What is Platonic dualism?

He Platonic dualism Proposes that our world is divided by a kind of invisible line where important and permanent things (called eidos or world of ideas) are located, and fleeting, ephemeral and insignificant things (doxa, opinion or sensible world) are located below .

According to Plato, we must strive daily to reach and elevate our spirit, so that we only think and observe from the eidos or that world of ideas.

What is Platonic dualism? Plato (left) and Aristotle (right), a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in having knowledge through empirical observation and experience, while holding a copy of his Nicomachean Ethics in his hand. Plato holds up his Timaeus and shows gestures to the heavens, representing his belief in the Forms.

Likewise, in Plato there is no relative truth, for on the basis of this dualism, truth is one and is on the upper side of the line.

Philosophical dualism refers to different beliefs that the world is dominated or divided by two supreme forces that are intrinsic and sometimes opposed to each other.

These doctrines seek to explain how the universe was created and founded. However, there are other less formal theories that simply explain the existence of two different laws and ordinances in the world, which can coexist without any problem.

There are different authors as Pythagoras , Empedocles, Aristotle , Anaxagoras, Descartes And Kant, who have exposed their way of thinking and conceiving the world. With different theories as if the world is divided into a kind of odd and even force, friendship and hatred, good and evil, chaos with intelligence, emptiness with fullness, etc.

However, one of the most important contributions in this area was the one made by the Greek philosopher Plato.

What are the precepts of the Platonic dualism?

In the book The Republic of Plato, we can find all his theories on dualism from both an ontological and anthropological perspective.

Line Theory

Ontologically, Plato explains and expounds the theory that lived reality is divided into two polar opposites. This is where the famous and so-called"theory of the line"is created.

At the top of the line are located all the fleeting things, the visible and tangible, our emotions And perceptions. On this side of the line, Plato calls it the doxa, the sensible or visible world.

Known as eidos, at the bottom of the line, Plato arranges those eternal and timeless entities, which will never pass away and will always remain. On this side, there is objectivity and the true essence of things is found. Also, it can be called world of ideas.

It should be noted that Plato at no time demeans or deny the existence of any of these realities. Simply, it places and gives more importance to the world of ideas or intelligible because it considers that there is the true meaning of our existence, which is to raise our spirit until we can walk in the eidos and not contaminate our life for something so simple and ordinary Such as doxa.

The problem with the doxa and the sensible world is that it is full of imperfections and our experiences, prejudices, opinions and appearances are always present, acting as a kind of filter that prevents us from grasping what is really essential.

Why, according to Plato, should we yearn, think and act from the eidos?

As mentioned above, Plato proposes that our true meaning for being is found when reaching the eidos, but what are the reasons that support this approach?

Since on the sensitive side the passenger predominates, in the eidos or intelligible world, there are no personalized or partial realities. Really on this side you can find the truth (understood as something permanent and immutable) and perfection.

Plato assured and affirmed that when thinking and acting from the eidos, ideas are real and lasting, and that is precisely what differentiates doxa from eidos, the opinion of truth.

Finally, it is important to mention that it is affirmed that from the world of ideas, thoughts are not isolated from each other, but are formed by a conglomerate related to each other.

Platonic dualism from anthropology

With more or less similar thoughts, but from an anthropological perspective, Plato establishes dualism in human existence. He considers that man has two totally opposite entities.

The first is our body, that thinking it from the allegory of the line explained above, belongs to the sensible world, because it is transient and changing.

Secondly, we find the soul, considered as that intangible, divine and eternal element that binds us to life. This belongs to the world of ideas, because it never changes and for the Greek philosopher, it is immortal.

Therefore, man should feel more identified with his soul than with his body. In fact, it is thought that the body is a kind of jail that binds us and prevents us from showing our true essence and capturing that of other people. The body passes, but the soul remains. The first is a transitory thing, the second is something eternal.

Joining this thought to another rather famous allegory of the philosopher, no matter what the life we ​​have lived: the goal is to ignore the shadows and leave the caves.

This is the true way to exist according to rational and ignorant thinking, established by Plato.

It is definitely not easy to put aside our subjectivity and try to reach a new spiritual level. Perhaps Plato sinned utopian and therefore, is impossible to carry out.

However, if each person strives to live, act and think from the eidos, society would be totally different and we would achieve the common good.

It is not enough to make an effort (however extraordinary) to live from the rational and to abandon the fleeting things, to dispense with the senses, partitions, subjectivities and focus on the true essence of things, and more deeply, on life itself .

This change of thought and way of living can only be possible through dialectics, considered as a technique that is capable of taking the person from the world of the sensible to completely reach the intelligible and understand the concept of the common good.


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