What’s up with that myth, Plato?

Unlike Plato, I believe being honest is important. I decided to bring up the Myth of Er in Friday’s discussion because I was writing an essay on the subject; I got stuck, so instead of doing the thinking myself I just brought my question to the discussion so you guys could do the work for me. You are probably angry at me right now, Plato´s dishonesty seems a little bit more understandable now. However,  my honesty is not the subject of today’s blog post, any complaints you have on this matter can be sent to this e-mail: bruno.complaints@yahoo.com And if I really enfuriated you by what I have just said, you might need some counselling; I would sit down and talk it out with you, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t go well for me.

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, Plato. I have several issues with Plato’s use of a myth to end his book. Plato throughout his book gives the impression that he is arguing in favour of the pursue of the just life, using both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards as evidence to support his arguments, especially focusing on the intrinsic ones. Then he goes on and rants about the cycle of reincarnation of souls (crazy unappealing stuff), this in my opinion seems slightly contradictory, why would you speak about the rewards obtained from the practice of something and then just say: “Hey guys I forgot to tell you, those rewards well, they only last 1000 years…you see that reward you have right there, well, eventually someday, you will have to forget about it and start again.” And all the souls be like: “Oh ok Plato that would have been nice to know before, you know, made us read your 300, and something, page rant, but I guess if we won this reward once we can do it all over again”, and Plato be like “Oh yeah, about that. Its not that simple, you see, I like to tell lies, only noble ones though and…” and the souls be interrupting like “For Zeus sake, Plato! Get to the point, we have stuff to do, you know, in the real world” and Plato would finally move on and say “When you get to choose a new life, we give you a random selection of lots to choose from, and well, its pretty hard to choose the right life. In fact, it is very likely that you will choose wrongly and become a tyrant. Unless, you are a philosopher, like me, of course. Even if you practice justice, and do your duty, only philosophical souls, like mine, are trained to make the right choices. You plebs are eternally doomed to be part of an infinite cycle of interchangeable goods and evils. Unlike me, who will have a super smooth road between the heavens and the earths”. And the souls tired of his B.S would flip him off and leave his cave by saying: “You’re a d*ck Plato (censorhip is important, I’m trying to keep this post PG 13). No wonder Socrates, your only friend, drank that hemlock.”.

Moving on, I also noticed that these rewards only exclusive to philosophers are pretty faulty for philosophers themselves. Plato states that that the situation can get prettty dangerous up there, even for a philosopher. If by mere chance a philosopher gets to be the last one to pick from the lot, he might not always be able to choose the philosophers life but he might have to conform himself with a normal life that practices justice: “through habit but without philosophy”.

Now I will interrupt completely this train of thought, to keep this thing concise. I was about to write a bunch of philosophers cursing at Plato, but I kept deviating and sometimes I just have to finish what I was talking about…this is just a note for all of you people that thought that cutting the train of thought like that was weird. Ok, so uhmmmm, oh yeah, after talking with you guys I realized that the intrinsic reward in justice that seems to be communicated in the myth, is actaully a misplaced interpretation from our part, and Plato actually believes that the intrinsic reward is this choice itself. The ability to make these choices,  even if faced with bad souls to choose from; th true beauty of justice is performing your duty and always choosing best from what you have. To be in order with themselves, by doing that which you were born to do, that is what you do best, despite the dangers you may be faced with the appetites that might be presented to you.

2 thoughts on “What’s up with that myth, Plato?

  1. This is a great post, Bruno! I really enjoyed it. And you’ve brought up very good questions.

    You know, I’ve never been that bothered by the point that the book focuses on the intrinsic value of justice, and then at the end says, well, and on top of that it has extrinsic rewards too. Book X also talks about how you can’t really hide injustice forever, so you’d get punishments from people from being unjust, and then the myth talks about how you can’t hide from the gods either. I have always felt like: okay, in Book II Glaucon and Adeimantus are asking for Socrates to say justice is good on its own because people think that you can get even more rewards from being unjust, and that the extrinsic rewards are what are most important. Socrates then argues for the intrinsic rewards (according to Plato, he has succeeded), and then he goes on to say that after all, most people are wrong about getting more extrinsic rewards from injustice too. I guess I am not seeing why it’s a problem to argue that way generally.

    Still, your points about how even philosophers might not have the best lives to choose from if they are last to choose is a good one. If they get a life that practices “virtue through habit and not philosophy,” then they may end up choosing a bad life on the next go-round because they end up in heaven for 1000 years and many of those then end up choosing bad lives because they are “unused to suffering.” (all of this from p. 324) Good point!

  2. Oh, and one more thing: could you activate the plugin that allows people who make comments to check a box to be notified by email if there are any replies? When you’re logged into your site, go to “plugins” on the left menu on the dashboard, then find “subscribe to comments,” then click “activate” next to it. Thanks!

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