Caving with Plato

More Russell and Goldstein on Plato today in CoPhi.

Gold, silver, and bronze don’t just honor Olympians in Plato’s “perfect” world, they sort and order persons. His “royal lie” is about as hostile to democracy and equal opportunity as it gets, his sense of justice as a matter of discharging our assigned roles without complaint or overreach is shackling and stultifying, his confidence in the unique capacity of the guardian caste to discern and distinguish knowledge from opinion is immodest and elitist.

But, the cave makes for a nice metaphor if we don’t pretend it limns more than the shadowy recesses of the un-philosophic mind. He thinks it points to the very gates of heaven, the ideal world of Form. Escaping the cave, for Plato, is apprehending and ascending to another world. For us Aristotelian skeptics it makes more sense to correct our shadowy misapprehension of caveland by seeking not another world but greater clarity about this one.

Still, the philosopher’s compulsion to return to the cave bearing light is also the teacher’s, and the Buddhist master’s. It’s a humanely-motivated and compassionate impulse. It’s why you’d want to bring Plato to the Googleplex.

So, amidst my mild Plato-bashing I must remember to credit his good points. They include generational respect for the larger experience of older people, a call for gender equality way ahead of his time, and a probing curiosity to know the real world(s).

We’ll also continue our consideration and practice of the peripatetic life, observing with Frederic Gros how prolonged habitation outdoors inverts our normal sense of where we’re most at home, and how slowing down has a way of filling up the hour. Speed, on the other hand, kills. As Thoreau asked, how can you kill time without injuring eternity? One world at a time, one step at at time, and the pure presence of that shining moment.
==
Happy birthday Joe Klein, who

said of Donald Drumpf: “He has a feral intelligence. He reminds me of the Emperor Caligula who got his greatest pleasure from destroying his opponents and humiliating them, and he is brilliant at that.” He told Joe Scarborough: “I think that we have a citizenship deficit in this country where people don’t look at the issues. They do not study them at all and I think that […] the American people are more comfortable with reality TV than with reality.” WA

And in that dull flickering light, happy Philo T. Farnsworth day.

Image result for television cave
6 am/6:25, 69/95, 7:04

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