Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 8

Paul Orville Tronco

Thesis: The rest of Western Philosophy is but, a footnote to Plato. Alfred North Whitehead

On Ontology: Platos ontology is explained through his presentation of two different planes of existence. One is the physical to which we have an access to, and the other one is ideal a perfect world of pure forms. Everything found in the physical state, may it be natural or man-made is also consisted in the world of ideas. Everything according to him in this world is just a mere copy of a pure form from the ideal world. This means that everything we find in the physical world is an imperfect representation of what is found on the other world. While Plato was busy discussing about the two representations of the world, he did not mention about any creator god. He envisioned that the poor material copies are only patterned to by some natural force he called the Demiurge. This force of the Demiurge is not the creator rather a molding factor who took on the blueprint of the ideal. Hence, I must say that Platos ontology is a presupposed set of generic design, which lets man identify things even with the touch of imperfections and inconsistencies.

Meanwhile, Platos contemporary philosophers such as St. Anselm, Descartes, and the rest attributed a Being as the source of all things. While no greater idea can be conceived than God, then God must be true. Though there were critiques against this such as Gaunilo of Marmautier, he argued only about the syllogism presented to prove the ontology, but he did not mention anything against the conception of a God as the source of everything. I must say that the ontology of Plato was carried throughout the Western philosophical tradition and Plato is noteworthy of this fact. I must agree with Whitehead that Plato pioneered ontology and the rest were only able to give their opinions on the subject matter. While Plato used ideas per se as the basis of material outputs, the rest took on some supernatural force capable of everything as the ontological truth.

On ethics: Platos Ethics determines an end, which is justice. His ethics can only be understood in the context of a community. By way of the community one is judged according to what he did. Further reading of his ethics gives hint to the fact that ethics is not judged on a personal echelon of things. This means that a person is only considered ethically upright if he is serves justice. Platos account of justice is that if one serves justice to himself which means he is doing his best according to his capabilities, furthermore it follows that he serves upright to the aim of ethics which is justice of not only himself but the entire society.

Platos explanation of happiness is that it is not self-sufficient. This means that in order to please oneself he must equally be pleasing others with whatever he did, is doing and will be doing. Theres always a communal body which subjects a man if he is to be happy or not. A man must satisfy the common good of all, relinquish all selfish inclinations, forgo of all his likes and preferences and follow the way to the betterment of the majority, if not all. To be good means to do ones task without ever bothering the society. Ones offense to himself is an offense he commits to all, and vice versa. This implies a political order in his definition of man, that man is always a part of a macrocosm and he carries his responsibility with them throughout his entire life, anywhere, anytime. Again, the greatest virtue in Platos ethics is justice. It is only achieved with the proper interplay of the virtues of Wisdom, Temperance and Courage. It is assumed that each man has any of the three virtues prevalent in him. Meaning any of the three which is most evident in the person classifies him into his proper status in the society. And the society will only be able to achieve the greatest virtue of justice if everyone functions according to what is expected of him. A very large influence on contemporary thoughts to Plato is drawn through communism. Platos Republic which gained much attention for its idealism and hardtaught practical applications is translated by governments over the past hundred years as communism.

Platos abolition of families was primarily the starting point, for he said that common education and source of knowledge is the key for everyone to understand his personal missions which in turn is the states own goals. With the communist state, the definition of personal private property is limited and only defined by the necessities which the state allows. Every effort contributes to the well-being of the society. No one shall succumb to his own likes and preferences, and social control is the best instrument by which everything will be put to order by the government. Freedom is defined in the context of ones free-willing to be subject to state inclinations. Criticisms to this kind of government have aroused and main reasons for such include the question and definition of personal property, the desirability to succumb to the macrocosms preferences, etc. In this light of philosophical question of ethics, I must say that Plato was of great influence and such a great pioneer for state planning. I agree that his The Republic, was an excellent plan to eliminate poverty and give justice its ideal meaning. Although the propositions found in this dialogue is very enticing, further realization would conclude that criticisms to such intentions were not answered in complete details. Nonetheless, Platos Ethics gave light to the way Ethics was viewed later on and to what is the Ethics of today.

