Author Topic: Plato - world's worst philosopher?  (Read 7935 times)

Offline James

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Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« on: April 15, 2007, 12:01:44 PM »
I've voiced my complete disdain for Plato a couple of times in a FE debate context, but in this thread I'm going attack another one of his wacky beliefs.

The world of perfect forms: Plato essentially claimed that there was an invisible world in which everything had a perfect version of itself. He never backed this up or provided any evidence for it, he just made up the mythology. It's no more verifiable than the Hobbit.

So why is this man venerated as the great father of philosophy?
"For your own sake, as well as for that of our beloved country, be bold and firm against error and evil of every kind." - David Wardlaw Scott, Terra Firma 1901

Offline Colonel Gaydafi

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2007, 12:06:08 PM »
Because he was old and greek, thats a necessary part of being a venerable philosopher. Or because he said some other stuff that people liked. Not that I can think what exactly..
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Offline cadmium_blimp

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2007, 12:08:37 PM »
Personally, I like Diogenes the Cynic...

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Offline Dioptimus Drime

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2007, 01:27:15 PM »
You must keep in mind that Plato's work is millenia old, and that mythology was a huge part of life in antiquity. In fact, our references to "mythology" was their religion. To come up with things like this does not make him a bad philosopher--he was just trying to explain phenomena which could not otherwise be explained, and he did it to the best of his ability, even if he was wrong (keep in mind that pretty much everyone else in his time explained phenomena with gods as well--it's not like he was the only one). Plato was actually very intellectual, and while he had mistakes, who doesn't?

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Offline Colonel Gaydafi

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2007, 01:30:40 PM »
I haven't had mistakes
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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2007, 01:32:28 PM »
Plato was an old ass Greek bitch who doesn't know how to be crunk up in the hood with his homies, and therefore he doesn't know any better so he contracts AIDs from a Japaneses hooker who's name was "chin-dong."

Offline Colonel Gaydafi

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2007, 01:34:05 PM »
Plato was an old ass Greek bitch who doesn't know how to be crunk up in the hood with his homies, and therefore he doesn't know any better so he contracts AIDs from a Japaneses hooker who's name was "chin-dong."

You're not allowed to spam in the serious sections!  >:(
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Offline James

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2007, 01:48:43 PM »
To come up with things like this does not make him a bad philosopher--he was just trying to explain phenomena which could not otherwise be explained, and he did it to the best of his ability, even if he was wrong (keep in mind that pretty much everyone else in his time explained phenomena with gods as well--it's not like he was the only one).

Next time someone says "But even the ancient Greeks knew the Earth was round!" I'm going to link them to this thread.

Anyway, not all Greek philosophers were completely off. Thales had a surprisingly accurate view of the world, and Aristotle didn't try and make up any wacky alternate universes like Plato did.
"For your own sake, as well as for that of our beloved country, be bold and firm against error and evil of every kind." - David Wardlaw Scott, Terra Firma 1901

Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2007, 02:04:42 PM »
Plato was an old ass Greek bitch who doesn't know how to be crunk up in the hood with his homies, and therefore he doesn't know any better so he contracts AIDs from a Japaneses hooker who's name was "chin-dong."

You're not allowed to spam in the serious sections!  >:(

This wasn't spam. That was true. There's deep meaning in that post >:(

Offline Dioptimus Drime

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2007, 02:11:19 PM »
To come up with things like this does not make him a bad philosopher--he was just trying to explain phenomena which could not otherwise be explained, and he did it to the best of his ability, even if he was wrong (keep in mind that pretty much everyone else in his time explained phenomena with gods as well--it's not like he was the only one).

Next time someone says "But even the ancient Greeks knew the Earth was round!" I'm going to link them to this thread.

Anyway, not all Greek philosophers were completely off. Thales had a surprisingly accurate view of the world, and Aristotle didn't try and make up any wacky alternate universes like Plato did.

Plato obviously didn't specialize in the cosmos or universal thoughts. He was a social philosopher at the core, and just because he had some bad ideas, doesn't mean all of them were bad.

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Offline skeptical scientist

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2007, 03:15:19 PM »
Next time someone says "But even the ancient Greeks knew the Earth was round!" I'm going to link them to this thread.
I'm not even sure if that is correct. They certainly believed the Earth to be round, and their belief turned out to be correct, but some of the reasons for their belief were simply silly. I think their main reason was that they believed the sphere to be the most perfect form in nature; certainly that was one of their main reasons.

For a correct belief to actually constitute knowledge, you have to know why the belief is true, and you have to be right about that.

