Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lost in Plato's Cave

Plato's Cave
[Socrates] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! Human beings living in an underground cave, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the cave; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
[Glaucon] I see.
[Socrates] And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
[Glaucon] You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
[Socrates] Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
[Glaucon] True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
[Socrates] And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
[Glaucon] Yes, he said.
[Socrates] And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
[Glaucon] Very true.
[Socrates] And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
[Glaucon] No question, he replied.
[Socrates] To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.
[Glaucon] That is certain.
[Socrates] And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?
[Glaucon] Far truer.
[Socrates] And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?
[Glaucon] True, he now said.
[Socrates] And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he’s forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.
[Glaucon] Not all in a moment, he said.
[Socrates] He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the
water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?
[Glaucon] Certainly.
[Socrates] Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.
[Glaucon] Certainly.
[Socrates] He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?
[Glaucon] Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.
[Socrates] And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the cave and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?
[Glaucon] Certainly, he would.
[Socrates] And if they were in the habit of conferring honors among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honors and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master,
and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?
[Glaucon] Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.
[Socrates] Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?
[Glaucon] To be sure, he said.
[Socrates] And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the cave, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.
[Glaucon] No question, he said.
[Socrates] This entire allegory, I said, you may now append, dear Glaucon, to the previous argument; the prison-house is the world of sight, the light of the fire is the sun, and you will not misapprehend me if you interpret the journey upwards to be the ascent of the soul into the intellectual world according to my poor belief, which, at your desire, I have expressed whether rightly or wrongly God knows. But, whether true or false, my opinion is that in the world of knowledge the idea of good appears last of all, and is seen only with an effort; and, when seen, is also inferred to be the universal author of all things beautiful and right, parent of light and of the lord of light in this visible world, and the immediate source of reason and truth in the intellectual; and that this is the power upon which he who would act rationally, either in public or private life must have his eye fixed.
[Glaucon] I agree, he said, as far as I am able to understand you.
[Socrates] Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their souls are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.1
The above is the text of Plato’s allegory of the cave in which Plato argues that “reality” is nothing more than pale shadows on a wall seen by enchained, immobile prisoners.


What is truly remarkable is how many people are impressed by this "argument" when it is in fact nothing of the sort; it is frankly a bad "argument" that lulls reason too sleep and replaces it with a myth, in this case a thought provoking myth, but again a myth not a reason or argument.

An argument postulates reasons why something is so and if it starts with what are considered unarguable axioms at least that should be clear about them. The cave is not an argument of this or any other kind. It is instead an allegory; now an allegory is not an argument it is an explanation of something; it can be used to explain an argument or something but it is not an argument for or against something. Plato’s allegory however performs double duty it does not just explain the "argument" for Plato’s idea of forms it is the argument for Plato’s idea of forms in The Republic. This is pure deception because the beauty and evocative nature of the story are used has tools for convincing the reader that the idea is true because no reasons are given to accept the arguement.

Nowhere in Plato’s Republic is an argument put forth for Plato’s notion of forms; instead like a good propagandist Plato argues by appealing to the love of charming stories and to the reader’s vanity by making him / her one of those who could escape from the chains of being deluded into the wider brighter world. In other words to receive wisdom that only a chosen few will or can have.

Plato’s allegory proves nothing one way or the other for an allegory is not an argument it may help to elucidate an argument or point of view but it proves zero. But the lulling appeal of Plato’s pretty myth achieves its purpose by putting reason to sleep and making the reader accept an idea for which Plato does not put forward an argument but simply asserts.

Glaucon who is conversing here with Socrates is just a rather dull witted yes man. Glaucon's incredible dullness in this portion of the dialogue is annoying and he is basically there to mouth “Yes your always right”.

Now Plato was very fond of his myths and he liberally sprinkled his dialogues with these enchanting but reason killing stories. For example in the Timaeus he gave us his story of the creation of the world and gave us Atlantis, which he further developed in the Critias. And in the Republic Plato also gave us the myth of the three metals.

This love of mythological stories was due in part to their ability to get over any objections the reader may have by appealing to the irrational in the reader; who is gulled by the charm and artistry of the story. Plato quite simply did not advance a reason to accept his "argument" probably because there is none. For all his appeals to reason Plato was in many respects a highly irrational thinker much of whose continuing appeal is based on the irrational attraction that his ideas have. Especially the way that they sanctify and glorify Philosophy and the “Philosophical” way of life.

As to the allegory itself let us start with the beginning.

