The Platonic Code
July 1, 2010

Plato along with Socrates and Aristotle were f...
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The Guardian ran an article a couple days ago by philosopher Julian Baggini, featuring some new insights into the way Plato structured his writings. The findings are pretty stunning. It turns out the number of lines in his most famous works are all multiples of twelve, the significance being:

Believing that this pattern corresponds to the 12-note musical scale widely used by Pythagoreans, Kennedy divided the texts into equal 12ths and found that “significant concepts and narrative turns” within the dialogues are generally located at their junctures. Positive concepts are lodged at the harmonious third, fourth, sixth, eight and ninth “notes”, which were considered to be most harmonious with the 12th; while negative concepts are found at the more dissonant fifth, seventh, 10th and 11th.

Things get even more interesting at the bottom of the article:

The secrecy was because Plato’s was “a dangerous idea”, claims Kennedy. “It meant that mathematical law governed the universe and not Zeus.” Given that Plato’s teacher, Socrates, had been executed for sowing impiety among the youth he would have been “very cautious abut revealing doctrines that threaten the gods of Olympus”.

Well sure, that’s one theory. Or maybe Plato made up this code to conceal the location of The Lost Treasure of Socrates.

 Wait, Socrates lived in poverty? Oh. Never mind. 

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The Perennial Philosophy
June 24, 2010

I think Julian Baggini is spot on here. Too often the project of combining aspects of religions, philosophies and mystical traditions from all cultures devolves into logical incoherence. To the extent that there are extremely broad commonalities, it’s because these traditions satisfy common human needs. That is the “deeper truth” we can find from comparing how they overlap.

That’s why I find phenomenology a much more compelling way to look at how they overlap. Why are we so hungry for philosophies of transcendence? What hole does that plug?

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