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Guthrie: 5. The Rank of Ideas.

quinta-feira 24 de março de 2022


5. The Rank of Ideas.—Having explained the nature of Ideas it remains for us to describe the rank and dignity they occupy. All together they form an "intelligible world," an "intelligible place" an "intelligible organism," "Kosmos   noêtos," a "Topos   noêtos," a "Zôon noêton." The cause of a thing is not the condition of its existence, but its purpose; and the ultimate purpose of purposes is the ruler of all other Ideas, "basileus  ," the king of heaven, "Dophia, Zeus  ." Plato   combined here the Mind of Anaxágoras  , and the Good "Agathon  ," of the Megareans and Sokrates   into an "Epekeina   tês Ousias," a "somewhat beyond existence" an existence beyond all Being, the Idea   partaking of Being, "ousia  ." This Being is both Mind and Good: a conscious good Being, the Idea, the absolute Unity excluding all Manifoldness, a glorious fulfilment of the Eleatic dreams. Such a conception of the Deity lifts him in a separate realm of existence, above all other Ideas soever.

That this was Plato’s conception has been much doubted. He, the Creator  , has been identified with the Idea of the Good, as both are called by Plato "the best of the intelligible and eternally existing beings." He is himself the pattern he copies in the creation, since he is said to copy an eternal pattern. The world is therefore called a "sensible   God  ," an "image of the intelligible," and an "image lof the eternal gods." Zeller thinks the ideas cannot depend on God without affecting their self-existence; God cannot be dependent on the ideas, for the same reason, and both cannot be co-ordinate without creating a dualism Plato knows nothing of. Consequently, God and the Idea of the Good are identical. This view of Zeller’s creates more difficulties than it explains; for it does not account for the language quoted above, and it permits us to ask, why was it the Idea of the Good and not some other Idea which took upon itself the office of a Creator? Why do not several Ideas create separate universes?

And besides, a Creator such as we have described is absolutely needed by Plato in his Physics. The Ideas are true existence, and Matter is non-existence; and both are separate. How shall the rational principle infuse itself into matter to make it a rational organism, unless the God who contemplates the Idea, generates them as a poet in himself, and thus, so to speak, incarnates them? For Plato has no principle of Emanationism to assist him, as had Aristotle  .