Aside from the base flattery involved in "enlightened" versus "unenlightened". The Philosopher and his students / readers are of course "enlightened" and superior, obviously, to the "unenlightened". What evidence does the Philosopher i.e., Plato give to show that the "unenlightened" are chained and bound in this way? The answer is of course none. Common sense would dictate that people are not bound in such a fashion. Certainly one would wish that Plato would provide evidence or at least an argument but he does not. The allegory also makes specious errors of logic. The inmates in Plato’s cave would of course have an extremely difficult time interacting with other people if they could at all. That is not something that is perceivable in the real world with real people. So on that basis the allegory begins to fall flat.

Neither are people enchained in any visible manner. Ah but the allegory means to say that we "enlightened" ones are really free and you who are not graced with our blessed sacred wisdom, comprehensible to only a favored few are enslaved, chained and unblessed.

And of course what these "unenlightened", enchained unfortunates perceive is nothing more than the perverse play of shadows on a wall. Again on what evidence does Plato base this allegory? On what basis does he argue that what the "unenlightened" perceive is mere shadows on a wall? The answer dear reader is obvious; no evidence at all.

This is of course the ultimate Platonic joke. That reality is nothing more than shadows on a wall. What Plato misses entirely is that if the prisoners were enchained the way he has them enchained, virtually unable to move, they would not perceive the shadows as shadows on a wall but has changing forms of light and dark. They would not and could not perceive them as shadows of something else but as purely changing patterns of light and dark. And in point of fact that is what they are simply changing patterns of light and dark.

Thus the prisoners in Plato’s cave would correctly perceive what they were seeing as simple changing patterns of light and dark with no more “meaning” than the changing shape of a burning flame.

Of course Plato does not bother to answer such questions has just how do the prisoner’s learn to speak to each other, to have any sort of interaction. How they are fed also gets by him. For frankly given how they are restrained they would have to be spoon fed. Here again the analogy with the real world breaks down for it is painfully obvious people are not constrained to this extent and in that manner.

Of course it can be said that I am being petty and fussing about non-essential details, but that is precisely the point. Plato expects the allegory to explain and justify his idea of forms and in fact it substitutes for an argument hence it is required to examine if the allegory holds up. And it does not.

Now what does Plato think is the shadows that the "unenlightened" see? Well guess what. It’s the world we live in! That’s right all that surrounds us is nothing more that shadows cast on a wall!

Now think of it. That gorgeous sunset you saw the other day is nothing but a shadow. That beautiful view that thrilled you is a pale shadow. In fact everything that you perceived or felt is in fact nothing but a pale shadow.

Lets face it such an opinion, if truly believed, is nothing if not lunatic. It goes right in with the idea that reality is all in your head nonsense. And on what does Plato base this idea why nothing rational it does however once again separate the "enlightened" from the "unenlightened".

The "enlightened" “know” that behind the defective object perceived is a real or ideal form that is more real than the object we perceive and that only the "enlightened" can discuss, talk about or comprehend this real object. Of course this real object cannot be perceived or even began to be perceived except through the tools of “reason” that only the "enlightened" have. How ego massaging.

You see only the blessed “know” that all this is just a pale shadow hiding the really important stuff and the "unenlightened" are deluded enough to think its “real”. No doubt when a sword pierces the "enlightened" heart he will know it is nothing but a pale shadow and ignore it.

Now let us be clear about what is going on here. Plato seems to be unaware that we do not directly perceive anything. I for example do not perceive directly the desk across the room what I perceive is the light reflecting off the desk through my sense of sight. So that if it was a shadow I would be perceiving it only in an indirect fashion through my senses.

Since perception is through the senses, it is only a limited perception of the object that I get. I cannot fully perceive / experience the object at all. I only perceive limited aspects of the object, i.e., colour, dimensions, etc. I could also touch, or taste the object, perhaps hear it. But my perception of the object remains limited. Now if Plato had meant this when he talked about his idea of forms it would be nothing but a statement of the obvious truth that our senses are limited and that information that give us about the outside world is limited.

But Plato does not mean that because if he did it would mean that our senses did tell us something meaningful about the outside world and that the problem is not that our senses are deceptive but that they are limited. Plato wishes to banish the senses from our understanding of reality and to replace it with reason. Our senses tell us little about reality in Plato’s world, for only reason without the distortions of the senses can tell us anything real.
It also serves the very useful purpose of removing the senses from testing whether or not reason is in fact telling us truth.

