MichaelEmeryArt

Different Ways of looking at Plato's Forms


--------------------------------------------------------Plato: Immortality and the Forms-----------------------------------------------------------------------------



A Faithful Student
The most illustrious student Socrates had in philosophy was Plato, whose beautifully written dialogues not only offered an admiring account of the teachings of his master but also provided him with an opportunity to develop and express his own insightful philosophical views. In the remainder of our readings from Platonic dialogues, we will assume that the "Socrates" who speaks is merely a fictional character created by the author, attributing the philosophical doctrines to Plato himself. In the middle and late dialogues, Plato employed the conversational structure as a way of presenting dialectic, a pattern of argumentation that examines each issue from several sides, exploring the interplay of alternative ideas while subjecting all of them to evaluation by reason.

Plato was a more nearly systematic thinker than Socrates had been. He established his own school of philosophy, the Academy, during the fourth century, and he did not hesitate to offer a generation of young Athenians the positive results of his brilliant reasoning. Although he shared Socrates's interest in ethical and social philosophy, Plato was much more concerned to establish his views on matters of metaphysics and epistemology, trying to discover the ultimate constituents of reality and the grounds for our knowledge of them.

Meno
Plato's Μενων (Meno) is a transitional dialogue: although it is Socratic in tone, it introduces some of the epistemological and metaphysical themes that we will see developed more fully in the middle dialogues, which are clearly Plato's own. In a setting uncluttered by concern for Socrates's fate, it centers on the general problem of the origins of our moral knowledge.
The Greek notion of αρετη [aretê], or virtue, is that of an ability or skill in some particular respect. The virtue of a baker is what enables the baker to produce good bread; the virtue of the gardener is what enables the gardener to grow nice flowers; etc. In this sense, virtues clearly differ from person to person and from goal to goal. But Socrates is interested in true virtue, which (like genuine health) should be the same for everyone. This broad concept of virtue may include such specific virtues as courage, wisdom, or moderation, but it should nevertheless be possible to offer a perfectly general description of virtue as a whole, the skill or ability to be fully human. But what is that?

When Meno suggests that virtue is simply the desire for good things, Socrates argues that this cannot be the case. Since different human beings are unequal in virtue, virtue must be something that varies among them, he argues, but desire for one believes to be good is perfectly universal Since no human being ever knowingly desires what is bad, differences in their conduct must be a consequence of differences in what they know. (Meno 77e) This is a remarkable claim. Socrates holds that knowing what is right automatically results in the desire to do it, even though this feature of our moral experience could be doubted. (Aristotle, for example, would later explicitly disagree with this view, carefully outlining the conditions under which weakness of will interferes with moral conduct.) In this context, however, the Socratic position effectively shifts the focus of the dialogue from morality to epistemology: the question really at stake is how we know what virtue is.
The Basis for Virtue
For questions of this sort, Socrates raises a serious dilemma: how can we ever learn what we do not know? Either we already know what we are looking for, in which case we don't need to look, or we don't know what we're looking for, in which case we wouldn't recognize it if we found it. (Meno 80e) The paradox of knowledge is that, in the most fundamental questions about our own nature and function, it seems impossible for us to learn anything. The only escape, Socrates proposed, is to acknowledge that we already know what we need to know. This is the doctrine of recollection, Plato's conviction that our most basic knowledge comes when we bring back to mind our acquaintance with eternal realities during a previous existence of the soul. 

The example offered in this dialogue is discovery of an irrational number, the square root of 2. Socrates leads an uneducated boy through the sophisticated geometrical demonstration with careful questions, showing that the boy somehow already knows the correct answers on his own. All of us have had the experience (usually in mathematical contexts, Plato believed) of suddenly realizing the truth of something of which we had been unaware, and it does often feel as if we are not really discovering something entirely new but rather merely remembering something we already knew. Such experiences lend some plausibility to Plato's claim that recollection may be the source of our true opinions about the most fundamental features of reality. (Meno 85d) What is more, this doctrine provides an explanation of the effectiveness of Socratic method: the goal is not to convey new information but rather to elicit awareness of something that an individual already knows implicitly.
The further question of the dialogue is whether or not virtue can be taught. On the one hand, it seems that virtue must be a kind of wisdom, which we usually assume to be one of the acquirable benefits of education. On the other hand, if virtue could be taught, we should be able to identify both those who teach it and those who learn from them, which we cannot easily do in fact. (Meno 96c) (Here Socrates offers a scathing attack on the sophists, who had often claimed that they were effective teachers of virtue.) So it seems that virtue cannot be taught. Plato later came to disagree with his teacher on this point, arguing that genuine knowledge of virtue is attainable through application of appropriate educational methods.
Perhaps our best alternative, Socrates held, is to suppose that virtue is a (divinely bestowed?) true opinion that merely happens to lack the sort of rational justification which would earn it the status of certain knowledge. Whether or not we agree with this rather gloomy conclusion about the unteachability of virtue, the distinction between genuine knowledge and mere true opinion is of the greatest importance. For philosophical knowledge, it is not enough to accept beliefs that happen to be true; we must also have reasons that adequately support them.

Phaedo
The Φαιδων (Phaedo) concludes Plato's description of the life of Socrates. Its final pages provide what appears to be an accurate account of the death of one of the most colorful personalities in the history of philosophy. (Phaedo 115b) But most of the dialogue is filled with Plato's own effort to establish with perfect certainty what Socrates had only been willing to speculate about in the Apology, that the human soul is truly immortal.
As Plato saw it, hope of survival comes naturally to the philosopher, whose whole life is one of preparation for death. What happens when we die, after all, is that the human soul separates from the human body, and it is concern for the soul rather than the body that characterizes a philosophical life. In fact, Plato argued that since knowledge of the most important matters in life is clearest to the soul alone, its customary attachment to a mortal body often serves only as a distraction from what counts. Here I am, thinking seriously about eternal truth, and then . . . I get hungry or sleepy, and the needs of the body interfere with my study. So, Plato concluded, the philosopher may properly look forward to death as a release from bodily limitations. (Phaedo 67d)
But is there really any reason to believe that the soul can continue to exist and function after the body dies? Plato supposed that there is, and his arguments on this point occupy the bulk of the Phaedo.

The Cycle of Opposites
The first argument is based on the cyclical interchange by means of which every quality comes into being from its own opposite. Hot comes from cold and cold from hot: that is, hot things are just cold things that have warmed up, and cold things are just hot things that have cooled off. Similarly, people who are awake are just people who were asleep but then woke up, while people who are asleep are just people who were awake but then dozed off.
But then, Plato argues by analogy, death must come from life and life from death. (Phaedo 71c-d) That is, people who are dead are just people who were alive but then experienced the transition we call dying, and people who are alive are just people who were among the dead but then experienced the transition we call being born. This suggests a perpetual recycling of human souls from the realm of the living to the realm of the dead and back.
If this is an accurate image of reality, it would certainly follow that my soul will continue to exist after the death of my body. But it also supposes that my soul existed before the birth of my body as well. This may seem like an extravagant speculation, but Plato held that there is ample evidence of its truth in the course of ordinary human life and learning

The Forms
As Socrates had proposed in the Meno, the most important varieties of human knowledge are really cases of recollection. Consider, for example, our knowledge of equality. We have no difficulty in deciding whether or not two people are perfectly equal in height. In fact, they are never exactly the same height, since we recognize that it would always be possible to discover some difference—however minute—with a more careful, precise measurement. By this standard, all of the examples we perceive in ordinary life only approach, but never fully attain, perfect equality. But notice that since we realize the truth of this important qualification on our experience, we must somehow know for sure what true equality is, even though we have never seen it. (Phaedo 75b)
Plato believed that the same point could be made with regard to many other abstract concepts: even though we perceive only their imperfect instances, we have genuine knowledge of truth, goodness, and beauty no less than of equality. Things of this sort are the Platonic Forms, abstract entities that exist independently of the sensible world. Ordinary objects are imperfect and changeable, but they faintly copy the perfect and immutable Forms. Thus, all of the information we acquire about sensible objects (like knowing what the high and low temperatures were yesterday) is temporary, insignificant, and unreliable, while genuine knowledge of the Forms themselves (like knowing that 93 - 67 = 26) perfectly certain forever.
Since we really do have knowledge of these supra-sensible realities, knowledge that we cannot possibly have obtained through any bodily experience, Plato argued, it follows that this knowledge must be a form of recollection and that our souls must have been acquainted with the Forms prior to our births. But in that case, the existence of our mortal bodies cannot be essential to the existence of our souls—before birth or after death—and we are therefore immortal.

Immortality of the Soul
Use of the dialogue as a literary device made it easy for Plato not only to present his own position (in the voice of Socrates) but also to consider (in the voices of other characters) significant objections that might be raised against it. This doesn't mean that philosophy is merely an idle game of argument and counter-argument, he pointed out, because it remains our goal to discover the one line of argument that leads to the truth. The philosopher cautiously investigates every possibility and examines every side of an issue, precisely because that increases the chances of arriving eventually at a correct account of reality.
Thus, Simmias suggests that the relationship between the soul and the body may be like that between musical harmony and the strings of a lyre that produces it. In this case, even though the soul is significantly different from the body, it could not reasonably be expected to survive the utter destruction of that physical thing. (This is an early statement of a view of human nature that would later come to be called epiphenomenalism.) But Socrates replies that this analogy will not hold, since the soul exercises direct control over the motions of the body, as the harmony does not over those of the lyre. Plato's suggestion here seems to be that it would become impossible to provide an adequate account of human morality, of the proper standards for acting rightly, if Simmias were right.
Cebes offers a more difficult objection: what if the body is like a garment worn by the soul? Even though I continue to exist longer than any single article of my clothing does, there will come a time when I die, and some of my clothes will probably continue to exist. In the same way, even if
the argument from opposites has shown that the soul can in principle outlast the life of any particular human body, there might come a time when the soul itself ceases to exist. Even if there is life after death, Cebes suggests, the soul may not be truly immortal.
In response to this criticism, Plato significantly revised the argument from opposities by incorporating an additional conception of the role of the Forms. Each Form, he now maintains, is the cause of all of every particular instance that bears its name: the form of Beauty causes the beauty of any beautiful thing; the form of Equality causes the equality of any pair of equal things; etc. But then, since the soul is living, it must participate in the Form of Life, and thus it cannot ever die. (Phaedo 105d) The soul is perfectly and certainly imperishable, not only for this life, but forever.
Despite the apparent force of these logical arguments, Plato chose to conclude the Phaedo by supplementing them with a mythical image of life after death. This concrete picture of the existence of a world beyond our own is imagined, not reasoned, so it cannot promise to deliver the same perfect representation of the truth. But if we are not fully convinced by the certainty of rational arguments, we may yet take some comfort from the suggestions of a pleasant story.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Plato in Ancient Greece was one of the earliest philosophers to provide a detailed discussion of ideas and of the thinking process (it must be noted that in Plato's Greek the word idea carries a rather different sense from our modern English term). Plato argued in dialogues such as the Phaedo, Symposium, Republic, and Timaeus that there is a realm of ideas or forms (eidei), which exist independently of anyone who may have thoughts on these ideas, and it is the ideas which distinguish mere opinion from knowledge, for unlike material things which are transient and liable to contrary properties, ideas are unchanging and nothing but just what they are. Consequently, Plato seems to assert forcefully that material things can only be the objects of opinion; real knowledge can only be had of unchanging ideas. Furthermore, ideas for Plato appear to serve as universals; consider the following passage from the Republic:

"We both assert that there are," I said, "and distinguish in speech, many fair things, many good things, and so on for each kind of thing."

