Imagine a time when Philosophers were free to think before the powers who control our free thought took over. To explore the thoughts and teachings of some of the first known free thinkers on record will stimulate your mind in a way you never thought possible. I decided to dive in to a world that maybe was too advanced for me but I needed to start somewhere as I had a thirst to try and understand how we all came to be and what would be the driving force behind all that we are and are going to be in this time.
Philosophers didn’t have the tools and resources we have now to either proove or disproove their theories of existence. Take Aristotle for example how is it possible that he knew about the stars beyond the basic human eye. Plato had long since believed that the world that we are conscious of is in fact not the real world.
Exploring the endless possibilities that are out there to try and understand the world in which we leave I set out on a course to learn more about the works of “Plato: A Complete Introcution” by Roy Jackson. I am enthralled by the words and tales told about the time. iving from $27 – 347 BC he was one of the founding fathers of philosophy and had a direct impact on the way the west would think. Taught by some of the greatest philosophies of that time it is nice to read about a man, even then, who died for what he believed in. Luckily for us the death of Socrates (one of Plato’s teachers) taught the philosophers the importance of keeping a record of the thoughts and reasonings of each other. There is a blur between the two works of Socrates and Plato simply because Plato was one of the teachers who tried to preserve the words of Plato. We are not able to say with 100% certainty that Plato was the man who introduced the world to rational thought, cognitive reasoning and analysis.
The way the Greeks observed sexual relationships is something that we grimace at today. The Greeks embraced same sex partners but more specifically they encouraged relationships to boys (ages 15 to 17-before they could grow a beard) between men (as young as 20). There was no such thing as an age of consent but they looked to the goods for guidance and the relationship was one that was mutually agreed apon. They mirrored the relationship that Zeus had with the mortal Ganymeade as most of that time did. Before any such relationship of education and exploration was to take place they needed the consent of the father of the boy to ensure that he wasn’t taken advantage of by his teacher. You see it was often taught that lovers can not be friends because the feelings between the two can never be mutually agreeable. One will always love the other more and in time that love will turn to hate as there feelings are not being reciprocated on a mutual basis. Lovers come together based on a mutual attraction or lust whereas the bestest of frienships come from those that are opposites. It can be argued that opposites attract because it is the dissimiliarties of the two that keep each other stimulated.
“Those who are cut from the original androgynous gender result in a male seeking a female; those cut from male genders result in male seeking male; and those cut from female gender now seek females for sex.” (Plato a Complete Introduction by Roy Jackson). With religious groups arguing that God created woman from the ribs of a man and therefore any other relationship that doesn’t conform to this idealogy must be a sin. At a time when man was closer to the Gods then any other time that we know of how could it be possible that they were able to come up with something so insightful as the origin of where that rib came from. If our soul mate makes us whole it does leave one to argue that the person who completes us is dependant on where the rib was taken. In this event if the rib was taken from a woman than of course her partner would be of the same sex. With the same respect if the bearer of the rib was from it’s original form then finding a life partner in which to recreate would be sought after. With this logic it would have to mean that all forms of love and partnership are created as long as it comes from a place of mutual respect and dignity. You can’t argue with some of the greatest thinkers of all time who’s sole argument was one of reasoning and truth.
Love was a way for the soul to escape the world of the senses. It was reckless, wild and free and could not be controlled. To lust with a wanton wonderment could only lead to disaster. The appetites that could not be controlled would lead to danger. Think Helen of Troy and all the chaos she caused. It was believed that platonic love was the highest form as it allowed the two to get away from pure animalistic pleasure and to ascend into a formation of beauty that allows one to feel complete.
You can not desire what you already have. Without a burning desire of something to look forward too can we truly ever be happy? Are we always determined to have more, acquire more, be more. The extent at which we can fully truly understand friendship and love is truly on a personal basis. The way we are physcologically wired will determine our role in these types of relationships. In order to have true connections you mut have something to offer the other party and vice versa. To be able to stimulate and captivate ones attention will ensure a connection made on longevity and necessity that will proove to stand the test of time.
