Sep 14, 2010

The Socrates and Plato Predicament

Warning: There is an excellent chance you won't understand what this blog post is about, and if you don't, that is because my brain functions oddly, not because you are unintelligent.

Except you, Craig.

: )

This is Socrates. Socrates is the first known philosopher. He is a man of great intelligence. In my mind, until today, he was a real person, a human being who lived, breathed, thought, and had his philosophy written down by Plato. I accepted this, I didn't question it...

Last year I had a really bad philosophy professor. I would have appreciated coming out of that class with a mid understanding of what different philophers talk about. I mean, I paid him money to teach me, and he didn't. Capitalism in education failed me... anyways...

Then, today, Dr Faber, my English Prof who is teaching the course on Literary Theory, started the course off with two writings of Plato. For those of you who are not familiar with Plato, The Republic (one of his most well known works) is a dialogue between Socrates (who was Plato's teacher) and other various characters. The Republic is an analogy of the perfect society. Plato talks about many things. Mostly just ideals about how his republic would be (or Socrates' republic... it gets muddled there in my head.) including how he feels about poets. To Plato, the poet is an imitator, and the imitator takes the focus away from the Forms, because we humans are dumb and don't understand anything. And, because we humans are not philosopher-kings, we don't have a direct link to the Forms and therefore can't be trusted with imitations because we're just that stupid.

And then it occurred to me.

What if Socrates is nothing more than a figment of Plato's imagination? He was a character in an analogical writing to make a point.. After all, we don't have any writings that are specifically Socrates'. All his ideas are portrayed through other philosophers of later times, and his cause of death was this: he was killed because he was accused of corrupting the youth with ideas...

However, the most evidence we have on his life is through Plato...

And another thing, Socrates (through Plato) was super against written word (not to mention mass production) because we mere humans would focus on the word, therefore being corrupted and led far away from the Forms. Which would likely mean that, and I'm just throwing this out there, that Socrates would not have appreciated Plato publishing his thoughts and ideas about Life, the Universe, and Everything.

And if that's not enough, Rene Magritte taunts you with his 'pipe'.

Yay literary theory!

And for your viewing enjoyment...

Word of the Day: encomium (means speech or writing that praises someone formally)

Quote of the Day: "I'm reading Plato! That used to be, 'I'm eating Playdo!' " -Aaron Vedder

1 comment:

sugarnuggets said...

Maybe Socrates was illiterate?