The Legacy of Plato – excerpt from POLEMOS II: Pagan Perspectives

Excerpt from POLEMOS II: PAGAN PERSPECTIVES, by Askr Svarte, released in August 2021 by PRAV Publishing:

There are no grounds for presuming that any examination of the relationship between the traditions of manifestationism and creationism can avoid paying attention to the figure and philosophy of the greatest thinker of antiquity, Plato (428-348 BCE). Plato’s legacy is so broad, so fundamental, and has so strongly impacted practically all of European thinking all the way up to Postmodernity and the Postmodernists that it is impossible not to agree with the philosopher Alfred Whitehead when he argued that all of Western philosophy consists of footnotes to Plato.

The figure of Plato and his philosophy bears at once important and problematic significance for Pagan Traditionalism. We can formulate this in the following manner. Plato was the height of the Greek tradition, the one who completed the formation of Greek philosophy, the Greek Logos which sprouted out of Greek myth, out of the poetry of Homer, Hesiod, Pindar, etc. Based on the Greek tradition, its poetry, and myth, Plato created, or more precisely expressed and embodied a new philosophical language in which he described the deep structure of all of Tradition. Yet here we must discourage the reader from equating the structure of Tradition expressed in Plato’s idealistic philosophy with the universal principle. The matter at hand is not an exterior and qualitative equivalence, but the structures of the Sacred Center embodied within all.

Hence why Plato also poses a problem: on the one hand, he is the most profound philosopher and supreme thinker who formulated a number of provisions of Tradition in the purest manner; yet, on the other hand, his philosophy already harbored a distance towards Greek tradition and myth. In this lies the problem of the very phenomenon of “philosophy” as such. The birth of philosophy saw the decline of myth and ritual, in some shape being torn from and even opposed to myth (Socrates); on the other hand, philosophy appealed to the Sacred and wisdom from the position of ratio, reason. Philosophy is ambivalent; along its roads one can arrive at the Sacred, but one can also arrive at the strict rationality of Modernity…

We could compare Plato with the peak of a great mountain: he crowns it, but all around stretches only an abyss of fall and decline. This means that Plato is interesting as the crown of pagan thought as well as a thinker whose philosophy impacted Christianity to come several centuries later… Just as the peak of a mountain is at once the highest step of ascent and the first step of descent, so is Platonism open in both directions…

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