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To: Alamo-Girl; marron; spirited irish; Texas Songwriter; Cvengr; Kevmo; hosepipe; metmom
Yikes dearest sister! So sorry to hear about the bug sting! I hope and pray you are fully recovered!!!

I guess my “explanations/definitions” were pretty down in the weeds (jeepers, maybe that’s where that maleficent bug came from!).... The problem with understanding Plato (et al.) nowadays is that we no longer think in the same manner as did the great Greeks. Or the Patriarchs and the Prophets for that matter. For both, God was Present, not only “in” the world of Reason, but was thought to be its very Source and Order.

Yet for most of us post-Enlightenment mortals, God — Creator, Sustainer, Ground of Being (not to mention His eschatological plan for human souls, which bears on Justice and Mercy, according to divine Logos) — has been effectively extirpated, not only from human souls, but tellingly from both the natural world and the world of Reason.

Shucked of its ordering Source, Reason has become “instrumental.” It has become a “measuring device.” Supposedly this makes us humans [by blind “evolutionary” processes?] “better” thinkers than the ancient Greek and Hebrew scholars of the world as it was two or three millennia ago? …

It seems to me in “real-world terms,” it doesn't. All this type of “reason” does is to reduce the world we observe to the categories of our own preconceptions. This is operating out of a “closed” position, not an “open” one.

Henri Bergson has a lovely way of putting this problem of noetic “openness” vs. noetic “closure” with his terminology of l’ame ouvert and l’ame close: the “open” vs. the “closed” soul —“soul” being psyche, as we have been saying for a while on this public thread.

Also on this thread, we have tried to point to the problem of where Logos fits into the All [to pan], via the classical Greek thinkers. The Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel did nothing less. A soul “closed” to God evidently has opted for other subjectively-rated promising regions of self-activity — self-exploration, self-determination, self-fulfillment, eventually total self-gratification, — as Prime Directive; which inevitably entails moral relativism as the approved course for the attainment of the self-preferred social model in which one can live with impunity, no matter the impact on civil society.

A soul closed to/bereft of God has no place else to go, but to be thrown back onto its own puny resources. Seems to me this is the atheist position.

But at least atheists are somewhat engaged in the problem, if only by refusing to say that God “exists.” [Which when you come to think about it, is the most solid “ontological proof of the existence of God” there is. For in order for God to be “denied,” He must first be posited as “existing”; otherwise, why would He be in need of denial?]

What to say to/about the Agnostics, I dunno. Maybe: They are just sheer, plain intellectually (i.e., noetically) LAZY??? That the whole earth could burn down around them before their very eyes, and they would still be saying (if still existing), like Sgt. Schultz: “I know nothing!!!!!!????????”

Anyhoot, I digress. I wanted to say a word or two about an extraordinarily gripping book I have been reading lately — thanks to you, dearest sister of Christ, on the occasion of my recent birthday. I refer to “The Great One” Mark R. Levin’s Ameritopia.

I have long been an avid fan of Mark Levin. I resonate strongly to his libertarian philosophy, which I imagine is founded in John Locke. I am still an avid fan of Mark Levin.

However, I would just like to mention that both Levin and I purport to have read Plato’s Republic [Politeia]. And yet he gives me the strange impression that we had not read the same book.

I will try to be as brief as possible. Let me open by citing Levin’s last paragraph of his Chapter Two, “Plato’s Republic and the Perfect Society”:

One profound lesson Plato teaches, albeit not by design, is that Plato himself, considered by many the greatest of all philosophers, could not construct the perfect society. He sought to avoid the disintegration of society and the onset of tyranny, but his solution was a totalitarian City destructive of human nature. Regrettably, Plato provided a philosophical and intellectual brew for a utopian society that would influence tyrannies for centuries to come. [Ameritopia , 2012, p. 36]

What to say to such allegations?

(1) The business of the Republic — Plato’s reason for writing — had absolutely zero to do with the construction of a “perfect society.”

(2) The entire point of the Republic was the elucidation of human nature; it is not at all a meditation re: desirable political blueprints, let alone utopian ones. Putting it crudely, for Plato, a “perfect society” is impossible in principle, because there are no “perfect human beings” to constitute it.

(3) Plato does not start with politics in any way shape or form. He tells us plainly enough that any political state is only as good as the generally prevailing human political (read: moral) capital composing it. If the people are mainly “disordered,” there is no political state that can make them “orderly, or “better.” Rather the political state will express as the sum of the “badness” of its citizens.

Plato himself is telling us here there is no “utopian” answer for this problem. If the citizenry is “bad,” the State will be “bad” also.

And of course Levin mentions that Plato dislikes “democracy” intensely. So do I. It is the short road to the Tyranny of the Majority: Once a citizenry can vote itself benefits, democratic institutions cannot protect it from self-immolating outcomes.

(4) But Plato never says that the “cure” for this tendency of people to vote themselves benefits at others’ expense can be remedied by any imposition-by-force of a Philosopher/King, the “perfect” lawgiver. Indeed, I gather he thinks that sort of thing is preposterous in principle: For only God is manifestly Perfect. Plus there’s another very mundane human reason: Who would want to accept the rule of a philosopher?

(5) Not only that, but Levin himself says that Plato is acute enough to notice that the self-described “Philosopher King” might just as well be the “great champion” of “the people” who Plato himself warns us about. Clearly there is no way that Plato conceives of this “philosopher king/great champion,” holding office via “democratic processes,” as helpful to the advance of mankind in liberty and justice…. He’s just “in it for himself,” his friends, and his Party….

