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It’s like the cave, only smaller

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Old Main, USU


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• Is the world eternal? YES
• Do humans have contra-causal free will (i.e., can humans do otherwise)? NO
• Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? YES
• Do humans have souls? YES
• Are there natural rights? YES
• Is it morally permissible to eat meat? NO
• Is the unexamined life worth living? NO
• Is truth subjectivity? YES
• Is virtue necessary for happiness? YES
• Can a computer have a mind? YES
• Can humans know reality as it is in itself? YES
• Is hell other people? YES
• Can art be created accidentally? NO
• Can we change the past? NO
• Are numbers real? NO
• Is it always better to know the truth? YES

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  1. Kleiner says:

    Let’s give the owners of this store (I saw online that they sell trendy clothes for teens) the benefit of the doubt and suppose they have read Plato — Why might they have named a used clothing store ‘Plato’s Closet’? Any ideas?


  2. Jon Adams says:

    From the company’s website:

    The first Plato’s Closet® store was opened in Columbus, Ohio by founders Lynn and Dennis Blum. Experienced business owners who have a long history of recycling success, they turned to a teenage son to help create the name for the business.

    While doing research for a school project, the Blums’ son gained much knowledge and respect for the pioneering Greek philosopher, PLATO. His theories of reusing and preservation appeared to be a good parallel to his parents’ unique idea of recycling. CLOSET was a natural fit as it relates perfectly to every teen’s room and their craze for clothing.


  3. Huenemann says:

    Oh, yes. There’s that section of the “Timaeus” where they all swap togas.


  4. Kleiner says:

    Yeah, I must have missed Plato’s argument that we should all recycle. I wonder what passages they have in mind?


  5. Huenemann says:

    Here is all I could find. It’s from some school lesson on ecological issues — maybe the same lesson the young Mr. Blum experienced:

    One day the great philosopher and teacher in ancient Greece, Plato was walking through a street of Athens. One of his students had a shop in the same street. On seeing the teacher passing by he ran after him, saluted and invited him to visit his shop.

    Plato walked into the student’s shop. The student was delighted. He said to the teacher: ” Sir, Please take anything you want. ”

    Plato looked round at all the attractive items and said, “I don’t see anything that I need here. ”

    (no source attributed — maybe Diogenes?)


  6. Kleiner says:

    It is still rather odd. Why trade on Plato’s mistrust of the material world (the inability of things that come to be and pass away to make us really good and happy), when you are opening a store that sells trendy teen materialism (albeit used)? I looked at their website, and they brag that their ‘inventory changes everyday’ so as to keep up with the latest styles. Don’t they know, from reading Plato, that Beauty is unchanging?!


  7. Kleiner says:

    Would Plato’s style of toga change? I am not so sure. Sure, the togas themselves would come to be and pass away, but should the styles? If these jeans really participate in Beauty, then they really share a certain quality of beauty. For instance, when Plato speaks in the Republic about music (meter, etc) for the guardian class, I suspect he thinks that these are the appropriate songs for warriors at his time and indeed for all times.

    Fads are perceptions, and I don’t think that Plato would want to say that whether or not material object X participates in Form Y is really dependent on our perceptions (about which he is very skeptical).

    We should make a distinction between essential and non-essential participation (I have in mind the Phaedo here). Socrates argues that snow essentially participates in the Form of Coldness. Once that participatory relation is broken, the snow ceases to be. That is different than non-essential participatory relations. I participate in the Form of Beardedness, but not essentially so for even if I shave my beard (and so ceases to participate in that Form) I do not cease to exist.

    If Socrates’s togas (or my dorky argyle sweater vests) participate essentially in Beauty, then particular togas and argyle sweater vests would always be beautiful (participate in Beauty), even if the popular perception is that they do not.
    All that being said, I am not sure if any material particular essentially participates in Beauty.


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