Tag Archives: Plato

PLOTINUS: Fifth Ennead

Tractate I – The Three Initial Hypostases

Section 1 – Plotinus asks what has led the souls of men to forget God and their kinship with the divine. He answers that the souls have entered the realm of becoming and have been beguiled by this world’s temptations. He proposes a solution to reunite the soul with the divine. First, one must regard perishable things (like fame, wealth, etc.) as dishonorable. Second, one must learn the nature and worth of the soul. Continue reading PLOTINUS: Fifth Ennead

PLATO: Laws [Book X]

In Book X of Plato’s Laws, Plato tries to demonstrate the existence of the gods. His argument is complex and ambiguous. My interpretation of his argument is the following: 1) there are things in motion, 2) matter can move other matter, but it cannot move itself, 3) the soul can move itself and matter, 4) because matter is in motion, a soul must have moved it, 5) a soul capable of moving and arranging the heavens is a god. Continue reading PLATO: Laws [Book X]

PLATO: The Republic [Book X]

In Book X of Plato’s Republic, Socrates banishes all artists from his ideal State. He argues that the creations of art are farthest removed from truth; and therefore, art turns the mind of the spectator away from truth and toward the realm of becoming. For example, there are several instances of tables in the world, but only one idea of a table. A table-maker can make a table, but he cannot make the idea of a table. Even farther removed from the true idea of a table than the table of a table-maker is the painting of a table. “Tables, then, are of three kinds, and there are three artists who superintend them: God, the maker of the table, and the painter.” Continue reading PLATO: The Republic [Book X]

PLATO: The Republic [Book IX]

In Book IX of Plato’s Republic, Socrates describes the character of a tyrant. All men, Socrates admits, have a lawless and beastly nature. This darker nature displays itself during dreams while the rational part is sleeping. “Then the wild beast within us, gorged with meat or drink, goes forth to satisfy his desires; and there is no conceivable folly or crime a man may not be ready to commit.” The difference between tyrants and other men is that tyrants do not reign in the wild beast when they awaken, but rather encourage it. Continue reading PLATO: The Republic [Book IX]

PLATO: The Republic [Book VIII]

In Book VIII of Plato’s Republic, Socrates moves from the discussion of the ideal State of aristocracy to a discussion of the four unjust types of States – timocracy, oligarchy, democracy, and tyranny. Because the natures of States resemble the natures of the men that comprise them, an examination of unjust States will illuminate the natures of unjust men. We can then compare the happiness of the just man to the happiness of the unjust man. “And we shall know whether we ought to pursue injustice, as Thrasymachus advises, or to prefer justice.” Continue reading PLATO: The Republic [Book VIII]

PLATO: The Republic [Book VII]

Book VII of Plato’s Republic contains the most famous metaphor of philosophy – the Allegory of the Cave. Socrates requests that his audience imagine a group of prisoners chained since birth to the bottom of a cave. The prisoners can only see the wall in front of them. They cannot turn their heads to either side. Behind the prisoners, puppeteers move statues in front of a fire. The statues cast shadows on the wall in front of the prisoners. The prisoners speak of these shadows as we speak of our world. They call the shadows – horses, dogs, men, etc. Continue reading PLATO: The Republic [Book VII]

PLATO: The Republic [Book VI]

In Book VI of Plato’s Republic, Socrates explains why people reproach philosophers as useless and evil. He draws an analogy between a ship with a mutinous crew and a society with rebellious citizens. The mutinous crew members of a ship violently struggle with one another to become captain, but not one of them possesses knowledge of navigation. The crew considers the captain, who does possess such wisdom, a “star-gazer” because the crew does not realize that the constellations provide an excellent guide to navigate the ocean. Just as the crew’s ignorance of navigation causes them to unjustly mutiny against the captain, so too does the citizens’ ignorance of statesmanship cause them to rebel against true philosophers. Continue reading PLATO: The Republic [Book VI]