Any attempt to ‘explain’ Plato will inevitably expose the cultural bifurcation caused by the split between what the modern world calls spirit and matter, that fundamental polarity that has lain deep and uneasily in human consciousness and whose duality has been fully played out during our Age of Pisces. From Classical Greece onwards, spirit and matter have been adversaries within a historical creation story, and mankind’s allotment has been to face and deal with this dual dragon, having the fiery breath of fundamentalist polarity, and has most recently chosen matter as its friend and abandoned spirit as superstitious.

Plato’s works are of crucial importance in describing a cosmology which offers humankind the chance to believe in and even interact with higher intelligences. In The Sleepwalkers, the materialist Arthur Koestler is not keen on Plato. He attacks him and Platonists in general for their non-scientific and passive view of the world, which he claims held back the ancient world even though those Greek empiricists appear to have kick-started both the scientific process and logical methodology remarkably well from the sixth to the fourth century BC.

Meanwhile, Richard Tarnas, in The Passion of the Western Mind, unlike Koestler, has read and understood his astrology and his metaphysics, is pro-Plato and places him as a philosopher who saw this possibility of building of a relationship with Higher Intelligence and that scientific experimentation is not the sole way forward if one wishes to understand the workings of the Cosmos.

To Plato, it hardly mattered if one improved one’s lot by understanding how a lever worked or what made an elephant able to stand up. What mattered was that one understood that all things ‘under the Moon’ belonged to the sublunary world representing the imperfect mortal world, a distortion or false picture of the cosmic perfection of Divine Mind. Man’s task was ultimately to be able to understand, even reflect back, that perfect Form, the creative Idea that lay behind mortal experience of the senses – the Form.

The Idea precedes the Form.

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