"Yes, so we do."

"And we also assert that there is a fair itself, a good itself, and so on for all things that we set down as many. Now, again, we refer to them as one idea of each as though the idea were one; and we address it as that which really is."

"That's so."

"And, moreover, we say that the former are seen, but not intellected, while the ideas are intellected but not seen."

— Plato, Bk. VI 507b-c


Metaxy (Greek: μεταξύ) is defined in Plato's Symposium via the character of the priestess Diotima as the "in-between" or "middle ground". Diotima, tutoring Socrates, uses the term to show how oral tradition can be perceived by different people in different ways. In the poem by Socrates she depicts Eros as not an extreme or purity; rather, as a daemon, Eros is in between the divine Gods and mankind. Diotima thus exposes the flaws of oral tradition; it uses strong contrasts to express truth, thus revealing vulnerability to sophistry. This portion of the dialogue points to the idea that reality is perceptible only through one's character (which includes one's desires and prejudices and one's limited understanding of logic). Man moves through the world of Becoming, the ever changing world of sensory perception, into the world of Being—the world of forms, absolutes and transcendence. Man transcends his place in Becoming by Eros, where man reaches the Highest Good, an intuitive and mystical state of consciousness. Neoplatonists like Plotinus later used the concept to express an ontological placement of Man between the Gods and animals.[1] Much like Diotima did in expressing that Eros as a daemon was in between the Gods and mankind. Love (Eros) is the thing in between or child of Poverty (Penia) and Possession (Poros).[2]

-Wikipedia
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was reading Jordan Petersons "MAPS OF MEANING: THE ARCHITECTURE OF BELIEF" and came across this on the bottom of page 15.


The significance of something – specified in actuality as a consequence of exploratory activity undertaken in its vicinity – tends “naturally” to become assimilated to the object itself. The object, after all, is the proximal cause or the stimulus that “gives rise” to action conducted in its presence. For people operating naturally, like the child, what something signifies is more or less inextricably part of the thing, part of its magic. The magic is of course due to apprehension of the specific cultural and intrapsychic significance of the thing, and not to its objectively determinable sensory qualities. Everyone understands the child who says, for example, “I saw a scary man”; the child’s description is immediate and concrete, even though he or she has attributed to the object of perception qualities that are in fact context-dependent and subjective. It is difficult, after all, to realize the subjective nature of fear, and not to feel threat as part of the “real” world.
The automatic attribution of “meaning” to “things” – or the failure to distinguish between them initially – is a characteristic of narrative, of myth, not of scientific thought. Narrative accurately captures the nature of raw experience. Things are scary, people are irritating, events are promising, food is satisfying – at least in terms of our basic experience. The modern mind, which regards itself as having transcending the domain of the magical, is nonetheless still endlessly capable of “irrational” (read motivated) reactions. We fall under the spell of experience whenever we attribute our frustration, aggression, devotion or lust to the person or situation that exists as the proximal “cause” of such agitation. We are not yet “objective,” even in our most clear-headed moments (and thank God for that). We become immediately immersed in a motion picture or a novel, and willingly suspend disbelief. We become impressed or terrified, despite ourselves, in the presence of a sufficiently powerful cultural figurehead (an intellectual idol, a sports superstar, a movie actor, a political leader, the pope, a famous beauty, even our superior at work) – in the presence, that is, of anyone who sufficiently embodies the oft-implicit values and ideals that protect us from disorder and lead us on. Like the medieval individual, we do not even need the person to generate such affect. The icon will suffice. We pay vast sums of money for articles of clothing worn or personal items used or created by the famous and infamous of our time.
The “natural,” pre-experimental, or mythical mind is in fact primarily concerned with meaning – which is essentially implication for action – and not with “objective” nature. The formal object, as conceptualized by modern scientifically-oriented consciousness, might appear to those still possessed by the mythic imagination – if they could “see” it at all – as an irrelevant shell: as all that was left after everything intrinsically intriguing had been stripped away. For the pre-experimentalist, the thing is mostly truly the significance of its sensory properties, as they are experienced in subjective experience – in affect, or emotion. And, in truth – in real life – to know what something is still means to know two things about it: the first is its motivational relevance; the second is the specific nature of its sensory qualities. The two forms of knowing are not identical; furthermore, experience and registration of the former necessarily precedes development of the latter. Something must have emotional impact before it will attract enough attention to be explored and mapped in accordance with its sensory properties. Those sensory properties – of prime import to the experimentalist or empiricist – are meaningful only insofar as they serve as cues for determining specific affective relevance or behavioral significance. We need to know what things are not to know what they are but to keep track of what they mean – to understand what they signify for our behavior.
It has taken centuries of firm discipline and intellectual training, religious, proto-scientific, and scientific, to produce a mind capable of concentrating on phenomena that are not yet or are no longer immediately intrinsically [instinctively (?)] gripping – to produce a mind that paradoxically regards real as something separable from relevant. Alternatively, it might be suggested that all the myth has not yet vanished from science, devoted as it is to human progress, and that it is this nontrivial remainder that enables the scientist to retain undimmed enthusiasm, while he endlessly studies his fruitflies. How, precisely, did people think, not so very long ago, before they were experimentalists? What were things, before they were objective things? These are very difficult questions. The “things” that existed prior to the development of experimental science do not appear valid either as things, or as the meaning of things, to the modern mind. The question of the nature of the substance of sol – the sun – (to take a single example) occupied the minds of those who practiced the pre-experimental “science” of alchemy for many hundreds of years. We would no longer presume even that the sun has a uniform substance, unique to it, and would certainly take exception to the properties attributed to this hypothetical element by the medieval alchemist, if we allowed its existence. Carl Jung, who spent much of the latter part of his life studying medieval thought patterns, characterized sol: -Jordan Petersons "MAPS OF MEANING: THE ARCHITECTURE OF BELIEF"

The Form of beauty

The fundamental datum in understanding Platonic beauty as part of what we would call Plato's aesthetics, or philosophy of art, is that Plato sees no opposition between the pleasures that beauty brings and the goals of philosophy. Plato mentions no other Form in the Symposium; beauty is Form enough. Philosophers meet this beauty in an experience in which they consummate their deepest love while also attaining the loftiest knowledge.


Many passages in Plato associate a Form with beauty: Cratylus 439c; Euthydemus 301a; Laws 655c; Phaedo 65d, 75d, 100b; Phaedrus 254b; Parmenides 130b; Philebus 15a; Republic 476b, 493e, 507b. Plato mentions beauty as often as he speaks of any property that admits of philosophical conceptualization, and for which a Form therefore exists. Thanks to the features of Forms as such, we know that this entity being referred to must be something properly called beauty, whose nature can be articulated without recourse to the natures of particular beautiful things. (See especially Phaedo 79a and Phaedrus 247c on properties of this Form.)

Beauty is Plato's example of a Form so frequently for a pair of reasons. On one hand it bears every mark of the Forms. It is an evaluative concept as much as justice and courage are, and it suffers from disputes over its meaning as much as they do. The Theory of Forms mainly exists to guarantee stable referents for disputed evaluative terms; so if anything needs a Form, beauty does, and it will have a Form if any property does.

In general, a Form F differs from an individual F thing in that F may be predicated univocally of the Form: The Form F is F. An individual F thing both is and is not F; in this sense the same property F can only be predicated equivocally of the individual (e.g. Republic 479a–c). Plato's analysis of equivocally F individuals (Cratylus 439d–e, Symposium 211a) recalls observations that everyone makes about beautiful objects. They fade with time; require an offsetting ugly detail; elicit disagreements among observers; lose their beauty outside their context (adult shoes on children's feet). Here beauty does better than most other properties at meeting the criteria for Forms and non-Forms. Odd numbers may fail to be odd in some hard-to-explain way, but the ways in which beautiful things fall short of their perfection are obvious even to unphilosophical admirers.

Physical beauty is again atypical as a Form that human beings want to know. This is the second reason Plato makes beauty such a frequent example of a Form. The process known as anamnêsis or recollection is more plausible for beauty than it is for most other properties. The philosophical merit of things that are equivocally F is that they come bearing signs of their incompleteness, so that the inquisitive mind wants to know more (Republic 523c–524d). But not everyone can read those signs of incompleteness. Soft or large items inspire questions in minds of an abstract bent. The perception of examples of justice or self-control presupposes moral development, so that the perceiver can recognize a law's double nature as just and unjust. By contrast, beautiful things strike everyone, and arouse everyone's curiosity. Therefore, beauty promises more effective reflection than any other property of things. Beauty alone is both a Form and a sensory experience (Phaedrus 250d).

So the Phaedrus (250d–256b) and Symposium ignore people's experiences of other properties when they describe the first movement into philosophizing. Beautiful things remind souls of their mystery as no other visible objects do, and in his optimistic moments Plato welcomes people's attention to them.

