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HPB on Plato

Sep 17, 2004 07:12 PM
by Perry Coles

"But Plato could not accept a philosophy destitute of spiritual
aspirations; the two were at one with him. For the old Grecian sage
there was a single object of attainment: REAL KNOWLEDGE. He considered
those only to be genuine philosophers, or students of truth, who
possess the knowledge of the really-existing, in opposition to the
mere seeing; of the always-existing, in opposition to the transitory;
and of that which exists permanently, in opposition to that which
waxes, wanes, and is developed and destroyed alternately. "Beyond all
finite existences and secondary causes, all laws, ideas, and
principles, there is an INTELLIGENCE or MIND,[nous, the spirit], the
first principle of all principles, the Supreme Idea on which all other
ideas are grounded; the Monarch and Lawgiver of the universe; the
ultimate substance from which all things derive their being and
essence, the first and efficient Cause of all the order, and harmony,
and beauty, and excellency, and goodness, which pervades the universe
-- who is called, by way of preeminence and excellence, the Supreme
Good, the God, 'the God over all.' " (Cocker: "Christianity and Greek
Philosophy," xi., p. 377) He is not the truth nor the intelligence,
but "the father of it." Though this eternal essence of things may not
be perceptible by our physical senses, it may be apprehended by the
mind of those who are not wilfully obtuse. "To you," said Jesus to his
elect disciples, "it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of
God, but to them [the polloi] it is not given; . . . therefore speak I
to them in parables [or allegories]; because they seeing, see not, and
hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand." (Gospel according
to Matthew, xiii. 11, 13.).....................

"The followers of Plato generally adhered strictly to his
psychological theories. Several, however, like Xenocrates, ventured
into bolder speculations. Speusippus, the nephew and successor of the
great philosopher, was the author of the Numerical Analysis, a
treatise on the Pythagorean numbers. Some of his speculations are not
found in the written Dialogues; but as he was a listener to the
unwritten lectures of Plato, the judgment of Enfield is doubtless
correct, that he did not differ from his master. He was evidently,
though not named, the antagonist whom Aristotle criticised, when
professing to cite the argument of Plato against the doctrine of
Pythagoras, that all things were in themselves numbers, or rather,
inseparable from the idea of numbers. He especially endeavored to show
that the Platonic doctrine of ideas differed essentially from the
Pythagorean, in that it presupposed numbers and magnitudes to exist
apart from things. He also asserted that Plato taught that there could
be no real knowledge, if the object of that knowledge was not carried
beyond or above the sensible."


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