Now Plato’s idea of forms has many problems. It is for example a pretty story for which Plato gives zero evidence. It has a certain beguiling poetic appeal which is its main selling point because frankly there is no evidence for it and its appeal is irrational. Finally the idea for example that the chair I sit in is nothing more than a pale shadow of an ideal real chair that existed prior to and eternal to the chair I’m actually sitting in, faces the problem that what existed in chronological time before the chair was the various trees and plants from which the chair was created. The prior object was not the chair but something else. This world of ideal forms may exist in the sense that objects that are created by man are conceived in thought first but the idea that they exist and are more real than what I end up sitting in is nothing more than a conceit. One Greek philosopher by the name of Antiphon response to the idea of ideal forms was to state that if you buried a bed what you would get is not another bed but a tree. The idea being that the material that made up the bed was prior to the idea of the bed.2

Now what does all this mean? Well guess what Plato has it backwards it is not the real world that is a pale shadow of the real world that exists in a realm of rarified ideal types but the other way around.

The thought of a chair is nothing but the metaphysical shadow of the real chair that has to be created by a craftsman. I mentioned earlier that our senses can only incompletely perceive the objects around us; if that is case than our thoughts based upon our perceptions are if anything even more incomplete. Thus the thought of a chair is but a very incomplete rendition of even the chair that we perceive. Let alone the actual object in all its ramifications which our senses cannot completely perceive.

It goes like this; what we use to describe the world we perceive is language and language consits of arbitrary sound labels that we put upon a collection of sensations associated with particular objects. For example the word “chair” is a label we put on the sensations associated with the object we call “chair”. Words like “anger” are again labels that we put upon particular sensations that we have associated with anger. Now if has I said earlier our sensations are incomplete and do not fully capture the fullness of the object experienced / perceived than how can language, which because it has to be comprehensible to many, who may have slightly different perceptions of particular phenomena to say nothing of the fact that language is even more removed from the object described, capture the fullness of the object described. It cannot! It is if anything a true pale shadow of the reality described.

Here is where Plato gets in a mess. Plato elevates language to the high art of describing “reality”. Plato arbitrarily decided that reason and language could capture the reality of things. Thus the philosophers who can argue and have the tools of argument could find the reality of things through the ability to define things.

This is fascinating thus we get endless Platonic dialogues trying to define this or that and in the end the philosopher ends up not being able to define something. In fact an absolute and perfect definition of anything is quite beyond the prevue of philosophy. It is beyond the prevue of philosophy because of the limitations of language. Language is, to repeat, arbitrary labels on states of conscious perceptions of various objects, (objects here is not just physical objects), in the world and has such are incomplete even has labels of those conscious perceptions let alone the actual objects.

Thus we get such absurdities has Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus which as a discussion of shoemaking and the dialogue Phaedrus which discusses horse trading. To get to Plato and shoe making first In the dialogue Theaetetus Plato says:
[Socrates] In the first place, there would be an absurdity in assuming that he who asked the question would understand from our answer the nature of "clay," merely because we added "of the image-makers," or of any other workers. How can a man understand the name of anything, when he does not know the nature of it?
[Theaetetus] He cannot.
[Socrates] Then he who does not know what science or knowledge is, has no knowledge of the art or science of making shoes?
[Theaetetus] None.
[Socrates] Nor of any other science?
[Theaetetus] No.3
The entire dialogue is about trying to define what knowledge is and of course it ends up being unable to satisfactorily define it. But the reference to shoe making is fascinating because what Plato is saying is that in order to have knowledge of shoe making one must know what knowledge is. That is be able to define it. It is of interest that although Plato is unable to define what knowledge is a shoemaker although unable to define knowledge or what a shoe is can still make shoes!

This is of course Plato being an intellectual snob. For although a shoemaker can make a shoe he has no real knowledge of shoemaking! Of course the philosopher blessed with superior knowledge and wisdom really knows what shoemaking is about and as real knowledge unlike the shoemaker who really doesn’t know what he is doing!

He still, however, can make a shoe and meanwhile the philosopher can’t define something / anything to his satisfaction including a shoe!. What of course all this means is that the shoemaker simply can’t define and analyze things the way a philosopher can, but then he may not be able to use language the way a philosopher can but he can make a shoe.

