Having some general knowledge of Platon, and his ideas about the world of Ideas, could we consider his world of Ideas a divine world? Isn't that the same as the world of God?

What makes religion (without the dogmas...), so different from science then, considering the idea of the universe being part of a metaphysical world, among others, a mere virtuality?

  • isn't it Plato? Apr 14 '15 at 4:15
  • @robertbristow-johnson - Platon is an alternate transliteration of Plato's name into English, although it's certainly much less commonly used than "Plato" and I would personally avoid it for that reason. Apr 14 '15 at 13:27
  • Plato has nothing to do with science. Aristotle was still a long way from science, and Plato was a long way, epistemologically, from Aristotle. Plato believed observing and drawing conclusions from real world observations was worse than useless, it was misleading.
    – Phil Goetz
    Jul 6 '17 at 23:50

Plato's thought has been hugely influential on world religions, with Platonic ideas having been integrated into Christianity (and arguably Islam), via the intermediary of Plotinus, a influential philosopher in the Platonic tradition.

You can legitimately argue that Plato's orientation to philosophy is essentially religious, with the philosopher's relationship to the Ideal of Good (in Plato's system) being analogous to the relationship of a worshiper to God. However, if the Ideal of Good is to be identified with God, it represents a very abstract, depersonalized, intellectual vision of God. I've sometimes heard this referred to as "God of the Philosophers", the unity of all perfections. The religious orientation latent in Plato is made explicit in the work of Plotinus, who clearly identifies the Ideal of Good as a godlike being.

Saints Augustine and Aquinas (the two greatest theologians of the pre-Reformation Christian church) identified God, as understood in the Christian tradition, with the Ideal of Good, as described in Plotinus' "neo-Platonic" worldview. They thus united the personal perspective on God from the Biblical tradition with the abstract perspective of a neo-Platonic philosopher.

  • 1
    I don't think you can fairly say the Christian adoption was "wholesale" (which I take here to mean entire), because the Christian adoption required significant changes from a dumb demiurge creating in accordance the forms to Jesus as fully-God but his logos creating. That seems to require some pretty significant rejigging.
    – virmaior
    Apr 14 '15 at 14:18
  • @virmaior Just my weakness for intensifiers, I'll edit it out. Apr 14 '15 at 14:32

First of all, 'religion' is difficult to define. On dictionary.com, we have:

religion /rɪˈlɪdʒ ən/ • a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

However, wikipedia suggests a much broader definition:

A religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.1

1: While religion is difficult to define, one standard model of religion, used in religious studies courses, was proposed by Clifford Geertz, who simply called it a "cultural system" (Clifford Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System, 1973). A critique of Geertz's model by Talal Asad categorized religion as "an anthropological category". (Talal Asad, The Construction of Religion as an Anthropological Category, 1982.)

I will be taking the first definition as it's what is most commonly considered to be religion. Now let's have a look at your question.

Could we consider his world of ideas a divine world? Isn't that the same as the world of God?

In Platon's system there are perhaps two objects that could classify as a god: the sun and the Idea of the good. Note that both are fixed in the sense that they don't do anything apart from what they always have done and always will do (which could be a key difference with common world religions nowadays).

I don't think Platon would speak about the world of Ideas as of a divine world. He actually strongly emphasises that it is a definite and reachable entity. In the allegory of the cave in The Republic, book 7, 517B (English on the right), he writes:

And if you assume that the ascent and the contemplation of the things above is the soul's ascension to the intelligible region, ...

That intelligible region is in Greek 'τόπον τῆς ψυχῆς', meaning 'place of the ψυχῆς'. This ψυχῆς, from ψυχὴ, has an incredibly long dictionary entry, meaning among other things 'spirit', 'breath', 'life', 'mind' and 'consciousness'. The LSJ dictionary has one specific section (V) for philosophical uses, and in V.3 we see that in Platon this word may also mean 'the immaterial principle of movement of life'.

All this suggests that the world of Ideas is a place that is reachable (by philosophers). This is different from the notions of divine worlds we find in most religions nowadays.

Probably you could take Platon, scrap the parts you don't like and add some things of your own, possibly adding a god-entity (or using the sun or the Idea of the good for that), and building a religion around it. But that does not seem to be Platon's idea.

  • I love learning, and even though many philosophers have been trying to reach the "know-it-all", nobody is cured from ignorance. It's impossible. How come Plato said it was possible to reach the Intelligible region? It contradicts with reality, unless you completely forget the materialistic necessities, like nutrition and reproduction. (Unless, of course, you realize that we still live in an ego/antropocentric idea of existence). But if you wish to reach this, you'll die.
    – mazunki
    Mar 14 '15 at 22:29
  • @mazunki Platon didn't live in the context of modern natural sciences.
    – user2953
    Mar 14 '15 at 22:30
  • Yes, I guess. But even like that, he said that we'd dive into virtual realities. Which we ended up doing. Anyway, I wasn't referring to that, precisely.
    – mazunki
    Mar 14 '15 at 22:32
  • such a religion or at least belief system did exist, roughly speaking in Plotinus's philosophy.
    – virmaior
    Apr 14 '15 at 0:48

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