Those optimistic moments are not easy to sustain. To make beauty effective for learning Plato needs to rely on its desirability (as foregrounded in Konstan 2015) while also counting on the soul's ability to transfer its desiring from the visible to the intelligible (see Philebus 65e). Plato is ambivalent about visual experience. Sight may be metaphorically like knowledge, but metonymically it calls to mind the senses, which are ignorant (Pappas 2015, 49).

Plato's thought on eros

The ancient philosopher Plato developed an idealistic concept of eros which would prove to be very influential in modern times. In general, Plato did not consider physical attraction to be a necessary part of eros. "Platonic love" in this original sense can be attained by the intellectual purification of eros from carnal into ideal form. This process is examined in Plato's dialogue the Symposium. Plato argues there that eros is initially felt for a person, but with contemplation it can become an appreciation for the beauty within that person, or even an appreciation for beauty itself in an ideal sense. As Plato expresses it, eros can help the soul to "remember" beauty in its pure form. It follows from this, for Plato, that eros can contribute to an understanding of truth.

Eros, understood in this sense, differed considerably from the common meaning of the word in the Greek language of Plato's time. It also differed from the meaning of the word in contemporary literature and poetry. For Plato, eros is neither purely human nor purely divine: it is something intermediate which he calls a daimon.

Its main characteristic is permanent aspiration and desire. Even when it seems to give, eros continues to be a "desire to possess", but nevertheless it is different from a purely sensual love in being the love that tends towards the sublime. According to Plato, the gods do not love, because they do not experience desires, inasmuch as their desires are all satisfied. They can thus only be an object, not a subject of love (Symposium 200-1). For this reason they do not have a direct relationship with man; it is only the mediation of eros that allows the connecting of a relationship (Symposium 203). Eros is thus the way that leads man to divinity, but not vice versa.

[...] Nevertheless, eros remains always, for Plato, an egocentric love: it tends toward conquering and possessing the object that represents a value for man. To love the good signifies to desire to possess it forever. Love is therefore always a desire for immortality.[12]

Paradoxically, for Plato, the object of eros does not have to be physically beautiful. This is because the object of eros is beauty, and the greatest beauty is eternal, whereas physical beauty is in no way eternal. However, if the lover achieves possession of the beloved's inner (i.e., ideal) beauty, his need for happiness will be fulfilled, because happiness is the experience of knowing that you are participating in the ideal.[13]

for Plato, daimon, is a spiritual being who watches over each individual, and is tantamount to a higher self, or an angel; whereas Plato is called ‘divine’ by Neoplatonists

for Plato, theology rests on two Forms: the Good and the Simple; which "Xenocrates unequivocally called the unity god" in sharp contrast to the poet's gods of epic and tragedy.[7] Although much like the deities, these figures were not always depicted without considerable moral ambiguity:
In Plato there is an incipient tendency toward the apotheosis of nous. ... He needs a closeness and availability of the divine that is offered neither by the stars nor by metaphysical principles. Here a name emerged to fill the gap, a name which had always designated the incomprehensible yet present activity of a higher power, daimon.[7]

Essentialism

Essentialism is the view that every entity has a set of attributes that are necessary to its identity and function.[1] In early Western thought Plato's idealism held that all things have such an "essence," an "Idea" or "Form". Likewise, in Categories Aristotle proposed that all objects have a substance that, as George Lakoff put it "... make the thing what it is, and without which it would be not that kind of thing".[2] The contrary view, non-essentialism, denies the need to posit such an "essence'".

Essentialism has been controversial from its beginning. Plato's Socrates already questions the notion by suggesting, in the Parmenides, that if we accept the idea every beautiful thing or just action partakes of an essence in order to be beautiful or just, then we must also accept the "existence of separate essences for hair, mud, and dirt".[3] In biology and other natural sciences, essentialism provided the rationale for taxonomy at least until the time of Charles Darwin;[4] the role and importance of essentialism in biology is still a matter of debate.[5] In gender studies the essentialist idea that men and women are fundamentally different continues to be a matter of contention

Social constructionism

Social constructionism or the social construction of reality (also social concept) is a theory of knowledge in sociology and communication theory that examines the development of jointly constructed understandings of the world that form the basis for shared assumptions about reality. The theory centers on the notions that human beings rationalize their experience by creating models of the social world and share and reify these models through language

Teleology of social construction

The concepts of weak and strong as applied to opposing philosophical positions, "isms", inform a teleology – the goal-oriented, meaningful or "final end" of an interpretation of reality. "Isms" are not personal opinions, but the extreme, modal, formulations that actual persons, individuals, can then consider, and take a position between. There are opposing philosophical positions concerning the feasibility of co-creating a common, shared, social reality, called weak and strong.

John R. Searle does not elucidate the terms strong and weak in his book The Construction of Social Reality,[33] but he clearly uses them in his Chinese room argument, where he debates the feasibility of creating a computing machine with a sharable understanding of reality, and he adds "We are precisely such machines." Strong artificial intelligence (Strong AI) is the bet that computer programmers will somehow eventually achieve a computing machine with a mind of its own, and that it will eventually be more powerful than a human mind. Weak AI bets they won't.


Social constructionism falls toward the nurture end of the spectrum of the larger nature and nurture debate. Consequently, critics have argued that it generally ignores biological influences on behaviour or culture, or suggests that they are unimportant to achieve an understanding of human behaviour.[44] The view of most psychologists and social scientists is that behaviour is a complex outcome of both biological and cultural influences.[45][46] Other disciplines, such as evolutionary psychology, behaviour genetics, behavioural neuroscience, epigenetics, etc., take a nature–nurture interactionism approach to understand behaviour or cultural phenomena.

My belief is as Human beings,due to our Brains ability,the Nuture aspect of ourselves sets us apart from the rest of Living things- thus it makes it-"Our Obligation" to evolve through the Use of our Brains, and one Obligation is "Self-Actualizing" or as Einstein put it "Liberation from Self"

In Essense,it could be looked at as though " By having a Desire,we are bound by "Law of obligations"

The law of obligations is one branch of private law under the civil law legal system and so-called "mixed" legal systems. It is the body of rules that organizes and regulates the rights and duties arising between individuals. The specific rights and duties are referred to as obligations, and this area of law deals with their creation, effects, and extinction.

An obligation is a legal bond (vinculum iuris) by which one or more parties (obligants) are bound to act or refrain from acting. An obligation thus imposes on the obligor a duty to perform, and simultaneously creates a corresponding right to demand performance by the obligee to whom performance is to be tendered. Obligations may be civil, which are enforceable by action in a court of law, or natural, which imply moral duties but are unenforceable unless the obligor consents.



If the Individual wishs to have" Freedom",then then the Individual must First Learn their "Obligations"
As Simone Weil states through her views on "Rights and Obligations". We can not have one without the Other!

History of evolutionary thought

Evolutionary thought, the conception that species change over time, has roots in antiquity - in the ideas of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Chinese as well as in medieval Islamic science. With the beginnings of modern biological taxonomy in the late 17th century, two opposed ideas influenced Western biological thinking: essentialism, the belief that every species has essential characteristics that are unalterable, a concept which had developed from medieval Aristotelian metaphysics, and that fit well with natural theology; and the development of the new anti-Aristotelian approach to modern science: as the Enlightenment progressed, evolutionary cosmology and the mechanical philosophy spread from the physical sciences to natural history. Naturalists began to focus on the variability of species; the emergence of paleontology with the concept of extinction further undermined static views of nature. In the early 19th century Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744 – 1829) proposed his theory of the transmutation of species, the first fully formed theory of evolution

Plato was called by biologist Ernst Mayr "the great antihero of evolutionism,"[7] because he promoted belief in essentialism, which is also referred to as the theory of Forms. This theory holds that each natural type of object in the observed world is an imperfect manifestation of the ideal, form or "species" which defines that type.


In my opinion I believe Ernst Mayr,had a complete mis-understanding of Plato's Forms,as so many others do. Clearly above states "This theory holds that each natural type of object in the observed world is an imperfect

,Plato's Theory of Forms,at least to myself,,Clearly states it is our goal or Obligation to evolve by seeking the the highest Truth we can,and though it may never be reached!,we still must Desire it.and thus seek it!...that's Human induced evolving!

That said,May I eat my oatmeal now!

Taking a Look at Review of Mayr’s One Long Argument(Ernst Mayr )


Ernst Mayr. One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought. Harvard University Press, 1991

 

Mayr belongs to the select company who devised, in the Forties, the reconciliation of Darwinism to Mendelian genetics called Neo-Darwinism. One monument to this synthesis is the University of Chicago Centenary volumes published in 1959, where leading lights exalted the vindication of Darwin’s theory. In the intervening decades enormous advances in all the sciences bearing on evolution have been made. Does Neo-Darwinism survive? Mayr believes that it does. To establish this improbable case, he begins his effort with a characterization of Darwin’s achievement in terms compatible with what he takes to be the current state of evolutionary theory.

A fundamental historical component of the Darwinist credo is that the publication of the Origin marks an abrupt break, styled the Darwinian Revolution, in European thought, not merely in science but across the board, starting with religion and theology. Mayr’s proposed characterization of this transformation is specified by four claims.


Claim 1. Darwin >refuted the belief in the individual creation of each species, establishing in its place the concept that all of life descended from a common ancestor<. The wording mirrors Darwin’s claim that at the time he published Origin, he knew of no naturalist who disbelieved in special creation. There was an outcry against this historical perversity, including objections from the true originator of natural selection theory (Patrick Matthew, in 1832), and the Oxford mathematics professor (Baden Powell) who from 1835 published philosophical essays defending naturalistic evolution against special creation. By 1850 the concept of naturalistic evolution including the origin of the human species had thoroughly penetrated theology, literature, polite conversation, and even the working class. Darwin was the late-comer whose disciples stole the credit on his behalf.