The next dialogue, Phaedrus we have the following said about horses and horse trading:
[Socrates] Let us put the matter thus:-Suppose that I persuaded you to buy a horse and go to the wars. Neither of us knew what a horse was like, but I knew that you believed a horse to be of tame animals the one which has the longest ears.
[Phaedrus] That would be ridiculous.
[Socrates] There is something more ridiculous coming:-Suppose, further, that in sober earnest I, having persuaded you of this, went and composed a speech in honour of an ass, whom I entitled a horse beginning: "A noble animal and a most useful possession, especially in war, and you may get on his back and fight, and he will carry
baggage or anything."
[Phaedrus] How ridiculous!
[Socrates] Ridiculous! Yes; but is not even a ridiculous friend better than a cunning enemy?
[Phaedrus] Certainly.
[Socrates] And when the orator instead of putting an ass in the place of a horse puts good for evil being himself as ignorant of their true nature as the city on which he imposes is ignorant; and having studied the notions of the multitude, falsely persuades them not about "the shadow of an ass," which he confounds with a horse, but about good which he confounds with evil-what will be the harvest which rhetoric will be likely to gather after the sowing of that seed?
[Phaedrus] The reverse of good.4
What can one say except that people may have trouble defining what a horse is but people generally know what a horse is. The difficulty in defining something does not mean that something is misunderstood or not known. Plato seems to not understand that rather elementary notion. Obviously everyday in classical Athens horses were bought and sold so that the failure to be able to fully, absolutely define a horse did not mean any failure to understand what a horse was. Certainly enough understanding existed so that horses could be traded. Meanwhile the philosophers still could not define a horse completely and because of the limitations of language never will.

Basically what Plato is saying is that the definition of something is the essence or reality of that something in so far as it captures the ideal real form of the object of the philosopher’s attention. In other words the definition of something is the reality of something. This is stratospheric nonsense. Given what was said before about the nature of language; a definition is but a pale reflection of the sense perception of an object to say nothing of the actuality of the object in question.

The real purpose is of course the end when Plato has Socrates state that the multitude could be persuaded by oratory that an ass is a horse. Of course Plato then states that the multitude not endowed with superior wisdom like the blessed philosopher, could be persuaded that evil is good by a cunning orator. Thus once again the unenlightened are not gifted with real knowledge.

Plato has the philosopher gifted with true knowledge of the world and therefore free of his chains and able to see the light of the real world and if he returns to the prison house of the world of shadows is liable to be killed. A rather obvious reference to the death of Socrates by the hands of an Athenian jury. How people who are chained and cannot move are going to kill anyone is not explained.

Thus Plato’s elite philosophers see reality are blinded by it and find it hard to get used to the reality of real things. So that they suffer. Meanwhile those not similarly blessed remain trapped and enchained. Only a blessed few can possibly see this real world and the multitude remains trapped and blissfully unaware of reality.

Of course the philosopher having attained true knowledge of reality distains the concerns of the multitude especially that horrible thing called politics has polluting and a distraction from reality. Reality is contemplating the world of ideal forms and seeking perfect definitions.

In the end Plato’s allegory of the cave sanctifies the pretensions of an philosophical elite that can then congratulate its self about its superiority over the multitude. It can’t make shoes, chairs or trade horses but only this elite really knows about horses, chairs or shoes! The knowledge of the multitude, based on delusions and being mere shadows on a wall, can be dismissed as unimportant and thus the self satisfactions and pretensions of Plato’s elite are boosted.

Plato frankly hated Athenian democracy. He could not abide it. Not simply because an Athenian jury judicially murdered his teacher Socrates but because in his eyes how dare the multitude, shoemakers, carpenters, who in his eyes don’t really know what they are doing and sully themselves with interaction with the world, presume to take part in politics!

Thus his ridicule of the multitude. How dare they presume to engage in politics, determining the good for the city when they can not even define a shoe or a chair or really know what a horse is! Only an elite of philosophers can know for real about anything and their knowledge is not from contact with sordid reality which is after all nothing but shadows on a wall but through reason, i.e., the use of language, which must be unsullied by reference to the distorted, misleading world of the senses. Which are a chain and obstacle to true knowledge.

Thus only through endless dialectical dispute is true knowledge attained. Mere reality must give way to the “reasonable” but thoroughly un-testable insights of the philosophical elite.
In one particular dialogue Menexenus, Plato satirizes the Funeral oration of Pericles has given by Thucydides in his The Peloponnesian War. It is frankly a vicious parody. Part of the joke is given by Socrates quoting a supposed Funeral oration given by Aspasia, Pericles’ mistress. For example:
[Socrates] (Quoting Aspasia) And if a person desired to bring a deserved accusation against our city, he would find only one charge which he could justly urge—that she was too compassionate and too favorable to the weaker side.5
Plato’s hatred of democratic Athens informs so much of his philosophy. The philosopher distained politics because the great unwashed were involved; who had no knowledge of real virtue and wisdom and of course could never have such knowledge. But the truly Platonically "enlightened" philosopher could inwardly navel gaze and contemplate his superiority over the "unenlightened" unwashed who knew nothing worth while about anything.

