On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 1:48 PM, R A Brown <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On 26/09/2011 17:37, Patrick Dunn wrote:
>> On Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 10:34 AM, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
> [snip]
>>> Same to me.  How can eternal, unchangeable Forms
>>> account for a universe which is characterized by
>>> variation, evolution and creativity?  One would have
>>> to assume an infinity of Forms for everything that
>>> could ever be, most of which are never ever manifested
>>> in the physical world.  To me, that is nonsense.
>>>  That would be nonsense, or at least pretty unlikely, but
>> that's not the sum total of Platonism.
> Maybe - but it was clearly a central part of Plato's
> teaching.  As to the sum total, that must forever remain
> unknown. Plato made it clear that only exoteric teaching
> could be put into writing; his esoteric teaching was given
> orally to initiates only.
> It is, in fact, not possible to produce a coherent picture
> of Plato's philosophy just from his writings; much
> conjecture is needed.  The Neo=Platonists of later ages did
> of course "fill in the gaps" - but how true they were to
> Plato himself we shall never know without time travel.

Platonism does not end with Plato.  It's a complex philosophy with a large
and complex lineage of proponents.  To refute a statement about the Forms by
saying that Plato didn't argue that is like objecting to the periodic table
because Empedocles didn't describe it.

>  In fact, Platonic forms may be more or less roughly
>> equivalent to universal laws, which even you empiricists
>> admit do not change (at least, not since the
>> establishment of the universe).
> No - Plato talks, for example, about a table 'partaking' in
> the Form of Table. There does appear to be a hierarchy of
> Forms, but this is not entirely clear.

It's not clear in Plato.  Later Platonists (or, if you like, Neo-Platonists)
make it quite clear that there is.

> Also the Forms are clearly thought of as having an objective
> and perceptible existence. Part of Plato's teaching was that
> between death and reincarnation, the soul contemplated the
> perfect Forms.  We forget them during the trauma of entering
> the physical world at conception.  Learning is nothing other
> than a process of 'remembering' (anamnesis).  I recognize
> something as a table because its shape causes my soul to
> recall the Form of Table which my soul once knew.
> Jörg's point, I think, is that by the same token, I
> recognize the thing in front of me as a computer monitor
> because it caused my soul to recall the Form of
> Computer-Monitor, in which mine (and yours) partakes.
> Neither he nor I accept this theory.
>  The laws of geometry do not change, and we can imagine
>> that an alien with no contact with human culture would
>> very likely develop something quite a bit like the
>> Pythagorean theorem all on its own.  Yet the universe is
>> not, on the whole, a plane, and no triangle within the
>> physical universe is a perfect right triangle, so how can
>> it be that two beings separated by lightyears could
>> acquire the same thought?  If the Pyth. th. is an
>> approximation based on empirical evidence, then how is it
>> that two people separated in time and space could make
>> the same exactly approximation?
> Because, as far we know, the 'Laws of Physics' are the same
> throughout the cosmos.  But that is _very different_ from
> Plato's theory of Forms.  Indeed, Plato himself gives a very
> different explanation as why a slave 'remembers' Pythagoras'
> theorem    ;)

> But this is way off topic.

I'd love to engage you in dialog about this, but yes, it's off topic.  I
suppose it'll have to wait until I make it to a meet up somewhere.


Second Person, a chapbook of poetry by Patrick Dunn, is now available for
pre-order from Finishing Line