Claim 2. Mayr states that >Victorian notions of progress and perfectability were seriously undermined by Darwin’s demonstration that evolution …does not necessarily lead to progress…< He produces not a single contemporary witness to this sense of Darwin’s meaning. The facts are that the Origin equated adaptation with >improvement< (non-improvers are displaced). The book owed its celebrity in large measure to its scientific >proof< of the nearly universal belief in progress. If Mayr had but read the title page of Darwin's book, he would have noticed that the subtitle is 'or, the Preservation of the Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life'. Indeed the French translation of the Origin bore the title, De l’Origine des especes, ou Des Lois du progress chez les etres organizes. In her Introduction, translator Clémence-August Royer stated that >the doctrine of Darwin is the rational revelation of progress, pitting itself in its logical antagonism with the irrational revelation of the fall<. She related the survival of the fittest theory of organic change to the theory of change developed by free market economics. The same notion was promoted in England by Herbert Spencer. Darwin never repudiated these, for Mayr, gross misunderstandings. Why not? Perhaps because these views were his own.

Claim 3. Darwin pioneered a new concept of science based on >concepts of probability, change, and uniqueness< as against the then dominant methodology based on physical laws and determinism. Oh dear! Darwin’s comments on high level methodological issues are sparse. They are also conventional. Far from challenging the Newtonian model, he was anxious to bathe his theory in its prestige, especially after he was directly challenged (and thoroughly intimidated) by Briton’s leading physicist, Lord Kelvin. Darwin didn’t quantify because he had no head for maths. His one attempt, intended to relate species diversification to geographic distribution, was a flop, from which he was rescued by his friend John Lubbock. He was oblivious to advances in statistical demography, despite their direct relevance to his theory. The quantification of inheritance data was carried out by Mendel in his experimental work on peas and by Francis Galton in his writings on inheritance, whose sophisticated mathematical analysis Darwin admitted he could not follow. The struggle for existence did not figure in Mendel’s theory, which was the first statement of the laws of evolutionary stasis. The development of electromagnetism and statistical mechanics owed nothing to the Great Mind

Claim 4. Darwin was >the first person to work out a sound theory of classification, one which is still adopted by the majority of taxonomists<. Crikey! Darwin’s theory of classification amounts to little more than the proposal that it be based on evolutionary descent. The proposal was made by pre-Origin evolutionists and sketches of plausible lines of descent, including the pithacoid origin of our species, were readily available. The first edition of the Origin presented but one descent scenario—of whales from bears—but it attracted such ridicule that Darwin withdrew it in the second printing. His few subsequent proposals of descent, eg, the origin of mammals and of the human species, reiterated proposals made by others. The first attempt at an evolutionary phylogeny stems from Darwin’s ardent discipline, Ernst Haeckel, which he based on the >biogenic law< (long since abandoned). Systematics has undergone profound change since 1959, first through Willi Hennig’s reconceptualization of classification as cladistics, and then the elaboration of cladism by molecular analysis. (When Mayr wrote this book, his own earlier contributions to systematics had been superseded). To suggest a connection of this development with Darwin’s modest contribution is to genuflect before the Holy Father.

These criticisms address statements made in but two pages of the text. The remainder of the book is of like character: Mayr pays no mind to the recent outpouring of history/philosophy of science literature that has placed Darwin in context. Thanks to these advances in historical knowledge, we now know that his original contributions were few, that his errors and oversights were many, and that he and his True Believer disciples relentlessly campaigned to promote the Cult of Evolution, whose dogmatism sometimes retarded or distorted the growth of evolutionary science. This book is a living fossil.




This is Why we have to start demanding our Teaches and Leaders are not stuck on their own Dogmas, are Open-minded, and clearly know we as of yet do not Know with 100% certainity any Absolute Truth

Excerpt from :" Sense experience to the forms"

         HOW CAN WE ACQUIRE KNOWLEDGE OF THE FORMS? Those people in Plato’s republic who eventually acquire knowledge of the Forms are those guardians who become philosophers. The guardians are trained in arithmetic, geometry and astronomy to bring them to dianoia. But to achieve noésis, the guardians must be additionally trained in dialectic, or philosophical argument. For further discussion of this argument, see the handout on ‘Plato’s similes of the Cave and the Divided Line’.
 
Plato argues that to gain knowledge of the Forms, a person must be ‘re-oriented’, away from being concerned and caught up in the world of the senses: ‘the mind as a whole must be turned away from the world of change until its eye can bear to look straight at reality, and at the brightest of all realities which is what we call the good’ (518c). The final step in the philosophers’ education is not so much about imparting knowledge, and but turning the mind towards the Forms. However, the question still remains how dialectic leads to an understanding of the Forms. 
 
In fact, Plato doesn’t say. One theory is that, as shown in Plato’s The Republic and other dialogues, dialectic establishes both the existence and the nature of the Forms. Another relates to the fact that the Forms are ‘one-over-many’. A Form is unitary and simple, but many particular things can participate in it. There is only one Form of Beauty, but many things can be beautiful. Mathematics helps us to understand the idea of ‘one-over-many’, and helps us understand how the ‘one’ is the real essence that the many share in. For example, mathematics establishes the necessary properties that all triangles must have in common. And all existing triangles are triangles because they share the essential properties of the Form of the Triangle. Dialectic helps us understand this more generally, or abstractly, because it searches for a unifying account of each and every thing. Dialectic asks ‘what is justice?’ or ‘what is courage?’, and so we think about the abstract ideas, the Forms, of justice and courage.
 

Plato used the word nous in many ways which were not unusual in the everyday Greek of the time, and often simply meant "good sense" or "awareness".[16] On the other hand, in some of his Platonic dialogues it is described by key characters in a higher sense, which was apparently already common. In his Philebus 28c he has Socrates say that "all philosophers agree—whereby they really exalt themselves—that mind (nous) is king of heaven and earth. Perhaps they are right." and later states that the ensuing discussion "confirms the utterances of those who declared of old that mind (nous) always rules the universe".[17]

In his Cratylus, Plato gives the etymology of Athena's name, the goddess of wisdom, from Atheonóa (Ἀθεονόα) meaning "god's (theos) mind (nous)". In his Phaedo, Plato's teacher Socrates is made to say just before dying that his discovery of Anaxagoras' concept of a cosmic nous as the cause of the order of things, was an important turning point for him. But he also expressed disagreement with Anaxagoras' understanding of the implications of his own doctrine, because of Anaxagoras' materialist understanding of causation. Socrates said that Anaxagoras would "give voice and air and hearing and countless other things of the sort as causes for our talking with each other, and should fail to mention the real causes, which are, that the Athenians decided that it was best to condemn me".[18] On the other hand, Socrates seems to suggest that he also failed to develop a fully satisfactory teleological and dualistic understanding of a mind of nature, whose aims represent the Good, which all parts of nature aim at.

Concerning the nous which is the source of understanding of individuals, Plato is widely understood to have used ideas from Parmenides in addition to Anaxagoras. Like Parmenides, Plato argued that relying on sense perception can never lead to true knowledge, only opinion. Instead, Plato's more philosophical characters argue that nous must somehow perceive truth directly in the ways gods and daimons perceive. What our mind sees directly in order to really understand things must not be the constantly changing material things, but unchanging entities that exist in a different way, the so-called "forms" or "ideas". However he knew that contemporary philosophers often argued (as in modern science) that nous and perception are just two aspects of one physical activity, and that perception is the source of knowledge and understanding (not the other way around).

Just exactly how Plato believed that the nous of people lets them come to understand things in any way which improves upon sense perception and the kind of thinking which animals have, is a subject of long running discussion and debate. On the one hand, in the Republic Plato's Socrates, in the Analogy of the sun and Allegory of the Cave describes people as being able to perceive more clearly because of something from outside themselves, something like when the sun shines, helping eyesight. The source of this illumination for the intellect is referred to as the Form of the Good. On the other hand, in the Meno for example, Plato's Socrates explains the theory of anamnesis whereby people are born with ideas already in their soul, which they somehow remember from previous lives. Both theories were to become highly influential.

As in Xenophon, Plato's Socrates frequently describes the soul in a political way, with ruling parts, and parts which are by nature meant to be ruled. Nous is associated with the rational (logistikon) part of the individual human soul, which by nature should rule. In his Republic, in the so-called "analogy of the divided line", it has a special function within this rational part. Plato tended to treat nous as the only immortal part of the soul.

Concerning the cosmos, in the Timaeus, the title character also tells a "likely story" in which nous is responsible for the creative work of the demiurge or maker who brought rational order to our universe. This craftsman imitated what he perceived in the world of eternal Forms. In the Philebus Socrates argues that nous in individual humans must share in a cosmic nous, in the same way that human bodies are made up of small parts of the elements found in the rest of the universe. And this nous must be in the genos of being a cause of all particular things as particular things.[19]

excerpt from: "Plato's Middle Period Metaphysics and Epistemology"-More doubts about the strict simplicity of Forms emerge from reflection on the nature of definition in Plato's middle period. Ontologically, all definitions predicate the essence of the Form whose essence it is. Plato is attempting to discover through scientific investigation, or (inclusive or) through an analysis of what words mean, or through any other method, what the nature of, say, Justice is—compare the ways in which philosophers and scientists work to discover what, e.g., gold, or red, or justice, is. Ultimately, then, the answer to any ‘what is X?’ question will be some specific formula unearthed at the end of much study. According to this line of reasoning, the self-predication statements in the texts are promissory notes, shorthand for what will turn out to be the fully articulated definition. Plato is thus committed to there being Forms whose nature or essence will ultimately be discovered. To say that ‘Justice is just’ is then to stake a claim to the ultimate discovery of the nature of Justice. The problem is that the fully articulated linguistic definition, when it is ultimately discovered, will turn out to be complex. For instance, Heat, one thing, is mean molecular kinetic energy, a seemingly complex notion. So in Plato we find (Republic, 441d) that Justice is Doing One's Own, that a Name is (Cratylus, 388b) a tool that is informative and separates nature, or, though Plato never says it, that Human is rational bipedal animal. Since philosophical and (scientific progress) is supposed to teach not that Justice is just but what Justice is, at some level at least Forms cannot be considered to be utterly and strictly simple. The problem is that given just two predication relations, it is unclear whether Plato thinks that Forms partake of the properties to which they are related or whether they are those properties.

