Happy To Participate

plato theory participation metaphysics ultimate nature of reality


Although Plato and/or Socrates never gave a formal account of participation, I do agree with Socrates and say that Beautiful things only become Beautiful by the presence of Beauty itself. Unfortunately when he said this he did not give a model of participation.

We have been left with the mystery to ponder and it is rich. The problem can be understood in terms of the non material realm and the material in that, “How can an immaterial Idea manifest in the physical realm when there is no common measure between the two?” The two realms are incommensurable meaning there is no common measure between them, just as there is no common measure between Knowledge and Ignorance.

Now we can use this full analogy to gain further insight:

The Idea of Beauty: Material Things :: Knowledge : Ignorance.

Now, as we know from Proclus, all extremes are bound through a mean term and as such are bound into the most natural and beautiful of bonds which is the natural property of analogy as Plato says in the Timeaus. So what is our mean team?

We know our mean term for the second analogy is the True Philosopher if we consider Plato’s Symposium or we can more easily say Right Opinion. Now, we know that right opinion leads us up and away from our dismal appetitive state of ignorance and draws us towards knowledge; just as knowledge reaches out with its efficacious power of a primordial divine Form and joins the appetitiveness. In this communion, “the Ideas shape and mold the appetency, framing an activity that emerges from their union (Grimes, Philosophical Midwifery, p.168) and what emerges between the extremes of Knowledge and Ignorance is Right Opinion and it:

“Reaching out towards both extremes, links the whole together with itself as mediator; it transmits the bestowals of the first members of its order, draws upward the potentiality of the last, and implants in all a common character and mutual nexus-for in this sense also givers and receivers constitute a single complete order, in that they converge up the mean term as on a centre.” (Proclus, Elements of Theology, Prop.148, Dodds)

Now we know that we are looking for the mean term between the Idea of Beauty and Material Things that will function in the same way as Right Opinion and the Mean Term. Let us take a look at Plato’s quote again:

“…and I hold simply and plainly and perhaps foolishly to this, that nothing else makes it beautiful but the presence or communion of absolute beauty, however it may be gained.” (Plato, Phaedrus, Fowler)

From this, if we follow our analogy, we can now say that just as the efficacious power of Knowledge reaches out to the appetitive nature of Ignorance which is reaching up to Knowledge and merging as an activity of Right Opinion, then we can also say that The Idea of Beauty, with its efficacious power reaches out towards Material Things which are devoid at this point of Beauty (classically seen as pattern, order, symmetry, balance) which are reaching up towards Beauty and an activity emerges which we will call Presence.

Now we can fill out our analogy:

The Idea of Beauty: Presence of Beauty: Material Things


Knowledge: Right Opinion: Ignorance

The Idea of Beauty needs nothing in itself, since it not beautiful in one place and ugly in another place and in no way is lacking, but because of the efficacious power, which emanates naturally from, just so its presence radiates from it just as a halo from the Crown Chakra of a saint-guru while in turn the appetitive nature of the material thing is drawn towards it since it lacks this and recognizes that order is better than disorder.

So now we know that it is Presence of Beauty that allows Material Things to reach the Idea of Beauty just as it is Right Opinion that allows Ignorance to reach Knowledge. However, although we can say it is the Presence of Beauty Itself that allows the appetitive nature of Material Things to return back to Beauty, pure and unadulterated, we still have no model.

So although we know what allows and provides for communion, The Presence of Beauty (which is one metaphysical, ontological grade away from Beauty Itself), we still have no model to explain how there can be participation between incommensurable realms, at least from Plato.

Proclus is trying to answer the question of HOW when he speaks of the efficaciousness and appetitiveness  of the extreme terms (Proclus, Commentary Parmenides,214,Morrow) however we still do not get the HOW it does it but WHAT it is doing?

If I say it is by Emanation then the question would be HOW is it emanating? If I say it is through efficaciousness and appetitiveness of extreme terms then again the question would be HOW is it doing that?

Ironically enough if we want a model to explain how this participation occurs between hierarchically structured realms of reality, we need only turn to the HyperSpace WormHole Model from modern Physics.

However, this will have to wait until next time. Until then, whenever you feel yourself in the Presence of Beauty, contemplate and be drawn back to the Idea of Beauty Itself. 


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