Through Plato, Aristotle came to believe in God; but Plato never attempted to prove His reality. Aristotle had to do so. Plato contemplated Him; Aristotle produced arguments to demonstrate Him. Plato never defined Him; but Aristotle thought God through logically, and concluded with entire satisfaction to himself that He was the Unmoved Mover.
Socrates: Have you noticed on our journey how often the citizens of this new land remind each other it is a free country? Plato: I have, and think it odd they do this.Socrates: How so, Plato?Plato: It is like reminding a baker he is a baker, or a sculptor he is asculptor.Socrates: You mean to say if someone is convinced of their trade, they haveno need to be reminded.Plato: That is correct.Socrates: I agree. If these citizens were convinced of their freedom, they would not need reminders.
E. A. Bucchianeri
Socrates: Have you noticed on our journey how often the citizens of this new land remind each other it is a free country? Plato: I have, and think it odd they do this. Socrates: How so, Plato? Plato: It is like reminding a baker he is a baker, or a sculptor he is a sculptor. Socrates: You mean to say if someone is convinced of their trade, they have no need to be reminded. Plato: That is correct. Socrates: I agree. If these citizens were convinced of their freedom, they would not need reminders.
Plato utterly condemns the poets for publishing trivial, false and indeed wicked stories about the gods, such as that they fight with each other, or are overcome by emotions like grief, anger, mirth. Reluctantly, he will not allow Homer in his Republic, and he is very angry with the tragic poets for spreading unworthy ideas of the Deity. It may well be that there were inferior tragic poets who deserved Plato's strictures, but so far as concerns the tragic poets whom we know, Plato's attack is absurd. It is the attack of a severely intellectual philosopher who was also more of a poet than most poets have contrived to be; one who invented some of the profoundest and most beautiful of Greek myths. 'There is a long-standing quarrel', says Plato, 'between philosophy and poetry.' So there was, on the part of the philosophers, and most of all in Plato's own soul.
Ways of loving from a distance, mating without even touching-Amor platonicus! The ladder of love one is expected to climb higher and higher, elating the Self and the Other. Plato clearly regards any actual physical contact as corrupt and ignoble because he thinks the true goal of Eros is beauty. Is there no beauty in sex? Not according to Plato. He is after 'more sublime pursuits.' But if you ask me, I think Plato's problem, like those of many others, was that he never got splendidly laid.
Like Solon, Plato intended to write a long fable about legendary Atlantis; like Solon, he never did write it. Yet there existed beyond the Atlantic an unvisited land, after all, and it is more strange than any of Plato's myths that Plato's apprehension of order and justice should be a living influence among the people of that land, twenty-four centuries after the mystical philosopher's soul departed from Athens.
McCoy: Oh, there isn't any shortage of views clamoring to challenge my own. That's what we call the viewpoints of the pinheads, and fortunately nothing forces me to pay any attention to them. Plato: Except your own self-interest. McCoy, laughing: This just keeps getting better. I'm supposed to pay attention to the pinheads out of my own self-interest? Plato: Otherwise you must do all the hard work of challenging your own positions all by yourself. Isn't it better to get some help with so difficult a task? And wouldn't you call those who help you out your friends? McCoy: Why should I challenge my own positions? That's the job of my enemies, who it's my job to vilify. Plato: I would have thought it the job of your most valued friends. McCoy: I can't tell whether you're putting me on or not. Is this some kind of Ali G or Borat scam you're trying to pull here? Just answer me that. Are you putting me on? Have my stupid staff screwed up again and let in some Sacha Baron Cohen operative? Plato: I am sincere. McCoy: So I'm actually supposed to believe that you think friends are the ones who try to refute you? Plato: Certainly, when what I say is wrong; and I can't be certain it's not wrong unless I hear the best of the refutations that can be offered. And I hope I am a good enough friend to return the favor. -from the chapter entitled "Plato on Cable News, " pp. 350-351
Modern man, seeking a middle position in the evaluation of sense impression and thought, can, following Plato , interpret the process of understanding nature as a correspondence, that is, a coming into congruence of pre-existing images of the human psyche with external objects and their behaviour. Modern man, of course, unlike Plato , looks on the pre-existent original images also as not invariable, but as relative to the development of a conscious point of view, so that the word "dialectic" which Plato is fond of using may be applied to the process of development of human knowledge.