Concept in pre-Kantian philosophy

The Oxford Companion to Philosophy writes "Platonic Ideas and Forms are noumena, and phenomena are things displaying themselves to the senses. [...] that noumena and the noumenal world are objects of the highest knowledge, truths, and values is Plato's principal legacy to philosophy."[6] However, that noumena and the noumenal world were objects of the highest knowledge, truths, and values were disputed from the start, beginning with Democritus, his follower Pyrrho, founder of Pyrrhonism, and even in the Academy starting with Arcesilaus and the introduction of Academic Skepticism. In these traditions of philosophical skepticism, noumena are suspected of being delusions. Plato's allegory of the cave may be interpreted as an illustration of the noumenal/phenomenal distinction.     From: Noumenon- Wikipedia

        In Kantian philosophy, the unknowable noumenon is often linked to the unknowable "thing-in-itself" (in Kant's German, Ding an sich), although how to characterize the nature of the relationship is a question yet open to some controversy.

          Thing-in-itself - Wikipedia
                                                          The thing-in-itself (German: Ding an sich) is a concept introduced by Immanuel Kant. Things-in-themselves would be objects as they are independent of observation. The concept led to much controversy among philosophers.[1]

           

Patterns in nature- Wikipedia  Early Greek philosophers attempted to explain order in nature, anticipating modern concepts. Plato (c. 427 – c. 347 BC) — looking only at his work on natural patterns — argued for the existence of universals. He considered these to consist of ideal forms ( eidos: "form") of which physical objects are never more than imperfect copies.

Perspectivism:

Perspectivism (German: Perspektivismus) is the philosophical view (touched upon as far back as Plato's rendition of Protagoras) that all ideations take place from particular perspectives, and that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made. This is often taken to imply that no way of seeing the world can be taken as definitively "true", but does not necessarily entail that all perspectives are equally valid. The term was coined by nineteenth-century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

Protagoras:

Protagoras (/proʊˈtæɡərəs/; Greek: Πρωταγόρας; c. 490 – c. 420 BC)[1] was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher and is numbered as one of the sophists by Plato. In his dialogue, Protagoras, Plato credits him with having invented the role of the professional sophist.

He also is believed to have created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that, "Man is the measure of all things", interpreted by Plato to mean that there is no absolute truth, but that which individuals deem to be the truth. Although there is reason to question the extent of the interpretation of his arguments that has followed, that concept of individual relativity was revolutionary for the time, and contrasted with other philosophical doctrines that claimed the universe was based on something objective, outside human influence or perceptions.

     Even though he was mentored by Democritus, Protagoras did not share his enthusiasm for the pursuit of mathematics. "For perceptible lines are not the kind of things the geometer talks about, since no perceptible thing is straight or curved in that way, nor is a circle tangent to a ruler at a point, but the way Protagoras used to say in refuting the geometers" (Aristotles, Metaphysics 997b34-998a4). Protagoras was skeptical about the application of theoretical mathematics to the natural world; he did not believe they were really worth studying at all. According to Philodemus, Protagoras said that "The subject matter is unknowable and the terminology distasteful". Nonetheless, mathematics was considered to be by some a very viable form of art, and Protagoras says on the arts, "art (tekhnê) without practice and practice without art are nothing" (Stobaeus, Selections 3.29.80).
  
   

Protagoras on Relativism

Protagoras also said that on any matter, there are two arguments (logoi) opposed to one another, and according to Aristotle, Protagoras was criticized for having claimed "to make the weaker argument stronger (ton hēttō logon kreittō poiein)".[10]

Protagoras is credited with the philosophy of relativism, which he discusses in his work, Truth (also known as Refutations).[9][11] Although knowledge of his work is limited, discussion of Protagoras' relativism is based on one of his most famous statements: "Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not."[12][13] By this, Protagoras meant that each individual is the measure of how things are perceived by that individual. Therefore, things are, or are not, true according to how the individual perceives them. For example, Person X may believe that the weather is cold, whereas Person Y may believe that the weather is hot. According to the philosophy of Protagoras, there is no absolute evaluation of the nature of a temperature because the evaluation will be relative to who is perceiving it. Therefore, to Person X, the weather is cold, whereas to Person Y, the weather is hot. This philosophy implies that there are no absolute "truths". The truth, according to Protagoras, is relative, and differs according to each individual.[9]

     Protagoras also was a proponent of agnosticism. Reportedly, in his lost work, On the Gods, he wrote: "Concerning the gods, I have no means of knowing whether they exist or not, nor of what sort they may be, because of the obscurity of the subject, and the brevity of human life."[17][18] According to Diogenes Laërtius, the outspoken, agnostic position taken by Protagoras aroused anger, causing the Athenians to expel him from the city, and all copies of his book were collected and burned in the marketplace. The deliberate destruction of his works also is mentioned by Cicero.[19]

The classicist John Burnet doubts this account, however, as both Diogenes Laërtius and Cicero wrote hundreds of years later and as no such persecution of Protagoras is mentioned by contemporaries who make extensive references to this philosopher.[20] Burnet notes that even if some copies of the Protagoras books were burned, enough of them survived to be known and discussed in the following century. A claim has been made that Protagoras is better classified as an atheist, since he held that if something is not able to be known it does not exist. - Note ( here is good example of our need for Certainities,the need to set that final "judgement" so we can communicate,explain etc.) thus creating another "pre-conceived notion"

    

Anthropocentrism:

Anthropocentrism (/ˌænθroʊpoʊˈsɛntrɪzəm/;[1] from Greek Ancient Greek: ἄνθρωπος, ánthrōpos, "human being"; and Ancient Greek: κέντρον, kéntron, "center") is the belief that human beings are the most significant entity of the universe. Anthropocentrism interprets or regards the world in terms of human values and experiences.[2] The term can be used interchangeably with humanocentrism, and some refer to the concept as human supremacy or human exceptionalism. Anthropocentrism is considered to be profoundly embedded in many modern human cultures and conscious acts. It is a major concept in the field of environmental ethics and environmental philosophy, where it is often considered to be the root cause of problems created by human action within the ecosphere.

However, many proponents of anthropocentrism state that this is not necessarily the case: they argue that a sound long-term view acknowledges that a healthy, sustainable environment is necessary for humans and that the real issue is shallow anthropocentrism.[3][4]


Excerpt from above article @ lifescied.org:

    Many modern scholars believe that as children actively seek to understand, explain, and predict the world around them, they develop implicit or explicit informal theories about how the world works. As contrary evidence accumulates, children may or may not revise these theories. These theories give rise to what psychologists refer to as cognitive construals. A cognitive construal is an informal, intuitive way of thinking about the world. It might be a set of assumptions, a type of explanation, or a predisposition to a particular type of reasoning. Three such cognitive construals—teleological thinking, essentialist thinking, and anthropocentric thinking—may have particular relevance in understanding challenges and misconceptions commonly encountered in biology classrooms.

   In this paper, we attempt to make connections between each of these three cognitive construals and several areas of challenge in undergraduate biology teaching and learning. In addition, we explore how seemingly disparate biological misconceptions and misunderstandings may indeed have common origins in a single cognitive construal that undergraduate students may find implicitly useful in their thinking outside the realm of biology.

MISCONCEPTIONS RELATED TO TELEOLOGICAL THINKING

Consider which of the following statements you may have encountered in your own biology teaching and learning experiences. Some relate to molecular biology, others to transformations of matter and energy, and still others to evolution.

  • Genes turn on so that the cell can develop properly.

  • Birds have wings so they can fly.

  • Plants give off oxygen, because animals need oxygen to survive.

  • Individual organisms adapt and change to fit their environments.

  • Evolution is the striving toward higher forms of life on earth

These represent just a few examples of common biological misunderstandings encountered by teachers of biology from elementary school to college, as well as those promoting the understanding of science among the lay public. Biology instructors tend to perceive these challenges as unrelated and grapple with them in the classroom individually, as misconceptions in need of correction. However, these ideas may be more closely related in their origins than they initially appear. Specifically, all of these conceptual challenges relate to students’ need to answer the question of “Why?”- (that "Certainity" thing,a question and why meditation is so important, we need to free our minds for "Moments in the Day" of having a " Objective" so we can see clearer,and from a new point of view)-me 5-17-2018

MISCONCEPTIONS RELATED TO ESSENTIALIST THINKING

Teleological thinking is probably not the only cognitive construal driving biological misconceptions. Consider the statements below, which do not appear to be mediated by a teleological mind-set.

  • Homeostasis keeps the body static and unchanging.

  • Members of the same species are almost identical in their physical characteristics.

  • If left alone, a wetland ecosystem will remain a wetland indefinitely.

  • Because different cells in an organism have different physical characteristics, they must contain different DNA.

  • Changing a single gene in an organism results in a new kind of organism.

MISCONCEPTIONS RELATED TO ANTHROPOCENTRIC THINKING

Thus far, we have explored two cognitive construals, teleological thinking and essentialist thinking, and their connections to biological ideas. No doubt there are others involved. Consider the final set of statements below, which do not immediately appear to be mediated by either a teleological mind-set or an essentialist mind-set.

  • Disturbance in ecosystems has no beneficial role.

  • Cell death in an organism is unusual and pathological.

  • Sexual reproduction always involves two organisms mating, and therefore plants cannot reproduce sexually.

  • Plants suck up their food from the soil through their roots.

  • The males of any species are usually bigger and stronger than the females.

excerpt from above: 

                                       

“When we treat nature as something that exists for us, we are engaging in Anthropocentric thinking, of the sort that has led us to the brink of ecological catastrophe,” Gottlieb said.

The Romantic poet, Wordsworth, was guilty of spreading this way of thinking.

“Wordsworth treats nature as a means to his own self discovery. To a certain extent, that’s harmless, it’s about destressing, but the problem with that attitude at large is that we think the world exists for us,” Gottlieb said. “We’ve treated it as a resource to be exploited.”

Shelley, on the other hand, went an entirely different direction. He was critical of Wordsworth, according to Gottlieb.

“The world cares little or nothing else if humans cease to exist,” Gottlieb said.-note: (to see ourselves separate from Nature?)-me

Anthropocentrism literally means human-centered, but in its most relevant philosophical form it is the ethical belief that humans alone possess intrinsic value. In contradistinction, all other beings hold value only in their ability to serve humans, or in their instrumental value.