For example, I may believe I'm never going to win the lottery. Since I will never win the lottery, this is a correct belief, but if my reasoning is that the stars are against me, cursing me with bad luck, then this is simply a silly belief of mine. On the other hand, if my reasoning is that I know I will never buy a lottery ticket because the expected return is much lower than the price, then it is indeed knowledge.

So one can never know something which is actually false, although one may think one does.
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Offline Erasmus

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2007, 04:03:09 PM »
The world of perfect forms: Plato essentially claimed that there was an invisible world in which everything had a perfect version of itself. He never backed this up or provided any evidence for it, he just made up the mythology. It's no more verifiable than the Hobbit.

So why is this man venerated as the great father of philosophy?

Philosophers talk about things that don't (verifiably) exist in "the real world" all the time.  Metaphysics is not held to the same exacting standards as what today is called science.

While I don't buy into the notion of Platonic ideals myself, I think you are oversimplifying things.  It's not that "everything is a perfect vision of itself" (whose silly sound is owed in no small part to the fact that every noun/pronoun in that sentence is either insufficiently quantified or not even defined), but rather, that there's a real difference between that dog over there and the thing that happens in your mind when you use the word "dog" in a sentence.  The real world is filled with things of the first kind; the world of ideal forms is filled with things of the second kind.  Most people don't doubt that first fact because it's apparent that things of that first kind ("objects") can be perceived by us; similarly, most people oughtn't doubt the second fact (reasons Plato) because things of the second kind ("concepts") can be perceived by us as well.

The notion that concepts are real entities in a manner similar to the way in which objects are real entities is a hard one to shake; few philosophical theories manage it, with the notable exception of Objectivism.
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Offline Astantia

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2007, 09:31:40 PM »
There are two forms of everything, the subject and the ideal.

If I say 'John is a man.'

I am using both.  You know the person who is John, that is the individual, and the ideal which is man.  You will never meet the ideal man.  It is like asking what a chair is.  There are an infinite different number of 'chairs' but in your mind, there is the notion of what a chair actually is.

I don't think Plato was advocating the belief of a world of perfect forms.


I haven't read too much of his, but 'The Republic' is presents one of my worst fears for government.  Then again, this thread is about something else.
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Offline SPrinkZ

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2007, 12:06:18 AM »
Ah, the Republic...isn't that the one where he says a bunch of racist, misogynistic bullshit? If so, let me know...it's been a while since I read it.
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Offline beast

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2007, 01:25:58 AM »
I can't say I've read any Plato, although I do own the Republic and plan on reading it soon.

I do think Dogplatter is misinterpreting what Plato said though.  From my discussions and from reading other philosophers, I would take it that what he meant was that there is essentially a real world that exists outside of our perceptions, that is, if humans all died out, the world would still exist and things would still happen.  If a tree falls in a forest, it definitely does still make a sound etc.  He's saying that while our perceptions of the world change how we view it, there is a real world that exists despite our perceptions.

If this is indeed what Plato was saying, I definitely agree.

Offline SPrinkZ

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2007, 01:29:53 AM »
I hate feeling inclined to agree with Beast so damn much. It's very fucking annoying. I am not sure he said anything about perception though...but God damn has it been a while since I read it. :(

I always thought he believed that everything has a perfect form, and that's where it gets its form from. So there is a PERFECT chair, or a perfect type of something, and that's how it exists, but we see this material form that is flawed.
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Offline Mrs. Peach

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2007, 06:20:00 AM »
I seem to remember that perfect harmonies also played a role?  The idea of ideal harmony also made its way into their astronomy. 
« Last Edit: April 16, 2007, 06:27:40 AM by Mrs. Gore »

Offline Astantia

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2007, 11:41:35 AM »
Harmony is usually related more to Aristotle, at least as far as I've seen.  As far as The Republic being racist and bigotty.  Yeah, pretty much.  BUT it seeks to make a perfect state, not advocating that he lives in one.  It's like idealised nationalism for a state that never existed.

I thought that you would like it SprinkZ.  (I don't mean that to be a slam, I just thought that his viws on philosopher kings would've been more appreciated by people like SprinkZ and Beast et al.)
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Offline SPrinkZ

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2007, 11:58:01 AM »
Ideals...I hate ideals. Ideally things would work in my favor, and that's as ideal as it gets.
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Offline Astantia

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Re: Plato - world's worst philosopher?
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2007, 12:21:19 PM »
But even you want an idealic state, don't you?  Don't you want the world to be conformed to your desire?
quot;Pleasure for man, is not a luxury, but a profound psychological need."
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