The Platonic Idea

Full disclosure, I haven’t read any Plato, or rather Socrates. But I want to offer a few words as provocation. The platonic idea is something that is thrown around as if people understand it. Just from hearsay, it sounds too stupid to be a philosophical idea, it is not even philosophy at all. However, that was not it’s purpose, it’s purpose is to blast us out of the flow of time.

Recently I had been talking about the ‘spontaneous, prosaic encounter’ as the true form of negation, it is part of a general project to think negation as independent of whatever it negates. I was talking last night, on omegle, to someone about this idea of a spontaneous encounter when something very rare happened: someone gave me a new idea. We were talking about what makes us ‘wierd’, and about Nietzsche’s quote, ‘Christianity is Platonism for the masses’ when he proposed that he ‘talked to God’ last night. I responded that that is not really what I had in mind when I spoke of the encounter but then I realized that I could be wrong.

The platonic pure idea *is* something that arises spontaneously, it is, despite it’s strangely concrete, simplistic quality, in fact, a negation. In fact, it allows us to think beyond our model of the spontaneous which was too closely tied to the human. Recall, that the spontaneous, in general, was originally proposed as something that ‘spontaneously arises’ to break us out of the two forms of nihilism: 1) the nihilism of youth and 2) the nihilism of the old or expert. The first is characterized by a noncommitment to anything because it is yet to be discovered, so that the youth don’t really have identities as things they are on the verge of becoming. The latter is the overreliance on *metaphor*, of virtual worlds that refer to other, more concrete, or complex things. In both cases the virtual has found a stable reference: either in the future or in the system.

The spontaneous we conceived of as something that was on our level of reality, that engaged with us directly, that suddenly made us aware of our present physicality, in some sense. Thus, I had always linked the prosaic / spontaneous to ‘the other’, either fictional or mundane. But the platonic idea offers another way, it conceives of our virtual interactions as possibly an encounter with the pure idea — ‘possibly’ in the sense of, not all ideas, only the … ‘genuine’ moments.

There are two things I want to point out:
1) the mysteriousness of the Idea, the infathomability
2) faculty before the subconscious, and the finitude-event principle / paradox

Now, first of all, note that the Idea is entirely infathomable, I called it, ‘stupid’, ‘simplistic’. It is not comprehensible except as a negation, but at the same time, as we said, it is independent of what it negates, well, for the most part. It is not, in other words, something conceptual.

In fact, the best way to understand it is (2) as a *faculty*, either a new faculty or one we’ve always had, which is why Platonism and Christianity are so closely related. A faculty … is an unsettling concept, it seems too much like ‘the promise’, it seems to transcendental. And yet it differs, I believe, from the nihilism of youth. I remember when I first read Kant’s ‘Foundations for the Metaphysics of Practical Reason’ — I think it was called, about the categorical imperative, and about these various faculties — of pure reason, maybe. There was most certainly something very thrilling there. But pure reason, what is it? If pure reason, or practical reason, or reason at all, were a ‘faculty’?

The other thing I want to address is the primality of ‘faculty’ over the ‘subconsciousness’, which derives from what I call the ‘finitude-event paradox’: basically, that we, as finite creatures, cannot do without the event. The faculty and the scs are closely related, they both speak of something that we had *all along* — but faculty looks more towards the future, it is something, it feels like, we have yet to come to terms with. It is surprisingly concrete, but yet mysterious, related to this thing we call ‘the genuine’.


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