Term Paper

Submitted By midapea1
Words: 2090
Pages: 9

Plato & AUgustine
Term Paper

Philosophy. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary philosophy is “the study of ideas about knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life.” Over the course of the semester, we have read two books which involve two quite infamous beings and their works. We have studied the Eight Essential Dialogues by Plato and the Confessions by Augustine. Through their works, we are able to begin understanding, at a deeper level, their ideals on knowledge, truth, the nature and meaning of life. In many ways we see likenesses in the two, whereas on certain subject matter, they differ. The three most important similarities and differences between Plato and Augustine are their views on reality beyond material, their ideals about the problem of evil, and their beliefs on what they say is necessary for our souls to be good and happy. In Plato’s Phaedo, reality versus material comes about when Plato discusses the visible and intelligible worlds. To describe this he uses two things: the simile of the Sun and the divided line. In short, the simile of the Sun is Plato’s description of the Sun creating a reflection of a tree on a pond. The simile of the sun is where he first differentiates between reality and image. The reflection depends on the tree because the tree is unchanging [reality], whereas the reflection can easily be changed [image] when the Sun goes down or a pebble falls in causing a ripple in the pond, resulting in a distorted image. Plato also describes a second image. This image is known as the divided line where he further differentiates between reality versus image with the visible world and the intelligible world. Within each section there are two subsections. In the visible world, the lowest on the spectrum is images or reflections. We saw reflections with the simile of the Sun therefore that is something that is understood as being almost unreliable. While still in the visible world we are able to sense objects: through sight and touch perception. On the intelligible level the first subsection is mathematical objects, things that are definite, like a circle. We know what a circle is, we draw circles, we have formulas for circles, and we create circles as perfectly as we know how, however that is still not the truest form of the circle. Finally, at the top of the spectrum is the form, or the form of the good. The form of the good is the unchanging, the definite, the actual circle. The circle that we know exists but cannot necessarily be drawn to perfection. In the divided line, we have another half of the spectrum, one that is parallel to that of the other. The visible world can be seen as belief or opinion with the intelligible world being knowledge. The images and reflections at the bottom of the spectrum in the visible world can be compared to imagination or dreaming. The sensing of objects in the visible world can be compared to sense perception or belief that the object is there. Mathematical objects in the intelligible world can be seen as thinking. Finally, understanding is the form of the good for the intelligible world. Through his description and breaking down of the “worlds” we then begin to understand Plato’s ideas of there being reality beyond material. In ancient Greece, ugliness was associated with bad or evil. Whereas, Plato is trying to get across the point that material things, such as riches, good looks, “images” are not reality. Instead, understanding is the ultimate reality. Augustine agrees with Plato’s philosophy of there being true realities beyond material. With Augustine’s belief in Christ, he believes that many people are too focused on material rather than that greater than themselves [the reality]. Augustine comes to understand that there are realities beyond material when he sees the beggar. The beggar was happy while Augustine was miserable. In that he realized that “the heart remains restless until it rests in [God].” Reverting back to Plato’s simile of…