities in which the adherents believe, only on human behaviours.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 10:33

ferval: Yes - if by fundamental you mean the assertion divorced from any subsequent assertion that follows from it. You can assert for example that deism exists as a phenomenon, that is irrefutable. You can not however logically deduce from this existence any subsequent assertion in support of what deism itself purports to state as fact (eg. therefore a deity exists). This is easily contradictable stuff negated simply by asserting otherwise. But since neither argument is prosecutable then enquiry must shift to the other phenomenon whereby people very often fail to distinguish between prosecutable and non-prosecutable argument when discussing deism. So begins actual enquiry into the matter. The same can be said for theism. However atheism is in fact different since it draws no deist or theist assertion in its wake, not logically at least. To Hume this then represents a default position from which the above named actual enquiry can in fact proceed. Absence of evidence is material, but not as material as absence of opportunity to logically infer anything afterwards. In this context the atheist is adopting much more of a philosophical approach to metaphysical analysis than the religious person. Hume missed out on two senior university chairs in Scotland for making this observation (which incidentally invalidates theology as an "ology"). You can see why he's one of my top historical blokes.

Temp: Plato and Aristotle were both obsessed with causality. However neither of them, I think, would in their wildest dream have anticipated exploding porridge as a phenomenon caused by philosophical discourse. Just goes to show how philosophy can lead one to the most unexpected places in any cerebral hemisphere.

I am not sure that both approaches, as you say, are valuable if we are talking about metaphysical analysis. Nor am I sure that the most important thing is remaining respectful in every situation. However I get your drift with regard to the effect either approach can have on someone adopting the other. The non-analytical person I notice is inclined to take umbrage much more than the analytical person who normally registers simple irritation. This is important.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 10:47

Quote :
Temp: Plato and Aristotle were both obsessed with causality. However neither of them, I think, would in their wildest dream have anticipated exploding porridge as a phenomenon caused by philosophical discourse.


Well they should have done.

I haven't taken umbrage; I'm just cross. And you sulk too - so don't pretend you don't.

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 10:48

At least my breakfasts don't explode! Well, not in a while they haven't.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 10:49

Bertrand Russell - that briar in  20thC worldwide flesh, said when asked if he was agnostic or atheist  ( sorry I cannot do a copy quote on this computer) something along the lines that were he addressing a  body of philosophers he would say he was agnostic because he could neither prove nor disprove the existence of any god or gods. However, he supposed he would label himself as an atheist to all others.

An interesting man who deserves a thread.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 10:59

He was quite correct too - it all comes down to what prosecutable argument can follow an assertion. And just like Hume had also stated the default position Russell must have used to draw his conclusion (based as much on what actually could not be concluded than what could be) was an atheistic one.

Religion, faith in deity and superstition do not lend themselves to factual analysis in the philosophical sense but as theoretical propositions perceived as fact they merit analysis metaphysically (which simplistically really just means anything not absolutely grounded in the physical). The thinking atheist must assume an agnostic identity to pursue the analysis. The thinking theist however should really do the same but rarely does.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 21:57

I googled Plato and Porridge in an idle moment today, and lo and behold a University of Michigan site came up:

http://faculty.unlv.edu/jwood/umich/Phil196pap1.htm

Several philosophers we have read or read about reject what has been called the "cosmic porridge" view of the world. Briefly explain what this view claims about the world and our relation to it. Next discuss how Heraclitean metaphysics, as Plato describes it in Sections 156c-157c (pp. 20-21) of Theaetetus, could count as an early version of this view. (Consider, for example, what supposedly happens on this view during perception.) What objection to this metaphysics does Plato offer in Sections 181a-183c (pp. 52-55)? Evaluate this objection and explain why you think it is or is not effective. How might the "modern" cosmic porridge view try to deal with Plato's objection?

Someone called Robert Kirk, who is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, University of Nottingham, has even written a research article with the intriguing title: Beware Cosmic Porridge. This philosophy lark is amazing, isn't it?

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=3194956


 What does Heraclitus tell us about this?
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 22:37

Let me not detract from this interesting development but merely add Bertrand Russel's teapot.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 22:55

Did Russell ever mention the Baconian Method? We could be well on our way to a Full English philosophy here, P. - much better than those continentals with their ridiculous coffee and croissant approach to it all.