One of Plato’s works, Republic, explored what Plato thought about the Arts. The arts bring out the worst qualities of ourselves. It does not matter in the nature of the Arts such as tragedy or comedy, two complete polar opposites. These stimulate feelings within us that if sitting alone we would feel shame in. We laugh at jokes that make fun of each other, bodily functions and dirty to jokes to mention some. This type of entertainment are very poor role models for how we wish people to treat each other. For as long as tales have been written bullies have surfaced amongst the crowds. It begs to reason that when coming from a place of lack of proper education and etiquette or insecurities make it so that we feel that it best to make another the center of attention. If only we were more concerned in the way our self conduct was portrayed in society maybe we would have an easier time of getting along. I think if given the chance to express how Plato feels about the evolution of man I think he would be shocked to learn that when given the chance to fully explore the possible meanings of life and all it embodies we have chosen a lifestyle of inactivity and indulgence in order the acquiring of knowledge and skill.
Even from the earliest tales on record there is reference to what is to happen apon death. The myth of Er, which some say reads more of a tale then of world teachings, has a direct impact in which mankind was to conduct themselves. It is not like Plato’s early works but it is a book that stimulates your thoughts and asks the question of what you believe to happen to us at death. You see Er was a warrior who died in battle and came back to life at his funeral. He said that during this time he had been sent up to a place where man was being judged for their conduct here in the physical world. There were two doors leading down into Heades and two doors leading up into the Heavens. The judgers would instruct them on what door to take and there their 1,000 year journey would begin. After this 1,000 year period they would be taken on a tour across the cosmos so they could reflect in all its grandeur. They would also be able to observe the spindles of necessity which allowed the planets to rotate. Let’s stop and imagine this for a second. Plato was telling tales of Planets that revolved and spun on a needle? Isn’t that the case that we waited years to proove. Say thousands of years after? How was Plato to know that there was the heavens and orbit, space, axis etc. This type of thinking makes me believe that maybe just maybe there is some truth to this tale of the Heavens and Heades. After all this occurs the souls are then told to choose their next life as their souls return to matter and life is created. They are free to choose a life that will determine how they will spend the next 1,000. Some will choose the life of a political tyrant and others knowing that a life of simplicity will allow them to choose eternity in the most beautiful and calming of settings. This choice is ours and will be reflected in the lives that we live on earth. We can live humbly or greedily but one thing is sure we must be prepared for that day of judgement. This way of thinking came at a time before even Christ came to earth so as such as tales go this is just one mans opinion that is open for interpretation to all those that embrace his teachings. “The soul, Plato believes, is eternal. At the death of the body the soul continues in a dismbodied existence as pure intellect.” (Plato: A complete Introcution, Roy Jackson).
Another important note that I found to be absolutely intriguing is that if were not for those of Muslim decent the teachings of Socrates and Plato would have long been forgotten. When Alexandria came under Muslim rule from AD 641 until 1798 when Napoleon defeated Egypt it was the last remaining centre of Western Philosophy. At this time it was believed they encountered the writing of Neopatonists. They set out to translate the teaching of Plato and Aristotle and tried to find a way to fit it into the Islamic worldview. “The noblest in quality and highest in rank of all human activities is philosophy. Philosophy is defined as knowledge of things as they are in reality, insofar as man’s ability determines. The philosopher’s aim in his theoretical studies is to ascertain the truth, in his practical knowledge to conduct himself in accorande with their truth.” (Plato: A complete Introcution, Roy Jackson). Of course these views would upset the religious establishments at this time but he would hold steadfast and encourage religious leaders to use philosophical tools instead of relying on faith alone. Imagine some of the greatest teachings of all times were perserved by what people deem as some the enemy to the West.
With all things considered the teachings of Plato are so far advanced that even now we fail to implement what Plato recognized as holes in the way we teach other. I still have hope that maybe one day the world will magically become a better place a place of hope. We all exist in this unique parcel of time where some of us continue to ask questions of Why where others just are content in remaining complacent in their lives. The fact that the greatest gift of all time was our ability to think freely. I want to encourage you all to explore the depths of your mind in order to release it’s true potential. Above all else our existense is for a reason as is the passage of time. Together not only do we find strength but we also find truth. As long as we continue to challenge ourselves and never give up on finding the truth I am sure philosophically thinking, we will all get to where we need to go!