virus: Lycos search: Plato (LONG MAIL)

Giles Bowkett (
Sun, 10 Sep 95 10:02:36 0600

I wasn't able to get through to your page, and in fact I'm only guessing
on your e-mail, address - BUT...

I was doing a Lycos search for info on Plato. Lycos spat back your URL
and an excerpt from your page:

> On Plato... (c.428-347 BC) Father of idealism and, ipso facto,
> archvillain. Plato believed the objects of the real world as being
> merely shadows of eternal Forms or Ideas. Only these changeless,
> eternal Forms can be the object of true knowledge; the perception of
> their shadows (the real world) is merely opinion. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I know where you're coming from, and I've probably read a lot of what
you've read on this particular topic, but what you're saying is
completely unjustifiable. Use your imagination a little bit. Read
Plato in the original Greek and you'll find he spends most of his time
mocking people. He only resorts to blatantly idiotic stories like the
ones you're referring to when confronted with morons. Unfortunately, he
is often confronted with morons. But the stories (imho) are metaphor.

He may have said it, but you shouldn't be so gullible as to assume he
believes it. If 90% of what a man says is said sarcastically, it's not
unlikely that 90% of it is also intended to be recognized as obvious

For instance, the Meno. Classic dialogue in which Socrates leads Meno
to the discovery that all knowledge is inherent in mankind. Bullshit.
In showing Socrates doing this, Plato leads us to the realization of
what a fool Meno is for not looking into things with any depth.
Socrates spends most of the dialogue trying to get Meno to move forward
from his preconceptions and approach things with an open mind. This is
the basis of philosophy. He fails to do this. (Meno's name,
incidentally, means "I remain" or "I do not change" in Ancient Greek.)
When he fails to get Meno to think, he grabs Meno's slave boy - someone
not fit to share his table, someone considered less a man than Meno is,
and a child at that - and engages the slave boy's mind in geometry, at
the time an esoteric and difficult subject, in about 15 seconds flat.

this is a deliberate joke upon Meno, and it is not a frivolous joke.
it's a very serious one. in doing this Plato shows us an example of the
most essential characteristic in being human - the willingness to think
- and the sad mess of a man who holds power and prestige, as Meno did,
but does not have that essential characteristic.

the only time Socrates was able to get the slightest intellectual
response from Meno was in the absurd story of a celestial chariot race
that dominates (if I remember right) the middle-end of the dialogue.

basically, your criticisms are perfectly valid - you're just applying
them to the wrong people. they have little to do with Socrates, and
they have nothing to do with Plato at all. they have everything to do
with the generations of incompetent philosophers who were as clueless as
Meno and took Plato at his word.

the man was the ultimate deliberate sarcastic bastard. only a fool
would take a deliberate sarcastic bastard at his word. I trust you're
not a fool - you probably just haven't heard this viewpoint before. you
probably didn't recognize the sarcasm. I know I didn't. I took the
same attitude towards Plato that you're taking now until somebody
explained the point of Plato's jokes.

anyway, I just had to say it. I apologize because I don't mean to imply
you're a fool, and I'm sure you probably aren't. just reconsider some
of Plato's stuff in light of what I'm saying.


Giles Bowkett