There is nothing that has caused me to meditate more on Plato's secrecy and sphinx-like nature, than the happily preserved petit fait that under the pillow of his death-bed there was found no 'Bible,' nor anything Egyptian, Pythagorean, or Platonic - but a book of Aristophanes. How could even Plato have endured life - a Greek life which he repudiated - without an Aristophanes!
We have no way of knowing, of course, why some are born in health and affluence, while others enter broken bodies or broken homes, or emerge into a realm of war or hunger. So we cannot give definite meaning to our place in the world, or to our neighbor's. But Plato's reflections should give us pause and invite both humility and hope. Humility, because if we chose our lot in life, there is every reason to suspect merit, and not disfavor, is behind disadvantaged birth. A blighted life may have been the more courageous choice-at least it was for Plato... So how can we feel pride in our own blessedness, or condescension in another's misfortune? And Plato's reflections should give us hope, because his myth reminds us that suffering can be sanctifying, that pain is not punishment , and that the path to virtue is fraught with opposition.
Plato assumes somehow that government is a way in which you put unselfish and ungreedy men in charge of selfish and greedy men. But government is an institution whereby the people who have the greatest drive to get power over their fellow men, get in a position of controlling them. Look at the record of government. Where are these philosopher kings that Plato supposedly was trying to develop?
My curiosity, alas, is not the kind that can be satisfied by objective knowledge. Plato said that opinion is worthless and that only knowledge counts, which is a neat formulation. But melancholy [men] from the northern mists understand that opinion is all there is. The great questions transcend fact, and discourse is a process of personality. Knowledge cannot respond to knowledge. And wisdom? Is it not opinion refined, opinion killed and resuscitated upward? Maybe Plato would have agreed with this.
The real community of man, in the midst of all the self-contradictory simulacra of community, is the community of those who seek the truth, of the potential knowers... of all men to the extent they desire to know. But in fact, this includes only a few, the true friends, as Plato was to Aristotle at the very moment they were disagreeing about the nature of the good... They were absolutely one soul as they looked at the problem. This, according to Plato, is the only real friendship, the only real common good. It is here that the contact people so desperately seek is to be found... This is the meaning of the riddle of the improbable philosopher-kings. They have a true community that is exemplary for all other communities.
Plato's proposals in this matter are abhorrent to all true Christians. His intentions were, of course, excellent, for he desired the greatest possible improvement of the human race; but his good intentions led him to the proposal of measures which are necessarily unacceptable and repugnant to all those who adhere to Christian principles concerning the value of the human personality and the sanctity of human life. Moreover, it by no means follows that what has been found successful in the breeding of animals, will also prove successful when applied to the human race, for man has a rational soul which is not intrinsically dependent on matter but is directly created by Almighty God. Does a beautiful soul always go with a beautiful body or a good character with a strong body? Again, if such measures were successful - and what does "successful" mean in this connection? - in the case of the human race, it does not follow that the Government has the right to apply such measures. Those who to-day follow, or would like to follow, in the footsteps of Plato, advocating, e.g. compulsory sterilisation of the unfit, have not, be it remembered, Plato's excuse, that he lied at a period anterior to the presentation of the Christian ideals and principles. - 230
But it will be asked: What is the force and power of the blessings and curses of men, even if these men be such giants as Plato and Aristotle? Does truth become more true because Aristotle blesses it, or does it become error because Plato curses it? Is it given men to judge the truths, to decide the fate of the truths? On the contrary, it is the truths which judge men and decide their fate and not men who rule over the truths. Men, the great as well as the small, are born and die, appear and disappear - but the truth remains. When no one had as yet begun to "think" or to "search, " the truths which later revealed themselves to men already existed. And when men will have finally disappeared from the face of the earth, or will have lost the faculty of thinking, the truths will not suffer therefrom.
In The Republic, Plato imagines human beings chained for the duration of their lives in an underground cave, knowing nothing but darkness. Their gaze is confined to the cave wall, upon which shadows of the world are thrown. They believe these flickering shadows are reality. If, Plato writes, one of these prisoners is freed and brought into the sunlight, he sill suffer great pain. Blinded by the glare, he is unable to seeing anything and longs for the familiar darkness. But eventually his eyes adjust to the light. The illusion of the tiny shadows is obliterated. He confronts the immensity, chaos, and confusion of reality. The world is no longer drawn in simple silhouettes. But he is despised when he returns to the cave. He is unable to see in the dark as he used to. Those who never left the cave ridicule him and swear never to go into the light lest they be blinded as well.