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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Tue 28 Jan 2014, 23:37

Of course. And an English publican - Al Murray - states that bacon is proof enough that God exists.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Wed 29 Jan 2014, 04:15

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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 01 Feb 2014, 09:18

I'm not knowledgeable about Plato, alas. These days I can look him up on Wikipedia. From my younger days I can say the theory about Platonic friendships never worked for me. The ones I wanted to be Platonic friends with were interested in me as a woman and often ones I'd like to have been interested in me as a woman saw me as a chum ...
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 01 Feb 2014, 10:13

Most oddly I remember a primary school teacher telling us (I think it was outside the classroom) that he didn't think there could be such a thing as a Platonic relationship between a man and a woman.  But how did such a comment get to be made to 11 and 12 year olds (maybe younger) anyway?  It's not as if we had the knowingness of youngsters these days.  I'm surprised I understood what he was talking about - I suppose he explained it.  But we didn't talk about sexual matters at school in those days.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 01 Feb 2014, 12:02

I'm older than you, Caro. and church school raised but we discussed such matters - but that's Essex for you. As for platonic relationships I have had many - and all without spouse jealousy on either side. And some are on going well into retirement - in fact I had a letter only yesterday from one. Which my husband said I ought answer at once because it was ages since  I had heard from him. Friendship comes next to  family in our values.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sat 01 Feb 2014, 16:07

"Friends are God's apology for relations"  ... Someone said that but I can't remember who. In spirit it could be Philip Larkin, though he'd have been more blunt. I have an idea it's dear old Oscar Wilde. But I'm really not sure and my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations isn't readily to hand.

I fear, however, we are veering from the thread ... while Nord's away the cats do play etc.

But I bet Plato never had friends.... intellectual sparring partners, colleagues in the symposium, adoring acolytes and devoted disciples, maybe, .... but friends and equals, platonic or otherwise, that I doubt.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Sun 02 Feb 2014, 12:29

Plato's Symposium ends with them all getting a bit pissed together and having a "who can hold their drink best" competition. Many other "dialogues" are conducted against a background of convivial wine drinking and occasional references to possibly being tipsy when saying what they're going to say next so not wishing to cause offence etc. All in all it comes across as a typical bunch of mates meeting up in the pub occasionally and just enjoying each other's company and conversation, wherever it brings them. Not proof positive that Plato had mates of course, but if he was representing these congenial settings as the natural background for such discussions as he had come to think of them then we can probably surmise that he wasn't averse to the odd journey home arm in arm with some mate to whom he was professing (Platonic) love while occasionally stopping off to pee in someone's garden.

A bit like one or two university lecturers I have known, in other words, and who were as much mates as teachers.
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PostSubject: Re: Plato - as a person   Fri 07 Feb 2014, 10:13

I treated myself to that book, "Platonism and the English Imagination" and have been reading it non-stop. I am ashamed to say that I had no idea just how much Platonism has influenced English Literature - from Chaucer right through to Auden.

What is odd is that Plato himself had no time for poets:

"When Plato discusses literature he is concerned not with individual creativity or artistic imagination, but with the truthfulness of poetic representations. He holds that poets, however fine their work, lack the knowledge which is the hallmark of the philosopher."

Gulp. I'm struggling with this. Lack of knowledge - true understanding - of the Forms?  I suppose it's to do with the artist holding up a mirror, producing only reflections of everything in the visible world? If particulars (things that reflect the Forms?) imitate the Forms, the products of the artist imitate particulars. They can only ever be imitations of imitations. The same applies to poetry which Plato describes as mere appearance, "three removes from reality".

I have never understood this criticism -  it seems such an arrogant judgement.

I was incidentally much comforted to read in the chapter on Auden ("Platonism in Auden") that Auden's main criticisms "are that Plato's Republic was a tyranny and his philosophy dualist". I said that (the tyranny bit) over forty years ago to my father and was hit around the head (literally, I'm afraid, not metaphorically) with a copy of The Republic. Hence my fear, I think, that has lasted for nearly half a century, of expressing any opinion on philosophy.

Auden, all through his career, insisted on the unique value of every individual and on the necessity of free will. These are Christian values and opposed to

Plato's lie of intellect
That all are weak but the Elect.


EDIT: Just been reading the chapter on Augustine and was delighted to find this: "The teaching of the Church is 'Platonism for the multitude', addressing unphilosophical minds in pictorial and figurative ways in order to guide their minds with reason." That's just what I meant when I said the Gospels were Plato For Dummies. I think I deleted that comment - wish I hadn't now.


Last edited by Temperance on Fri 07 Feb 2014, 14:13; edited 3 times in total
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