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object:2.2.9.02 - Plato
book class:Letters On Poetry And Art
author class:Sri Aurobindo
subject class:Integral Yoga
media class:chapter

8 Oct 1933

Plato says [according to Weber, p. 86]: The world of sense is the copy of the world of Ideas, and conversely, the world of ideas resembles its image; it forms a hierarchy. In our visible world there is a gradation of beings. The same holds true of the intelligible realm or the pattern of the world; the Ideas are joined together by means of other Ideas of a higher order; the Ideas constantly increase in generality and force, until we reach the top, the last, the highest, the most powerful Idea or the Good, which comprehends, contains or summarizes the entire system. I think he is nearly on the verge of a mental understanding of the Overmind.

He was trying to express in a mental way the One containing the multiplicity which is brought out (created) from the Onethat is the Overmind realisation. Plato had these ideas not as realisations but as intuitions which he expressed in his own mental form.

There are many such thoughts in Platos philosophy. Did he get them from Indian books?

Not from Indian books something of the philosophy of India got through by means of Pythagoras and others. But I think Plato got most of these things from intuition.

8 October 1933
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22 Jun 1936

Paul Brunton in his book A Search in Secret Egypt repeatedly speaks of Atlantis. I always thought that belief in Atlantis was only an imagination of the Theosophists. Is there any truth in the belief?

Atlantis is not an imagination. Plato heard of this submerged continent from Egyptian sources and geologists are also agreed that such a submersion was one of the great facts of earth history.

22 June 1936
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30 Jun 1936

In his book Plato, Taylor says that the standing Academic definition of man is Soul using a body and that the soul is the man.1 But it is not clear whether the soul is the mental being or something which uses the mind also.

The European mind, for the most part, has never been able to go beyond the formula of soul + bodyusually including mind in soul and everything except body in mind. Some occultists make a distinction between spirit, soul and body. At the same time there must be some vague feeling that soul and mind are not quite the same thing, for there is the phrase this man has no soul, or he is a soul meaning he has something in him beyond a mere mind and body. But all that is very vague. There is no clear distinction between mind and soul and none between mind and vital and often the vital is taken for the soul.

30 June 1936

  A.E. Taylor, Plato, The Man and His Work (London: Methuen, 1926), p. 27. Taylor bases his discussion on passages from Plato's Alcibiades I and Euthydemus.Ed.

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2 Jul 1936

Taylor [Plato, p. 27] writes: The first condition of enjoying real good and making a real success of life is that a mans soul should be in a good or healthy state, that is, his soul should have the wisdom or knowledge which ensures that a man shall make the right use of his body and of everything else which is his. This clearly indicates that by soul he means the vital and the mental being. Otherwise how can the soul be not in good or healthy state? Can we even say that the mental Purusha is or is not in good or healthy state?

Of course not. It is obvious that they are thinking of the mental and vital Prakriti or that part of the being which is involved in Prakriti, not of the Purusha.

The idea that the soul has to get knowledge at all would seem to us to be without meaning unless we take it in the sense that one has to develop the intuition as an instrumental faculty.

Yes, all these phrases are loose. At most one could say that the soul must bring out or develop the inner knowledgethat which is already there within or that the lower nature must receive the higher knowledge,but not that the soul must get knowledge. I believe Plato himself held that all knowledge already was there within,so even from that point of view this expression would be inaccurate.

2 July 1936
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2 Jan 1937

Platos book The Banquet is said to be about Love and Beauty. Is it a kind of philosophy?

Not much philosophy there, more poetry.

Shelley has translated The Banquet into English. Could I read it?

If you want to read it as a piece of literature, it is all right.

2 January 1937
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3 Jan 1937

I did not find so much poetry in the book. Perhaps you have read it in the original Greek?

Even in a good translation the poetry ought to come out to some extent. Plato was a great writer as well as a philosopherno more perfect prose has been written by any man. In some of his books his prose carries in it the qualities of poetry and his thought has poetic vision. That is what I meant when I said it was poetry.

3 January 1937
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4 Jan 1937

How do you find Platos ideas about philosophy, about Nature, existence of the soul, etc.?

I dont know what are his ideas about philosophy or Nature. He believes in the soul and immortality and that is of course true.

4 January 1937
***



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