Plato goes on being important. . .and is oft misunderstood.

Plato goes on being important. . .and is oft misunderstood. July 13, 2020


Smart people have helped us, there are very few new questions.

Long ago very clever people asked the same questions that trouble us today. A civilization was roiled by war and a pandemic and thoughtful folk found a way forward. They created beauty, longed for the good, and wanted truth more than comfortable lies. This is very good news if you are a Christian. At the start of our language, at the beginning of our words, there were people who sought and found.

Plato was one.

Some thinkers are so foundational that even if nobody speaking English read them anymore, they would still be there. These thinkers shaped the language by defining the issues to those who created our language. They matter even when we no longer recollect why they count or can correctly explain what they believe .

Plato matters. He asked many important philosophical questions first and gave answers that still appeal to some modern philosophers. Ideas develop over time and so there are many types of Platonism. Some are even Christian! Plato is most important for many reasons, but one is as as an origin for the dialectic: the wondering about everything that leads to knowing self and the cosmos.

I get many comments, emails, and criticisms. Some are so good I let the writers have an entire post to state their case. Some are not so good, so I try to respond charitably in a way that does not embarrass the commentator, but reminds me of what needs to be taught just now.

Here is a recent comment by a real person, unedited, on Platonism*:

Just out of curiosity, what is with evangelical Christians obsession with Plato? I get the guy is an important philosopher, thought it more likely Socrates is the important one here since he pretty much solidify Plato thoughts, but I feel like you’re trying to cram too different puzzle pieces together her to form an bizarre picture.

Christians, evangelical and otherwise, are interested in Plato, because educated people all over the world are interested in Plato. When I was speaking at the University in Ulaanbaataar, the philosophers, not one a Christian, knew and were interested in Plato. Since he was a father of philosophy, one who helped Kepler, Copernicus, and others to develop the scientific revolution nobody using contact lenses or a mobile can ignore him.

Oddly, he is so important that some Christians, who should know better, blame him for everything they do not like in the modern church. Only Saint Constantine is his equal in this regard. At one Christian university, the left-of-reason English department attacked Plato, but when you asked about their attacks you discovered they had not read the man . . . only secondary sources. Plato is so vital that not-Plato is influential!

Socrates is important, but Socrates wrote no books. As Saint John is to Jesus, so Plato is to Socrates. John gave us the Word in a gospel, three epistles, and an apocalypse.** Plato took the sage, martyred for philosophy, and gave him eternal literary life. Plato captured a man who loved God so much that he would not settle for politically correct gods or fashionable atheism. Socrates was a man who could be martyred in most times!

Plato solidified Socrates’ way of being into a series of dialogues that cannot be summarized on Wikipedia, made into Cliffsnotes. They are an invitation to dialogue. What is not to love? Recollect: first Socrates, then Plato. If no Plato, no memory of the Socrates we think we know.

The puzzle is very hard, there are so many pieces, some we do not even have. Plato used his world class intellect to give us a clue, God revealed all in the person of Jesus Christ. All is well.


*Ignore the typos in this commentator, after all I make them in every post! Check the assertions and arguments. If there is blame, take on our school system.

**Or his school. . .

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