What Plato can teach us about COVID-19

NB: IXXI” is the author’s way of putting “9/11,” thereby hinting at its occult nature.


What Plato can Teach us about Covid 19

Thaddeus Kozinski

What Plato can Teach us about Covid 19

Plato taught us that the purpose of life is to know, love, and serve the Good, which is at once Reality itself, its source, and the power by which we know and love it. Plato also taught us that, as humans are communal, they know, love, and serve the Good together in communities, especially the larger community of the polis or city.  For Plato and the philosophia perennis as a whole, Reality is the Good and the Good is Reality, and as such the foundation and purpose of both personal and political life.  

But what is Reality, and how do we know it? No one grappled with this question more deeply than Plato, giving us the classic distinction between what appears and what is. The Good is both What Is and the perfect self-awareness of What Is, and so the distinction doesn’t apply to It. But you and I are not the Good, and this otherness puts us at some distance from it, in the space between which, as it were, the Good makes its appearance. The whole point of Platonism is to reduce this distance as much as possible, such that for all intents and purposes, we become one with the Good and thus with Reality. When the philosophers who are to rule the city have obtained this unity through rigorous formation and years of contemplation, they order the city so that those living within it are enabled to become as united with the Real and the Good as possible. Otherwise, as Plato makes clear, tyrants, those who put their desires in the place of the Good and their dictates in the place of Reality, will rule a city of unreality unto self-destruction.

Many people today, particularly the religiously inclined, still agree with Plato that knowing and loving Reality and the Good is the purpose of life, but not many think that political life should be based upon spiritual or even moral reality. Liberalism (in both the classical and late-modern versions) is responsible for this change, as it teaches that the purpose of politics is to provide a secure space and the economic/legal (free-market exchange, constitutional law) provisions and communal (family, school, church, etc.) resources by which individuals can freely work out for themselves the difference between appearance and reality and choose to live according to their conclusions without coercion. People in political power are not authorized to impose their view of the Good and the Real on everyone else, which is what we didn’t like in the bad, pre-liberal old days. It’s not that it wouldn’t be a great thing if we all came to agreement on the highest good and the most real, if that were to occur through the free pursuit of truth and individual happiness, but even then, no established religion or confessional political order would follow. The secular, pluralistic city is the best one, we know now, for it secures the blessings of liberty and freedom for all requiring only a modicum of shared principles, such as not killing each other over disagreements about the Good and the Real, educational and economic opportunity for all, and not taking other people’s stuff. Plato helped us to recognize the connection between the search for the truth about the Good and political peace and happiness, but he went too far when he authorized the political community to establish and impose the Good on its citizens.  We cannot force people to move from appearance to Reality.

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