Friday, July 31, 2015

Greek philosopher Plato's view of God

"When speaking of divine perfection, we signify that God is just and true and loving, the author of order, not disorder, of good, not evil. We signify that he is justice, that he is truth, that he is love, that he is order, that he is the very progress of.." Plato

“In order for man to succeed in life, God provided him with two means, education and physical activity. Not separately, one for the soul and the other for the body, but for the two together. With these means, man can attain perfection.” Plato

Interesting! He lived in 5th century B.C.

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  1. The first quotation is from the introduction of this version of Phaedo, which, I believe, was written by the translator, not by Plato. I can't find a primary source for the second one in a Platonic dialogue, merely attributed by others without any citations (and in a book on exercise). But I didn't search for long, so it's possible it's there.

    However I suspect Plato didn't write either because Plato spoke of the gods, but not of God. It's generally seen as an anachronism when translators suggest that's what he meant. The Hebrew idea of a singular God wasn't popular in his area, and Christianity didn't exist yet.

    But they're still interesting ideas to consider!

  2. Marie Snyder, thank you for your comment. You raise some very interesting points. Plato lived during 500 BC and it is possible that some quotes may have been changed.

    In case of Plato and Socrates I found both God and the gods in writings attributed to them. It is confusing. It is possible that Plato and Socrates became aware of the singular God according to Hebrew idea even if it was not popular with the general public at that time.

  3. To clarify, I don't think that the quote was changed because of the time period. We have his writings in their original form. I do think the internet wildly misattributes quotations - especially sites like Goodreads. It's frustrating to me how often quotations are tossed in with a name of a philosopher who would never have said such a thing. That first quote is definitely not by Plato. If you read the Introduction I linked, and the context of the quotation, it's very clear that someone else wrote it at a later time.

    Since the Torah wasn't translated into Greek until at least the 3rd century - long after Plato and Socrates were dead - I believe the scholars who suggest that Plato didn't ascribe to any version of a singular God, but that he did think it wise to convince the masses of the existence of the gods who could punish them if they misbehave.

  4. Marie Snyder, Thanks for the comment. As Karl Marx said that religion is the opium for the poor.