Monday, August 29, 2005

Platonic Good

I quote the following to show the exact parallels between Augustine's concept of the Good and Platonic Good. The only difference is that with Augustine, the absolute good is the Christian God.

From The Passion of the Western Mind, by Richard Tarnas:

“Plato’s mentor, Socrates, had sought to know what was common to all virtuous acts, so that he could evaluate how one should govern one’s conduct in life. He reasoned that if one wishes to choose the actions that are good, one must know what “good” is, apart from any specific circumstances. To evaluate one thing as “better” than another assumes the evidence of an absolute good with which the two relative goods can be compared. Otherwise, the word “good” would be only a word whose meaning had to stable basis in reality, and human morality would lack a serious foundation.”

- p7.

"For Plato then, the great task facing the philosopher was to emerge from the cave of ephemeral shadows and bring his darkened mind back into the archtypical light, the true source of being. When speaking of this higher reality, Plato repeatedly linked light, truth, and goodness. In the Republic, he described the Idea of the Good as being to the intellible realm what the sun is to the invisible realm: in the same way that the sun allows objects of the visible world to grow and be visible, so does the Good grant to all objects of reason their existence and their intelligibility. The philosopher's attainment of virtue consists in his discovering that luminous knowledge which brings harmony between the human soul and the cosmic order of archtypes, an order governed and illuminated by the supreme Idea of the Good."

- p42.


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