"This idea of a great chain of being can be traced to Plato's division of the world into the Forms, which are full beings, and sensible things, which are imitations of the Forms and are both being and not being. Aristotle's teleology recognized a perfect being, and he also arranges all animals by a single natural scale according to the degree of perfection of their souls. The idea of the great chain of being was fully developed in Neoplatonism and in the Middle Ages.", Blackwell Dictionary of Western Philosophy, p. 289 (2004)

Excerpt from:

CHAIN OF BEING

1. The Ontological Basis for the Gradation of Ex-
isting Things.
Historically we may trace the concep-
tion of a Chain of Being to the Platonic Idea of Ideas,
or Idea of the Good, discussed in the seventh book of
the Republic. This Idea is in fact the summit of the
hierarchy of knowable things, for not only do they owe
to it the quality of their being knowable, but derive
from it their very, existence by participating in various
degrees in its nature (509b). Thus, the supreme Idea
provides the logical basis of a world of sensibilia con-
ceived as graded with respect to perfection. The Idea
of the Good, however, is no more than a logical foun-
dation, insofar as no active element or agent intervenes
yet; instead, this element of activity is made an intrinsic
feature of the Demiurge, introduced by Plato in the
Timaeus. The Demiurge creates the sensible world
modelled on the intelligible one (27d-29c). He cannot
fail to generate things in that way since, being with-
out jealousy, his very nature is to desire that all things
approach as closely as possible to himself (29d-30a).
Fecundity is thus an essential element of divine per-
fection. Self-sufficient perfection is at the same time
self-transcendence in the sensible world. Thus God
becomes at once the logical and ontological foundation
of the world's multiplicity and variety.

Plato, as the speaker Timaeus, refers to the Demiurge frequently in the Socratic dialogue Timaeus (28a ff.),  360 BC. The main character refers to the Demiurge as the entity who "fashioned and shaped" the material world. Timaeus describes the Demiurge as unreservedly benevolent, and so it desires a world as good as possible. The world remains imperfect, however, because the Demiurge created the world out of a chaotic, indeterminate non-being.[citation needed] Plato's work Timaeus is a philosophical reconciliation of Hesiod's cosmology in his Theogony, syncretically reconciling Hesiod to Homer

Starting at least with Plato, philosophers tended to reject or de-emphasize literal interpretations of mythology in favor of a more pantheistic, natural theology based on reasoned arguments. In this framework, stories that seemed to impute dishonorable conduct to the gods were often simply dismissed as false, and as being nothing more than the "imagination of poets

Natural theology:

      

Natural theology, once also termed physico-theology, is a type of theology that provides arguments for the existence of God based on reason and ordinary experience of nature. This distinguishes it from revealed theology, which is based on scripture and/or religious experiences, and also from transcendental theology, which is based on a priori reasoning.

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC – 27 BC) established a distinction between political theology (the social functions of religion), natural theology and mythical theology. His terminology became part of the Stoic tradition and then Christianity through St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.

Natural theology is thus a type of philosophy, the object of which is explanation of the nature of the gods, or of one supreme God. For monotheistic religions, this principally involves arguments about the attributes or non-attributes of God, and especially the existence of God, using arguments that do not involve recourse to supernatural revelation.

    Besides Zarathushtra's Gathas, Plato gives the earliest surviving account of a natural theology. In the Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, we read: "We must first investigate concerning [the whole Cosmos] that primary question which has to be investigated at the outset in every case, — namely, whether it has always existed, having no beginning or generation, or whether it has come into existence, having begun from some beginning."[1] In the Laws, in answer to the question as to what arguments justify faith in the gods, Plato affirms: "One is our dogma about the soul...the other is our dogma concerning the ordering of the motion of the stars".[2]

Rediscovering God - from Book of Nature / wikipedia

The Greeks succeeded in constructing a view of the natural world in which all references to mythological origins and causes were removed. By abandoning ancient ties to free acting, conspiring gods of nature, Greek philosophers inadvertently left the upper world vacant. The new philosophy of nature made unseen mythological forces irrelevant. While some philosophers drifted toward atheism, others worked within the new philosophy to reconstitute the concept of a divine being. Consequently, the new outlook toward the natural world inspired the belief for a supreme force that was compatible with the new philosophy—in other words, monotheistic. However, the path leading from nature to rediscovering a divine being was uncertain. Once again, the Book of Nature was consulted, and it was Aristotle who interpreted its spoken text.[6]

The belief in causality in nature implied an endless, interconnected chain of causation acting upon the natural world. It is presumed, however, that Greek thought denied the existence of a natural world where causality was infinite, which gave rise to Aristotle's doctrine of "efficient cause," or “first cause," upon which the order of other causes must rely. The pathway to heaven became clear: “the First Cause is also the Prime Mover of the world; and, since motion is a fact revealed by the senses, the Prime Mover must exist by necessity, a being unable to be otherwise than it is. Consequently, it is also perfect and thus the ultimate object of desire, or the ‘Supreme Good’. And, since nature operates for a purpose, the Prime Mover must also be intelligent. Being eternal it is divine…” and we now know of it as “God.”[7] The ultimate cause, or source, of all natural phenomena occurring in the natural world had been discovered. There was but one God, and He has created all that resides in the Book of Nature.[8]

Reading the Book of Nature

Scholars, natural philosophers, emerging naturalists, and other readers of the new Book of Nature enthusiastically renewed their investigation of the natural world. Alongside sacred Scripture, the Book of Nature also became a font of divine revelation and a source of knowledge of God. This also implied that for mankind, nature itself became a new authority concerning the divine. There now existed two ways of knowing God—two texts, or two "books"—sacred Scripture and the Book of Nature, and two separate authorities, which was disquieting to many contemporary observers. Which textual authority took precedence? How would inconsistencies between the two texts be resolved? Who would mediate between the two books and exercise final interpretive authority? As Harrison points out, the exegesis of the Book of Nature became a critical concern, especially to the Church.[19] Religious indifference to the material world, which had survived for centuries, came to an end by the thirteenth century. Interest in nature by Church Fathers would transform the study of nature into a theological enterprise. The Book of Nature became a bestseller among clerics and theologians anxious for its knowledge in their search for divine truth and concern for preserving and strengthening the authority of the Church in all matters ecclesiastical, which now included the Book of Nature.[20]

Christianity and Greek culture

The first contact between Christianity and Greek culture occurred in Athens in the first century A.D. Christian theologians viewed the Greeks as a pagan culture whose philosophers were obsessed with the wonders of the material, or natural, world. Observation and explanation of natural phenomena were of little value to the Church. Consequently, early Christian theologians dismissed Greek knowledge as being perishable in contrast to true knowledge derived from sacred Scripture. Yet, the Church Fathers struggled with questions concerning the natural world and its creation that reflected the concerns of Greek philosophers. Despite their rejection of pagan thinking, the Church Fathers benefited from Greek dialectic and ontology by inheriting a technical language that could help express solutions to their concerns.[9] As Peter Harrison observes, “in the application of the principles of pagan philosophy to the raw materials of a faith, the content of which was expressed in those documents which were to become the New Testament, we can discern the beginnings of Christian theology.”[10] Eventually, Church Fathers would recognize the value of the natural world because it provided a means of deciphering God’s work and acquiring true knowledge of Him. In other words, God has infused the material world with symbolic meaning, which if understood by man, reveals higher spiritual truths.[11] For the moment, however, the Church’s indifference to nature would prevail in ecclesiastical matters.

What the Church Fathers needed, and did not inherit from the early Greek philosophers, was a method of interpreting the symbolic meanings embedded in the material world. According to Harrison, it was Church Father Origen in the third century who perfected a hermeneutical method that was first developed by the Platonists of the Alexandrian school by which the natural world could be persuaded to give up hidden meanings.[12] “This universal hermeneutic was to provide interpretive strategies for dealing with both texts and objects in the physical world. It lay at the foundation of the ‘symbolist mentality’ of the middle ages, and was the sine qua non of the medieval image of the ‘book of nature’.”[13]

For their part, the Platonists believed the visible world reveals knowledge about the invisible world, which in turn, reveals truth and knowledge of the Creator. Origen then demonstrated how the natural world could be made intelligible to man through a process that exposed the spiritual realities which the material world signified. Thus, if the natural world was created to minister to the physical and spiritual needs of mankind, reading the Book of Nature ensured both needs could be fulfilled, in part through what the visible world signifies.[14] The importance of reading the Book of Nature alongside sacred Scripture became evident because references to the natural world in sacred text were unintelligible unless the reader was knowledgeable about the Book of Nature in order to understand these references and interpret their meaning. However, whereas the Book of Nature served Scripture well, it lacked internal order and discernible relationships between the objects it represented thereby reducing nature to an inchoate and unintelligible language. The Book of Nature required substantial editing and revision, which would not occur for another nine hundred years.[15]

The All :

The All (also called The One, The Absolute, The Great One, The Creator, The Supreme Mind, The Supreme Good, The Father, and The All Mother) is the Hermetic, pantheistic, pandeistic or panentheistic view of God, which is that everything that is, or at least that can be experienced, collectively makes up The All. One Hermetic maxim states, "While All is in The All, it is equally true that The All is in All."[1] The All can also be seen to be androgynous, possessing both masculine and feminine qualities in equal part.[2]

The Kybalion:-Wikipedia


The Kybalion: Hermetic Philosophy, originally published in 1908 by a person or persons under the pseudonym of "the Three Initiates", is a book claiming to be the essence of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.

The seven Principles

The book devotes a chapter to each of its seven "Principles", or axioms:

Principle of Mentalism

The Principle of Mentalism embodies the idea that "All is Mind." Everything that happens has to be a result of a mental state which precedes it. For anything to exist, thoughts had to form first, which then form physical reality or manifestation. "Your thoughts are seeds, plant positive seeds in your mind garden."