(6) If modern-day people want to abuse Plato, evidently they can get away with it with impunity. Ayn Rand has demonstrated this well enough by now. Of course, she was a self-declared atheist, and thus of “closed-soul” orientation in the quest for the truths of human existence, personal and social. Certainly she had some sort of visceral animus towards Plato for whatever reason.…

But I digress. Time to stop griping and get back to business.

The real challenge for the so-called “modern” (post-modern?) thinker would be to try to understand these classical + theophanic thinkers — Greek and Jewish — as they understood themselves and what they thought they were doing, in their common day and age of ~600–300 B.C.

But we almost never do that nowadays. Instead we hypostasize the world to our measurement/description/categories of it; and then the resulting hypostasization is used to eclipse the very reality that we (and especially these ancients) were attempting to describe in the first place.

[To hypostasize: To ascribe material existence to {a concept}; to attribute real identity to {a concept}; to think of {a concept, abstraction, etc.} as having real, objective existence]

I wanted to get into the ways in which the Greek terms are correlated with the Hebrew terms in the two respective “cascades” — both of which strike me as dealing with exactly the same subject matter. On both sides, this “opens” the perennial, bleeding question of man’s existential place in the Great Hierarchy of Being — God–Man–World (i.e., Nature)–Society.

Both the great Greeks and the great founders of Israel were oriented to this basic view of Reality. The interesting thing is both were doing this sort of thing contemporaneously, at culturally disconnected geographic locations….Their respective insights, though "common" in the most important matters, are reflected in language that reflects cultural differences obtaining between the two contemporaneous peoples.

Voegelin describes the essential difference as pneumatic vs. noetic consciousness.

Voegelin ascribes "pneumatic consciousness" to the Patriarchs and the Prophets of Israel. "Pneumatic" probably sounds like a really bad word. But I strongly doubt it was Voegelin's intention to denote a "bad word." He was simply pointing to a universal human response to non-phenomenal reality that is fundamentally rooted in Spirit.

The classical philosophers of Greece, on the other hand, were not exemplars of folks who much dally with Spirit, the Third Person. Their interest ever lay in disclosing the nature of the Second Person, known to them as Logos.

And they figured that, since nous is common to both God and Man, they just might get somewhere with that line of divine–human inquiry.

In closing, please allow me to restate the divine paradigm I attempted to describe in my last:

Of the Holy Trinity, we might say the Father recalls Plato’s God Beyond; the Son, the Logos manifesting divine as the creative and ordering principle of the Creation God the Father made in the Beginning; and the Holy Spirit is the means by which human nous has the ability to resonate with divine reality in the site and sensorium of the psyche — the soul….

RE: The Holy Spirit: I left out something tremendously important in the above passage — the Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Holy Trinity, is the revelation of “God with us.”

Translated to Plato, the human psyche — “soul” — is the “site and sensorium” of divine–human encounter under the “luminosity” of Nous. And it seems that Plato engages with this Third Person, in the “in-between reality” of God and man, the metaxy which psyche preeminently accommodates. And this Person — Nous — mediated the Logos to Plato’s mind; and Plato responded in Kind — that is to say, in Truth, insofar as he was able....

And all such "transactions" occurred in Psyche…. I.e., in the immortal Soul in response to the divine "pull" of Spirit….

Must stop for now, dearest sister in Christ! Thank you ever so much for your probing questions and insights! May God ever bless you and all your dear ones!

14 posted on 06/03/2013 5:29:12 PM PDT by betty boop (We are led to believe a lie when we see with, and not through the eye. — William Blake)
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To: betty boop
Thank you so very much for your splendid essay-post, dearest sister in Christ! And I was able to read it tonight with both eyes wide open, the bug sting has healed. Yeehaw!

Your point about ancient concepts being lost when we try to read them biased by modern worldviews is extremely well made and very important. To understand any ancient manuscript, we must first do our best to "put ourselves in their shoes."

But concerning Plato and especially Scriptures, that would be impossible for the closed souls which probably explains why Ayn Rand stumbled all over Plato. I trust that was not the problem with Ameritopia - perhaps something was "lost in translation" by relying on a third party commentary?

At any rate, it was verrry helpful to read your response putting Plato's words onto the background where he deems mankind to be disordered, imperfect and therefore incapable of raising up either a philosopher king or effective democracy.

Voegelin ascribes "pneumatic consciousness" to the Patriarchs and the Prophets of Israel. "Pneumatic" probably sounds like a really bad word. But I strongly doubt it was Voegelin's intention to denote a "bad word." He was simply pointing to a universal human response to non-phenomenal reality that is fundamentally rooted in Spirit.

The classical philosophers of Greece, on the other hand, were not exemplars of folks who much dally with Spirit, the Third Person. Their interest ever lay in disclosing the nature of the Second Person, known to them as Logos.

The above was particularly helpful to me in visualizing where they agreed and disagreed in their concept of God, creation and men.

Since I first read Justin Martyr's testimony about his researching the Greek schools of philosophy and how strongly he was drawn to Plato before hearing the Gospel and becoming Christian - I knew there had to be some underlying truth in Plato's philosophy that was resonating with him, preparing him to become Christian.

Likewise, I believe the philosophy was preparing the open souls of the civilized world for the Gospel which was yet to come. And that I believe was no coincidence, but part of God's plan.

15 posted on 06/04/2013 9:45:17 PM PDT by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop
What to say to/about the Agnostics . . . There are kinds of agnostics. I'm partial to the kind that see themselves and others blind enough not to be the measure of all. Of that kind there are more than a few that would be more than happy to say, "I don't know" when asked about what they don't know. Laziness might show right at that moment, almost like a virtue, or a "fine art", as Albert J. Nock put it. Laziness is not the only response. It is also the natural point for the religious heart to become a saint, ora et labora.

18 posted on 06/05/2013 5:39:49 PM PDT by cornelis
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