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Plato was born in 427 BC- he was the most famous student of Socrates.
He is best known for his theory of Ideas/Forms.
He believed that the material world was an imperfect copy of the Idea world.
That is he believed that Ideas exist apart from the construct of the human mind- that they were the perfect forms of the things we see in the material realm.
He could also be referred to as a Realist- because he believed these Ideas actually existed [for real]. Where did he get this from?
As we study Philosophy- each one that comes down the line has been influenced in some way by those that preceded them.
There was a famous thinker- Pythagoras [his followers were the Pythagoreans] who taught a concept called the Transmigration of the Soul [a sort of Reincarnation].
They believed that the soul of man went thru various stages- and existed independently of the body.
In Greek thought the soul is immortal- it exists before the body.
In Christian teaching the Soul [mind- Spirit] comes into existence when God creates man [the bible says ‘and man BECAME a living soul’- referring to the creation of Adam].
The Greeks saw the soul as preexisting before the natural life.
In the mind of Plato- the body was a receptacle- in this life we recollect the knowledge that comes from the Idea world.
He ascribed Ontological status to ideas themselves.
In Philosophy there are 2 basic ways knowledge comes [we study this in Epistemology- an offshoot of Philosophy- which deals with how we know things].
A Priori knowledge is knowledge obtained independent of experience.
A Posteriori is knowledge obtained thru the senses- what we call Empirical evidence.
In Plato’s schema he believed that the knowledge that comes to us from the Formal world [ideas- forms] was A Priori knowledge- that the human mind recalls- and in the present material world- knowledge comes to us from the perfect idea world.
The Greeks believed that all matter was flawed- that the Body was an imperfect vessel- and after death we are released into the perfect world- and free from the material realm.
Christian Tradition does not hold to this view.
The Church teaches that the created world is good- not evil.
Among Christians there is some confusion about this- because the older versions of the bible [King James] seem to teach that matter [world, flesh] is evil.
Paul the apostle talks about no good thing being in The Flesh- he talks about the Carnal mind- the apostle John says ‘all that is in the World- the lust of the flesh- the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world’.
There are many references like this in the bible- but they are speaking about the sinful nature of man [the flesh] and not about the human body itself [For instance Paul says in Romans ‘present your BODIES as living sacrifices unto God- Holy and acceptable’ in Corinthians ‘your BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit’- there are many references in scripture that speak of the Body as Holy.
When the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it is not speaking of the earth- which God created- and calls GOOD- but it is speaking of the ‘world’ system- an age of wickedness.
So- at times Christians have confused this- and have held a sort of Dualistic view of matter- that is not the biblical view- but a Gnostic view- that all matter is evil.
Plato saw the unseen world of Ideas as the perfect- pure world.
He taught that in this life we obtain the knowledge of the pure- by reason of recollection- that these pure ideas come to us ‘are recalled’ in this life.
He is famous for founding the first Philosophical school- it was called The Academy- named after a man by the name of Academus.
The land was donated for the school- it was previously used as an Olive Grove- and in honor of the donation- Plato named the school after the donor.
This is why we use the phrase ‘The Groves of Academia’ today.
Plato was actually a nick name- he wrestled in Athens- in a sort of precursor to what would later become the Olympic games- and he was broad shouldered- that’s where his name comes from- Plato means broad shouldered.
So- to sum up- Plato believed that Forms [ideas] were eternal, the cause of all that is.
He believed we are born with innate ideas- these are not learned thru sense experience- but exist independently of the mind- and in this bodily life we retrieve [the body is a receptacle] these ideas.
Does the bible teach anything along these lines?
Christians believe that God himself is infinite- without beginning or end.
That wisdom- ideas- ‘forms’ of things do indeed exist- prior to our own life.
But these ideas are not without a Mind- God is Spirit- and he is everywhere [Omnipresent] he knows all tings [Omniscient] – so- in a way- there are indeed ideas- forms- but they come from the ultimate Mind of God.
A good example would be the building of the Tabernacle- and later the Temple- under Moses and King David [his son Solomon actually built it].
God told Moses ‘see that you build it after the Pattern shown to thee in the mount’.
In the book of Hebrews we read that the earthly Tabernacle [Temple] was simply an image- a symbol- of heavenly realities.
That God himself had the ‘form’ in his mind- indeed- like Plato taught- the heavenly form is perfect- the earthly expression imperfect.
But these patterns- forms- ideas- are from the Mind of God- they are not Innate in the soul of man- nor does the soul of man exist before his birth.
In the past few months I have had several Christian friends tell me that they feel like they existed before this life- a type of reincarnation.
I explained to them that in the Christian faith we do not hold to this view.
But- the bible does tell us that God had a purpose for us- Predetermined- before the ‘foundation of the world’.
Meaning that yes- in the Mind of God- in a way- we did exist- but we did not have actual being [called Ontological status in the field of Philosophy] until we were created by God.
God’s purpose for us was already in the Mind of God before our birth.
The bible says that Christ is made unto us wisdom- we are not Receptacles in the sense that Plato taught.
But yes- in time God reveals to us this Hidden Wisdom- about his love and purpose for us.
And in this life we act out- we fulfil this eternal purpose.
Man [or woman] can never find true happiness- true meaning- until they tap into this purpose.
We were created by the hand of God- to bring glory and honor to him- and we in this life can ever find true fulfilment- until we make it back to God.
1Chronicles 28:10 Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.
1Chronicles 28:11 Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
1Chronicles 28:12 And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the house of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things:
1Chronicles 28:19 All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.
Exodus 25:9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
Exodus 25:40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.
Hebrews 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Ecclesiastes 7:12 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it.
Ecclesiastes 7:19 Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.
Ecclesiastes 7:25 I applied mine heart to know, and to search, and to seek out wisdom, and the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness:
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