Principle of Correspondence

The Principle of Correspondence expresses the idea that there is always a correspondence between the laws of phenomena of the various "planes" of being and life.[1] As above, so below; as below, so above. This principle states that there is a harmony which can be made, agreement and correspondence between these planes, delineated as:

  • The Great Physical Plane
  • The Great Mental Plane
  • The Great Spiritual Plane

Principle of Vibration

This expounds the idea that motion is manifest in everything in the Universe, that nothing rests, and everything moves, vibrates and circles.[2] This principle explains that the distinction between manifestations of Matter, Energy, Mind, and even Spirit, are the result of only different "vibrations".[3] The higher a person is on the scale, the higher the rate of vibration will be. Here, The All is said to be at an infinite level of vibration, almost to the point of being at rest. There are said to be millions upon millions of varying degrees between the highest level, The All, and the objects of the lowest vibration.[4]

Mental Transmutation is described as the practical application of this principle. To change one's mental state is to change vibration. One may do this by an effort of Will, by means of deliberately "fixing the attention" upon a more desirable state.[5]

Principle of Polarity

The Principle of Polarity embodies the idea that everything is dual, everything has two poles, and everything has its opposite.[6] All manifested things have two sides, two aspects, or two poles.[7] Everything "is" and "isn't" at the same time, all truths are but half truths and every truth is half false, there are two sides to everything, opposites are identical in nature yet different in degree, extremes meet, and all paradoxes may be reconciled.[8]

Principle of Rhythm

The Principle of Rhythm expresses the idea that in everything there is manifested a measured motion, a to and from, a flow and inflow, a swing backward and forward, a pendulum-like movement.[9] There is rhythm between every pair of opposites, or poles, and is closely related to the Principle of Polarity.[10] It can be seen that this Principle enables transition from one pole to the other, and not necessarily poles of extreme opposites.

Principle of Cause and Effect

It explains that there is a cause for every effect, and an effect for every cause.[11] It also states that there is no such thing as chance, that chance is merely a term indicating extant causes not recognized or perceived.[12] The Principle is clarified in the chapter Causation.

Principle of Gender

The Principle of Gender embodies the idea that gender is manifested in everything.[13] The authors state that this does not relate explicitly to the commonly understood notion of sex, but rather "... to beget; to procreate, to generate, to create, or to produce..." in general.[14] Gender manifests itself on all planes as the Feminine and Masculine principles.

Mental Gender is described as a Hermetic concept which relates to the feminine and masculine principles. It does not refer to someone's physical sex, nor does it suggest that someone of a certain sex necessarily has a matching mental gender. Ideally, one wants to have a balanced mental gender.[15]

The concept put forth in The Kybalion states that gender exists on all planes of existence (Physical, Mental and Spiritual), and represents different aspects on different planes. Everything and everyone contains these two elements or principles.[16]

The Feminine principle is always in the direction of receiving impressions, and has a much more varied field of operation than the Masculine. The Feminine conducts the work of generating new thoughts, concepts and ideas, including the work of the imagination.[17]

The Masculine principle is always in the direction of giving out or expressing, and contents itself with the "Will" in its varied phases.[18]

It is said that there must be a balance in these two forces. Without the Feminine, the Masculine is apt to act without restraint, order, or reason, resulting in chaos. The Feminine alone, on the other hand, is apt to constantly reflect and fail to actually do anything, resulting in stagnation. With both the Masculine and Feminine working in conjunction, there is thoughtful action that breeds success, which points out that both the Feminine and the Masculine fulfill each other.[19]


Aether (classical element)


According to ancient and medieval science, aether (Greek: aithēr[1]), also spelled æther or ether and also called quintessence

Fifth element

Medieval concept of the cosmos. The innermost spheres are the terrestrial spheres, while the outer are made of aether and contain the celestial bodies

In Plato's Timaeus (58d) speaking about air, Plato mentions that "there is the most translucent kind which is called by the name of aether (αίθηρ)".[9] but otherwise he adopted the classical system of four elements. Aristotle, who had been Plato's student at the Akademia, agreed on this point with his former mentor, emphasizing additionally that fire sometimes has been mistaken for aether. However, in his Book On the Heavens he introduced a new "first" element to the system of the classical elements of Ionian philosophy. He noted that the four terrestrial classical elements were subject to change and naturally moved linearly. The first element however, located in the celestial regions and heavenly bodies, moved circularly and had none of the qualities the terrestrial classical elements had. It was neither hot nor cold, neither wet nor dry. With this addition the system of elements was extended to five and later commentators started referring to the new first one as the fifth and also called it aether, a word that Aristotle had not used.[10] 

Quintessence differs from the cosmological constant explanation of dark energy in that it is dynamic; that is, it changes over time, unlike the cosmological constant which, by definition, does not change.



quintessences (plural noun)
  1. the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class.
    "he was the quintessence of political professionalism"
    synonyms: perfect example · exemplar · prototype · stereotype · picture · epitome · embodiment · personification · paragon · ideal · best · cream · elite · flower · jewel · gem · pick · prime ·
    [more]
    last word · acme of perfection · crème de la crème · beau idéal
    • the aspect of something regarded as the intrinsic and central constituent of its character.
      "we were all brought up to believe that advertising is the quintessence of marketing"
      synonyms: essence · soul · spirit · ethos · nature · core · heart · center · crux · nub · nucleus · kernel · marrow · pith · substance · sum and substance · nitty-gritty · quiddity · esse
    • a refined essence or extract of a substance.
    • (in classical and medieval philosophy) a fifth substance in addition to the four elements, thought to compose the heavenly bodies and to be latent in all things.

Plato and Christianity;


     Plato’s philosophy was by no means the historical ground from which Christianity sprouted. Historically speaking, Christianity is a form of early Jewish messianism—it was birthed in a 1st century AD Palestinian Jewish milieu in which there was a lot of messianic speculation. Many Jews of the period hoped that the Messiah would come and overthrow the Romans, and establish universal Israelite rule. Jesus came into that context claiming to be the Jewish Messiah, though with a very different agenda than what many Jews were expecting. Of course, to understand any of this, one needs to be familiar with the Old Testament—the creative and sovereign supremacy of the God of Israel, His promise to Israel to make them a nation of priests and a light to the world, and the historical dealings God had with Adam, Noah, and Abraham before that, and David and his royal line after that. In other words, the foundational corpus for understanding the ideological origins of Christianity is not Plato’s dialogues, but the Old Testament. Christianity certainly didn’t start off as a Greek philosophical school of thought. 

     

Nonetheless, in terms of philosophy, Christianity does share some important features with Plato. The New Testament writers believed that we remain conscious after physical death (e.g. Philippians 1:23), as Plato did. The Bible rejects atheism and materialism, as Plato did. Both believed in a supreme beneficent reality. Both believed that the physical universe was designed.

However, there are also important differences. For instance, Christianity is a form of monotheism—the belief that there is one supreme being who is the beneficent source and sovereign of all things. While Plato certainly believed in some sort of ultimate beneficent reality, so that many of his ideas are easily conformable to monotheism, he’s not really clear on the precise nature of that ultimate reality. He had two notions that he never really systematized into a single coherent worldview—his Form of the Good, and his Demiurge. The Form of the Good was the ultimate form for Plato, from which every other form derived its goodness, but it was impersonal. The Demiurge was the ‘craftsman’ who gave shape to the material universe by moulding the matter (which Plato believed to be eternal, which the Bible rejects) after the pattern of the forms. However, his Demiurge was in a real sense ‘subordinate’ to the realm of the forms. Later thinkers identified Plato’s form of the Good with God, and located the other forms in His mind as divine ideas (many early church fathers were champions of this modification of Plato), and others identified the Form of

the Good with the ultimate good god, and the Demiurge with a bad, subordinate god who made the physical universe (as the ultimate good god wouldn’t sully himself by using or creating matter)—this was Gnosticism.

Moreover, Plato believed that souls are indestructible, which the New Testament rejects. We are God’s creatures, soul and body, and God has the power to annihilate our souls. We only remain conscious after death because God wills it so, not because He can’t destroy our souls. and .' data-offset="-10" data-variation="small wide">1 Moreover, Plato’s assessment of the disembodied state is very different from that found in the New Testament. For Plato, being disembodied was the desirable final destination. In the New Testament, being disembodied is a form of nakedness (and thus shame), so the dead await to be re-embodied at the final resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:4–10). This is why the disembodied state of a dead person is called the intermediate state. And since Plato thought disembodiment was the best, he certainly would not have liked the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body! For more on this, please see Soulless humans?

       

Nonetheless, early Christians certainly utilized some of Plato’s ideas, such as his theory of the forms, to construct defences of Christianity against competing philosophies. However, Platonism was one of those philosophies that competed with Christianity in the early centuries of the church. As such, the early church fathers almost always modified Platonic ideas in light of the data of Scripture.

For instance, Plato’s theory of the forms, and especially his notion of the Form of the Good, were ‘rolled together’ into the mind of the God of Scripture. This meant God himself played the role that Plato’s Form of the Good played in his philosophy. Moreover, Plato’s forms were reconceptualized by Christians as divine ideas, which internalized them into God, meaning that they didn’t have a separate and independent existence apart from God.

        Now, the big difference between Christianity and Plato at this point was that Plato’s Form of the Good was an impersonal object, but God is personal. But this also provided Christianity with several advantages. For instance, Plato’s realm of distinct forms could all be internalized into God as His ideas, making ultimate reality much simpler. God’s personhood also means that God, unlike the Form of the Good, can act and create, and even create from nothing. This does away with the need for eternal matter, so that time, space, matter, and the forms are all ultimately dependent on God, whether as His thoughts (the forms) or His creations (space, time, and matter). It also means that Plato’s Demiurge is a superfluous concept; a poor substitute for the God who makes all things from nothing. As such, in many ways, Plato was on the right track, but the specifics of biblical theism he didn’t have access to better explain many of the things he ‘saw as through a glass darkly’.

Christianity has a long and interesting interaction with platonic ideas; sometimes fruitful, many times detrimental. But the true ideological grounds for Christianity are not to be found in Plato; they are found in the Old Testament. -creation.com

 

What is Hellenism, and how did it influence the early church?


