Dec 3, 2014

Plato’s Phaedo – Esoteric Analysis

This may be deep water for some, but it's helpful to understand much Christian doctrine today, especially two of it's most influential ancestors, Origen and Augustine.  Well worth the read...

Triads of philosophy
Triads of philosophy
By: Jay

Phaedo is the dialogue of Plato that concerns Socrates’ final words.  The discussion revolves around a proposal by Socrates’ associates to defend his views of the afterlife and the immortality of the soul, followed by a counter argument by a Pythagorean, and a final rebuttal by Socrates before the recounting of his drinking the hemlock.  A great read, the work constitutes one of Plato’s most notable dialogues: The influence of Phaedo on subsequent Western thought is clearly tremendous. Until recently, I hadn’t thought about it since my undergrad days of philosophy 101, where we read a selection and hit the highlights of the doctrine of forms and immortality of the soul.  Returning to the unabridged work years later and with a much wider range of knowledge, the discussion struck me as profound as much as it is bizarre and mysterious.   In this article, we will investigate the epistemological, metaphysical and esoteric teachings sprinkled along the way, as well as problematic areas.

Early in the dialogue, Socrates mentions his desire to practice the “arts” based on a recurring dream he has had.  In response to queries about this, Socrates tells his friends “philosophy is the greatest of the arts,” based on his attempt to create an Aesop’s Fable of his own about the duality involved in pleasure and pain.  The dialogue is also littered with reference to “initiation into the Mysteries,’ the allegorical understanding given in religious initiations, and that the “initiates of the Mysteries” are prepared for journey of the dead undertaken in the afterlife.  Pleasure, he argues, is dialectically tied to pain, and both tend to ever bring their opposite.  In this life, our attachment to bodily pleasure and passion thus becomes a hindrance that wears down the lofty, immortal nature of the soul.  The allegorical meaning of the Rites of the Mysteries is therefore the philosophical understanding of how to live well so that in the next life one can pass on to blissful Valhalla.  However, Socrates does not entirely “spiritualize” or “allegorize” the rites of the gods – he follows them in both senses.

The references to the Mysteries and the rites of religion is curious, given the standard, secular version of this topic in academic settings, which generally focuses on a cursory overview and a discarding of any esoteric ideas in the dialogues.  Marxist, feminist and statist education in our day is universally programmed to read all great works as externally imposed class and gender warfare diatribes, subverting everything wholesome and wondrous in them.  And should you happen upon a male professor that isn’t a feminist/Marxist, you likely got an atheist materialist who scoffed at anything in the work beyond his feeble grasp.  Contrary to these sophistical losers, Phaedo is a religious treatise about initiatic knowledge through revelation.  While all of its theses and ideas are not what I would recommend, Phaedo is a perennialist document, and not a secular one.

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