You wrote, ” should there, in the instance, however, be a One, an Absolute, we would not, nor can anyway ever, from our intrinsically divergent perspectives, be able to, in any meaningful way, know It”
Our opinions are not “intrinsically”, but “accidentally” divergent. If they are intrinsic, they would not be affected by changes in our circumstances. But often times our opinions are affected by external circumstances. Therefore, they are not “intrinsic”. For instance, your story about the color of the wall reminds me of a similar story of how the English chemist John Dalton discovered color blindness. He himself was color blind but never realized it until his mother (or aunt) disagreed with him on the color. Without such a defect, there would be no disagreement.
Truth cannot be a sum of opinions or even an unanimous decision of all people. Why? Because the sum of contrary opinions amount to nothing, and the sum of contradictory opinions only lead to confusion, since people are never unanimous about anything.
To use a classic Platonic analogy: If you have a serious disease and want to be healed. Will you call everyone in from the street, hold a public assembly and have them vote for a treatment of your disease? Of course not. You’ll seek out the specialist in the field and have him examine you and give you the proper diagnosis and treatment. Because he possesses the knowledge, whereas the others don’t. Even a grain of truth is worth more than a boatload of false opinions.
Having said the above, however, I agree that the truth may be multifaceted, like the color of light shining through a prism. Because our senses have their limitations, we can only see part of the spectrum, similarly, our rational faculty may also be limited, and we only see the Truth in part. This is why dialogues such as we’re having are meaningful. That we may see the rainbow, while not losing sight of our own color.
“So please your majesty
That we may wake the king: he hath slept long.”
King Lear Act IV Scene VII
As I said at the very beginning, you are “sensitive”, and I was right, because you rightly perceived that I was becoming impatient. My apologies. Patience is not my forte. 🙂 However, you have not “touched a nerve”, as this is by no means an emotional discussion from my pov. I have no intention to “vehemently reject” your position (after all it is yours not mine), but only to share my perspective, including what I perceive to be irrational arguments.
Here are the two statements you made;
” I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible”,
“I do not profess to “know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust[s]‘”.
Is that not a self-contradiction?
You say that you’re making an interpretation. But, what is knowledge but an interpretation? A translation from the concrete and the objective to the abstract and subjective, just as we translate a work of literature from one language to another? By interpreting Nietzsche to yourself, you gain a rational understanding of him, and by interpreting him to others, you share that understanding.
I think an important distinction should be made between a) the belief in the existence of Absolute Truth” and b) the belief of one’s monopoly of the Absolute Truth. You seem to be passionately rejecting b), which is quite understandable. But Platonism is not b) but a). It does not claim monopoly of the Absolute Truth, but instead, Plato and Socrates both exhort their listeners to pursue Beauty, Goodness and Truth, to pursue virtue, to be the lover of wisdom, which is the literal meaning of “philosophy”,
According to Einstein, this pursuit of the Absolute Truth is also the guiding principle of the scientists. Without this passionate pursuit of the truth, we would never discover that the earth is not flat. Now think about this: Can you still insist that it is uncertain whether or not the earth is flat, that it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the shape of the earth?
You argue that uncertainty makes people less likely to kill. But most people who kill are not driven by belief in the Absolute, but by their lust for pleasure, wealth and power. Some may kill in the name of Truth as a disguise for their ulterior motives, but it would be unfair and irrational to blame the Truth for their acts.
I’ll refrain from discussing the Catholic Church, partly because to me this discussion is about Platonism, and Christianity is not Platonism (though they share many similar aspects), and partly because I’m not associated with the Catholic Church and frankly don’t know enough about it to say anything useful
You wrote, ” the possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, understanding of the substance of our world, something you ardently affirm, but I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible
If it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the world, of which Nietzsche is a part, then it is impossible to know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust”. Do you realize that your statements are contradicting your philosophy?
I find your accusation of Plato irrational and groundless. How is belief in an objective Absolute Truth murderous? On the contrary, I think it is life-saving. For instance, it is wiser to accept that the Law of Gravity exists, then to disregard it and suffer the consequences of a bad fall. If anything, I think a philosophy that only acknowledges the existence of oneself and disregards all others is more likely to cause it’s adherents to commit murder, because other human beings are no more than phantoms in his sight.
As for Fido being an artist, just give him a pint of paint, and you’ll find that he does indeed paint pictures. Some people call it “modern art”. What’s the difference between a plagiarist and an artist who imitates Providence but does not acknowledge the source of his inspiration?
(P.S. I have not responded to your comments about Christianity, though I disagree with them, because I think it is beyond the scope of this discussion)
Beauty, Goodness and Truth are a triad, but not all triads are Christian in origin or character. Belief in the unity of beauty and goodness is characteristic of the ancient Greeks, and Plato further demonstrate the unity of Beauty and Truth in Symposium. As for the “glorious” deities, their priests have no place or recognition whatsoever in Plato’s Republic, which is ruled by Reason.
