Plato and the error of Western philosophy; nothing is riding on it except...
The Future, Our Future
There is an old saw among contemporary professors: “All of Western philosophy is footnotes on Plato.”
Plato is the first serious philosopher in the West. He pushed his intellectual position to the limit. Through the main character in his astounding dialogues, Socrates, he tried to prove that ideas must have an absolutist foundation. Which is to say, argument and debate must be resolved, and in one way only. By perceiving an Ideal Form of the concept under debate.
Socrates’ antagonists were willing to settle for far less, so Socrates showed them the error of their ways.
Take the idea called JUSTICE. What is it? Plato went the distance. He claimed that justice must exist somewhere, somehow, in another realm, in a perfected form. Otherwise, humans would not be able to see shadows and half-formed versions of it.
That’s a titanic leap.
With justice and all such vital ideas, Plato’s solution was the same. There is another realm where these ideas exist in their perfect majesty.
And those few men who are capable must access that realm AND rule civilization.
When you analyze Plato’s position, you see he is trying to solve the problem of cause and effect. For him, it is impossible to consider that people are struggling to define and clarify JUSTICE on their own and fight for it against the forces of evil. That’s not enough. That can’t be true. Because where are humans getting their clues about justice in the first place? What causes humans to be able to envision justice?
The true first causes must be coming from somewhere else. And that place must be a final place. A first cause, beyond which there is nowhere to go. Where the chain of cause and effect stops.
Aristotle would later call it THE UMOVED MOVER.
I completely disagree.