Since allegories prove nothing one could with ease make an allegory in reverse.

The Platonically "enlightened" Philosopher living in the bright sunlight with his fellow beings. Experiencing, and enjoying all that the world has to offer, seeks out a cave.

He goes down the cave and finds it hard to adjust to the lack of light and wind, but eventually does. He finds a fire burning with a wall in front of it with men carrying shapes along the road next to the wall. Our Philosopher goes over the road and wall.

Our Philosopher then sits against the wall and sees the shadows made against the other side, across from the wall on a great rock face. The shadows are made by the shadows of the shapes of men walking in front of the fire. Our Philosopher takes the chains he finds and enchains himself and then ensures that his head is bound so he cannot move his head left or right and he gazes at the shadows flickering on the wall.

For our philosopher finds the big bright world too hard to deal with and seeks the gloom and quiet of the cave where his senses will not be bombarded with so much stimulations and he can contemplate shadows on a wall, which he mistakes for reality.

The pain and agony of the lack of stimulation, the abject boredom of looking at shadows, take time for him to get used too but eventually the Philosopher enjoys the monotonous boredom, the emptiness of his head of thought. Our Philosopher is convinced that this shadow world is real. So from time to time he goes into the world of sunshine and light and tries to convince others that the world they see around them is not real.

He takes back a few to his cave where he chains them up and they watch shadows on a wall. While he drones on about how this is reality and about how only they, the elect, perceive this reality. Gradually their reasoning falls asleep from boredom and their minds empty and they too enjoy the bliss of unthinking ecstasy has they contemplate how to bring more people into the cave in order to enchain and confine them and stultify their minds.

Those who live in the world of sunshine and experience regard them as insane.

While Plato was very skeptical about the power of poetry and in fact argued against them in both The Republic and Laws, Plato used poetry over and over again in his dialogues as a substitute for argumentation.

Plato was possessed by visions, beguiling visions, but visions none the less. Over and over again Plato abandons any form of reason for a poetic myth. His myths are presented as visions from on high to be accepted without argument as revelations of truth. To quote:
Neither the wrath of Achilles nor the suffering of Odysseus enslaves reason as Plato does when he compels us, from generation to generation to return to the cave of his imagination to view the world that even now surrounded us in splendor and bright beauty, as if it were mere shadows on a wall of rock, and as if even the greatest paintings and sculptures were shadows of shadows. The power of this vision transcends all arguments, and like a fiery speaker, is not deterred by objections. The image outlasts all reasons,…6
Plato’s cave is in the end a vision whose appeal is to the irrational and uncritical in men and it casts a spell that waves objections aside by the very appeal of the vision much like a magician. Its appeal is however to the human need for fantasy and illusion.

Its time to leave Plato’s cave.

A last look at Plato's cave
1. The History Guide, Here from the Benjamin Jowett translation of The Republic, Vintage, New York, 1991, pp. 253-261 from the beginning of book 7.

2. See Stone, I.F., The Trial of Socrates, Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1988, p. 71.

3. The Classical Library, Here, Benjamin Jowett Translation of Theaetetus.

4. The Classical Library, Here, Benjamin Jowett Translation of Phaedrus.

5. University of Adelaide Library, Here, Benjamin Jowett Translation of Menexenus. There is a controversy about the authenticity of this dialogue but since Aristotle refers to it is probably indeed by Plato.

6. Kaufmann, Walter, From Shakespeare to Existentialism, Doubleday & Co. Inc., New York, 1960, p. 268.

Sources for this Essay and other reading

Popper, Karl R., The Open Society and Its Enemies, v. 1, The Spell of Plato, ch. 3, Plato’s Theory of Forms or Ideas, Fifth Edition, Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ, 1966, pp. 18-34.

Kaufman, Walter, From Shakespeare to Existentialism, ch. 14, Philosophy versus Poetry, Doubleday & Co. Inc., New York, 1960, pp. 263-282.

Stone, I.F., The Trial of Socrates, ch. 6, A Wild Goose Chase: The Socratic Search for Absolute Definitions, Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1988, pp. 68-89.

Pierre Cloutier

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