Plotinus has changed my way of looking at art, which is commonly defined as a human activity. Since Intellect permeates the world, art is not limited to human, but even plants and flowers, though they are not sentient beings, are capable of artistic activity. To use an analogy, a choreographer consciously designs the dance moves, but the dancers perform the moves.without being conscious of the whole design.
Come to think of it, all human artists either imitate directly or draw inspiration from Providence. How can they deny the artistry of Providence, and then turn around call their plagiarism “art”?
A mirror, in so far as it is a mirror, enables us to look at the world from a different angle, and presents to us features that have been hidden before, but it is still a reflection of the multifaceted reality. Since you found transcendence, have you experienced anything for which there is no counterpart in this world?
That is a unique experience. Einstein came to the same conclusion when he developed the Theory of Special Relativity, though perhaps he didn’t have quite the same experience. You both beheld the same underlying reality, although you expressed it in different ways.
Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One, is immanent. It is distinct but not distant from us, and every soul can ascend to it by reason and intellect. There are different types and levels of beauty, in the human body, in nature, in the universe, in science and art, literature and music. One doesn’t have to be a “Superman” to see beauty or create beauty. Every life is an artistic activity. Every individual is an artist.
The concept of Absolute by no means deny or diminish the freedom of individual existence. On the contrary, the more diverse and free the individual existence, the better and fuller it manifest Absolute Beauty. For instance, Beethoven’s Ninth, unless each member of the choir and orchestra plays his/her best part, the beauty of the symphony cannot be manifested nor experienced by the audience.
Unlike Kant who believes that the noumenal is unknowable, Platonists reason that the noumenal and the phenomenal correspond with one another (sort of like the way an image in the mirror corresponds to the original), since they are both derived from one and the same intelligible reality. Because of this “correspondence”, it is possible to do science. We have been able to predict with accuracy the movement of the stars and other events occurring in nature; Because of this “correspondence” between our consciousness and the outside world, it is possible for us to interact with other people and the world
I like your comment, “I won’t try to impose my perspective, I can only tell what I see”, which reminded me of a sentimental story that I had heard a long time ago. The story was in first-person narrative and went like this:
I [an art merchant] traveled to a far country on a business trip, and found lodging in a small family inn owned by an blind old man and his daughter. During an after-dinner conversation, I learned that the old man was actually a connoisseur of art with many famous paintings in his collection. Naturally I was delighted when he offered to show me the paintings. But his daughter was visibly distressed and signaled me to follow her.as she went to fetch the paintings. She explained to me that they had fallen on hard times and she had no choice but to sell the paintings to survive, in spite of the old man’s firm instructions that the paintings must not be sold, because they were his life. He had become blind due to sickness so he didn’t know that the paintings were all gone. When the daughter brought the blank frames to the old man, he proudly presented them to me, naming them one by one, while caressing them gently with his withered hands. Staring at the blank frames, I listened in silence and shock. Suddenly, the old man stopped, he sensed that something was missing, something didn’t feel quite right. What happened to his beloved painting? The daughter looked to me in desperation for help. I hesitated but finally mustered enough courage to speak. I picked up where the old man had left off, and, recalling from memory, I described the details of the paintings and complimented the old man’s taste. He beamed with pride and delight.
There are many ways to interpret the story, one of which is this: if the “paintings” were all in the old man’s mind, and “I” had not seen them nor anybody else, it would be impossible to carry out the conversation, and there would be no sharing, nor inspiration, nor delight.
This is the armchair Platonist’s answer to the demented Nietzsche: we are able to share our thoughts and feelings with one another, because we both behold the same underlying intelligible reality, both within ourselves and without. If we are only conscious of ourselves and nothing else, conversation would be impossible and pointless. Even Nietzsche, before he fell to dementia, couldn’t resist the desire for conversation since he published his works– as you say say rightly, philosophy is conversation. Otherwise, he could have kept all to himself, in his private notebook
Forgive me for saying so, but it seems to me that your philosophy is quite incongruent with your personality, which is passionate, sensitive and kind. As far as I can tell, you’re much more gregarious than the demented Nietzsche.
If, as you wrote at the beginning, you can’t even be sure that I exist, why are you taking the trouble to have this conversation? If everything is in a flux, what is there to “grasp” and “tackle”? If all is a figment of the imaginations of beings in their separate cages, what’s the point of conversation? You’re still trapped in your own cage anyway.
Kant may be wrong about some things, but I do agree with him about the difference between noumenon and phenomenon. Our thoughts revolve around the phenomenal, and consequently, they are in flux, “peripheral” as you put it, or evolving, as some believe. But, this doesn’t negate the noumenon, the eternal and unchanging. To use an analogy in biology, when you observe the growth of a seed or an embryo, it seems to be changing constantly, and if you didn’t know what it was, you would think that everything was in flux, but all the while it remains the same substance: a human being