Saturday, January 28, 2012

Plato's Wrong Take on Many Issues

Ancient Greek philosophers were the first ponderers to question the ethnic properties of their nation's wisdom. Just because a man was a Greek or a Persian, for example, did not mean that one's beliefs were better than another's.

Unfortunately, they placed undue emphasis on the mind, discounting the power of cultural forces, free of government intervention.

Aristotle discounted the possibility of a city growing beyond the hearing of a town herald, yet libertarian economist pointed out that the mentee of Plato wrote this while living in a city of size and scope considerably greater than a farming town.

In his seminal work "Republic" Aristotle's broadminded mentor Plato claimed that a common store system was an ideal economic system for a society, one in which every producer in a community would contribute according to his ability, from which every person would partake according to his need.

Following the 1620 landing and settlement of the Separatist colony in North America, Plymouth founder William Bradford repudiated this ideal socialized economy promoted by Plato and other ancient philosophers. During the Pilgrim's first winter, half the settlers passed away implementing the common store system. Because every individual was guaranteed something, many refused to work. Those who owned and tilled property had little desire to share their wealth, or whatever they shared proved insufficient to provide for everyone.

When Bradford scrapped the system, furnish a plot of land privately to each Pilgrim, each person had enough for himself and his family, plus extra produce to sell. For the second winter, the foodstuffs were so ample, that the Pilgrims invited the local Indian tribes to celebrate with them.

Also in the Republic, Plato argued that men choose to enter public life not because they want to but rather because they fear the perverse or crooked diligence of another. He based this argument on the fact that political statesmen will not serve unless they receive a salary. However, there is nothing perverse or contrived about earning a salary for one's service. In fact, one can argue that the paucity of remuneration invites corruption in city, state, and national government. Men seek power to aggrandize their fortunes and their future, to fulfill the deep-set ambition that fosters or plagues or mankind.

These errors in political thought reflect a fundamental naiveté among the Greeks. Like many secular adherents, the Ancient Greeks believed that man was basically good. It was from a lack of knowledge that he sinned or erred. The notion that human nature was flawed, requiring an innate infusion of the Spirit from the divine, they dismissed as fluffy, folksy folly.

No matter how pronounced the intellect of man, at his core he has a sin nature:

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

"I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." (Jeremiah 17: 9-10)

Paul wrote in Romans:

"Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful.

"For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I." (Romans 7: 13-15)

No matter how much effort or confidence man places in his own efforts -- his flesh -- he will fail. Of ourselves we can do nothing (cf John 15:5)

It is an offense to man that of himself he is imperfect; moreover, he is incapable of perfecting himself. Nevertheless, only the Finished Work of Jesus Christ can make man perfect, the righteousness of God in Christ.

1 comment:

  1. Like many secular adherents, the Ancient Greeks believed that man was basically good.

    You clearly have no idea what you're talking about. You might want to actually *read* the Ancient Greeks before you pass this kind of judgement. It was, after all, Plato who, in The Republic, writes Glaucon as saying that all men are basically bad, and he uses the Ring of Gyges argument to prove it. The argument ends in aporia, since Socrates can't actually figure out if he's right using just a thought experiment. Do your research, and stop being dogmatic.