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Socrates and Plato - Track 1505

So matter cannot be self–existent. Alright, if matter is not self–existent then from where does it come? His answer is a very paradoxical answer – it does not exist. Matter does not exist but somehow exists. Now Plato is fully aware that when he making this statement it is really not palatable. He is very, very clear, it’s not that he is putting forth something but he is obliged, he feels it is something which is not understandable. His answer is a non–existent which attains to existence by partaking of universals. Something that does not exist but begins to become existent when universals are impregnated by it by that it does not exist, an impossible statement but that is where the great Plato ultimately ends. You can see the difficulty of the problem and this problem will come back again and again when you study philosophy more and more and I hope you will continue for years and years to study philosophy, it’s a life–long study. Philosophy does not end, you can begin at a given time but you cannot end it. So it is a long programme and whenever you study philosophy it is one of the problems you’ll come across again and again. So we repeat now.

Non–existent which grows into existence by partaking of the universals because universals exist, universals are impregnated into that which is non–existent that begins to exist. This impregnation of the universal in Matter is …. Now this matter is not understandable. Not understandable because it is the farthest attempt of a philosopher to understand something that he can understand or anybody can understand. This is the beginning and the end of Platonic philosophy basically. If you make these six seven statements you have the rasp of Plato. Plato himself is aware of the unsatisfactoriness of his own theory but he puts across the whole thing we improve upon it. I am only putting before you a problem anybody can give a better solution, I am ready. Can you give a better solution to the problem? Now in philosophical terms therefore this philosophy can be termed as dualistic philosophy, philosophy called dualism. According to which on one hand universals are self–existent, on the other hand there is a non–existent, existent matter which gives rise to particular by their interaction from where matter comes into existence one does not know according to this theory. It does not really exist so there is no question of how does it come into existence? It really does not exist. So you can see that when you try to understand the relationship between the universal and the particular we are face to face with a very serious problem, not a solution but a problem. You cannot say Plato has solved the problem he has only stated the problem but in accurate terms so that you cannot explain the problem, the world exists as it is, now you have to explain the world and you can say world is not explained by Plato. Utmost he has done is this, so this is one of the problems which will remain with us for a long time, let it remain. It’s a philosophy of dualism but a dualism of a very peculiar kind. One exists another does not exist yet exists. Pure dualism is a theory in which two self–existent are side by side that is pure dualism. Two self–existent realities existing side by side in juxtaposition is dualism but Plato’s dualism is slightly different. Self–existent which subsists side by side with something that does not exist, which exists – non–existent existent matter. According to Plato it is only on this basis that you can explain the world then there are some other problems also in Plato. This is major problem, major fact. The fact of universality and the fact of particularity is the major fact of the world. Everywhere you go anywhere the spirit of philosophy, the philosophy can tell you the whole world is nothing but universals and particulars and when you try to explain the relationship between the two a philosopher like Plato has only this to offer. It is unsatisfactory but it is a challenge to all of us, can you resolve this problem satisfactorily. This is one statement; one part of Plato’s philosophy, second part of Plato’s philosophy is his theory of the soul. According to Plato there is a multiplicity of souls and each soul is immoral and every soul forgets itself in this body. This body which is occupied by the soul is condition of the forgetfulness of the soul and this gaining of the knowledge is remembrance that is to say the soul before it comes into the body knows the universals, when it falls into the body it forgets the universals and when it begins to recover the universals it gains knowledge then that knowledge becomes remembrance, he remembers. All knowledge according to Plato is remembrance and the soul goes from body to body. Now it is in one body after the death of the body it goes into another body. So Plato believes in the transmigration of the soul, soul migrates from one body to the other, there is rebirth of the soul in the body.  Plato believes in rebirth.

Now there are questions. This is only a statement of Plato’s theory of the soul and immortality. Is the soul particular or universal? If it is particular then must be existent, non–existent, if it is existent, non–existent it can’t be immortal but it is immortal according to Plato, of that he is certain, soul is immortal. Is it universal? No, each soul is different from other soul. Is it an idea by its nature as all universals are, no. Soul is not only an idea. Soul perceives idea, conceives idea, it is capable of ideas, capable of conceiving ideas. It is the soul which is capable so it is an entity. Soul is an entity; each soul is an entity capable of conceiving universal ideas and the more it conceives universalities the more it remembers its immortality. Once again there is problem of the universals and the soul entities which are called souls, from where have they come? Have they come from the universals, are they derived from the universals, no. They are there so it is not dualism. Now you have got pluralism. There is universal, there is matter and now there are multiplicity of souls and finally Plato speaks of God. What is God? His answer is the supreme idea which combines three highest ideas, namely Truth, Beauty and Goodness. There are three great ideas, highest ideas, these three great ideas when they are synthesised then that is the supreme idea which he called The Good. Supreme idea can be designated as the Good. This Supreme Idea, The Good is one in which Truth is good, and Truth is Beauty and Beauty is Truth and Beauty is Good and Good is Beauty and Beauty is Truth. And all the three are reconciled, identical. When the three become one, reconciled, synthesised that is the supreme Good. So God is that Good. The Good is the idea, supreme Idea. So the question is now is God the supreme Idea, supreme universal. His first answer is – yes, and he is much more, he says. God is not merely the supreme Good; God is something that exceeds – essence, dignity and power. God exceeds essence he is more than essence. God is a being not only essence which is impersonal principle, you say that God is personal. He is a person. God is not only a principle but a person, he exceeds, he perceives, he reconciles ideas. Is he universal? Yes, but he exceeds universal. Universals are essences but he exceeds universals. Is God particular? No, particular exists does not exist but God supremely exists. Is there one God or many gods? God is one he says but that one is not particular. It is normally one which is particular, it’s not particular. He is not universal he exceeds universality, one God that exceeds universality which is himself not a particular one that is God.

Now once again you’ll find just as in the case of universal and particular, a problem, just as there is problem in regard to the soul and universals similarly here also there is a problem – God, universality, particularity. This is the totality of Plato’s Philosophy in a nutshell. What I am telling you is a result of my study for years in books you may not find so easily this kind of statement which I am making now, in books you will find very, very perplexing statements, and difficult statements. I am making it as simple as possible. Consequently we find this large amount of writing which Plato has done so sublime, so beautiful, so wonderful. When you analyse you find riddles, unresolved riddles. Are they unresolved able, they are unresolved the question is, are they unresolveable? Plato has not been able to resolve them, he has presented the problem very squarely that is why from Plato many philosophies have arisen. When you have very powerful ideas, powerful facts put together but not yet reconciled then people try to reconcile in many ways that is how Plato is the source of many systems of philosophies. Many people who came after Plato have tried to reconcile these irreconcilable propositions or unreconciled propositions that is why it is said that the whole of Western philosophy is a footnote to Plato, because all that has come after Plato is only a footnote, basically all propositions are in Plato, it is the main book all others are footnotes. Today you can say was the first philosophy lecture after so many years, so we shall continue tomorrow. Alright.


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