First remarks on Plato’s philosophy

Without doubt, appropriately summarized the theory of knowledge Plato is not simple, as, indeed, an analysis is not immediate Aristotelian epistemology, because, for the first, second is for the philosopher is not separable from the episteme ‘ontology, the doctrine of Being.

It could not have happened otherwise, because Being is an issue themed plenty of pre-Socratic philosophy, in an effort to transcend conventional opinions that you can do about what really exists. But from the first sophists and Socrates then – then, in general, since the age Socratic – Being the problem has gone side by side, and gradually replacing the ethical question: philosophy does not deal any more (only) what exists, what is essentially the nature of Nature, but questions about human behavior, of conduct that are more appropriate than his social life. Epistemology, ontology and ethics, therefore, become the pillars, together with the logic within which runs the post-Socratic philosophy, whose greatest exponents – worthy of being the focal points of the entire philosophy – Plato and his disciple are Aristotle.

Normally, when dealing with these two authors, one tends to see them in opposing viewpoint, and if this perception is undoubtedly true, the interests which it is invoked, however, should conduct at least to assume a lot more continuity than rupture between them. There is no doubt that Plato attributed less significance to the physical world, experiential and natural that we belong, while Aristotle tried to return to the center of the reflection in our world, yet in many respects, and despite appearances, their goals were basically the same, both having asked yourself what is the position of man in society where you live. The epistemology of science is not just knowledge, the two philosophers, but it is logical premise for the study of ethics, in the belief that the individual is good, also, a good citizen and that the cooperation of these corresponds to the common welfare , intimately, the construction of theirown health and, conversely, the individual interest is a necessary precondition for the realization of the common interest, without any interruption: the city and single polarity are not antithetical, but complementary and even overlapping. Happiness (eudaimonia) of the citizen (the individual) lies in the realization of statehood.

We have already stated how there should be surprised when you find the strong interest in Plato’s epistemology. Being in the Eleatic tradition, which is a reflection of the different matrices Plato, has been increasingly perfected in its definition and, therefore, in his rational understanding of their meaning. Being can be identified with God, at least, strictly speaking, and transcending, in part, in the words of the same Eleatics: Parmenides asserted that the potential exists, must necessarily exist. The potential results, immediately, in actuality: it noted that, with this statement, has already drawn a brief picture that comes to Aristotle, who laid the foundation of the continuous passage of all that is in potency to act, convinced that the real – the object of knowledge and the end of Being – is what is apt, and not fully realized potential. For this reason, the potential must necessarily unfold in a document, changing shape and reach its full maturity.

But an interesting fact, as regards even Parmenides, is that he has opened the season of proving the existence of God, which the Christian theology will devote a long time: the ontological proof of St. Anselm of Aosta can be interpreted in reference the Eleatic teacher. If that is potentially not the case, then it would be (potentially and actually) nothing. But from nothing, nothing comes and nothing, nothing goes: there is no directionality between the Non-Being and Being. In this case, however, would be one which arises out of nowhere, the idea absurd and without foundation. In addition, you can not preach of nothing nothing: no trial, no proposition can be expressed in the Nothing, because – to paraphrase Aristotle – can neither say what is essential, or what is accidental. This awareness was already clearly present in the Parmenides, as recalled acutely Copleston (I: 49). However, the Eleatic philosopher observed that the man is able to assert the possibility / potential of the existing, ie it is able to assert the proposition “being is potentially”, because he is born and dies – so it is not fully, even for Parmenides is not absolute – that there potentially exists.

Even for Plato, like Parmenides, this world can not be the real world, because everything here is flowing, passing from the non-existence, and again be slipping into nonbeing. The temporal and spatial flow inexorably indicates thecharacter of this apparent world, which must, therefore, not match the authentic reality, but must degrade to the gold standard of popular opinion, doxa, of appearance: we use this formulation only synthetic to strengthen the Platonic conception of a reality not worthy of consideration, because – for example – in our world is now possible to perceive the trunk in water as broken and now, suddenly, intact, when the riverbed is dry! Again, by the way, found a few items that will own the Christian thought: the world around us is only temporary, fleeting, transient, while the real goal to aim for is elsewhere, in another dimension and for us, subjectively, in the future.

Logic and Ontology within this dimension, coincide. Science can not deal, for Plato, of change, what is lacking the necessary fixity and immobility, at any time is always different to itself. The episteme, knowledge, by contrast, should apply to the maximum possible stability, on the contrary, the absolute stability, because, where there is even a shadow of a potential change, it would fall within the orbit of non-being, including we can say only opinions. Yet, in what takes place a change of perspective is not secondary. While Parmenides, as well as for Gorgias of Lentini , “nothing is, if something was, it would be if it were knowable and unknowable, it is not predicable,” in Plato is given the opportunity to say something in the world of appearance: no you can utter an absolute truth with certainty and stability, but are not bound, as men, to silence. If things are appearances, nonetheless are, if nothing else – in fact – are appearances. Our world is not absolute nothingness, of which nothing can be known and preach! Our world is shared by a few degrees of Being: it is something, while being lowest. Already Heraclitus said the compenetrabilità between Being and Non-Being, but perhaps this achievement was later upheld by the Eleatics. Properly speaking, there is nothing in Plato: it is not-Being, Nothing can be defined as the negation of Being, and is within the existing hierarchy, level 0 (zero) of Being itself, while the real world embodies the infinite value and maximum.

