Tag Archives: Plato

Plato’s Chariot

sq_plato_chariotAt the risk of being labeled a neo-platonist, another triad of Plato’s that is often discussed is that of the Allegory of the Chariot. This analogy is supposed to bring insight into the workings of the human soul and consists of two horses, one good and one bad, and the charioteer whose duty is to control them. You never hear about the chariot itself (but it is always pictured), but it is required to have a chariot, after all. The charioteer isn’t just standing on the backs of the horses, like Jean-Claude Van Damme doing his epic split, although that would be cool. (They do this at the circus, and I know I’ve seen it in old gladiator movies when the chariot loses a wheel and the charioteer has to cut away the chariot.)

Thus, unless you want to change the nature of the analogy, the chariot is required for everything to be connected together. This fourth material component completes the triad into a fourfold, and I place it at the lowest, fundamental position where I added The Real to The Beautiful, The True and The Good.

And of course everyone knows that Bad Horse is the Thoroughbred of Sin!




Plato Redux


What is, is The True
What is, is The Good
What is, is The Beautiful
What is, is The Real

— Anonymous

I recently finished reading Rebecca Goldstein’s Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won’t Go Away. In it there was much talk of The Beautiful, The True and The Good.

Besides Plato’s Divided Line, which was mentioned in The Republic and consists of four parts, the threesome of The Beautiful, The True and The Good is mentioned in various dialogues.

Being the quadraphile I am, I thought adding The Real to the threesome makes the now foursome nicely balanced. Usually one hears of just the three, without the fourth, but why is that?

Some argue loud and long that The Real has no part in this threesome of Universals, that the three are sufficient among themselves. Others disagree. Which side would you say I’d be on?

Further Reading:



Henry Rutgers Marshall / The True, The Good and the Beautiful (The Philosophical Review, Vol. 31, No. 5, Sep. 1922 pp. 449-470)

Michael Boylan / The Good, the True and the Beautiful

[*4.82, *8.72, *8.82]



The Archic Philosophers

In a word, the Sophist begins from man, the Democritean from matter, the Platonist from form, and the Aristotelian from functioning.

— From The Architectonics of Meaning, by Walter Watson

Inspired by philosopher Richard McKeon, I believe that philosophy as a whole is encompassed by four main philosophical stances, exemplified by four ancient philosophers: the Sophists (as a group), Democritus, Plato, and Aristotle. Their four systems of thought lay out principal philosophical directions, much like the compass directions east, south, north, and west lay out a complete set of primary directions.

Of course the compass directions can be subdivided into north-east, or south-south-west, and so on, and similarly each of these philosophical systems can be divided into four parts. This division into a four-by-four matrix is called the Archic Matrix and was written about at length in the separate but complementary works of Walter Watson and David Dilworth.

Watson and Dilworth described the four main philosophical directions to be perspective, reality, method, and principle: perspective for the Sophists, reality for Democritus, method for Plato, and principle for Aristotle. I have written about these philosophical perspectives previously in several ways.

Thus philosophy as a practice goes around and around and revisits the same ideas over and over. Perhaps McKeon thought his philosophical system followed in the footsteps of Aristotle, and probably Watson and Dilworth had a similar view.

Likewise, I believe that my fourfold of Structure-Function represents these four philosophical directions in the following way: Action(s) for the Sophists, Part(s) for Democritus, Structure for Plato, and Function for Aristotle.



Plato’s Divided Line

How to display Plato’s Divided Line? Instead of a continuous line going from low to high as it is usually shown, I’ve shown it as two continuous crossed lines, a fourfold or double dual. Eikasia (imagining) and Pistis (belief) together are Doxa, the phenomenal. Dianoia (understanding) and Noesis (knowledge) together are Episteme, the intelligible. Doxa should indeed be horizontal, corresponding to the phenomenal of Richard McKeon’s Aspects of Knowing, and the subjective or content of other double duals. I believe Eikasia should come before Pistis, as the substance and form of content in Hjelmslev’s Net. Considering the vertical axis, Episteme as Dianoia and Noesis should surely be there for Plato, corresponding to McKeon’s ontic. But how do Dianoia and Noesis relate?

By the measure of the Aspects of Knowing or the Archic Matrix, Dianoia could be considered the method/knowledge and Noesis the reality/knowable of Plato’s Divided Line. Thus Dianoia should be above Noesis, as method/knowledge is above reality/knowable. Yet by other measures, that of the Here and Now or Hjelmslev’s Net, Noesis should be above and Dianoia below. Noesis is the form to the substance of Dianoia. Dianoia can also be thought of as meroscopic, reducing all to number and quantity, and Noesis can be thought of as holoscopic, combining all thing into the hierarchy of forms that culminate in that ultimate form, “The Good”.

The difficulty may be because the lower position, here Noesis, serves both as the position of the real in some fourfolds, as well as the position of earth and matter in others. This is a bias that I would like to avoid, but a resolution will need to come later.



[*6.158-*6.165, *6.186]