"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Plato and what forms the mind of Man

Plato, who may have understood better what forms the mind of man than do some of our contemporaries who want their children exposed only to "real" people and everyday events, knew what intellectual experiences make true humanity.

He suggested that the future citizens of his ideal republic begin their literary education with the telling of myths, rather than mere facts or so called rational teachings.

Aristotle said: "The friend of wisdom is also a friend of myth."

This is the “symbolic intellectual expression”.

"Such usage of a myth can be seen from the oldest times . . . . Under the form of a popular story, a profound (or, anyway, deeper) truth and teaching were transmitted. It was much closer to symbols and parables, known from the history of literature, than the curious tales, sung by storytellers, and collected by anthropologists . . . ."

Plato wrote of the need for philosophers to create myths to teach abstract truths to the less enlightened populace. He himself created several myths, including the myth of the cave the myth of Er and the still extant myth of Atlantis as symbolic tales each with a moral.
Plato’s explanation of this is found in Phaedro 245c-246a.

"But first of all, let us view the affections and actions of the soul divine and human, and try to ascertain the truth about them. The beginning of our proof is as follows:-

The soul through all her being is immortal, for that which is ever in motion is immortal; but that which moves another and is moved by another, in ceasing to move ceases also to live. Only the self-moving, never leaving self, never ceases to move, and is the fountain and beginning of motion to all that moves besides. Now, the beginning is unbegotten, for that which is begotten has a beginning; but the beginning is begotten of nothing, for if it were begotten of something, then the begotten would not come from a beginning. But if unbegotten, it must also be indestructible; for if beginning were destroyed, there could be no beginning out of anything, nor anything out of a beginning; and all things must have a beginning.

And therefore the self-moving is the beginning of motion; and this can neither be destroyed nor begotten, else the whole heavens and all creation would collapse and stand still, and never again have motion or birth.

But if the self-moving is proved to be immortal, he who affirms that self-motion is the very idea and essence of the soul will not be put to confusion. For the body which is moved from without is soulless; but that which is moved from within has a soul, for such is the nature of the soul."

(Phaedrus, 245c-246a)

The whole Platonic philosophy is based on the notion of likeness of a being of a lower level to a being of the higher level.

"The creator of the universe addressed them in these words: “Gods, children of gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer and father, my creations are indissoluble, if so I will. All that is bound may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater and mightier bond than those with which ye were bound at the time of your birth. And now listen to my instructions:-

Three tribes of mortal beings remain to be created-without them the universe will be incomplete, for it will not contain every kind of animal which it ought to contain, if it is to be perfect. On the other hand, if they were created by me and received life at my hands, they would be on an equality with the gods. In order then that they may be mortal, and that this universe may be truly universal, do ye, according to your natures, betake yourselves to the formation of animals, imitating the power which was shown by me in creating you."

(Timaeus, 41a-c)

During Plato’s time, myths were used to convey stories. This is due to the lack of literate people in ancient civilizations.

Traditional myth was the source of their religion. “A myth is a story that a poet constructs by reorganizing the content of a message which a community wants to keep in its memory, and by giving this content a particular form.”(Brisson)

“For Plato, myth in the true sense of the word is a form of discourse which transmits all information that a community conserves in memory of its distant past and passes on orally from one generation to the next.” (Brisson)

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