The mathematization of reality that is contained in this passage does not go unmentioned. Even with the Pythagoreanscould speak of a philosophy-metaphysics and mathematics at this school is that to understand Plato, we must now refer, together all’Eleatismo. According to Pythagoras, the numbers are even and the odd fact that the nature – the essence of constitutional – of the world. Both equal, both odd, also come from the unit, so that the multiplicity of the Universe is nothing but the multiplication of Unity, because the One is what is odd and even intimately, being the origin of each issue . To assert, then, that all is number, it means spatially represent reality, as organized points: the line (the two), the plan (the three), the solid (the four), so that speaks for the Pythagorean philosophy, the Tetrarchy, authentic archetypal principle of the universe, the four having intimate relations with the divine.

Unlike Pythagoras, however, Plato does not attribuiscee a mathematical foundation and ontological in this world, but to the Being, imagined along a vertical line that goes from the Fullness maximum cancellation, the degree zero, which, as at least as a mathematical trend , exists in relation to the Whole, with the true Being: if there were no fullness, there would not deficiency, because the latter is that of something that is absent: thus, the absence becomes presence, no Be you (minimum), the presence is to be maximum. The analysis becomes even more interesting, at this point, because we have been able to reflect, although indirectly, about the role played by the definition of things, or, rather, by the definition of ‘object of knowledge and, therefore, Science: Being here has been calibrated, is affected by characteristics dell’Eleatismo, who had streamlined features, making it explicit, external:Being is what it is and can not be is, after all, a definition, although tautological, identity and, therefore, imbued with more than logical ontology.Science, however, can not ignore the logic and definition. What, however, has changed in thirty years of philosophical speculation has enabled Plato to joining new shores: the problem of appropriate definition was typical of Socrates, not with the intention of identifying the logical foundation of the argument, but to understand what actually embody the concepts that we use every day. The definition is no longer in the service of mere logic, becoming instrumental in moral conduct, ethics. The problem of Socrates was, in other words, to give a universal definition of these concepts, which, otherwise, they were so over-used empirical and least discretionary, even when not affected by the sophists, who imparted his knowledge as a result of compensation. Give the universal definition of something means to indicate the essence, what that thing really is: it is necessary to make binding, not changing the meaning of terms, with particular regard to the terms associated with virtue and vice, ie with moral issues.

Being that no longer has to establish stability: the latter, you know enough, at least momentarily, in order to proceed correctly. But concepts such asfriendship, justice, beauty is not yet equipped with the necessary stabilization, leading to their consistent use and the same for everyone. Note that the use to which Socrates will not only linguistic and, perhaps, is not language at all: the universal, when properly defined, implies the correctness of acting, has immediate repercussions ethical conduct. If one knows what lies in the friendship, I’ll be a loyal friend and never betrayed him, because, according to Socrates, to know is to act. The definition, in other words, it translates into action, so that anyone, knowing the right, will act against justice! In Socrates makes the connection between knowledge and virtue, who acts badly is because they do not know, but when it comes to knowledge, its action will necessarily be ethical.

This concept is the basis of Plato’s Theory of Ideas, which can be defined – as interpretive argument in this – the realization of the universal. Each definition is clear and incontrovertible universal and, as we have said, if you can provide one for each appropriate ethical concept, we have the same ethics should be a universal nature. The moment you think this series really defined concept, its clarity necessarily imply its existence, just like, in Parmenides, Being it the potential into existence to eternity. The universal, so that they can be defined, must be stable and, therefore, there really be real objects: you can not give knowledge, for that matter, what does not exist – and, again, we find a theme that returns in a perfectly circulate. In this world of ours is not on science, there is episteme, of course, but the world of ideas, the primary world in all respects, knowledge is possible: Reason can only move towards the stable. If Being a Parmenides was always identical to itself, immovable and immutable, every idea with Plato, being the true form of things, it becomes what it is identical to itself, immovable, immutable, pure, infinite: the characteristics of ‘Eleatic Being are found, almost identical in ideas, which represent the formal model on which the empirical reality that we experienced has gone by modeling.

In this reflection opens the wide problem of Platonic philosophy, but soon we should note that the question of universals is important from now and until the Middle Ages, for mediation of the Aristotelian philosophy. In any case, Plato does not deny it really matter to our world, as well as theory would suggest ideas apparently: the model exists and is shaped in relation to the latter that we must aim for, so it will conform as closely as possible to the instances of ‘ ideality of the model itself. Looking at the model implies a look back to it and then change its attitude towards our world by the way, I think they come in what is the essence of Christianity speculative.


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