On the Philosophy of the Human Person: Platos philosophy of the human person greatly owes its explanation to the wor ld of ideas. He said that the essences of all things come from the ideal world and he claimed that the soul is the essence of the human being; therefore the soul comes from the world of ideas, too. For Plato, there is no substantial unity between the body and the soul. For even when the body dies, the human soul continues on to live. And going back to the human soul as the essence of the human being, the soul may still be called a human person because the body he believed was only an instrument upon which the form has chosen to use. His hylemorphic theory is therefore consisted of a mechanical process where the faculty of the soul uses the body as an apparatus to perform the souls preferences. The soul also contains the intellect, skills and virtues which is appropriated to the human upon the presence of a body. The soul also has 3 levels as mentioned in the Republic. Souls are levelled according to the virtue they possess and manifest most effectively such as the virtues of temperance, courage and wisdom. Plato also claimed that when a body dies, the soul lives and goes back to the world of forms as part of the living process. He did not offer us any further knowledge on the possibility of the soul going back again to live in the physical world. He only said that there is no way that the soul could not climb up the ladder of the hierarchy in Platos

Republic, but it can be demoted to the lower levels if it does not work according to its expectations. Wondering on why the human being when born does not obtain its full potential right away, he said that through the process of education which is necessary and inevitable the man and his society learns about his capacities and duties through which is manifested through the process of educating. Aristotle right away disproved Platos hylemorphism. He said that there is a substantial unity upon which the body and the soul meets to produce a human being. Arsitotle also said that when the body dies, the soul continues to live but it does not remain to be a human being anymore, this is because for him the soul is an essential part of the human being but not the totality of the human being, per se. He also agreed with Plato that the essence of the human being lies in the soul. But the soul also has different levels and functions such as the vegetative, appetitive and rational soul, this implies that the essences of things vary according because the souls they possess also vary in different levels. Of course, the higher the level of the soul is, the more capacity and the greater its capabilities are. In this case, I shall disagree that the rest of western philosophys philosophy of man is a footnote to Platos rational psychology. I believe that the soul is only a part of the entirety of a human being and not the human being itself. A matter is necessary to give the form movements and accidence.

On epistemology: The epistemology of Plato is exposed through his Allegory of the Cave. Supposing we are cavemen bound and cannot stand up, we are sitting inside a dark cave facing towards the inner part of the cave, away from the light. Supposing all we can recognize are shadows generated by light and by some other moving bodies. From the very beginning we have treated these shadows as the truth and only truth. But with the interference of education, everything becomes difficult. We, the cavemen through education are released from being bound inside the dark cave of ignorance and set out to freedom with knowledge. In the beginning, we are blinded by facing the light coming from the entrance of the cave. And it is painful to the eyes, and such is what Plato is referring to by saying that education is a painful process. After we have seen the beauty and truth of things after we have been educated, we are coming back to the cave to fetch our companions and unlock them allowing them to see the truth and be educated. But this process also generates some problems because of others unwillingness to be educated, the knowledge of the pain that education brings, takes away their enthusiasm for learning. In the end conflict between ignorance and knowledge further arises while ignorance just continues to refuse learning. By education everything necessary for the formation of a man is taught and he will come to the full potentials of his virtues and in the long run, the greatest virtue of justice is achieved.

There are no critiques that I have read against Platos allegory of the cave, aside from the question of empiricism and how knowledge is to be taught from Platos perspective. As far as I can understand, Plato relates knowledge through progressive education to test whether a where a man is best suitable and what virtue he most explicitly manifests. I shall agree that Platos epistemology was the basic foundation of the rest of epistemologies that followed after him. There are innovations presented by other philosophers but the groundwork was as prescribed to extract and maximize the potential of man though education.