                Hellenism is the term used to describe the influence of Greek culture on the peoples the Greek and Roman Empires conquered or interacted with. Upon the Jews' return from exile in Babylon, they endeavored to protect their national identity by following the law closely. This led to the rise of the hyper-conservative Pharisees and their added, unnecessary laws. About one hundred years after the Jews returned, Alexander the Great swept across western Asia, extending his territory from his native Greece, down into Egypt, and east to the border of India. The influence of the Greek culture continued past the first century B.C., when the Roman Empire took control of Israel. The Pharisees' rival sect, the Sadducees, welcomed the Greek influence. The Sadducees were wealthy, powerful Jewish aristocrats who openly worked with their Gentile rulers to maintain peace and ensure a measure of political clout. All Jews were influenced by Greek culture, however. The Greek language was as well known as the native Aramaic, the Jewish leadership changed from the God-ordained priesthood to the Sadducee-controlled Sanhedrin, and the law of the land more closely reflected Grecian laws than those given through Moses. Hellenism also expressed itself in minor ways, such as Saul taking the name Paul. Hellenism had a great influence during the early years of Christianity. Sometimes the influence was felt indirectly (safe roads for the missionaries) and sometimes directly (theological synergism). Here are a few ways Hellenism affected Christianity:


Gnosticism. One of the most dangerous influences of Greek thought on Christianity concerned Greek beliefs about the physical and the spiritual realms. Greek philosophy taught that the earth was created not by the Most High God, but by an underling, several levels below, who imbued the physical nature of his creation with imperfection. The physical was seen as evil. Only the spirit was good. These beliefs manifested in several ways. If the physical is evil, then Jesus cannot be fully man and fully God; He either only appears to be physical, or He cannot be the Son of God. Similarly, if the physical is evil, there is no resurrection from the dead. Instead, "salvation" is reuniting in spirit with the High God.


Apatheia. Stoicism was a school of Greek thought that taught the best way to live was to understand nature and be in tune with it, reacting to it organically, instead of fighting against it. When nature is seen as an unstoppable force, personal desires melt away and a state of apathy—apatheia—is reached. Faced with misunderstanding and the constant threat of state-sanctioned persecution, the early church found comfort in this way of thinking. Steadfastness, courage, and self-control, even to the point of martyrdom, were highly valued virtues and gave Christians strength when their faith clashed with the world. Closely related to Stoicism is the concept of providence—the natural, unstoppable will of God. As we cannot change it, the only recourse is to understand it and work within it, as Augustine's City of God asserts.


Rejection of Monotheism. The Christian-Judeo belief in one God was completely foreign to the Greeks. They were fairly accepting of other religions, however, wishing not to destroy nations, like the Assyrians did, but incorporate them. The Jewish, and later Christian, insistence on keeping their religion pure amused and sometimes angered the Greeks. It was the cause of the Maccabean Revolts, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the martyrdom of many Christians. Hellenism did not infiltrate the Christian belief of monotheism, but it did reject it, and Christians (and Jews) paid a heavy price for their faithfulness.


The Septuagint. During the time Jews were dispersed to Babylon and points farther, many lost the ability to speak and read Hebrew and thus could not read the Scriptures. With the establishment of Greek as the universal language, a solution presented itself. From the 3rd century B.C. to 132 B.C., Jewish scholars translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. The resulting text, called the Septuagint, is what most of the New Testament writers quote. It also introduced the Greek word Christ for the Hebrew Messiah.


Apologetics. Even the word apologetics comes from Greek. It means “the practice of defending a belief through a logical speech or explanation.” The actual word is found in Paul's explanation to Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26:2), his defense of the gospel to the Philippians (Philippians 1:7, 16), and Peter's admonition to always have an answer ready (1 Peter 3:15). Paul and later Christian apologists used several Greek methods to argue for the validity of Christianity:

- Cosmological argument. Although his deity bore no resemblance to the God of the Bible, Plato did discuss the existence of an "unmoved mover." If the universe had a beginning, then there must have been something outside of the universe to initiate creation. Thomas Aquinas reworked this Greek philosophy to point to God.

- Teleological argument. Physicists are discovering more and more how finely tuned the universe is. There appear to be several universal constants that are so precise that a minute change in any of them would make the existence of the universe impossible. It appears that the universe has been specially designed for the existence of human life. This observation was first reported by Socrates, who considered the usefulness of eyelids. Plato also deduced that the creator must have had an idea of natural order before creation in order to make such an ordered world. This philosophy was later picked up by Christian writers such as Marcus Minucius Felix, Augustine, and Aquinas.

- Debate. In addition to specific argumentative styles, Paul was able to use the Greek culture of philosophical argument to the advantage of Christianity. Although his missionary journeys took him to many synagogues and other Jewish meeting places, he also addressed Roman citizens in venues especially designed for debate. Acts 17:16-34 speaks of his time in the Areopagus in Athens.

Logos. John 1:1 is one of the many examples in which Christian Scriptures use Greek concepts to explain a truth: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." This "Word," referring to Jesus, is the Greek logos. Logos originally meant “an opinion, word, speech, or reason,” but the Stoics came to affiliate it with the spiritual creative force in the universe—reason within the physical. This is related to Plato's "form," which he defined as the ultimate, perfect model held in the mind or realm of the Creator on which earthly things are based. Jesus’ identification as the logos means that His teachings directly reflect the universal truths of creation.

Although Greek culture exerted influence on the spread, language, and culture of Christianity, and even spawned unbiblical cults, it did not affect the orthodox theology. The story of a single, triune God, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ remain absolutely untouched by Hellenism. Martyrs went to their graves in order to ensure the gospel message stayed true. Hellenism in the days of the early church remains an example of how to use a culture to spread the message while not allowing the culture to change the message.-gotquestions.org


The four segments of the Divided Line

This is the beginning of a series of posts on the Divided Line Analogy, which can be found at the end of Republic, Book VI (509d-511e). I maintain that the Divided Line Analogy is is the hermeneutic key to understanding the purpose of the Republic as a whole, and the proper proportions of everything else in the Republic are revealed by it. The Analogy is so compact that it will take some development to convey its structure and meaning. Perhaps the best way to begin is not with the geometrical construction of the line (as the dialogue does) but to begin where Plato ends, by labeling its four segments:

EIKASIA — translated variously as “imaging” or “imagination.” My preferred definition of eikasia is Jacob Klein’s: “the power to see an image as an image.” Eikasia is a grasp that mere appearance is defective, that the image is not the original, thatthe shadow, sign or reflection is not the thing. Eikasia is the basis of all cognitive achievement, both perceptual and intellectual. All power of thinking with signs is based on a prior power of eikasia. It is a power particularly prominent when perception is ambiguous, such as when a change in distance creates a change in size or when a stick placed in the water appears broken. Eikasia is disturbed by the instability of appearance and initiates a search for an objective resolution to its subjective dissatisfaction. Eikasia adds a question mark to the data of appearance.

PISTIS — translated variously as “trust” or “belief.”Pistis is an opinion that resolves the unstable defects of mere appearance. It is the satisfaction of the dissatisfaction opened up by eikasia. I see the stick broken in water; I trust in the basic integrity of the stick. I see a person growing smaller when she walks away from me; I trust that the size is as stable as the tangible object. Whereas appearances can be contradictory, one cannot act in opposite directions at once. Pistis resolves the ambiguity; it is the resolution that makes action stable and fixed, to keep one from chasing the tail of shifting appearances. One good example comes from a previous stint that I had as a pilot. These are a variety of sensory illusions that can be inflicted upon a pilot, particularly in the absence of a visible horizon when flying in clouds. One of these is a condition called “the leans,” in which cues from one’s inner ear can make it seem like one is flying other than at level, even when everything is level. “Trust your instruments!” — this was the constant refrain in flight school. If the gyro says you are level, you are level, even if your sense of balance screams otherwise. Pistis is a resolute trust in an opinion that has proven reliable against the ambiguity and inconstancy of perception. We would be paralyzed without this power. One glaring downside though is that pistis, by steeling itself against shifting perception, makes itself immune to counter-evidence. As a result, pistis is never self-critical of its own commitments.

DIANOIA — translated variously as “thinking” or “thought” or “thinking-things-through.” Dianoia is hypothetical, calculative thinking. Just as eikasia is “the power to see an image as an image,” so dianoia is “the power to think an opinion as an opinion.”  Dianoia can be thought of as a higher-type of eikasia applied to pistis itself (Jacob Klein’s idea). It is the recognition in opinion of the defect inherent in mere opinion. Both pistis and dianoia are based in opinion. In fact, the same opinion can be taken up in the manner of either pistis or dianoia. (This identity of opinion is perhaps the reason that the two segments on the line necessarily have the same length at the end of the geometric construction.) Whereas pistis contrasts itself favorably with the hesitancies and dissatisfactions created by eikasia, dianoia reintroduces dissatisfaction with its own defects by comparing itself to noesis. Dianoia is an intermediate between pistis and noesis. Whereas pistis lacks self-criticism and is content with the seeming-true of its settled opinion, dianoia is essentially self-critical — particularly in exposing the biases that can make the false seem true and the true seem false. It attempts to replace seeming with measurement, i.e. the application of intelligible ratios. Dianoia is alert to counter-evidence.  Both eikasia and dianoia reach outside themselves toward the completion/perfection provided by pistis and noesis, respectively. Dianoia remains wedded to hypotheses and its progress is always step-wise and temporal, always aiming toward the “unhypothetical first principle of everything.” (Rep. 511b)

NOESIS — translated variously as “insight” or “understanding” or “intellection.” Noesis is both the immanent light of anticipated wholeness within dianoia and a transcendent desideratum outside of dianoia. Noesis is the unknown ‘X’ of form/eidos toward which dianoia extends. Noesis is the place of settled knoweldge. The Divided Line is itself a dianoietic image of dianoietic extension toward noesis, reaching from within dianoia outward toward noetic wholeness. The line assumes a known ratio (the relation of image to original) and applies it to a known basis (opinion) in order to direct a search toward what is an as yet unknown noetic consummation. We are told that (pure) noesis is not at all hypothetical, but begins, moves through and ends with forms. (Rep. 511b) Whereas dianoia reaches toward the whole by considering the parts and their relations, noesis is a grasps of the whole in its undivided integrity. Noesis is similar to pistis in that it provides a resolution to the unsettled questioning of its lower power (eikasia:pistis::dianoia:noesis). But whereas pistis achieves it resolution by closing itself off to higher questions, remaining content with the seeming-true, noesis is the originating source of higher-order questions and is the contentment in the really-true. Noesis is the implicit perfected understanding that makes the imperfect questionable. Noesis is an immediate grasp of truth, without the step-wise stepping from hypothesis to hypothesis that is characteristic of dianoia. Noesis is a flash of active insight that comprehends at once the answer that had been the goal of dianoia’s questioning. Noetic understanding is the goal of the Republic, but sits outside its essentially hypothetical structure. Noesis is a truth that cannot be stated directly; it is insight that cannot be communicated without a corresponding insight in the other. No string of words will ever suffice to replace it — communication of noesis must be indirect and protreptic.