Monday, July 07, 2008

Plato's Page

The page on Plato is just over 1000 words. The idea that I wanted to convey is that the Platonic Academy made great advances in knowledge. The idea behind the academy was that there was a hierarchy of pre-existing forms behind mathematical, ethical and governance concepts.

The idea kind of makes sense in mathematics since geometry, algebra, number theory and other mathematical structures seem to converge on the same ideas.

Their idea was that they would discover the forms through the Socratic Method. The problem, of course, is that the dialogues are all artificial constructs. For every dialogue that leads from a relative idea to a universal idea, there is a reverse dialogue that leads from the universal back to the relative. Different dialogues can lead to different universals.

Essentially, The Academy used unfettered open inquiry to develop a wonderful collection of ideas in their mind. The problem, of course, is that The Academy would have to use negative means of manipulation and coercion to propagate their ideas.

Platonic thought sets up Western Culture for cycles of tragedy. There would be a spree of open inquiry where the thinkers would develop a new set of ideas. The open enquiry ends as the avantgarde of this group imposes its set of ideas on everyone. At some point the imposed ideas get so repressive that there is a rebellion that brings on a new spat of open inquiry followed by the oppressive imposition of the new ideas of new think.

I believe that classical liberalism found a way out of this cycle. At this point in the work I want to convey the way in which unfettered open inquiry in the style of Socrates and Plato leads to totalitarian thinking as the group that engaged in the inquiry seek to impose their view on the world.

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